As soon as the month of November come in, is the time to launch your strategic Internet marketing plan for the upcoming holiday season. A recent study by BizRate found that 34.9% of online holiday shoppers will start their shopping by Halloween. That’s why you need to make some key changes to your web site and your marketing plan by beginning November.

Read on to discover a few smart tips on how to boost your profits during the holiday season.

Quick Tip #1: Motivate your visitors to buy with winning holiday headlines and sales copy.

When a visitor comes to your site on a holiday shopping expedition, there are two things they’ll want to know right away:

1. Will this product or service make a good gift for someone on my shopping list?
2. Why should I buy it here, and not somewhere else?

If your headlines and sales copy don’t answer those questions right off the bat, you stand to lose a major chunk of your holiday shopping traffic within seconds of their arrival. In order to make your headline really speak to your visitors, make sure it addresses the need they’re trying to solve: choosing a gift for a friend or family member. So… Who would your product or service make a good gift for? Someone’s husband or father? Someone’s wife or daughter? The car nut or the nature lover in the family? Determine who’s the ideal person to receive your product or service, and then include them in your headline! Also, be sure to explain exactly what kind of benefit they’ll get from your product or service — and then also mention the benefit the giver will receive from offering it as a present!

You could follow that up with copy that further explains the benefits of owning such a product (it’ll keep him feeling young by reminding him of his high school days when he first bought the car), as well as the benefits of giving it. Remember: Whenever you make a change to your headline or sales copy, be sure to test it. Only change one element of your copy at a time, and test to see what impact it has on your sales. If your conversion rates drop, you’ll need to try something new.

Quick Tip #2: Use the first fold of your web site to build urgency and pack in the benefits for holiday shoppers.

So you’ve done a holiday tune-up on your copy and your headlines, and you’re ready to dazzle your visitors with the value of your product. But your job isn’t nearly done yet! You want to make sure the first fold of your web site is full of the information holiday shoppers need to know before they’ll decide to buy. (For those of you who aren’t sure what the “first fold” is, it’s the portion of your web site people see before they scroll down or click on any links. This includes your sidebars and headers, too!)

Now, you don’t want to include any holiday features that are going to distract visitors from your main sales message. But in your sidebars, you should include a few discret messages that add to your message and offer even more compelling reasons why your product or service is the perfect holiday gift. I’m talking about things like… “HOLIDAY SPECIALS AND DISCOUNTS”. Make sure you offer some special deals on your products to entice your visitors to buy! How about an early-bird deal if your customers make a purchase before a certain date? Or a special discount for those panicky last-minute shoppers? What about two-for-one deal?

Quick Tip #3: Reduce your refund rate by offering gift certificates that let recipients choose their own present.

This strategy is especially convenient if you’re selling a service online. No matter what you’re selling – whether it’s spa packages or landscape design, I guarantee your service would make the perfect present for someone on your visitors’ shopping lists. Plus, you can remind your holiday shoppers that since online gift certificates can be delivered electronically in just seconds, it make great last-minute gifts.

Quick Tip #4: Offer free or discounted shipping, as well as guaranteed delivery dates for last-minute shoppers.

When you’re putting together a shipping policy for the holiday season, keep in mind that holiday shoppers have three major priorities:

1. Getting great gifts
2. Getting those gifts on time
3. and NOT spending a fortune to do it!

That’s why I’d strongly urge you to offer free shipping during the holiday season, along with an ironclad shipping guarantee that will set your customers’ minds at ease. How much of a difference will a shipping guarantee make for your conversion rates? I’ll give you a quick stat: 75% of the shoppers that BizRate surveyed said that free shipping was one of the most important factors in deciding where to shop online. It’s a small consideration for your customers that will have a dramatic impact on your sales. By telling your customers exactly what shipping services you use and when they can expect their package to arrive, you’ll go a long way to overcoming their hesitations and encouraging them to buy.

Quick Tip #5: Create a promotion email that solves your subscribers holiday shopping problems and compels them to buy!

A well-timed, information-packed holiday email campaign is the perfect way to drum up sales with your opt-in list. Use a series of auto responders to build urgency and drive traffic back to your site in the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Make sure your emails clearly explain why your product would make such a great gift and how it would benefit both the giver AND the receiver. Also be sure to mention your special holiday services, such as free gift-wrapping and reduced shipping. As it gets close to the holidays, your emails should build urgency by pointing out how many days are left until Christmas and offering your product or service at a special discount rate.

Happy Holidays and success on business!

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