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The Shipwire Blog/5 ways to increase holiday sales

5 ways to increase holiday sales

sale_ornamentsLast week, KISSmetrics hosted a great webinar highlighting 5 ways to increase holiday sales. These tips are valid even beyond the holiday season, but if you’re not already using them, now is an especially smart time to start — your site traffic will likely be higher during this season, so capitalize on the timing and take the opportunity to build a great reputation in front of a large audience. You’ll continue to benefit from it throughout the new year!

We took notes on the key takeaways from the discussion:

1. Track and segment
Implement tracking software so you can measure visitors’ behavior on your website. Doing so allows you to understand shoppers’ unique interests. Once you know their interests, you can enable dynamic web content and trigger specific marketing emails so that shoppers are continually reminded that you sell things relevant to them. KISSmetrics and other companies offer tracking software, and the information you gather from it can be exported to your email provider for a complete setup of this process.

You’ve probably noticed this trend on some of the stores you shop. Amazon immediately comes to mind. I often look for camera gear, and when I’m signed into my account, this is how my homepage looks — it’s full of tripods, flashes, Canon camera bodies, and other cool stuff.

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If I browse, but don’t buy a certain item, I often receive an email like this, asking me to check it out again.

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If Amazon sent me emails full of ski gear, or even Nikon camera stuff, I would ignore them or move them to my spam box because I don’t ski and I don’t use Nikon gear. However, since the content is always customized, I don’t mind getting them and sometimes even appreciate the reminder. Ultimately this type of attention and persistence results in higher sales, and you don’t have to be Amazon to do it — you can implement testing, dynamic content, and targeted messaging no matter the size of your company.

2. Use on-site advertising correctly
Since the homepage of your store is the first thing visitors see, take advantage of the real estate by running ads on it.

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Failing to put ads on your homepage would be like department stores removing the red sale posters from their display windows and instead posting them on the back wall of the store — it just doesn’t make sense. Making buyers dig for promotions is a fast way to lose them to a competitor who advertises sales right up front.

Heat mapping can help you identify where viewers’ attention focuses, allowing you to tweak displays and maximize effectiveness. An additional tactic is to capture shoppers’ attention by running an ad through a modal window, like this (it’s different than a popup, which can be blocked by the browser).

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These types of ads aren’t for every occasion and should be saved and used in times when you’re running a deal that can’t be ignored. They shouldn’t be set to trigger for all viewers. Enable them once potential buyer has clicked around a bit, has repeatedly visited your site, or for a limited time only. Throwing a full-screen ad in a new visitor’s face can be too much.

3. Offer strategic discounts
First, take a critical look at your product and determine whether or not offering a discount makes sense. Sometimes, shoppers aren’t looking for a discount and are instead looking for a good value. If this describes your product, a discount may not benefit your sales. For example, Uggs almost never go on sale. Similarly, you’d be hard pressed to find a high fashion brand that runs on-site discounts because doing so would devalue the exclusive reputation they work hard to build.

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For the majority of store owners, though, discounts are a great incentive to get people buying. There are lots of types: a reduced dollar amount or percentage, a buy one get one free or at a discounted price, discounts based on the quantity or total dollar amount, rebates, free shipping, and others. The key is to craft a message that displays numbers in the most compelling way, so that customers feel like they’re getting a great deal — sometimes a flat discount is most appealing, other times the equivalent percentage displays better.


Experiment to see what works best, and most importantly, keep it simple.

4. Test everything
It might be tedious, but use A/B testing to test as many elements of your site as you can to determine which layout, images, button colors, headlines, ad sizes, and other variables convert most successfully. Often, the most visually pleasing design doesn’t result in the most clicks and you’ll never know if there’s a more effective way to present your store unless you take the time to test different possibilities. And don’t forget to test pricing! In addition to the surprising success of some ugly designs, higher dollar amounts sometimes attract more buyers than lower ones, especially if they are clean amounts ($20 sometimes performs better than $18.73, etc.).


5. Upsell before checkout
Before allowing customers to proceed to checkout, always upsell. Follow Amazon’s footsteps and show products and add-ons related to what shoppers are about to purchase, and suggest that they toss a couple extra items in their cart. For an extra nudge, offer free shipping for orders that meet a set dollar amount and encourage buyers to reach that threshold by adding extras to their carts.

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Another idea is to offer a free gift when the total purchase reaches a certain price point. These simple strategies are really effective in increasing sales and you should be able to work them into your business plan so that they don’t cut into profits.

If you’ve successfully used these tips to grow your sales, or if you have an idea we missed, we’d love to hear about it!

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