The holiday season is an exciting time for store owners and shoppers alike. Shoppers get access to exclusive deals and discounts, and eCommerce entrepreneurs benefit from an influx of sales.
So… what’s the problem?
Learning how to work with the eCommerce holiday shopping cycle can feel like a confusing, intricate dance.
How can you keep up with competitors that are on the same customer hunt you’re on? How can you satisfy shoppers and convey value, so they choose you over anyone else?
The truth is, while it might not always feel like a straightforward approach, there are ways you can work with the eCommerce holiday shopping cycle so that you and your shoppers can mutually benefit.
If you’re ready to learn how to work with instead of against the cycle, you’ve come to the right spot.
Let’s take a look at the four integral parts of the eCommerce holiday shopping cycle and how you can make it work for your brand and your audience.
Ready to learn more? Let’s begin.
Part 1: Preparing for shoppers and creating awareness
Setting yourself up for success before the holiday season begins gives you a leg up on your competitors and helps you deliver the kind of value shoppers need to stay committed to your brand.
Let’s discover four simple ways you can start preparing for holiday shoppers and raising awareness.
Optimize your website
Take a hard look at your eCommerce website. Analyze your load times, overall design, potential bug issues, and sales copy.
Then, start cleaning it up. Remove barriers that create slow load times, keep your visuals clean and branded, and make it easy for shoppers to find and buy products.
This is also a great time to add some holiday flair. So, add your snowflakes, pumpkins, or custom holiday design elements, and don’t forget to highlight any special holiday promos and deals.
Finally, do a once-over on your sales copy to ensure:
- It’s aligned with your audience’s messaging preferences
- It’s written to solve key audience pain points
- It includes personalized calls to action (CTAs)
When in doubt, hire an experienced copywriter to update your sales copy for you.
Implement top-of-the-funnel marketing strategies
Use top-of-the-funnel marketing strategies to slowly reel new prospects in.
Plan your blog content, ad campaigns, retargeting ads, email campaign sequences, and social media marketing tactics in advance.
Optimize your checkout flows
Optimizing your checkout flows before the holiday season starts is pivotal to reducing cart abandonment rates.
Your checkout flows should include just a few simple steps so shoppers can check out quickly and easily.
It’s also important to implement a cart abandonment protocol (think automated email sequences and generous discount offers) to encourage shoppers who’ve bailed to give checkout another chance.
Automate redundant tasks to free up company bandwidth
Focus your efforts on what matters most by automating repetitive tasks that are a major drain on company time.
- Order fulfillment and management processes
- Inventory management processes
- Integrated payment solutions
- Marketing processes (as stated above)
- Purchasing order approvals
- As much of the shipping process as possible (make sure your shipping process is pristine!)
Part 2: Building consideration and trust
The second stage in the holiday shopping cycle places a focus on building consideration and trust.
In this stage, you’ll work your magic to motivate shoppers to consider purchasing from you, and you’ll also pay special attention to garnering their trust.
Let’s take a look at three ways you can do just that.
Leverage social proof and user-generated content
Use a social listening tool to collect real customer stories, brand mentions, visual products, testimonials, reviews, and gushing comments.
Integrating these elements of social proof in your marketing campaigns and on your website is crucial to boosting your brand image, building your reputation, and fostering trust.
It’s one thing to boast about how amazing you are, but when an actual customer does it? That’s the true mark of a brand that puts its money where its mouth is.
Hop on the latest marketing trends
Hop on recent trends via TikTok, Instagram, and LinkedIn to boost the virality potential of your social media campaigns.
When keeping an eye out for trends, be quick. As difficult as it is to plan content swiftly, you’ll need to make sure you act fast so you can reap the full benefits of each trend. If you wait too long, the trend will pass, and you’ll need to jump on the next one if you want to see fruitful results.
To make the most of this tip, consider allocating specific marketing team members to focus the bulk of their work efforts on trend research and content development.
Implement middle-of-the-funnel marketing strategies
Now that your prospects are in the middle of the funnel, you’ll need to share how your products deliver tremendous value if you want to hold their attention and build purchasing consideration.
So, think about it.
How do your products add value, change lives, and solve problems? Why should prospects choose your products over the competition?
Once you’re clear on your value positioning, use your insights to create middle-of-the-funnel content for social media, email marketing campaigns, ads, and blog content.
Don’t forget to continue to nurture your community on social media, too. Hint: implementing authentic storytelling techniques in your copy is key to fostering meaningful connections on social media.
You can also create an automated email marketing series, with each email revealing a different aspect of how your product changes lives and adds value.
Finally, don’t skimp on SEO strategy! Shoppers trust Google with all things holiday shopping, so make sure your content is optimized with search intent in mind.
Part 3: Inspiring decision-making
At this point, you’ve prepared for shoppers, boosted awareness, built purchasing consideration, and fostered trust.
The next step? Inspiring your prospects to take the final leap — aka purchase your products!
Let’s discover a few simple ways you can nudge leads closer to conversion.
Host exciting holiday contests
Boost virality, awareness, and encourage your audience to buy from you by hosting holiday contests and giveaways they can’t say no to.
Be sure to review their purchasing history so you can allocate prizes that are most in line with their buying habits. You can also offer additional contest/giveaway entries with each small purchase they make.
Get strategic with holiday discounts, deals, and promos
Make it easy for shoppers to say yes by offering holiday discounts, deals, and promos in line with their needs and wants.
Personalize this process further by segmenting your holiday offers by audience group.
For instance, if you run a financial product company or institution, consider offering exclusive holiday deals to students if they shop using their student debit card. And consider offering exclusive promos to business clients if they shop using their business debit card. So on and so forth.
Or, if you own an auto-parts store, you might segment your offers by items your prospects have searched for in the past.
For instance, you might have an audience segment that previously showed interest in rims for trucks, and you might have another segment that searched windshield wipers for sports cars.
By offering BOGOs, discount codes, and timed promos on these items, you can encourage each audience segment to take the leap to complete their purchase (even after Black Friday Sales have passed).
Share product tutorials, demos, and how-tos
Sometimes being interested in a product just isn’t enough. Some prospects want to see exactly how a product works and how it’d integrate into their daily lives before they agree to make a purchase.
So, if you sell makeup or skincare products, implement makeover videos, how-to videos, and product demos into your marketing campaigns.
If you sell electronics, share videos on how each item works, who it’s best for, and how to make the most of the equipment.
Part 4: Encouraging loyalty
And finally, to make the most of your efforts over the holiday season, don’t forget to continue nurturing prospects and customers well after the rush ends.
Our best tips for encouraging continuous loyalty?
- Deliver impeccable customer service.
- Follow-up on product purchases. Thank them! Show your appreciation (and maybe offer a discount on their next purchase).
- Create a loyalty program and invite happy shoppers to join.
- Stay connected by continuing to engage with your audience on social media and via email.
Working with the eCommerce holiday shopping cycle can feel confusing at best.
But when you understand how to make the cycle work for both you and your prospects, you can create a series of campaigns in line with your goals — and your audience’s.
Are you ready to work with the eCommerce holiday shopping cycle? We hope today’s article has given you the tools and confidence to take the first step.
For good measure, here’s a quick recap of the stages we shared today
- Part 1: Preparing for shoppers and creating awareness
- Part 2: Building consideration and trust
- Part 3: Inspiring decision-making
- Part 4: Encouraging loyalty
And that’s it for today. To your success!
About the author
Kelly Moser is the co-founder and editor at Home & Jet, a digital magazine for the modern era. She's also an expert in freelance writing and content marketing for SaaS, Fintech, and ecommerce startups.