Holiday Conversion Optimization: 6 Proven Techniques to Boost Holiday Sales

The holiday season accounts for 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Research shows that total online holiday sales in 2016 is expected to be $84.2 billion -- a 16.4% increase from 2015.

If you’d like to get in on the action and boost your holiday sales, you need the right techniques.

This article will give you six proven strategies to boost your holiday sales.



1. Email Marketing Strategy + Automation Combo


If you want to kill it with your holiday sales, you need two things:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Effective email automation

Email is by far the most effective marketing strategy, and it has consistently been the number one way most businesses generate holiday sales.

In fact, email marketing is so effective that statistics show that it was responsible for 25.1% of all sales during Black Friday 2015. By comparison, social media was responsible for just 1.6% of sales.

Research has also shown that conversion rates from email are much stronger than that of any other source.

A Monetate study that analyzed over 500 million shopping experiences found the average email conversion rate to be 3.19%, beating the combined average conversion rate of search (at 1.95%) and social (at 0.71%).

That said, there’s a way to instantly give your holiday sales a massive boost: segment and target.

Research from Marketing Sherpa shows that segmenting your list and sending targeted emails is capable of boosting conversions by up to 208 percent.

Action step:

  • Start, or revive, your email marketing
  • Segment your list based on interest -- most email service providers allow this today (I've reviewed a few here, and Wishpond does this); even if you have to offer coupons and discounts to get people to give you more details on what they are interested in, it will be worth it.
  • Send relevant and targeted offers based on the segments you created; avoid sending the same generic offers to all of your list.


2. Use “The Rule of 7”


During a holiday, you’re struggling for the increasingly dwindling attention of your prospects. Not only does research show that our attention span has declined -- with the average human attention span going from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds today, but some sources estimate that we’re exposed to as many as 5,000 ads every single day.

Brands increase their ad and marketing spend during the holiday season, leading to more distractions for your prospects. So how do you increase your chances of closing the sale?

Use the rule of seven.

In marketing, the “rule of seven” says that prospects need to be exposed to an offer at least seven times before they take action and act. This is psychologically proven, rooted in a principle called the “mere-exposure effect” or the “familiarity principle.” It’s also a well-established fact that sharing a message on Twitter several times, instead of once, can boost engagement by up to 686% -- that’s the power of repetition marketing!

Action step:

During the holiday season, don’t simply announce your offer a few times and stop. Repeat!

  • First, establish different marketing channels, such as email, social media, a blog, push notifications, ads, etc. The more channels the better.
  • Carefully and repeatedly promote your offer through each of these channels; be sure to use targeting when you can.


3. Optimize the Mobile Experience on Your Website


While many people think that their sites are mobile compliant, the truth is that few are entirely.

It’s either their site is mobile optimized but the checkout experience isn’t, or everything else is mobile-optimized except the email they are sending to prospects.

It is worth seeing some facts:

The number of mobile-only internet users exceeds the number of desktop-only internet users.
Mobile sales during the 2016 holiday season is expected to reach $20.1 billion, an estimated 45.2% growth from the last year.
75% of emails that cannot be read on Smartphones are deleted almost as soon as they are received.

With the above facts established, it becomes crystal clear that you can no longer joke with mobile -- it will cost you a lot of holiday sales.

Action steps:

  • Optimize ALL your site experience for mobile users. This include your email marketing, checkout, website design and every touchpoint. Don’t simply go with a responsive design, or having a mobile website, and assume you are mobile-optimized.
  • If possible, create an app that allows people to shop with you; incentivize them to use this app and get used to it -- being with them on the go will have a major positive impact on your sales.


4. Employ Smart Holiday Targeting


The holiday period is marked by a significant increase in brand marketing and ad spend. And this is for good reason: people are more likely to buy, and are more receptive to offers, during the holiday season.

That said, promoting an irrelevant offer can have the contrary effect, wasting your money and making your brand appear intrusive.

The best way to maximize your ad dollar during the holiday season is by targeting people who have showed interest in what you do previously. This can be people who have visited your website, opened your emails, or checked your offers in the past.

The more involved a user was with your brand, the more you should target them. As simple as this is, you can be sure that it will be a big win for your brand: research shows that retargeting can boost ad response by up to 400%.


5. Upsell and Cross-sell Existing Users


The holiday season presents you the best opportunity to capture sales you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get. Research shows that 73 percent of people are willing to shop with a new store or online retailer during the holiday season -- this presents you an opportunity that mustn’t be wasted.

When someone buys a TV in your store, it shouldn’t just end there -- maybe they need a Blu-Ray system, or a cable service, or a TV stand? Understanding the intent between shoppers' purchase habits and offering something relevant can give you a massive sales boost.

Cross-selling is so effective that e-commerce giant Amazon attributes a whopping 35% of its sales to it.

When someone buys from you during the holiday season, don’t assume that it ends there: upsell. Offer something relevant and watch your sales grow.


6. Recapture Abandoned Carts


Perhaps the biggest way e-commerce businesses lose out on holiday sales is due to abandoned carts. According to research from Baymard, based on 34 different cart abandonment studies, a 68.81% of people will abandon your shopping cart. That’s like 68.81% of people entering into your store and not buying.

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Action Steps:

  • Reduce choices you give to holiday shoppers. In the famous Jam study, psychologists found that giving people fewer choices can boost sales by up to 10 times.
  • Optimize your site speed. Slow websites result in a lot of loss sales, with a 1 second delay often resulting in a 7 percent loss in conversion, and it doesn’t help that many people try to make a purchase during the holiday season, increasingly hogging server resources and leading to a slow website.
  • Follow up with people who abandoned your cart; sometimes, what they need is a little nudging. To incentivize them, give them a discount that expires in 24 hours -- you’ll see a massive boost in sales this way.
  • Show an exit popup reminding them they have something in their cart and offering a 10% discount or free shipping if they convert then and there.

About the Author:


John Stevens is the founder and CEO of Hosting Facts.