Christmas-in-JulyAs we close on back to school, whether you want to admit it or not, it’s that time of year to start getting ready for the holidays. Last year we put together some tips for Cyber Monday and a checklist for e-commerce companies to get prepared for one of the busiest times of year. The businesses that see the most success during the holidays are those that are the most prepared. It is with that notion that we want to give some more tips to help set up a successful holiday season.

Start Early
During the holidays, consumers are flooded with different sorts of marketing promotions, making it extremely difficult to cut through the noise and build a relationship. Getting an early start on this will help put you and your products at top of mind when it is time for your clientele to purchase. It also allows you to review your data from last year, and make changes to this year’s plan based on what worked and what did not.

Discounts and Coupons
Discounts and coupons are great incentives to encourage impulse buyers. Spontaneity is abundant during the holiday season, and a discount or coupon may be just enough to turn an otherwise uncommitted shopper into a buyer. Set up your discounts and coupons to take advantage of those looking for gifts, and don’t forget the “reverse shoppers” who are looking to buy things for themselves.

Holiday Spirit
Show your holiday spirit by including holiday-related graphics and slogans on your website, in emails, and in other business communications. You have enough time to create several different graphics and switch them out as different the holidays/promotions pass.

Existing Customers
Existing customers are a great source of future business. When considering your holiday marketing plan, include your existing customers on any contact list. Review their previous purchases, and create promotions for similar products or give them a heads-up announcement on any new items you may have. These help clients feel special and connected to your brand which can turn into loyalty shopping and potential referrals from their good experiences.

Position Yourself Differently
The holidays are a wonderful time of year. However, they can also be incredibly stressful to consumers with the long lines in stores, long lists and even dreadful parking lots. As we said earlier, shoppers are flooded with different messages from businesses pushing their products. Try positioning yourself as helping solve their needs and alleviating their stress instead of just pitching your products. Showing you care about your customers is a great way to relate with them and help to build a loyalty and passion for your brand.

Charitable Giving
Consider donating a portion of sales to a favorite charity. After all, the holidays are primarily about giving, and customers may be more inclined to make a purchase if they know part of their purchase price will directly benefit a worthwhile charity.

Gift Certificates
Gift certificates are a popular option for presents. There is a reason stores such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target feature those walls of gift cards near the registers during the holidays. Also, several studies have shown that people redeeming a gift card will spend more than the value of card. Be sure to promote the availability of gift cards for your products, or you might miss out on some extra sales!

Consider offering an option to “gift wrap” your product for gift giving. This is especially convenient for a buyer who is purchasing your product to ship to someone in another location. Even if your products are only available for download, coming up with fun and unique ways for people to give gifts will make you stand out, for this year and going forward.

Free Shipping
Eliminate one of the distinctions between your online business and a physical brick-and-mortar store by providing free shipping, or free shipping “service” upgrades. For example, offer an upgrade from standard “ground” service to “two-day” service, to ensure packages arrive in time for the holidays. This may give prospects they incentive they need to purchase from you instead of your competitor.

Partner with a related company or some of your affiliates and exchange a “special offer” between your companies. You can promote the partners’ products and offers to your customers. In exchange the partner promotes yours to their customers. It is a win-win situation for both you and your affiliates.

Follow these steps and you are on your way to a successful holiday season. What have your experiences been for the holidays? Have we left anything out? Let us know in the comments section below!