How to Maximise Your Christmas Sales

Phil Rothwell is an ecommerce expert with more than 20 years’ experience helping retailers to sell online. He was there at the beginning of ecommerce and played a leading role in growing Actinic Software from dot com start-up to floatation on the London Stock Exchange

Christmas will soon be upon us.

Most big businesses already have their marketing plans in place for Christmas and the more recent UK phenomenon of Black Friday, which this year is Friday November 23rd.

Black Friday originated in the US where the Friday after Thanksgiving was seen as the start of the Xmas shopping season. Some say it got its name because for many retailers it was the day they went “into the black” for the first time each financial year. It is an important time for retailers who are in the “gift business” and need to maximise sales at this time of the year.

The problem is that Black Friday has become best known for discounting and the relative ease of online retailing has meant that the Christmas sales period that follows often begins later.

This is a great time to start making plans for this year’s Black Friday promotions and Xmas campaigns and so here are my top tips for making the most of the season.

Create a Seasonal Mailing List

If you have been in business for a couple of years or more, then there will already be people in your ecommerce system who have purchased from you during the Christmas season. Create a list of people who have placed orders from you from mid-October to mid-January.

Segment Your List into “Givers” and “Receivers”

Many of your customers at this time of year don’t want to use the things you sell to them, they want to give them friends and loved ones. If you can make an educated guess who is who, that would be useful.

Don’t Make Price your Only Focus

It really is the worst time the year to major on a price proposition as you are unlikely to win. Emphasise some other aspect of your brand and/or service to persuade people to buy from you, even if it is at a premium.

“You are only going to get one shot at sending these communications – you have to get them right first time.”

Think about competing on discounts – a large discount from a high price can still be a good margin for you. People expect ‘deals’ on Black Friday but it doesn’t mean that you have to give all your margin away.

Develop Targeted Communications

Remember, you are not selling products, you are selling presents; this needs to be reflected in your communications. Address two scenarios:

  1. If the recipient of your communication is a “Giver”, then you should explain why your products make ideal gifts. Everyone finds it difficult to buy gifts so explain how you can solve this problem.
  2. If the recipient of your communication is a “Receiver”, then there are two potential goals. Firstly, you can encourage them to purchase the item themselves (giving to yourself rarely disappoints), or you can encourage them to forward the email to a friend.

In my experience, using empathy in this way is the best way of engaging customers.

Start Early

Last year Amazon started it’s Black Friday promotion early. Starting your Xmas campaign early makes a lot of sense as it often takes a few attempts to persuade people to buy.

Use A/B Testing

You are only going to get one shot at sending these communications – you have to get them right first time.

“If we had left it to chance and used the least successful option (which some of us preferred), our sales would have been halved!”

I recently did an email promotion for a client where I tested three different email subject lines using SendGrid.  The click-through rate on the most successful subject line (21.33%) was more than double the click through rate on the least successful subject line (9.04%). If we had left it to chance and used the least successful option (which some of us preferred), our sales would have been halved!

There is only one Black Friday every year, so make the most of it.  For further information read: A/B testing Using SendGrid.

Capture some Data

Most ecommerce systems allow you to ask questions at checkout. Why not ask your customers if their purchase is for them, a gift, or a bit of both? That way, next year you can remove some of the guesswork out of your seasonal communications!

Get Some Help

Remember if you want some help with your Christmas communications you can contact us directly using the form below!