Holiday Season E-Commerce Strategies & 2017 Sales Data

Holiday Ecomm Strategies, Ideas and Tips to Increase Sales

The data is in. According to multiple sources, the holiday 2017 online shopping season was one for the books. Due to a "strengthening economy, high consumer confidence and rebuilding efforts after a season of natural disasters across the country", online sales increased 10.4 percent from last year compared to only 4 percent from brick and mortar stores [source: NYTimes]. Due in part to retailers really ramping up their e-commerce operations and crazy deals for Black Friday/Cyber Monday (upwards of 50%-60% off, is anyone making any profit off of these margins after discounting?!), this growth and climb is the largest since the 2008 recession. It also though falls during a time in which online shopping in general makes up for almost 10% of all retails sales in general. 

As marketers and business owners, what can we learn from these numbers? By looking at some of the strategies that lead to these sales numbers, we can borrow ideas from some of the big online players and weave into our plans and initiatives for 2018. Here's what worked and what you should consider: 

Deals, messaging and low prices should lure buyers before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The time period from Nov 1 - Thanksgiving should be just as important as the 5 days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These 20 or so odd days are for the early birds who are out in force. Spending during this time period accounted for 7 times the total spend from just Cyber Monday alone. Getting started on a serious holiday sales and messaging strategy as early as November 1st for the holiday shopping season should now be the new norm.

Connect online to offline.

Wal-Mart did a really aggressive push this season to will play up its vast brick-and-mortar presence and in-store pickup services for online shoppers. Many other mall retailers also pushed their pick-up in store feature as a way to cut down on shipping and close deals and sales before the delivery cut-off hit in late December. Giving customers the option to shop the online deals in person is also another way to drive sales in store. Connecting the dots between online and off is extremely important. 

Don't forget about your mobile shopping strategy.

Shopping from phones was responsible for approximately 21% of just Cyber Monday sales alone so you could only imagine how highly effective and profitable this platform is the month of November, let alone the whole year. Be sure your mobile shopping experience is seamless this year, especially in Q4. Thinking of doing an update to it? Re-design or overhaul? Start now! 

I hate to end this post on a bit of bad news but let's get real: Amazon is really crushing everything. This behemoth player is responsible for 50% of the holiday spending growth in general. After that, we're all just small fish in a very, very, very big pond filled with kois owned by Bezos. 

4 Things No One Tells You About Your Website

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Well, congratulations! You have a website (let's assume for the sake of this post that you do). You didn't think you would just create, it launch it, and forget it, would you? Of course not! :) In order to see real results from your efforts and to get it to do the work, websites actually take a bit more work than sometimes we expect. I can't tell you how many times I need to remind both clients and friends of these below simple basics. Whether it's a freshly minted page or one that has been chugging along for a while, it's best to review these below easy "must haves" and make sure that you're following these effective strategies in order to achieve results!

1. Have a search strategy.

Getting people to your site is a whole beast onto itself. An expertly crafted search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is paramount and necessary in effort to get your page to appear in searches on Google (don't even worry about the other players) and ultimately traffic to your site. Organic search traffic could be a #1 referrer for site traffic! If you only have 5 min a week to ensure things are in tip top shape from a search perspective make sure your meta descriptions include main keywords, your pages actually have body copy with rich text and your images have alt text.

2. Be sure you are tracking conversions.

This one is a bit more technical but if you're selling something on your website, make sure you can track your sales in Google Analytics! You must be able to tell where your traffic that results in sales is coming from. If not, how would you know where to maximize and minimize your efforts? If the word "conversion tracking" sounds foreign to you, call you your web developer or anyone techie and get them to help you out. This is a must!!

3. Tell people!

Ahhhhh the art of self promotion. This one is really hard for me because I hate sounding too salesy or pushy. But, how else would anyone know that I have a website if I don't simply tell them? Occasional posts on social media, emails and word of month does the trick on this front. It just has to be done. And, it works. 

4. Make updates. Update anything!

Stale sites are so boring. If you haven't updated your homepage (at very least!) in over a month, get on it! A subtle visual or text change to the top three most frequently visited pages is what I would recommend. A homepage image switch out is ideal, but even a little content edit would do. When Google crawls your site, it loves to see that your site has had recent code changes so any small switch goes a long way from a search perspective as well.

If you're thinking the above sounds simple, it's because it is. We sometimes do need to be reminded of just the small important things when bogged down in crazy strategies to get ahead in other areas of business. Good luck! 

The Best of 2017

In true year-end fashion and as the final month of 2017 draws to a close, I'm getting a little reflective on this past year by looking back on some of the accomplishments I had for my creative marketing business. From an updated site to some exciting projects, there were times when I thought I would never get through some of them (but of course i did!!)  and now that we're just breaking into 2018, I can't help but highlight some of the "best of's" below with a few tips.

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New Site:

This one was a looooooong time coming. Since going out on my own in 2014, I had been operating with a makeshift website I had on WordPress that I felt never truly reflected the work that I do. One of my goals for this year was to re-design the site highlighting all services, and so I did. I knew that if I didn't craft a very simple one myself on Squarespace (aka. basically something I can put together in a weekend and update quickly here and there), I would never get it done. My first step was to create two boards on Pinterest - one for logo ideas, the other for layout and design ideas. From there I designed the simple identity and overall look and feel of the site. I had a general idea of how I also wanted the navigation and general site structure to operate so then I picked out the closest template in Squarespace to get me the desired user experience and went to town with writing all new copy, listing all workshops and teaching I have done, linking to press, describing my process and also inputting all new photos. I also worked with my fave photographer & friend, Jennifer Lavelle, who took natural light lifestyle head shot images I am very happy with. These can be seen on my homepage and on the about page. All in all, this site didn't take too long to put together! I am a bit surprised I hadn't bit the bullet and done it sooner. For this next year, I wish to blog more often and update the site with some featured work.

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Clients:

Around October of 2016 I was very fortunate to be connected to Billion Dollar Boy, a leading global influencer agency, by my dear friend Lisa (Big shout out to Lisa! Thank you!). At that time, BDB was seeking someone to work with them at the time to help execute a cool creative Coach campaign for the launch of Coach's new mascot, a tyrannosaurus rex named Rexy. I was brought on to help them out for the project which involved sourcing over 35 creatives to create original social media content around this mascot and share it on their channels (focusing on Instagram). I have since been really lucky to have been with them for just over a year now working on additional campaigns for things such as Lab Series for Men MAXCELLENENCE collection premier, Lab Series for Men PRO LS launch, The White Company on their influencer-based US campaign and store openings (both the 5th Ave location and The Short Hills Mall store) and most recently with Bobbi Brown for their Party Ready Holiday collection campaign. The wild west of influencer marketing has been really exciting to be a part of. What's so fascinating to me is how these large brands then use the influencers assets in their own internal and external marketing to truly drive sales. This could be from re-purposing images for an email marketing campaign to sharing content on company blogs - all while linking back to products featured and tracking appropriately. I also am so interested in how these creators are all so unique and individual in how they create and conceptualize content that is true to them while still answering the creative needs of the brand. Billion Dollar Boy is a really progressive and a unique company in this space I am so happy to be a part of (great team! great office! great clients!). Let me know if your business is considering influencer marketing!

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Community:

While I'm no longer living directly in the city, I'm sad to say that gone are the days of working out of Neuehouse or Soho House. It's mainly me, working out of my house :) Working from home can get a little lonely, so I've made it my mission this past year to find some local groups of women in business here in New Jersey to network with and also be a bit social. It took a bit of crazy Googling to find some things that are the right fit. Two local organizations that have been really helpful to be a part of out here in Morris County have been the Tuesdays Together group from Rising Tide Society and the Lady Boss Book Club founded by Mallika Malhotra. Tuesdays Together is once a month meeting for creatives + entrepreneurs gather together for coffee and conversation. Each month there is a topic at hand for discussion (social media, email marketing, etc) and I actually love it because each time I go I always learn something new. The Lady Boss Book Club is unique in the fact that each month or two a new business book is selected and then talked about in a morning get together. I've only been once because of my work schedule, but I really enjoyed it, kept up with most of the readings and do hope to hit up more in 2018 (starting with this month and the selection of Danielle LaPorte's The Fire Starter Sessions. Anyone read it?!).

On another note, this past year I luckily found myself an advisory board (more of less) for my business. Myself, along with two other women, have gotten together to form this group to provide accountability to one another, have monthly check-ins, bounce ideas off of or just keep in touch with. It has been truly amazing to be able to talk to others about our businesses that a) aren't my clients and b) aren't my husband :) and help each other out.

Together with Cody McBurnett of Loki Loki Brand Identity Design and Colleen Star Koch of Rowan Coaching, we've dubbed this group the “Working Title Collective", and Cody has beautifully penned this blog post on how to start one of your own (and also give a bit more detail about what we do in ours). Being a part of this has definitely kept me motivated and moving forward, which is worth it's weight in gold.

It's onward and upward into 2018!!