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While holiday shoppers are clipping coupons and bundling up for the cold, retailers are making their own preparations for the annual commercial boon. According to Forbes, holiday sales are expected to reach $78.7 billion this year, meriting a little extra attention from businesses both large and small. But while this volume represents a real opportunity for savvy businesses, tapping into it is a challenge all its own.

How to Boost Online Sales This Holiday Season

How to Boost Online Sales This Holiday Season

Even if you possess a certain share of this revenue already, no harm can come from seeking a bigger portion. By considering the specific sentiments, cycles, and circumstances of holiday sales, businesses can redouble their efforts and their profits in the process. Success lies in tapping into the spirit of the season through promotional offers and customer attention and maximizing your online functionality to facilitate shopping and streamline the customer experience.

Be Mobile Ready

Increasing web traffic volumes and so-called "m-commerce" leave only one viable conclusion: mobile business is set to explode. Failing to recognize this trend can leave unwitting retailers in the cold. But mobile solutions are on the rise and basic accommodations can be made to make sure you are ready for the holiday season, on cellphones and desktop PCs.

Focus on maintaining a consistent consumer experience between mobile and desktop sites. Prioritize consistent shopping carts between platforms and reformat product images and descriptions in order to make optimal use of varying screen real estate. Exercise a responsive web solution in order to maintain search engine visibility and transition effortlessly between differing device sizes and capabilities. Design your mobile experience with the knowledge that a great deal of holiday traffic will come from these sources and understand that customer activity through mobile manifests in many ways.

According to a Google survey, as much as 28% of customer research on mobile devices results in some kind of sales conversion, be it phone call, in-store visit, or actual purchase. Information fueling these conversions include contact information, directions, accurate product catalogs, and hours of operations. If a full-on website redesign is not in your budget, consider adopting a mobile solution with at least these capabilities to capitalize on conversion potential.

Tap into the Spirit of the Season

The winter season has multiple phases, each with its own commercial opportunity and marketing profile. By understanding the distinct nature of each holiday, you can focus marketing efforts and maximize return as a result. For Black Friday, feature deep discounts on hot items through multiple channels. Utilize email, social networking, and coupon codes in order to tap into buyer desire for the best deal. Smaller businesses should focus on Small Business Saturday by tapping into the spirit of community and entrepreneurship. Cyber Monday benefits online retailers by giving them a spotlighted stage upon which to shine with deals, free shipping, and responsive customer service.

Around the holidays, take advantage of shopper's propensity to seek out good buys and move product by meeting them half way. Generosity and community are the sentiments of the shopping season, so make these accommodations and expect positive results. Furthermore, understand your business' unique profile and customer perception and tailor your marketing toward holidays that espouse these values.

Get Ideas from Social Media

The community element of holiday shopping is integral to successful sales efforts. Winter sales represent a chance to become a part of the consumer conversation and social networking enables this in profound ways. Monitor your social networking channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, and look for consumer trends. Engage customers by interacting with their content and posting some of your own.

It is important to keep in mind that different types of content can have differing effects on your business. Photographs are more likely to elicit shares, so create content featuring products in warm, family settings, suggesting values with which users wish to be associated. Blog posts and gift guides may not see as much sharing, but may generate likes in addition to guiding purchases and holiday trends. Keeping a finger on the shoppers pulse during winter is a sure way to generate buzz and sales.

Be a Human Being

The most important aspect of community is the human face associated with it and becoming a part of the holiday warmth requires a personal touch. Aforementioned content efforts, including gift suggestions and even guest bloggers, can add personality to your holiday marketing in a way that connects with shoppers. But the human element isn't limited to content creation and marketing.

Investment in extra personnel and customer service resources will see positive ROI during the season of giving. Crowds are likely to be greater in volume and limited in patience as the challenges of holiday shopping and travel wear nerves thin. Offer a helpful smile and a knowledgeable hand and guide customers in the right direction. For online retailers, be sure that operators are available to respond to questions and requests for help promptly. With tight schedules, the last thing customers want to do is wait for a response, especially if they perceive that said response is coming from a machine instead of a person.

Foster Joy

In all efforts, understand that the core of the holiday season is joy. Marketing efforts, personal accommodations, and streamlined experiences all surprise and inspire joy during the shopping experience. With this knowledge, you can guide your holiday efforts and create a positive, lasting impression in the minds of weary consumers.

While rife with challenges, the holiday season affords commensurate opportunities for commercial success. Be mobile ready when smartphone wielding shoppers scour the digital shelves this season and tap into the unique sentiments of each holiday when designing marketing efforts and promotional offers. Keep a finger on the pulse of social media, capitalizing on trends, and offer a human face to tired consumers and expect positive results. The season of giving means different things to different people. For retailers, it means exercising generosity that can mean the

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