The e-commerce market has changed the face of Christmas shopping. Where as in the past people fought their way through crowded shopping malls and spent days of stressful shopping going from store to store, today all their shopping can be done from the comfort of their own home. The first step in being able to take advantage of this global market is to get the visitors to your store. This takes dedication and hard work (just like with a bricks & mortar store) and you can’t afford to rest on your laurels in the area of promoting and marketing your online store, especially leading up to the holiday shopping period.
Landing Pages / Squeeze Pages / Sneeze Pages
These are specialised pages that visitors are directed to when they follow a link (either a paid link (PPC) or from a search engine results page. Generally there are two types:
- a page that is focused on one particular offer or product together with lots of search-engine friendly text including a full description; all the benefits, feelings, uses of your product or offer; reviews or testimonials; high quality images and, of course, a Buy Now or Add to Cart button
- a page that showcases your store’s products within a particular theme by providing one-click links deep in to your site. An example may be ‘A beginner’s guide to making jewellery’ where an explanation of the different tools required together with your Buy Now buttons.
These specialised pages can be very popular with search engines due to the natural use of text and keywords. Zen Cart’s EZ Pages are a great way to set up your landing pages.
Use your customer list to your advantage. Even those that have purchased from you before may need a little encouragement, a gentle reminder, that your store’s products will be just what they need this Christmas.
Send your first email early in November – this plants the seed that your store is the place to go for Christmas shopping.
Send new emails every two weeks. It is important that your email list do not feel as though you are spamming them. Depending on your store you may like to include additional information in your email – such as a favourite Christmas recipe or tips for looking after your pets during the holiday period.
Create special landing pages to use in conjunction with your email campaign to direct customers straight to the products and offers you are promoting.
Don’t forget to send an email on December 26. This is generally a huge shopping day and there are many potential customers who have been given money or pre-paid cards etc from those non-imaginative friends and relatives. This is also a good opportunity to grab those that have left their shopping till after Christmas for their friends that didn’t catch up with before Christmas.
Submit your products and sale items to shopping sites such as Google’s Product Search, Shopzilla, Yahoo! Shopping, Shopping.com, Get Price and many others. Customers like to research their Christmas purchases and these sites allow visitors to compare prices, look at product reviews and compare merchant ratings.
Test your Christmas campaign during October and start in earnest in early November. Associate your keywords with Christmas and the Holiday season in a variety of ways and make sure these keywords also exist on your landing page.
Monitor your campaign continually to make sure you haven’t been out bid on your desired keywords. Remember that shoppers search for product and brand names more often than searching for company names.
There is a real science to pay-per-click advertising. Remember to start off small, test a variety of keywords and ad wording and set up spending limits to avoid making any costly mistakes.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to your store from search engines via natural (un-paid) search results as opposed to paid advertisements. Check that you have the basics covered:
- All pages should include descriptive text, especially product pages. Do not copy your product descriptions from the manufacturer or another site. Both visitors and search engines respond to natural, descriptive and relevant text.
- Page Titles should be set for each page. Search Engines do not like duplicate page titles – each page requires a unique page title. Avoid setting site wide page titles. Zen Cart will automatically set the page title of a Product Page to:
Product Name [Model No] – Price – Title, Tagline
The title and tagline are set in the includes/languages/english/custom/meta_tags.php file.
- Page Descriptions are an important part of encouraging a visitor to click on your store link from the search engine results page. Zen Cart will use the first part of your product description or you may wish to set a specific description through Zen Cart Admin.
Zen Cart is Search Engine friendly out-of-the-box. There is no need to install additional modules for ‘pretty URLs’.
Google (and search engines in general) place a lot of emphasis on incoming links to your store, particularly from related sites. By engaging with others online you will find that your number of incoming links will build naturally. Think about joining forums related to your niche or products, starting a Facebook page, start a blog to highlight new products or helpful tips relating to your products, comment on others’ related blog posts, submit articles about your niche or individual products, and so on. Each time you engage online a link to your online store will be created. Use a variety of links – don’t always use your home page as your URL, encourage deep-links by linking directly to a category or product URL (or one of your landing pages if you have created them).
A couple of notes – keep your business and private ‘online engagements’ separate (it’s too easy to get into trouble and you could end up looking completely non-professional) and watch out not to lose focus (again, it is all too easy to end up ‘wasting’ a lot of time) on the goal of link building.
Coordinate your marketing
Online advertising, newsletter marketing and offline promotions … Look at cost-effective local radio advertising or utilising the noticeboards in shopping malls and clubs. You may be surprised at just how effective these can be in introducing more visitors to your Zen Cart store.