holiday marketing tips for ecommerceIt’s Not Too Late! Prep Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays With These 7 Marketing Tips

For online shop owners, this is the most important time of year.

People spend a lot during November and December – over $650 billion last year, and that number’s expected to go up this year. As people look for gifts for loved ones and products to help them celebrate with their families, you want your products to be top of mind.

To make the most of the biggest buying season of the year, it’s important to step up your marketing efforts. Over a third of consumers start their shopping before Thanksgiving, which means if you haven’t already developed and started implementing a holiday marketing strategy, you’re already behind.

However, you still have time! There’s a lot you can do to raise awareness of your brand and increase sales this holiday season though.

Here are a few last minute marketing ideas to help you reach more people this year and increase your holiday profits.

1. Offer generous promotions to your list.

The easiest place to start is by contacting the customers and followers you already have. The people that have already shown an interest in your brand are those most likely to buy from you during the holidays, as long as they remember to consider you as an option.

Send out emails now promoting the products you sell that make the best gifts. You can sweeten the deal and make your subscribers feel special by rewarding them with an exclusive deal only available to your list. A reminder to think about your products when picking out their gifts combined with a generous incentive can encourage them to make the move to buy.

2. Create a holiday gift guide.

For a lot of people, buying gifts is stressful. It’s not easy to guess what your 14-year old niece likes or what your 85-year old granddad might appreciate. Businesses can help by identifying the products in your inventory that would make good gifts for different types of people.

Create a holiday gift guide (or a few for different personas) that highlight the products you sell that make good gifts and who is most likely to like them. You’ll be providing value to your customers at the same time that you highlight your products for them to buy.

ecommerce holiday gift guide

3. Restructure your site for easy navigation by gift categories.

Temporarily redesign your website for gift givers. Think about the categories that would be useful for them – things like all gift items under $10, or options to browse by age categories.

It’s reasonable to expect that a decent portion of your traffic in November and December will be from people looking for gifts, so make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for and make the decision to purchase items from you.

organize website by gift category

4. Make use of PPC to reach a broader audience.

Ideally, you don’t just want to reach the people that already know about your business, you also want to find new customers interested in your products. Use pay-per-click advertising to promote your holiday offers and draw attention to the items you sell that people are most likely to consider for gifts.

Many people looking for ideas will go straight to search engines, you can make sure your products are one of the first things they see.

ecommerce ppc holiday ads

5. Use retargeting to recapture researchers.

Over two-thirds of consumers say they spend time researching products before they make the decision to buy – that’s even for products under $50. The percentage actually goes up to 85% of people for any products over $50. That means you may have people visiting your website, browsing your products, and then moving on without making a decision to buy right then – but not making an immediate decision doesn’t mean they’re not still interested.

To help make sure those people don’t forget about the products they saw on your website, use retargeting technology to remind them about the products they viewed as they browse the web, and use personalization technology to provide a customized experience based on their past behavior when they do come back to your site.

6. Promote free, fast shipping.

Shipping is one of the biggest pain points of online shopping and during the holiday season, concerns about gifts arriving on time makes it an even bigger one. While offering free shipping does cost you money, studies regularly show that the majority of people are more likely to spend money with a brand because of a free shipping offer (free returns are another big incentive). And a promise of free or affordable fast shipping will convince late shoppers who would otherwise worry they have to make their purchases in-store to get them in time to go ahead and buy from you.

One way you can make the costs of free shipping more worth it for your customers is to offer it after they reach a certain spending threshold – so for instance, only those who spend over $30 get free shipping and it takes $50 to get the free 2-day shipping. That encourages bigger order sizes, which makes taking on the extra shipping costs less of a drain on your profits.

7. Extend your promotions past the end of the year.

Most businesses put a lot of effort into their marketing leading up to the end of the year and then kind of drop it after that. But the days after the holidays are also prime shopping time as well. 65% of people say they’ll be doing holiday shopping into January.  When you think about it, it makes sense. People receive money and gift cards they’re ready to spend, or receive items they decide to exchange.

Keep up your marketing and promotions into January so you can reach those people ready to keep spending, and do so at a time that’s less competitive than November and December. Your sales at the beginning of the new year may be able to make up for that late start you got.


This is a stressful time of year for a lot of people. Scrambling to fit in various events, deal with holiday travel, and do all the holiday shopping on time can make people feel frazzled. Anything you can do to make things easier on them and help them find the gifts they need (and get them in time) can earn you both sales and loyalty.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.