Halloween was just a few days ago – and for retailers, that means it’s time to focus on the upcoming holiday shopping season in earnest. Historically, Black Friday has been considered the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, but it’s no longer the headliner for Thanksgiving weekend sales. Digital commerce has seen tremendous growth in the past few years, and the trend made a big impact during the holidays last year. Not only did online purchases make up 44% of Black Friday’s total sales in 2013 according to reports by the National Retail Foundation (NRF), Cyber Monday sales surged to a record 21% growth even as Black Friday sales saw a 2.7% dip from the previous year.
It’s clear that consumers are prepared to spend on Cyber Monday; that said, the market will be saturated with competitors all vying for attention. It’s therefore crucial to be prepared – and to start preparing early. Here are five steps retailers should take now in order to win sales on Cyber Monday this year:
1. Check the tech
The best marketing tactics and preparation won’t mean a thing if your website crashes from increased traffic on the big day. Fortify your back-end and make sure the entire process is smooth for the customer, from viewing items to reading reviews to checking out. While you’re at it, do a content check on each platform to ensure cohesive messaging and aesthetic throughout. Put your best foot forward, not just with marketing materials but also with the overall shopping experience.
2. Set up your landing pages
Just as retailers are getting ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers are gearing up, too. According to an August 2014 report by Google’s digital marketing publication Think with Google, many consumers are doing their research before the big event.
Source: Google Data, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States.
The chart above shows the query demand for Black Friday sales information, with a noticeable spike approximately two weeks before the holiday weekend. By the time Cyber Monday arrives, shoppers are locked in on their purchasing game plans. Pushing out optimized landing pages in advance will help you draw in shoppers as they research, which will get your brand in front of the shoppers during this crucial time.
3. Get mobile-ready
As you set up those landing pages, make sure that they’re accessible and optimized for all platforms, especially mobile. According to Google, 52% used their phones throughout the shopping process during the holiday season last year; per IBM’s Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, mobile sales went up over 55% from 2012 to account for 17.2% of total online spendinglast year. Mobile commerce is here to stay and still growing, so make sure your mobile tactics are up to par, from cohesive creative to a seamless checkout process.
4. Amp up content and social media marketing
We’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating: content marketing is gold when it comes to directing traffic to your site. Gift guides, hot item lists, and relevant SEO-ready content will help catch the attention of shoppers as they research. Make sure to roll out content on a regular schedule leading up to Cyber Monday to capitalize on the early queries. Link the content across your various social media platforms so shoppers have easy access when sharing their finds.
5. Think big (and get creative)
Cyber Monday is clearly a big opportunity for online retailers, but it’s important to not get boxed in by one day or even one weekend. Customers are already in research mode before the holiday actually hits; consider running a few pre-Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotions to encourage shopping while researching. At the same time, don’t advertise your extreme-savings Cyber Monday deals too early or with too much detail – you’ll run the risk of shoppers in deal-hunting mode that won’t purchase until Thanksgiving weekend. Your Cyber Monday event should boost your revenue, not diminish potential profit from the weeks before.