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How to Get Your Business Holiday-Ready in 2020

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - eCommerce, Paid Ads, SEO

Tips For Preparing For The Holiday Rush

This holiday season might be a bit different this year thanks to the pandemic, but it doesn’t have to be all surprises. There are so many ways you can prepare your business for a successful holiday season, pandemic or no pandemic. With that being said, we’ll help you understand what steps you need to take when it comes to your sales, marketing, and operations departments to set your business up for success.

Show Your Current Customers/Clients That You Care

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Customers always like to feel appreciated, especially around the holidays when everyone is feeling warm and fuzzy.

Whether it’s special thanks emails, holiday cards, a loyalty giveaway, or customer appreciation sale/promotion, being proactive and going the extra mile will show your customers you truly value them and will help maintain the relationship long-term.

Promote Your Products/Services

The holiday season is the biggest time of year for shopping, so now is the time to really go all out promoting your products and services by offering holiday sales, discounts, and promotions. Also consider introducing gift certificates, so your loyal customers can share the love with their friends and family.

Pivot To Social Media Platforms

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If you don’t already have a social media presence, start now. If you do have social media pages set up, but don’t use them that frequently, start amping up your efforts with regular posting right away.

Beyond just generic posts, use your social media to promote specials and certain brands you sell, offer promotions, host virtual events, and show off your company culture. This not only helps increase brand awareness, but can help drive traffic to your website and increase leads.

Facebook is ideal as it’s the most widely used platform, but Instagram is also great.

Still not convinced? Here are a few statistics that may change your mind

  • 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media would recommend that brand to their friends and family
  • 54% of social media users use social media to research products they are interested in
  • 68% of all U.S. adults have a Facebook account

Promoting Your Brand Via Social Media Giveaways

Social media giveaways are also a great way to promote your brand.

However, don’t just give anything away. For a giveaway to produce the kind of results you’re looking for, you should be giving away a product or service from your brand. Because, while IPad giveaways can get a ton of attention, they don’t leave a lasting impression because the people who are entering aren’t usually interested in your brand.

Instead, create a post offering a free product or service to one lucky customer, and make it a requirement for all participants to share the post with their followers.

Or, you can also connect with an influencer to launch and promote a giveaway to their followers. Either way, this is a relatively inexpensive option to help get your brand in front of a wider audience.

Invest in Tools That Support Your Business

Having a strong team to help run your business is great, but, as you’ve probably learned, there’s only so much humans can do. From CRMs, to project management, chat functionalities, etc., investing in digital tools and cloud software to help manage your various departments is essential and will help you scale your business.

Start an eCom

It’s no secret that customers are moving online and taking their business with them, especially around the holiday season.

Here are some stats to back this up:

  • 76% of consumers now prefer buying holiday gifts online
  • Online holiday shopping revenue in the U.S reached $124 billionin 2018
  • The percentage of retail sales that come from eCom is expected to rise from 8.9% in 2017 to over 15% in 2022, totaling nearly $892 billion

For businesses that operate primarily from a brick and mortar, get ahead of the curve by launching your own eCom website to support your storefront.

When transitioning to online sales, make sure you are being fully transparent with your customers throughout this process. This includes being upfront about shipping costs and delivery times, along with refund, exchange, and cancellation policies.

5 Tips for Operating A Successful eCom

1. Ensure Customers Will Have The Best User Experience

Customer experience is key to maintaining long-term relationships with your clients. Make sure your website has a strong UX and is mobile friendly.

2. Automate Selling, Shipping, and Fulfillment

Automate these areas of your business to help streamline processes and avoid human error.

3. Create Strategic Holiday Marketing and Promotions

Offer holiday promotions to help draw people to your website and gain sales. These must be planned out and launched months in advance for them to be effective.

4. Ramp Up Customer Service And Support For Holiday Traffic

As holiday traffic to your site and storefront increases, it’s vital that your team is equipped to support this. Improve your customer service processes and ensure that you have enough staff on hand so that customers aren’t being left in the dark.

5. Measure The Success Of Your Holiday Campaign

Looking at your analytics is key to determining whether your marketing efforts have been successful so you can know whether to tweak or maintain your strategy going forward.

Operations Tips

While marketing is important, it’s also crucial that your team is able to handle the influx in sales you’re going to experience right before the holidays.

Here are a few tips for improving your internal operations.

Inventory Management

One of the worst ways to lose a customer’s business is to promise or even promote the availability of an item that you don’t actually have in stock. Therefore, when sales are on the up during the holiday season, inventory management is more important than ever.

Rather than risking potential human error, automate your inventory management system to ensure you have an accurate account of every product in stock.

Organize Staff Schedules/Hire Seasonal Help If Required

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Now’s the time to turn your business into a well-oiled machine. Make sure staff schedules are made and organized ahead of time and that any time off is booked well in advance and communicated with whoever is making the schedule. And, if you find that things are starting to get a bit hectic, hire seasonal help to take some of the stress off your team.

Optimize Your Downtime

Once the holiday rush is over and you’re taking some much deserved time off, take the time to reflect on this year’s holiday rush and evaluate your business’ strengths and weaknesses, what worked and what didn’t, and how you can do things differently going forward.

Communicate With Your Team

Communication and making sure everyone is on the same page is key to ensuring things run smoothly with your business and reducing the risk of hiccups from occurring. Let everyone know the business goals for the holiday season and what is in store, what’s expected of them and their roles, and who’s able to take time off (and when).

Whether it’s sending frequent emails to all staff or scheduling regular meetings (either virtual or in-person), checking in every once in a while and keeping everyone updated is vital.

Support Your Team

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Everyone within your team will be overloaded this time of year, so make sure everyone feels supported and be understanding about delays. You’re all in this together, so teamwork and communication is more important than ever.

The Takeaway

Need help building your holiday marketing plan? You’ve got enough on your plate during this time to tackle it alone. Consult with a professional digital marketing agency to help bring your marketing strategy to the next level and grow your sales.

From building a new website to setting up paid ads, developing a social media strategy, and even producing video, a full-service marketing agency will have your business ready to handle the holiday rush.

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

Instagram Updating Its Ranking Algorithm 

04/21/2022

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri announced that Instagram is adding a few changes in order to put more focus on creators and the credit they get. One of the mentioned changes is updating its ranking algorithm with the goal to put more focus on original work. Judging by the number of copy-paste posts we’ve seen so far, this update should have been made a long time ago.

 

Making Sure The Credit Goes To Those Who Deserve It

Instagram announced the following changes:

  • Product Tags – it will now be available to everyone. So, no matter who you are, you will be able to tag products and drive traffic and attention to a business, creator or a company that they like.
  • Enhanced People Tags – now, you can add a category for yourself (into profile, edit profile) which will show up when you are tagged in a photo or a video. This makes sure you have your identity be what you want it to be, and credited according to your wishes.
  • Ranking – people that actually created something from scratch should be more credited for that, so the algorithm will focus more on that kind of content.

“We are going to do more to try and value original content more, particularly compared to reposted content. So, more to come there as well.” – said Mosseri in the announcement.

But, what does it exactly mean? As mentioned in SocialMediaToday, the changes in ranking are not that well explained and it’s not clear if any penalization will happen.

What Will Affect The Ranking?

The Twitter community did have some questions regarding the originality of content and asked about editing outside of the app. If you remember, Instagram started down-ranking content that was re-shared from other apps. So, if you will be re-posting your TikTok with a watermark on it, your content will still be penalized. However, if you only edited it off the Instagram app, that shouldn’t be a problem and won’t affect your rank.

Still, Mosseri admits that Instagram can’t know for sure if a content piece is an original or not. They only build classifiers that will show how likely something is to be an original, but they can never know for sure. It’s still a work in progress.

Posting History Is Also A Factor

Content aggregators are the focus of this update, and Instagram will be able to determine this with the account’s posting history. Instagram is more likely to detect that an account is an aggregator if it re-posts a lot of content from other accounts.” So if you’re re-posting a lot of content from other accounts, you’ll likely see a drop in reach.

The main goal of the whole update is, as we mentioned, to give more credit to original creators, but the system is not yet perfect. However, Mosseri said that Instagram will continue to improve its detection features over time to better distinguish where the content comes from and who posts original content, to promote the real creators and reduce the influence of big farm accounts.

It looks like it’s time to say goodbye to reposting trending memes in order to boost engagement.

 

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Google’s Updates You Need To Understand

12/21/2021

We mentioned the new Vicinity update Google has going on. It was an algorithm update no one was prepared for and caused quite a commotion in the community. To avoid history from repeating itself, we must learn from our mistakes – and what better way than going through all of the things that have already happened? It could benefit you if you go through all the major updates Google had in store in the past year and come up with a strategy for the year ahead.

Google Search Biggest Updates in 2021:

For us to have the most relevant and reliable results, Google Search Algorithms are updated thousands of times throughout the year. Of course, most of them go unnoticed, but every now and then one comes along *cough cough* Vicinity *cough cough* and makes a mess. That’s why it’s better to keep track of each change, make sure to understand what is happening and learn how to use them so it can benefit you.

The Page Experience Update

This update was designed to improve the website experience searchers have. Mobile usability, security issues, HTTPS usage, Web Vitals and Ad Experience are all taken into account. The main goal is safer browsing for users and resurfacing flags in the Page Experience Report.

What To Do?

  • Work on your loading speed
  • Make sure your page has a mobile-friendly version, with no usability errors
  • Make sure your page is secure and use HTTPS
  • Don’t use interruptive, distracting or unfavourable advertising techniques

Here’s a helpful resource for optimizing your page for this update.

Link Spam Update

This was when Google reminded us about the importance of good content and quality links. The update was and still is effective at identifying and nullifying link spam across multiple languages.

What To Do?

  • You need high-quality link building
  • Create high-quality content
  • Focus and improve the user experience
  • Avoid useless linking!

Broad Core Updates

It took longer than expected, but it is done. As usual, Google didn’t offer a lot of advice on how to deal with a core update except to try hard all the time. This update had also caused big commotion since we saw some pretty weird pages ranking high. The conclusion was, again, to use quality backlinks.

ProTip! – Improving content and backlinks might help you to recover more than fixing the technical aspect!

Product Reviews Update

This update was designed to reward in-depth product reviews and “punish” irrelevant, summary-of-a-product type of content. Instead, a review should be relevant and detailed. We have also learned that Google and potential customers like seeing realistic reviews, even if that means seeing a few bad ones as well.

What to do?

  • Write longer, knowledgeable reviews
  • Add your own content, not just the manufacturer description
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models
  • Include the Pros and Cons

Here’s more advice on what you should know about the product reviews update and how to handle it.

MUM

Google also introduced us to the Multitask Unified Model which uses AI to help searchers. It “speaks” 75 different languages and understands both image and the written word. However, it might understand much more in the future, since Google keeps saying they’re working on expanding this capability to video and audio.

One of the first things MUM learned to do is to keep track of vaccine queries and it will continue bringing more understanding to Google’s algorithms.

Vicinity

This is a fresh one and we’re still trying to figure out what exactly happened so that keywords aren’t as important anymore. Maybe the lesson with this update is not to violate Google’s guidelines and add keywords for the sake of it. It seems like new businesses are winning with this one.

 

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