Autumn 2020 is upon us, and this season will bring unique challenges that small businesses may not have had to consider before. With COVID-19 still posing a major concern for shoppers, merchants must ensure they continue catering to the needs of their customers while keeping employees safe and healthy for the entire holiday season.
To help you navigate this hectic time of the year, use this checklist to make sure the most essential items on your to-do list will be completed with plenty of time to spare.
1. Up Your Service Game
Many merchants set up a new social channel but fail to monitor it. There is nothing worse than having someone ask a question on twitter to @yourcompany and no one ever responds. On the flip side, companies like Delta Airlines are relying on direct messaging to help customers with issues and relieve some of the burden on their call centers. You may already have great customer service, but be ready to distinguish yourself by going above and beyond what is typically expected.
2. Create Seasonal-Specific Content
At this point, you have missed the boat on making any large updates to your site. Large-scale makeovers can happen next year. This doesn’t mean you can’t update small portions of your site with a specific look and feel that is directly related to a holiday or a time of year. Magento offers some unique ways to build content on specific sections of your site to make it stand out from the rest of the year. Page Builder gives the merchant the freedom and flexibility to build content that drives new sales. Also, don’t forget to update your blog with relevant posts for the season to boost your SEO and provide valuable information for your audience.
3. Automate Your Shipping Processes
Retailers have several options when it comes to managing, packaging and shipping orders. Some merchants prefer to handle the fulfillment process in-house; others take advantage of FBA (Amazon’s fulfillment program); and others make use of drop-shipping. Regardless of which process you decide to go with, you should seriously consider automating the shipping strategy.
Shipping software and extensions make it a breeze to view and manage orders, print labels, set automatic shipping rules, compare rates and more. Some options can even reorder inventory automatically when it falls below a specific threshold, making sure you never run out of your most requested products. When you can offer customers the most accurate depiction of what products are available and how fast they can arrive at their homes, you’ll boost customer loyalty and increase sales during the process.
4. Start Creating Content Now
You don’t want to be frantically thinking of clever social media posts or unique video ideas a few days before a major holiday. Plan ahead by considering what your marketing goals are, which items you want to promote and which times you’ll have your biggest sales days. You’ll also want to look at local events and opportunities to promote your business, such as Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28).
5. Test, Test and Test
You have created content. You have some campaigns running. Are they working? Are people clicking where you think they should? The high traffic that comes with the holiday season presents a great opportunity to test your site and record the behavior of your visitors. You can use tools like HotJar to generate heat maps. This give you valuable insights on what people are doing and what you could be doing better.
6. Choose Specific Goals to Measure
To actually determine the success of your holiday marketing campaigns, you’ll need to decide which KPIs (key performance indicators) you want to track. Without data and analytics, it becomes challenging to see which aspects of your strategy worked well and which tactics weren’t worth the investment. These numbers will help you create improved strategies for years to come, so take care to collect relevant data.
Some of the best KPIs that any business can benefit from tracking include:
- AOV (Average Order Value)
- Conversion rates
- Cart abandonment rate
- New vs. returning traffic
- Site speed
- Bounce rate
- Email open rate
These statistics will show you incredibly helpful information regarding who your customers are, what they’re most interested in, how much they typically spend and other facts that can help you plan even more fruitful campaigns as time goes on. With a bit of preparation now, you can set your business up for long-term success.
7. Tell Your Team You Are Going to Be Busy
How many times have you heard the story of the hosting company or web team learning about a big sale the day it is going to happen or, even worse, when it is happening? Remember to meet with your team that manages your infrastructure and let them know what sort of spend you have to bring in traffic. The sooner the better. If you have time, you need to load-test your site. If you don’t have time, you need to create a plan for what to do if you overwhelm your system. One of the easiest things to do is to use a service that will queue your traffic. This will ensure that the customers who are on your site will be able to check out and the clients who will wait in line will wait.
Brent W. Peterson hails from Minnesota where he enjoys the week in July that they call summer. He is the chief evangelist for Wagento, a Magento Enterprise Solution Partner, and loves to run everywhere in the world while organizing Magento events in Mexico, India and the USA. Peterson has been in the Magento community for more than 10 years and started as the first volunteer forum moderator. He spends a lot of time with clients in Mexico and South America yet somehow doesn’t speak Spanish. He is often seen running a marathon with his wife Susan and hopes to run in all seven continents.