Consumers have become more accustomed to shopping online over the past few years, and the global pandemic essentially forced everyone to make purchases online, even for basic necessities.


Even something as simple as ordering groceries online for home delivery was new to many and helped introduce the boomer generation to the world of e-commerce. While online sales are up across the board, and companies like Shopify and Amazon are reporting record-breaking numbers each quarter, there is no denying that sales naturally spike during the holiday seasons.


Many online retailers will experience a surge in sales volume during the holidays without doing anything — it’s just the byproduct of standard consumer behavior. But, what if there were simple website optimization tips you could implement that would drive even more conversions and sales during the holiday seasons?


Planning ahead and focusing on every holiday opportunity can have a tremendous impact on your revenue, and while most brands have a plan in place for the major online sales holidays — Like Black Friday and Christmas, most are leaving money on the table by ignoring the other less marketed holidays.


Let’s dive into eight ways to optimize your website that will help you drive more e-commerce sales on all holidays, from the major retail-driven holidays to the less retail-focused ones.



Run Promotions for Every Possible Holiday (Not Just the “Standard”)

There are several holidays throughout the year, and each one presents your business with an opportunity to leverage it to drive more awareness and sales. Don’t just focus on the standard online retail holidays.


Take a quick look at this resource that lists all of the major U.S. holidays for 2021. You will see that every month presents you with opportunities to leverage holidays to run special promotions. Obviously, you cannot run specials for each one, but you can easily pick and choose the right ones for your specific business.


Take a page out of car dealerships — they run massive promotions for many holidays. Check local auto dealership websites in your country to see what holidays they are targeting — you will get some great ideas by doing this.


Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, for example, are very straightforward marketing opportunities. Things like “Get your mom/dad a (insert your product) today and save 20%!” perform well. You can also get very creative with oddball holidays.


Did you know there was a “Star Wars Day” holiday? Creative ads and marketing emails with a “The Force is Strong with You” message and a play on Star Wars is a great fun way to drive sales.


Be creative and don’t be afraid to test random holidays. You never know how your customer base will react unless you try. Your offer will have to be appealing of course, but a holiday gives you an easy way to market to your database without appearing spammy and annoying.


Build an Opt-In List of Frequent Shoppers & Offer Advanced Holiday Offers

Running holiday offers to the general public can work for some of the more popular holidays. Consumers naturally expect to find amazing deals during Christmas and Black Friday, but what about for other obscure holidays, or ones that aren’t typically associated with online shopping deals?


You will want to create a separate email list consisting of your customers that want to be notified of these special holiday offers. Send an email to your entire list and give them the opportunity to opt-in to a special “VIP Holiday Offers” list.


Let them know that this list is for advanced notice of any and all holiday specials, and you will want to make sure that you make them feel special — it will greatly increase your opt-in rate. Something along the lines of, “Since you are one of our preferred customers we are giving you the opportunity to opt-in to receive our holiday special promotions before the public” is direct and to the point while also making the customer feel like they are being invited to join an exclusive list.


Some e-commerce stores will find it beneficial to create a special “gated” section that is only accessible via a password, which can be sent to this list. Consumers will convert much higher if they think the specials are only accessible to them and not the general public.


As always, test different approaches and strategies to find out what performs best for your particular store.


Activate Upsells to Trigger on All Purchases During Holiday Promotions

Anytime you are running a holiday offer, whether it’s a major holiday like Christmas or a lesser-marketed holiday, you will want to take advantage of upsells. Consumers that are taking advantage of holiday specials and promotions have it in their mind that they are getting a deal.


So, by placing opportunities to further capitalize on the deals, you will see your average cart size and average order value increase. You can run popups that offer upsells when certain products are added to the cart or you can include in-cart upsell offers.


There are many plugins that will handle this seamlessly for you, available both for WooCommerce and Shopify, which are the two leading e-commerce platforms.


This is also a great way for e-commerce brands to offload excess inventory. Rather than have it sit in a warehouse collecting dust, offer it as an upsell at cost. This prevents a loss and gives your customers something at extreme savings.


If your store sells any recurring and subscription-based products, offering them at a deep discount is a great way to increase your revenue monthly by giving customers the first installment month free.


You have to run the numbers, but base your strategy around increasing the lifetime value of each customer. Sometimes taking a slight loss initially can create explosive revenue growth down the line.



Add In-Cart Upsells Like Gift Wrapping or Expedited Guaranteed Rush Delivery

Anytime your order volume increases you have an opportunity to drive additional revenue by offering in-cart upsell options and add-ons. Things like gift wrapping, hand-written cards, and even faster order processing and shipping times are simple ways to add to each order total.


Let’s explain each one and run the numbers to show you how this simple strategy can help your e-commerce store push higher sales volume during your holiday promotions.


  • Gift Wrapping: While this will not work for a dropshipping business model, if you house your inventory and process your orders internally, you can add gift wrapping. Just implement it into the order processing and packaging routine, and mark the service up accordingly. Some stores will add $6 to $8 in pure profit to each order by implementing this add-on. Over thousands of orders per holiday, it creates an additional revenue stream that can be applied to growth and business costs.


  • Cards: Again, this is not for a dropshipping model, but inserting a little card with a handwritten message is a nice touch. Limit the characters for the card and have your shipping department handle this. Some stores charge $12 for this and profit $10 additional per order. Create a seamless system for this and watch your average order value increase.


  • Expedited Delivery: A “rush processing” add-on of $5 to $8 can increase your revenue. Orders that select this should be placed at the front of your processing and receive same-day shipping.


Price accordingly, as you don’t want to break even on these upsells. These are add-ons that provide a convenience value, so price accordingly. You have to be able to make a solid profit on these.


Emphasize Last Day Shipping Calls-to-Action to Leverage FOMO

You want to make sure that your customers all receive their orders before the holidays if it’s a gift. Now, for something like a “Washington’s Birthday” promotion, shipping and arrival dates are not relevant.


But, for Christmas, Black Friday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. — your customers expect their order to arrive before the holiday. Having a call-to-action that tells the customer the last day to order to guarantee holiday delivery will help drive more sales due to FOMO. They don’t want to miss that deadline.


A countdown time with text specific for the holiday is the most effective approach. For Christmas, something along the lines of, “Order within the Next X Days, X Hours, X Minutes to guarantee Christmas Delivery!” will help drive more sales.


Be sure to advertise a cutoff time that guarantees delivery. The last thing you want to do is have a bunch of unhappy customers that didn’t receive their orders as advertised. Be aware that the USPS now has longer than normal delivery times and has sent notices to its customers that the U.S. Postal Service is now operating at a slower speed.


Be 100 percent certain the guaranteed delivery you offer will be honored. If not you are inviting a large number of angry customers to leave your e-commerce store negative reviews.



Keep Promo Partners and Affiliates Updated with Marketing Assets and Details

By running holiday special offers regularly you are also setting up your marketing partners and affiliates for success. You want to best prepare them, so be sure to keep them updated with all of your plans.


Most e-commerce stores have an affiliate program, and if you don’t you are missing out on an incredible way to drive business without an upfront marketing cost. Most affiliate dashboards have a section for marketing collateral and assets — things like banners, email swipe copy, etc.


Keep this updated with all of your holiday special offers, and give your affiliates the tools and information needed to succeed. The more successful they are, the more they will promote your offers, effectively helping to drive your store’s revenue during each holiday promotion.


The easier you make it for affiliates to participate in your promotions, the more activity you will see from their end. Many e-commerce sites don’t regularly communicate with their affiliates and you need to continue to nurture that relationship or they will promote offers that give them the attention they seek.


You should have an email list consisting of just your store’s referral partners. Keep them constantly updated and even consider rolling out contests to help spark more participation — in the end, it can benefit your store’s sales.


Don’t Ignore Birthdays (Ex: Life Events)

Don’t just focus on major holidays that apply to everyone collectively. Life events, such as birthdays, are also great targeting for your campaigns. At the very least you should have your customers’ birthday in your CMS.


Most e-commerce stores have some sort of loyalty rewards app, and these will automatically collect the date of birth as a lower-tier reward. Having a CTA on your website that provides a discount or gift in exchange for a date of birth, or a redemption offer on that customer’s “holiday,” will help you push more volume.


Consumers love to feel appreciated, and even a little email or text note wishing them a happy birthday can help drive additional store traffic and sales daily. As your e-commerce business and its customer base grow, this can equate to several additional sales every day.


An exit popup welcoming a birthday opt-in will often convert higher than a traditional email list opt-in offer because the consumer will naturally think they will receive a special offer on their birthday. Any time the perceived value is high, expect your opt-in rate to convert well.


Run Aggressive Remarketing Campaigns on Your Last Day To Ship

It was mentioned above that highlighting a countdown referencing the last day to order to guarantee delivery, and you can take that a step further by running a sitewide top floating banner on the last day to ship combined with a remarketing campaign emphasizing that, creating extreme FOMO.


You should already have remarketing pixels on your website for Facebook at the very least, and running that data along with a very aggressive “last day to order for guaranteed delivery” ads for 24 hours can drive sales and make the most out of your remarketing data.


This is leveraging FOMO to the max, and if someone was on your website previously they may have gotten distracted and meant to return to purchase, and this is an effective way to pull them back in immediately.


I have seen some of the biggest returns on ad spend using this strategy, and it can be a great way to end each holiday marketing campaign.



Final Thoughts

The biggest benefit of running holiday-specific marketing and promotional offers is that most consumers will not see it as overly aggressive marketing — you almost get a free pass. Marketing messages — email, SMS, social media — presenting a holiday-themed offer draw more attention because consumers are trained to think that holiday specials and promotions are the time to secure the best deals.


Your holiday marketing will draw more attention and higher interest, and if your offers are appealing, your conversion rates should always spike during these times. While holidays like Black Friday and Christmas will always offer opportunities it’s important to remember that all of your competition is also marketing these traditional holidays very aggressively.


Be sure to also be aggressive during other holidays. There are clever ways to create a special promotion around any holiday, even birthdays, which allow you to attract new customers and generate repeat business from your existing customer base.


Do you have any questions regarding the e-commerce website optimization tips above centered around boosting holiday sales? If so, drop a comment below and I will do my best to address them all.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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