No matter what, preparation for the holiday season onslaught of traffic is both exhilarating and scary. To that end, here are some things you can do now and right up to the last minute to drive business wins and operational efficiencies.

Update your merchandising strategy 

  • Create product sets (outfits) that display mittens, hats, and boots that match a ski parka. Adding multiple products to your shopping cart from one page increases your AOV. Feature these sets in content slots or top level categories.
  • Launch Einstein Product Recommendations. Begin gathering data for holiday optimization now.
  • Launch a Holiday Gift Guide. Make gift guides targeted to a theme (beach bum, jewelry lover, stocking stuffers, etc.) and by price. Update consistently and feature them in emails.
  • Target female shoppers earlier in the season and male shoppers in the last two weeks (experience tells us that women are early shoppers while men tend to procrastinate.
  • Implement holiday-specific sorting rules. Our customers can check out the Holiday Resource Center in XChange for some revenue-driving ideas.

Tune site search results

  • Add the most common misspellings to your dictionaries, and review weekly not only during the weeks leading up to the holiday season, but also throughout your peak shopping weeks. Keep an eye out for low-converting terms that display results. Are the correct items being returned?
  • Create dedicated landing pages for “holiday gifts,” “stocking stuffers,” “gift ideas,” and other popular search terms. Consider using redirects for holiday-curated categories.
  • Test your top-50 site search terms from last holiday season. Are the results optimized?
  • Make sure to avoid the dreaded “no results found” experience. Even misspellings should take your shoppers to their destination so there is no money left on the table.
  • Update content slots on your “no results” page to feature holiday gift guides.

Update SEO

  • Analyze keywords that drove success last year.
  • Factor in the surge in voice-related searches; modify your SEO to incorporate your highest value question phrases, including searches for brick and mortar store information.
  • Check the health of your site and review 404 errors in webmaster tools
  • Create sneak peek or “coming soon” pages — perfect for when you are planning your gift guide — to provide a nice boost to your SEO rankings
  • Get a head start on indexing holiday-specific queries, with keywords included in the page metadata and copy.

Campaigns and promotions

  • Create and share your holiday promotions and communications calendar. Salesforce customers should let our support team know if there will be peak traffic days beyond the norm; for example, an off-day flash sale.
  • Map out an email strategy to ensure the right segmentation and frequency of messages.
  • Keep in mind that more messages are opened on mobile devices, and that using emoticons and emojis in the subject lines drive open rates.
  • Build a page to clearly communicate delivery dates for the holiday season, and push this out through social media and email.
  • Experiment with tiered promotions to help drive AOV and customer engagement. For example, “buy more, get more.”
  • Make sure promotions communicate urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out). Use terms such as “online only,” “limited quantities,” and “ends tonight!”
  • A free shipping promotion is a must. This is widely expected by customers, and not offering it for at least some portion of the holiday season will put you at a disadvantage.
  • Offer a “gift with purchase” promotion. This is one of the most successful and highest converting promotions a retailer can offer during the holiday season.
  • Use source codes and customer groups to offer “holiday previews” to your most loyal customers.
  • Post top holiday products to Facebook to drive deep links and consumers to your site.
  • Use a single holiday hashtag for consistent social interactions.
  • Launch holiday-themed Pinterest boards for your best selling products. Leverage “shop the look” to inspire holiday outfits and gift giving.
  • Create an Instagram hashtag. Encourage customers to share images of themselves engaging with your products and brand.
  • Investigate potential tie-ins with charities for a “Giving Tuesday” promotion.

The 11th hour

  • Put together “12 deals of Christmas.” Offer a new deal each day leading up to shipping cut-off. Reveal one deal each day to drive repeat visits. Schedule content slots in advance to relieve the burden of daily content slot swaps.
  • Last minute holiday shopping is a given. Call out available shipping upgrades, extended shipping deadlines, etc.
  • Push these through affiliates and social media. Create a sense of urgency with “only three days left” or “there is still time!”
  • Push gift cards after the holiday shipping cutoffs, including redirecting key site search queries.
  • Use content slot scheduling and the storefront toolkit to test so your staff can have a few days off.

Through all of this, make sure you take a mobile first focus, as a significantly higher number of your visits and orders will be coming through mobile devices this holiday season. Whether your customers are checking inventory, shopping on the train, or placing a large order, your mobile experience has to be seamless.

This and much more is covered in our 2017 Holiday Readiness Guide. Download it today.