Online Sales – How to Plan a Profitable Online Holiday Promotion

The holidays are just around the corner. Have you started preparing for the end of the year rush? If you haven’t, you need to start now. Ecommerce stores experience a holiday rush just like brick and mortar stores do that usually strikes between December 5th through 15th. If you sell your work online you need to have everything in place long before then  if you want to take advantage of this rush. Here’s how to start planning a profitable online holiday promotion.

Start early…and end late

When it comes to holiday shoppers, you’ll be dealing with both early birds and last minute shoppers. So plan your promotion to accommodate both types. If you sell physical products you’ll have to consider the shipping factor. You need to be able to ship early enough to keep the early birds out of holiday postal lines.  Then you also have those customers who order the week before Christmas and want it over-nighted.

To appeal to the early birds and the last minute procrastinators, do some pre-holiday marketing starting in October or earlier to catch the early birds.  Keep your promotion going until at least January 1st  to catch the procrastinators that order just before and after the holidays and the ultra-organized people shopping for next year.

Create some holiday specials

Everyone expects to get a good deal during the holidays. So be sure to create an offer that will attract the shoppers. While most stores will be offering large discounts, smaller businesses have the opportunity to get a little more creative. Here are a couple of holiday promotions to think about:

“Early Bird” or “End of Year” specials
A free gift with purchase
Rush or last minute shipping
Special editions or time limited products
Discounts or free item with multiple or high ticket purchases (people like to buy one gift for their friend and two for themselves)
Free shipping with purchase
Free gift wrapping with purchase
Sponsor a holiday giveaway, contest, or charity drive
Donate a portion of holiday sales to charity
Get the word out early and often

Start promoting your holiday offer as soon and as often as possible. Sending out one postcard mailing or one email blast won’t be enough. You need to promote your offers consistently starting at least by October 1st all the way up until after Christmas if you’re trying to catch the post Christmas end of year traffic. Here are a couple of promotion ideas to get you started:

Advertise on compatible websites or blogs
Advertise on AdWords
Send a series of postcards to your mailing list
Send a series of promotional emails to your email list
Create a Facebook event
Twitter about your holiday offer
Advertise in holiday gift guides
Cross-promote with a compatible website
Deck the virtual halls

There’s no better way to get customers in the shopping mood by dressing your site up for the holidays.  This could be as simple as adding some simple holiday graphics or changing to a holiday color scheme or as elaborate as overhauling the entire front page of your website. Remember to also add festive touches to your your email messages, newsletters, and blog as well. Just remember to change them back as soon as your promotion is over!

Plan and prepare now…if not sooner

Start planning your promotion and preparations now.  It can take anywhere from a week to a month to get everything ready. Buy bulk shipping materials, gift wrap, boxes, and other order fulfillment items in advance. Get online accounts to UPS, FedEx, and/or USPS so you can print shipping labels in your office.  If possible, arrange for package pick up from your office or home to avoid the daily shipping run. Order postcards, stamps, and any other direct mail materials ASAP. Keep an eye on inventory and be prepared to order more if necessary.Look for advertising opportunities immediately. Many blogs and websites start selling ad space for the holidays months in advance. If you or your web designer is creating a holiday look for your site,  get the ball rolling as you’ll need time to make changes.  Don’t wait until it’s almost Halloween or Thanksgiving to figure things out…by then it’s far too late.  Do it now!

If you are planning to hire a web designer to work on your website, there are number of things that you need to know before you start looking. Learn what you need to know about hiring a web designer at: