Another whopping Christmas online

Despite the gloom on the high street, it seems that the online sales channel is proving not only robust enough to withstand a fall in consumer confidence.

IMRG UK online Christmas sales projections predict a 15% increase in comparison to the same period in 2007 with Monday 8th December being E-Day, the busiest shopping day of the year.

  • £13.16 billion is forecast to be spent in the q4 2008
  • Equivalent to £215 per person in the UK
  • £24 million spent on alcohol in the first week of December
  • £450 million spent online on ‘mega-Monday’, Monday 8th December 2008
  • £908,000 spent in one minute alone at 1.30pm on the 8th

Retail businesses of every shape and size need to use the internet and email marketing to maximum effect to make sure they get a slice of the Christmas online shopping frenzy.

People won’t just wander onto your website this Christmas in the way they might wonder down their local high street. You have to DRIVE them to your site. Here are some practical steps you can take now to maximise your opportunities:

  • Use email marketing to contact your customers and prospects and invite them to your website
  • Send targeted messages and offers to different groups of your customers and prospects
  • Use an Email Service Provider to ensure your emails look great, get delivered and can be tracked properly
  • Use ‘forward to friend’ links and highly appealing offers to get your emails to go viral , i.e. – get your customers to pass the message of your offers on to their friends and colleagues
  • Even if you don’t have a website you can use email to spread your message, e.g. email out a printable voucher for people to bring into your shop to claim a xmas discount – and watch your customers forward the email to their friends and colleagues and post it on their social network sites
  • Use your website to capture the email addresses of new contacts (and make sure you collect their permission to contact then)

If you have a website and mailing list you can start to improve your online marketing today

  • If you don’t have a mailing list with emails, you can start to build one now – mail your customers and invite them to sign up to a special offer or xmas prize draw on your website – and capture their email that way
  • If you’re not already, get sign-up with an Email Service Provider so you can start collecting your website visitor contacts and sending them professional looking emails
  • Plan your pre-xmas email campaign – do you have different groups of customers that you can send differently targeted mails to, with different special offers or invitations?
  • Include a call to action in every email you send. Always drive customers to your website by inviting customers to purchase a discounted product online, download money-off vouchers, claim a free offer, or agree to attend an event – like an exclusive first look at post-Christmas sale stock, or a ‘mince-pie and shopping’ evening. If nothing else, include examples of desirable products and prices to encourage the customer to purchase there and then.
  • Make sure your landing page matches the style of your email – if you’ve gone for a dancing Father Christmas and holly leaves in your email, make sure the landing page has the same, or at least a complementary design!
  • Follow-up customers who buy from you in the run up to Christmas with a thank you email, discount offers for them to use for the rest of their Christmas shopping or to forward to a friend
  • If you are selling online, offer as wide a variety of shipping, delivery and payment options as you can and be sure you can meet your customer’s delivery expectations

Your website is your shop window – is it dressed for Christmas?

  • Make sure the things you want visitors to see the most are the most visible, e.g. special your special offers, your ‘sign-up to our newsletter for Xmas discount vouchers’, your best selling items
  • Is it easy for your visitors to find what they’re after? If they can’t find anything immediately, prospective customers will happily go to one of your competitors’ sites.
  • And while people are purchasing and entering their email addresses remember to have the right sign up permissions so you can continue to email them after Christmas – January sales anyone?

Get your online marketing right this Christmas and ride out the high street gloom.

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