Gearing Up Web Marketing for the Holiday Season

With Halloween out of the way, the 2017 holiday season is now in full swing. It's that time of year again, and you need to make sure you have a marketing plan to capitalize on the most busy shopping days of the entire year. But there's a lot more to do to prepare for the holiday season than marketing holiday-themed content.

Every year, there's always some new horror story about a website that went down at the peak of holiday shopping for one reason or another. Sometimes it's a failure to plan for extra capacity, yet other times a website is victimized by a hacker. The business's bottom line invariably suffers massive setbacks. The good news is a little diligence can help prevent such a disaster, so let's take a look at the best ways to prepare for the holiday season.

Traffic Capacity

Websites are anything but static entities. Not only is the website's content constantly changing (or at least, it should be), but so are the technical demands. Hopefully over the course of the last year you've been able to make some significant strides towards building an audience and increasing organic traffic from search engines.

But note that some types of websites, especially those that sell products and services online, will experience a much heavier load during the holiday season. It pays to plan for extra capacity, because even a few hours of downtime could equate to massive losses of revenue. I'd recommend keeping a close eye on metrics such as unique visitors, but also make sure that the site isn't overtaxed during peak hours.

More specifically, I'd make sure that your hosting provider supplies enough bandwidth and hardware resources, especially if you've noticed that it has underperformed in the past. If some of your pages have been loading slowly, it might be time to consider upgrading your hosting package to accommodate increased traffic. If you run an ecommerce website, making sure you have a redundant backup is critical or you could lose out on boatloads of sales.

Holiday Promotions and Savings Opportunities

The vast majority of businesses typically run promotions and discounts during the holiday season. But if you own a small business or are simply new to digital marketing, remember that simply running a sale is only part of the success equation. You also have to take great efforts to inform your audience, which can be done in a variety of ways.

For example, you can always build hype for your holiday sale via email marketing if you've taken the time to build a list. Additionally, you may want to post some sort of message on your landing page. In the past, I've seen some websites even include a countdown timer ticking down the seconds until Cyber Monday, which helps make things more exciting.

I would also recommend making sure that your customers know when the sale will be ending as well, because it helps create a sense of urgency that will help persuade leads to take action and convert to customers. Just remember not to go overboard and send so many savings advertisements that you annoy potential customers.

Prepare for Small Business Saturday

Unless you've been living under a rock, I think just about everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, you also need to be prepared for Small Business Saturday, which takes place on November 25th, 2017 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday). In fact, I would try to line up some of your content marketing with Small Business Saturday in the coming weeks.

Ideally, if you have a small business, you'll want to target locally as much as possible. Some communities that are really organized band together small business events. If there's a small business event in your area, you should take full advantage if it makes sense.

Incentivize Positive Reviews

The most crucial aspect of reviews is honesty, and they can make all the difference in the world. It should be one of your goals this holiday season to incentivize reviews, and to do anything in your power to ensure that they're positive (within the bounds of integrity). I would highly advise against writing fake reviews for the obvious ethical reasons, but do note that customers aren't stupid.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, it's pretty easy to spot a review that's fake. And fake reviews erode your credibility. Things can be hectic during the holiday season, but take great care and be even more diligent with regards to preparedness. Running out of product or failing to adequately serve a customers could lead to a slew of bad online reviews or comments that dissuade potential leads from converting.

If you're having trouble getting customers and visitors to give honest feedback, you could incentivize their honest review with a small token of appreciation. For instance, you could hold a raffle for people who leave feedback, or offer a small savings discount too.

Security

Security is really a demand that needs to be met year round. But now more than ever, you need to make sure that your website is locked down and secured. If you don't know the first thing about WordPress security, it's high time you reached out to a professional to help you protect your website.

Not only could a hacked site mean a massive loss of revenue in the short term, but you could lose rankings and trust with your audience in the long term. Plus, having a secure site is beneficial for Google's ranking algorithm, and will give you another advantage against the competition.

 Final Thoughts

Christmas music is already playing on a non-stop loop on the radio and in grocery stores, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It's time to start preparing for the holiday season to ensure that you can maximize on the busiest shopping period of the year. Remember to keep these five critical aspects of digital marketing in mind as 2017 draws to a close.

About 

Amber Hanke is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Red Canoe Media. She attends school at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and her major is Business Management. Amber is a certified Social & Community Manager.

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