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12 lessons e-commerce businesses learned this holiday season

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Jan. 27, 2016
E-commerce, retail and marketing pros share their insights into the recent holiday shopping season and discuss how online retailers can apply their experiences to the 2016 holiday shopping season.

“Email personalization is a very hot topic right now. While most advertisers are still using the historical ‘batch and blast’ method due to the lack of data and segmentation tools, our initial tests have shown that personalization leads to a tremendous growth in open rates, click rates and conversion rates,” she says. “Personalized email marketing will be the top growing marketing channel next season and presents a huge opportunity for online retailers.”

6. Include Instagram in your marketing mix. “Instagram marketing was hot this holiday season,” says Erika Jolly Brookes, CMO, Springbot, an ecommerce marketing platform. “With the introduction of Instagram ads, new photo shape formats and an increase of daily users, you won’t want to neglect this platform as part of your holiday strategy. While you can’t post clickable links in image captions, you can make your profile ‘shoppable’ by linking to a targeted landing page in your bio. When you post a photo that features one of your items, include something in your caption to the effect of, ‘Like this vase? Link in bio!’”

7. Remember that consumers are looking for deals. “From onsite to email, competing means leading with a bargain,” says Lauren Freedman, president, the e-tailing group. “[Online] retailers continue to serve up deals at an unprecedented cadence. Thus shoppers have come to expect that every purchase will have an attached promotion code, coupon or associated markdown.”

Just make sure that when you offer consumers a deal, or discount or promo code, that it’s easy to use.

“Create a unique landing page(s) for deals,” says Colin Tracy, CTO, Chelsea’s Boutique. “If a customer can't find the deal right away, it may be a lost sale. Consumers don't want to search, they want the deals laid out in front of them, immediately. If you can move them to a page with the daily or monthly deals, they are more likely to make a purchase.”

8. Offer holiday promotions the week before Thanksgiving. “Start sales before Black Friday,” advises Angie Stocklin, cofounder and COO, One Click, an online eyewear company. “Shoppers are continuing to stretch their holiday seasons longer and longer, and gone are the days when you can wait and start holiday promotions on Black Friday. Even as an online only brand, we had more sales on Thanksgiving than ever before, and site visits were up 30 percent year-over-year for the week leading up to Thanksgiving.”

9. Don’t ignore Black Friday. “Black Friday [was] actually busier than Cyber Monday,” says Grayson Ervin, founder, CigarsFor.Me. “There are misconceptions that Cyber Monday is the busiest ecommerce [day] of the year. However, for the second straight year, Black Friday has resulted in about 40 percent more sales for us. We offered very similar savings on both days so that we could see which day our customers preferred purchasing on. Our theory is that many consumers have already spent their shopping budgets before making it to Cyber Monday.” Therefore, “online retailers shouldn't skimp on Black Friday sales in hopes of Cyber Monday being bigger. Try to capture as many sales as possible on Black Friday.”


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