With the end of the year fast approaching (how is it October already?), it’s time to get ready for the last quarter of 2021. For eCommerce owners, the last three months of the year are generally the most lucrative, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas all contributing to extra sales and increased revenue. As long as you can make Q4 count for your business.
To take full advantage of this most wonderful time of the year for product-based businesses, you need to have a clear plan in place. And we happen to know someone who has the knowledge and experience to help you put a plan together to make Q4 a sales success!
Meet our eCommerce marketing mentor
A specialist in eCommerce marketing, Lisa shared 8 ways business owners can set themselves up for success as we get ready for the busiest online shopping months of the year.
If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s an overview of the 8 ways you can set your eCommerce business up for success over the coming months and make Q4 really count.
Step 1: Understand what you want to get out of Q4
The first step is to think about what you want to get out of the next few months. Do you want to be part of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales? Do you just want to focus on Christmas? Are you looking to clear old stock or launch a new range?
Having a clear idea of your goal from October to December will help you stay focused. With so many opportunities during Q4, you can’t afford to be distracted along the way. Understand what you want to get out of Q4 and develop a plan to make it happen.
Step 2: Review what happened last year
If you were trading this time last year, have a look at what worked best for you back then. What emails drew the most conversions? Which social media posts gained the most traction and engagement? Were there specific weeks when sales went through the roof?
There is nothing wrong with taking a rinse and repeat approach for this year. If your offer resonated last year, it will most likely resonate this year too. Change up your approach with new Instagram stories, product bundles, additional content and gift boxes to mix things up.
Step 3: Set benchmarks or goals for Q4
The only way you can measure success is to set some goals. This helps you stay focused but also allows you to measure your progress. You might have a financial goal (make $10K by December 31), a unit goal (sell 100 units per month) or something else you want to achieve.
To measure progress, you’ll ideally want to track weekly sales (although you can also do this on a daily or monthly basis if that works better for you). Start by setting up a simple spreadsheet and monitor the following:
- Website traffic
- Email open rates
- Average order value
- Conversion rate.
Step 4: Identify the assets you need to achieve your goal
What do you need to achieve your goal? Do you need to engage a photographer for fresh images? Do you need to employ more staff to manage order fulfillment? Will you need more stock? Do you have the systems and processes in place to handle a surge in orders?
Another asset to consider is your website. Is it fully optimised for SEO? Does it move your prospects seamlessly from visitor to repeat customer? You’re missing a huge opportunity if your website is not optimised for conversion (not to mention all those sweet sales!)
Step 5: Get onto email marketing
If you don’t already have an email list, get started NOW. For most eCommerce owners, your highest proportion of revenue throughout Q4 will come from email marketing. Reaching out to your customers with exclusive discounts and links to popular products is highly effective, plus it creates trust and builds a relationship with new and existing customers.
Email marketing continues to deliver one of the highest ROIs in marketing but that’s not the only reason you need to embrace it. Unlike social media, you own your email list and have full control over it, which means you can segment your list and create more targeted messaging. Email is also easy to use, allowing you to share your brand story and get a little creative.
Kickstart your eCommerce success with this essential 10-step checklist
The Launching an eCommerce Business eBook lists 10 simple steps you can take to ensure you start your business off on the right track.
Step 6: Embrace the holiday spirit
Now’s the time to think about how you’d like to share the holiday spirit with your customers. Add a special touch with a custom thank you note, personal card, themed tissue wrapping or speciality gift boxes. This will make your customers feel extra special and encourage repeat business.
Also, give thought to any holiday specials, bundle packs, and small free gifts that you can offer to your customers. A little forward planning could ensure Q4 is even more profitable than even you can imagine, especially if you can encourage repeat business through to the end of the year.
Step 7: Create your promotional strategy
The rule here is to keep things simple. As a business owner wearing multiple hats, you don’t want to overcomplicate things or start a marketing campaign that you can’t sustain. Here are the key elements you should focus on when creating a winning promotional strategy
What is your offer?
How are you going to get customers to buy from you? Are you going to run a traditional sales promotion? Offer a buy one, get one free/half price promotion? Apply a discount for purchases over $50? Provide free shipping? Whatever your offer, keep it as simple as possible.
Customers need to be clear on what’s in it for them before they make a purchase – don’t confuse them with mixed or complicated messaging. Besides, the clearer the offer, the easier it is for you to share it using messaging that will cut through the noise of your competitors.
How are you going to share your offer?
This is about the channels you’ll use to promote your offer. Will you focus on email marketing, social media, paid advertising or influencers to get the word out? Ideally, you’ll use more than one channel, but, again, keep it simple and stick to places where your customers hang out.
The most important thing is to create a consistent message across all channels. Use Canva to design assets for email, social media and your website and think of creative ways to tie in your holiday promotion to your brand (i.e. Festive Frock Frenzy, Delectable Summer Delights, etc.)
When does your offer roll out?
It’s important to have exact dates in mind for the duration of your offer. This will help with your planning (e.g. when to order stock, bring on extra staff, etc.) and it also helps you map out what the 3 months will look like in terms of your promotion timeline.
For instance, you might not want to roll out any sales between now and Black Friday to build anticipation or you may decide to forgo the craziness of November to focus on Christmas instead. Having set start and end dates will create a sense of urgency and attract more sales.
Who will your offer target?
Get clear on who you want to target. Are you looking to engage with new prospects or wanting to reconnect with your existing customer base? Don’t forget to check in with your customers and see what type of offer will resonate most with them. There’s no harm in asking!
Knowing who you want to target will also help you lock in where you will share your promotion. There’s no point investing in Facebook ads if the bulk of the audience you want to target is on Instagram. This is why this is such a key aspect of your promotional planning for Q4.
Step 8: Have fun with it!
The key ingredient for a successful Q4 is to remember to have fun with it. After a long year (especially this one!) people are looking for connection, inspiration and fun. Step out from behind your products and show some personality to make the most of the moment.
Don’t be afraid to be silly. Strike up conversations. Introduce your family. Share your Christmas and summer plans and be personable. People buy from people. The more you show your customers there’s a real person behind the brand, the more they will connect with you (and buy from you).
Bonus tip – update your About page
One way you can share more of yourself during Q4 is to update your About page. If you don’t already have one, get one! This is where you can share the story of your brand, why you do what you do and provide a glimpse of your personality. You may think your products are the star of your brand but you’ll be surprised by how many people like to get to know the owner as well.
The truth is, most of our small businesses are an extension of us. The more you align your business with who you are, the easier it is to conduct your marketing. Your marketing efforts will feel more authentic and you’ll connect with more of your target market too.
Want to know more about making Q4 count for your business?
Lisa is happy to answer your questions and has a host of resources you can tap into straight away. Join the eCommerce Marketing Society Facebook group or check out the eCommerce Marketing Society podcast as a starting point. You can also head to Lisa’s website to check out more.
Thanks again Lisa – no doubt we’ll be seeking out your eCommerce marketing knowledge again!
Interested in discovering more about organic marketing to support your Q4 eCommerce planning?