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How to Increase Your Holiday Sales

Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin
President and CTO at OptinMonster

Businesses wait all year for the holiday season. With so much on the line, you must fully prepare to make the most out of the season.

  • The coronavirus pandemic has changed consumer’s shopping behavior ahead of the holiday season.
  • 20% to 40% of all sales for many midsize businesses come during the last two months of the year.
  • Segmenting your email list can potentially double your click-through rate.
  • Online contests are effective tools for lead generation, sales, and engagement during the holiday season.
  • Reviewing your analytics can help you make informed decisions when planning future marketing campaigns.

In any normal year, the holiday season is a lucrative one for many businesses. In 2018, shoppers spent $719.15 billion during the holiday season. This year, consumers are expected to turn to online shopping more than ever before to prevent contracting and spreading the coronavirus. However, like in previous years, Black Friday is not just the most profitable shopping day of the year; it's the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

Business owners who don't take the time to prepare for holiday shoppers may find themselves at a disadvantage during the final quarter of the year. Here are several ways you can step up your marketing campaign this season for more sales, engagement and leads.

1. Offer special discounts to your customers.

Customer loyalty is the key to success, especially during the era of COVID-19. This season, consider offering special discounts, rewards or gifts to your most loyal customers. Making these offers exclusive to your best customers makes them feel appreciated and encourages them to browse your entire catalogue. Additionally, you can use a special discount as a way to introduce, or reintroduce, your customers to a new line of products you want to move off your shelf.

Remember, retaining customers is often more profitable than finding a new one, as customer acquisition becomes tricker each year. During the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are less willing to risk their hard-earned cash on something they don’t know, so start with the people who already use and love your brand.

2. Optimize for mobile devices.

In July 2019, there were 3.7 billion mobile users. In other words, over half of the population owns a cell phone, and many of those people shop online during the holiday season. The key to creating an effective mobile design for your users this year is simplicity. When someone lands on your website, they should know within seconds who you are, how you can help and why they should care. If necessary, you should also quickly explain how your business is maintaining safety measures during COVID-19.

Mobile design goes far beyond the initial appearance of your business; it also includes how your site functions. For example, mobile users are notorious for abandoning their shopping cart if they have to fill out multiple pages to complete their order.

One way to optimize for mobile is to try and create a simplified checkout page that allows users to browse your store, pick what they want and complete their purchase with minimal effort.

3. Plan your content in advance.

One of the biggest problems business owners face during the holiday season is they don't have enough content ready. If you're falling behind this year, don't worry. You can still create all of your email newsletters, promotions and blog content in the first few weeks of the holiday season. But the sooner your content is ready, the better.

Consumers now expect businesses to deliver content themed around each of the significant shopping days, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as the entire month of December leading up to Christmas.

The advantage of planning your content is you'll have more time to build rapport and engage with your audience through your email and social media marketing campaigns. It's not easy to build trust and close a sale in just a few days, but by providing meaningful insight and content early, you’re setting the stage for more sales this holiday season.

Create a staggered schedule where you're sending out emails, uploading new blog posts and updating your business social media pages regularly.

4. Host an online contest.

Online contests are one of the best ways to grow your business all year long, but it's particularly useful during the holiday months. We know that a majority of the population has at least one social media account. Additionally, we understand that people are more likely to interact with a new brand if there is no financial risk involved.

In other words, someone that followed your brand on social media, but never made a purchase from your online site is more likely to become a paying customer after participating in your contest. Contest prizes can vary depending on your marketing goals. For instance, you can allow your followers to enter your giveaway by sharing your page with friends, liking one of your posts, or by subscribing to your email marketing list. 

Business owners that want to grow their email list should offer a prize that is relevant for their target audience. Someone with a gardening e-commerce storefront may offer their latest toolset as a potential prize in exchange for subscribing. If your goal is to get more social media followers through shares and likes, use a prize that is both simple and useful, like a $25 Amazon gift card.

If you want more email subscribers, additional sales, and an increased conversion rate, create an online contest this winter.

5. Segment your email marketing lead list.

Email marketing has the best return on investment of any form of online marketing. HubSpot reports that the average ROI for email marketing is $38 for every dollar spent. You are going to want to prepare for the holidays by breaking down your lead list based on onsite behavior, analytics and expressed interests at the time the consumer signed up.

Let's say you are creating content for your e-commerce website that sells pet supplies. Your goal is to segment your lead list into different categories based on types of pets. If a dog owner visited your website and subscribed to your email content, you should put them on a lead list that centers on dog-themed content, like "8 Holiday Foods That Are Not Safe for Your Dog."

The goal is to deliver content that the subscriber finds relatable. Personalization has a huge impact on consumer behavior and can result in additional sales. If someone sees you only sent them the content they asked for, they are far more likely to visit your website in the future.

Segmenting your lead list is one of the best ways to improve your sales and click-through rate this holiday season. Email lists that are segmented tend to see a 100% increase over non-segmented lists.

6. Review your data analytics.

Finally, if you need to make quick decisions about your holiday marketing campaign this year, review your data analytics from last year's holiday season. Even though COVID-19 has changed the way many people shop, the data you have from previous sales cycles can still be informative and give you creative ideas.Social media, email and website metrics can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses by reviewing feedback, sales and product shortage.

Did you run out of a product last year and lose out on sales? If that item is still popular, or you plan to put it on sale, consider stocking up now, so you don't run out mid-Black Friday when spending typically hits an all-time high. 

What did the customer feedback forms say this time last year? Overcoming your weaknesses is just as important as playing on your strengths. If a majority of your feedback forms complain that the checkout process is too long, you can use this information to plan for a simplified buying process this season.

The great thing about data analytics is you can compare and contrast information for years to come. After tracking all of your data over several winter seasons, you will be able to make informed decisions about your business, future products and marketing material.

New Year's Day will be here before we know it. There's no better time than now to start getting ready for the massive influx of new customers that will be ready to spend this holiday season. Winter sales are expected to rise this year, so business owners that plan to reach their target audience need to act if they want to increase their profits. The sooner you start developing your marketing strategy, the better. Start using these tips today to grow your audience, personalize experiences and ultimately close sales.

This holiday season is an opportunity to end the year strong.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted millions of entrepreneurs nationwide, prompting many to closer their doors and reducing business for many others besides the lucky few. While the holiday season is always critical to businesses, the 2020 holiday season is an opportunity to end an otherwise difficult and tense year on a high note.

By taking advantage of the holiday rush – offering discounts, expanding ecommerce presences and investing in holiday marketing – your business can maximize its sales before the end of the year and enter 2021 with some momentum. It might be just the thing to help overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine and subsequent economic impact.

Sean Peek contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Image Credit: Lyndon Stratford / Getty Images
Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin
business.com Member
I'm president and CTO of OptinMonster, a powerful lead generation tool that's installed in over 700,000 websites.