The 2021 US holiday season posted the strongest retail growth in more than 20 years, with online holiday sales reaching an estimated $211.41 billion. While NYC manufacturers traditionally thrive in in-person markets and local events during the holiday season, the pandemic highlighted the need for many small businesses to prioritize or build e-commerce storefronts.

ITAC and our partners have collaborated with many Direct to Consumer (D2C) companies as they create and enhance their e-commerce strategies. Consumers crave locally made and crafted goods, but demand the ease of online ordering. Websites also increase your company’s footprint and allow you to sell to a broader audience. The eve of holiday spending is here and, to help get you started, we’re highlighting the most important tasks for your e-commerce holiday to-do list.

1. Prepare Your Website

  • Make sure your website is running smoothly and and is user friendly. Technical features like loading speed, checkout process, and SEO strategy can’t be ignored.
  • Create a merchandising strategy. It’s not easy buying for others and consumers want guidance, especially around the holidays. To help them easily navigate your site, create sections for top sellers, navigation drop downs by price points or for gift recipients, and other quick shopping links.
  • Consider bundling products. Research shows that people spend more when the believe they’re getting a deal. If you have products frequently bought at the same time or that compliment one another, this may be an effective strategy. It can also save you money on transaction or shipping costs.
  • Clearly state shipping and delivery expectations. If it takes 3 business days to process an order, make sure your customers know in advance. FAQs and all company policies should also be defined and listed.
  • Ask for reviews! Reviews and testimonials boost credibility and significantly improve conversion rates. This User Generated Content (UGC) can be displayed with products, on a testimonials page, and with your marketing communication.

2. Create a Marketing Calendar 

  • This season has no shortage of holidays. Giving Tuesday, Small Business Saturday, National Flashlight Day (12/21)… every day is a holiday in the 4th quarter. Before getting overwhelmed by all of the possibilities, consider what days are most applicable for your business and will resonate with your audience.
  • List other important dates like order cutoffs for holiday delivery and any other internal days to note.
  • Create tasks and set due dates that give yourself plenty of time to create, test, and schedule all of your marketing efforts.
  • Coordinate emails, ads, website graphics, blogs, and any other communications. If you create promotions in advance, it’s easier to give content and graphics lots of legs.

3. Design the Emails (in advance!)

  • Consistency plays a huge role in email marketing. If you haven’t emailed your database in months, subscribers are much more likely to unsubscribe if you’re suddenly sending emails more regularly. If it’s been awhile, send out a re-engagement campaign before the holiday season starts, and let them know that you’ll be in their inbox more frequently.
  • Create a sense of urgency with limited time emails like, “only 3 days left” or “there is still time!” for high open and click rates. This works for all sales and deadlines.
  • Working off templates will save lots of time while creating a consistent, branded look. Rotate between 2-3 formats to simplify the creative process.
  • In addition to promotional emails, don’t forget about automated or sequential emails. If nothing else, abandoned cart emails are a must-have.

4. Get Advertising

  • Your site is all set, now it’s time to get eyeballs on it! Step one is determining your budget. Many businesses set aside between 2% and 5% of annual revenues for advertising, but every company is unique. Look at your conversion rates, average order values, and other metrics to determine what you can spend while ensuring a positive Return On Investment (ROI).
  • Consider where your audiences are spending their time, and focus there. We meet many companies who are spread thin trying to achieve success on TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and everything between. For many small businesses, there are just not enough resources to do everything. Start with one platform at a time, and grow as you can. For most D2C e-commerce holiday shopping, Instagram ads will be most effective.
  • After thinking about WHERE your customers are, think about WHO they are. You don’t want to target everyone on the internet with your ads. Build audiences that reflect your current customers, or start with Lookalike audiences. These are automatically generated by Facebook from your website pixel or uploaded customer data.
  • Not everyone who comes to your website will immediately buy. To keep these consumers remined of your products, but aside some budget for retargeting ads.

5. Start NOW

  • If this looks like a lot of work, that’s because it is! The holidays bring added stress from every angle, and your holiday marketing shouldn’t be rushed, last minute, or adding to that stress. Consumers are holiday shopping today. Don’t miss out on this lucrative season!

6. When In Doubt, Get Help

  • Small business owners wear a lot of hats. If you don’t have the time or expertise to create strong marketing collateral, you’re not alone. ITAC and our network of marketing experts are available to help with any sized marketing project – from advising on email campaigns and copy, to creating digital ads, website improvements, and full-service marketing management. We are here to help your e-commerce company have the most successful holiday season yet, and we’re ready to get started.

For more information on our marketing services, contact us today.