December is crunch time for retailers and B2B companies reliant upon crucial holiday sales to hit annual sales targets. In fact, Google reports that 70 percent of consumers wait to make holiday purchases until after Thanksgiving, with the majority conducting at least some of that shopping online.
While over-discounting can carry great risk, discounts and special bonus items used sparingly to generate new customer trial, can pay off. When offering special online discounts, use this opportunity to gather contact information before the discount code can be accessed, as the natural barrier to providing that information will be lower assuming the incentive is strong.
Embrace the upcoming holidays as the time to boost social media engagement. Take a look at the reporting available through Facebook, for example, to determine the type of content you have posted in the past that resonates most strongly with those who have "liked" your page.
Create a December content strategy that focuses on those most engaging themes and promote those posts, which will exponentially increase the number of people with the opportunity to see your content. Paid posting is also now available through Twitter. If you have an ecommerce site through which you sell products online, then be sure to heavy up your paid posts on Cyber Monday and Tuesday.
If you opt to avoid the standard discounting route, consider offering a financial incentive to current customers to refer other prospective customers. You might offer a private sale to only your best customers with products not yet available to the public. Have them log in to a private sale webpage to access these products. When they do so, encourage them to invite friends to join. When their friends make a purchase, drive even more sales volume by giving both the current and new customers credit on a future purchase.
You could provide your customers with a free rush shipping special in mid-December, available only for a couple of days, for those procrastinators looking for a way out of their inevitable holiday panic.
Consider making festive changes to your homepage each week of the holidays to keep your site fresh and customers interested in returning, similarly to how Google alters its homepage for holidays.
You may choose to offer a pre-Black Friday guarantee for online purchases: If customers find a better deal on Black Friday, you'll refund the difference. This strategy encourages early sales and allows you to compete with big-box retailers.
No matter what strategy you leverage, be sure to utilize a unique tracking code each time so that you can assess what's working in real time and repeat those strategies before the year closes out.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, Tennessee, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).