Team CustomCat’s Tips for Ruling the Holidays in 2023
[To help you get more out of your holiday store, we asked a handful of our our in-house ecommerce experts to provide 5 tips for ruling the holidays in their areas of expertise. Use these tips to help guarantee you get the most out of the holiday selling season!]
Store Management Tips from Alex, Director of Operations
1. Set Proper Expectations
Have clearly stated return policies; Be transparent on production & transit times to customers; Under promise & over deliver.
2. Optimize Your Mobile Friendly Site
Avoid long sentences, make sure to use portrait images, & test your site performance. You should also be checking your page load speed because a slow load will lower your google ranking.
3. Create a Holiday Marketing Plan
Schedule promotions with emails for each promotion; Utilize BFCM discounts; Be attentive to the cut off date for holiday delivery; Offer Free shipping; Create urgency (3 days left; Only 5 left in stock); Implement options for buyers to choose priority shipping.
4. Create Holiday Themed Content
Offering products like ornaments or ugly holiday themed garments that are fun & popular during Q4. Consider higher end items that can be purchased for gifts such as Canvas or blankets. CustomCat’s personalization feature will engage the buyer & help conversion.
In addition to your regular storefront, utilize other sales channels such as Etsy, Ebay, Amazon or Wish.
Tips for Standing Out on Social from Becca, Social Media Manager
1. Have a Game Plan
Before the holiday shopping season is in full swing you should prepare yourself. You should decide on what kind of advertisements you want to use & where you’re going to put them, if any. You should also decide on the different types of sales you’re going to offer, when they will be offered, and if they are going to change.
2. Give Your Page a Holiday Makeover
To help get yourself & your customers in the holiday mood, you should give your website & social pages a holiday makeover. Your posts should include holiday colors, graphics, or stickers. You should also get any holiday products you plan on selling onto your website before the shopping season starts. That way customers can take a look at any products they might be interested in before the sales begin.
3. Create Shareable Content
In order to get more customers looking at your social media pages & website, you should create shareable content. This means posting polls & ‘would you rather’s’ on your Instagram & Facebook stories. Offering giveaways on your Instagram & YouTube is also a great way to get new customers looking at your page. Creating shareable content is an easy & effective way to get current & new customers excited about your products.
4. Engage with Customers
Engaging with customers on social media shows that you care & helps deepen your customers’ trust in your brand. Customers feel recognized & appreciated when you like & respond to comments on your businesses social media pages. If you want to take customer engagement to the next level on social, try sharing posts customers have made showing off your products. Also, make sure to respond to customer service direct messages quickly in order to keep your customers happy.
5. Spread Holiday Cheer
The holidays are not all about receiving gifts, but giving as well. The holiday shopping season can be a stressful time, even more so during this pandemic of a year. If you’re looking to give your store that jolly boost, try partnering with a charity so you & your customers can donate to a worthy cause & help spread holiday cheer. To make donating a little more exciting, you could even add a goal marker onto your page & update it every day so your customers can watch how much their donations make a difference.
Tips for Great Customer Experiences from Sarah, Merchant Success Manager
1. Make Policies Clear & Simple
The easiest way to improve your customer service outcomes is to anticipate your customers’ questions before they’re asked. Include concise explanations of your return & refund policies in your product listings, but include long-form explanations of these policies on a linked FAQ page so your customers can read more if they need to. Make sure your policies are easy to understand, being sure to include information about whether you accept returns or exchanges, what warrants a return or replacement, the return acceptance window, whether or not you provide prepaid return labels. Clear policies will make for clear expectations (or at least reduce the number of policy inquiries in your inbox).
2. Focus on Reducing Your Response Time
There’s no getting around it. Your customers expect quick responses to their inquiries & issues — in fact, most expect same-day responses. While hiring additional support staff can help, organization is key when it comes to reducing your response times. Apps like FreshDesk will allow you to load saved responses to common questions, set custom response deadlines, & link all your customer service channels to one customer service dashboard so you never miss another rogue Instagram message again. Regardless of how you get there, reducing your response times is vital in maintaining positive customer service outcomes.
3. Offer Multi-Channel Communication
Whether you offer formal support through a specific channel, you can expect your customers to contact you with questions through their preferred channel. Failing to monitor or respond to incoming messages on social media or via email will result in very frustrated customers. Additionally, it can result in multiple submissions for the same issue, which will bog you down with duplicate messages & keep you from responding to other inquiries quickly. Offering multi-channel communication will make it easier for your customers to reach out & receive answers, making it more likely you make the sale or earn a repeat customer.
4. Limit Back-and-Forth
When your customers submit inquiries or issues with your company, they not only expect quick responses, they also expect quick resolution. If prospective customers are having an issue before placing an order, you can help them by sending detailed responses to solve their possible issues. When your customers are requesting returns or exchanges, it’s best to help your customers submit all the required information in their first message by utilizing apps like Rich Returns. These platforms allow you to create customizable return or exchange forms that prompt your customers to enter their order number, reason for request, photos, & preferred resolution. Better still, these apps allow automated responses & link directly to your customers orders to simplify the resolution process down the click of a button (accept or deny). This will also help you limit your customer service response time by unclogging your inbox — bonus!
5. Measure Customer Satisfaction
At the end of the day, your customers are your greatest resource in learning how you can improve. Sending customer service satisfaction surveys after their inquiries are closed will allow your customers a forum to let you know what you did well or poorly. The aforementioned FreshDesk service will allow you to set up automated surveys, but you can also send them manually or use a dedicated customer service survey app like Customer Thermometer for this purpose. As Bill Gates said, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Highlighting Holiday Designs from Isaac, Lead Graphics Engineer
1. Get Creative with Typography
Script fonts are a hallmark (pun intended) of the holiday season. Try mixing & matching script with serif and sans-serif fonts to nail that holiday aesthetic. Google Fonts and DaFont.com are both excellent free resources.
2. Take Advantage of Free Vector Graphics
Need a quick snowflake or reindeer graphic? Freepik.com, Vecteezy.com, and Freevector.com are just a few of the many options that might have what you’re looking for.
3. Don’t Forget Classic Designs
There are several classic designs that usually tend to sell like hot cakes. These can include the “ugly sweater,” the naughty or nice checklist, etc. For even more inspiration, I find simply doing a quick Google Images search usually helps spark some ideas.
4. Tryout Hand-Drawn Designs
Hand-drawn designs appear to be on the rise in popularity. And understandably so; there’s a certain charm to this particular style, especially when paired with a witty phrase or image & a matching typeface.
5. Keep it Simple
Sometimes a clean, minimal look is all that’s needed to create an effective design. With that said, there’s still a place for more ornate designs- it really just depends on the message you’re trying to send.
Effective Email Marketing Tips from Frances, Email Marketing Manager
1. Pick you Promotions & Create a Holiday Promotion Schedule
The key to a successful holiday season is preparation. As you plan your email promotions, make sure your holiday content is ready at least 2 to 3 weeks before each holiday you are targeting. Promote early and promote often without being overwhelming.
This holiday season, you want balanced communication. That means keeping in touch with your customers & being clear about expectations i.e. shipping, returns, delivery options, and product availability. For your holiday email marketing efforts to work, you need to create a detailed holiday promotion schedule.
Look at past data & think through your marketing schedule. Consider what times, and days are best for sending successful emails. If you plan well enough in advance you will have enough time to fine-tune your content, segment your content, segment your email lists and allow for multiple touch points.
2. Make Sure You’re Mobile Friendly
Mobile opens account for 46 percent of all email opens. In fact, for 2018, mobile devices accounted for 40% of total online sales. If you’re looking to engage your subscribers this holiday season, give them the gift of mobile-friendly emails.
3. Design for Dark Mode
Dark mode is here to stay & goes hand in hand with mobile optimization. Since top global email service providers—Apple, Gmail, and Outlook—rolled out designated dark mode settings in 2019 dark mode has become a standard for email marketing. Remember dark mode is more complex than just inverting black to white. Set foundation colors. Make sure your text is legible on a dark background. Keep colors aligned with your brand. Use your brand colors as an accent on dark backgrounds. Just have fun & figure out how to create the best experience for your customers.
4. Make Your Campaigns Cross-Platform
While it is important to keep a stronghold of email marketing efforts it is a mistake to let social media fall to the wayside. The most effective campaigns are cross-platform. If you’re announcing a sale via email, make sure to share the same information on social media, as well.
5. Free Shipping is Important (So are Return Policies)
If you can’t seem to find the perfect holiday promotion consider free shipping. Forty-Seven percent of consumers say free shipping was one of the most important factors during the holiday season. Create an email with a free shipping promotion & it’ll be sure to please your customers.
Consumers are also looking for good return policies. Because of the nature of POD, it is good practice to have clear return policies.
Holiday Advertising Tips from Robert, Paid Marketing Strategist
1. Start Planning Your Media Buying Now!
Use a calendar & plot out what you want to say to both existing & new customers. This should translate into different ad copy/messaging based on if the user is already familiar with your brand or not.
2. Building Your Audience – Some Great Segments are:
– Visitors that viewed a wishlist
– Past purchasers
– Repeat Purchasers
– High-value customers
– Recent visitors – potentially qualified by content viewed, time on site, or the number of recent visits.
– Wishlist creators
– Friends of those that like your Facebook page
– Those that engaged with content (on Facebook or Instagram)
– Lookalikes of any & all of the above
– Combinations of any of the above
3. Offer Free Shipping
Shipping adds cost for customers & might deter them from buying. They are getting bombarded with ads offering all types of promos and discounts, so standing out with “FREE” can help.
4. Include Holiday Visuals
Users love seeing holiday visuals in the ads. Your response/CTR will be much higher by showing holiday imagery.
5. Optimize Your Ad Extensions
If you are using Google/Shopping and Facebook PLA’s, change the copy in your extensions to reflect the holiday while highlighting the product-level benefits.
Bonus Holiday Tips from Team CustomCat
1. Evaluate Last Year’s Marketing Campaign
The best way to start planning for the future is by learning from the past. The purpose is to find out what went right and wrong with which customer segment so you can avoid past mistakes, how the target audience responded to your campaign, and then to use that valuable learnings for this time.
2. Cross Sell Effectively
These holiday months are a great time to suggest items to go with the products your customers are already purchasing. Remember that cross-selling is still selling, which means a product has to add intrinsic value and solve customer problems.
3. Test Site Performance
To enhance your store’s functionality, your store should be easy to navigate and won’t compromise on various crucial factors such as user experience, mobile responsiveness, customer data security, quick load time, and secure transaction. Thereby, you can give your customers a nice and enjoyable experience.
4. Send Gift Ideas
What are your most popular/favorite items and who buys them? Share that info with the people on your mailing list with headings like: “gifts for mom,” “great gifts for girls,” “gifts for neighbors.”
5. Bundle Products & Offer Coupon Codes
Product bundling performs best when combined with dynamic customer segmentation, and coupons make it easy. By wrapping products into bundles at a discounted price, you entice customers to spend more.
You’re going to crush it this holiday season – we just know it! Happy selling from the team here at CustomCat!