Holiday Prep: 4-Step Action Plan to Prepare for Holiday Traffic

By Erin DeCesaris | Oct 10, 2018

With the holidays coming up, it’s time to make sure your online store merchandising strategy is in place and ready to go before November 1st!  

By now, you (hopefully) have your product assortment ready.  

While it’s important to have the right products, it’s equally important to have the right shopping experience for your customers. You need to ensure your site is holiday-ready ahead of the traffic rush!

Now is the time to test any new promotions and any major site changes you’re considering making ahead of the holidays, such as:

These are changes that are likely to help boost conversion rate during the holiday season, but you’ll want to implement them and work out any kinks prior to the peak of holiday traffic just to be sure.

We’ve outlined a plan for you to put into action before the holidays start (typically by November 1!). It’s a good starting point to ensure your site is optimized and ready for the influx of holiday traffic.

Plan Any Website Changes

  • Determine your hero product assortment (the key products you’ll feature in promotions, site content and advertising) and come up with a plan to ensure they are prominently displayed on your site.
  • Be sure to cover all key pages, including temporary navigation changes as well as banner content.
It’s important to decide exactly what changes you want to make to your site for the holiday season.

This may include:

  • Temporary changes to your navigation
  • Displaying holiday-specific categories (such as Gifts and Gift Cards)
  • Changes to your product recommendations strategy (such as shifting to seasonal add-on items)
  • Updates to content banners throughout your site

By preparing any changes ahead of time, you’ll ensure your marketing efforts are well communicated, and shoppers have a clean and streamlined user experience while holiday shopping.

For example, Velour Lashes ensured their website banner and hero image were prepared ahead of time to drive traffic to their 12-Days of Christmas campaign

Velour Lashes 12 Days

Build Specific Landing Pages

  • Create holiday gift guides
  • Create and coordinate content banners to be used on your site, as well as in marketing campaigns throughout the holiday season.

You’ll want to make the shopping experience as easy as possible for your customers. One of the best ways to do this is to create gift guides, which give your customers ideas for presents (bonus points for categories, such as “For Him or For Her”!).

North Face Holiday Gift Guide

Be sure to build these pages, along with any other holiday-specific landing pages that you’ll need for holiday promotional offers, well in advance of launch. 

Remember to use URLs that you have used in previous holiday sales - it’ll help with SEO!

It’s also important to coordinate content banners to be used on your site with your marketing campaigns throughout the holiday season. Getting this type of collateral ready prior to the holiday rush (typically by November 1) will help ensure a smoother holiday season and minimize last-minute fire drills!

Plan your Promotions

  • Take a look at what promotions performed best last year and what’s been doing well this year, and use those to inform your holiday 2018 promotional plans
  • Have a promotion calendar created and shared with key internal teams and agencies or other relevant partners. Make sure your promotional calendar aligns with top shopping days!

The time to finalize your promotional calendar for the holiday season is now! It’s a good idea to take a look at what promotions performed best last year and what’s been doing well this year to inform your holiday 2018 promotional plans.

Calendar

If you’re having trouble deciding which promotions to run, here are some ideas:

  • Free shipping promotion, with the option of using free shipping thresholds to incentivize shoppers to increase spending
  • Expedited shipping offer
  • Free gift with purchase (perhaps with old inventory you need gone!)
  • Bundle popular products together at a decreased price for a higher AOV
  • Offer holiday gift wrapping

No matter what promotions you use, be sure to plan the length of the promotion ahead of time, as well as where you will be promoting it (see above points!).  And you’ll want to modify your store’s return policy to account for gifts.

While planning your promotions ahead of time is necessary, it’s also important to monitor performance during the holiday season and be prepared to react as needed.

Have a few “backup” promotions ready to go in case a hot item sells out, or your competitor undercuts you on price.

Lastly, be sure to prep your email list for the holidays. Because when Black Friday rolls around, you want shoppers to pick you instead of the other thousand of options that are flooding their inbox.

Monitor Website Performance and Keep an Eye on Apps

  • Test your site speed. If you publish any new pages with heavier content, be sure to test those to work out any issues.
  • Keep an eye on third-party solutions and create an emergency contact list in case you run into any problems during the holidays.

Finally, make sure that your site performance is doing well - Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom are both great free tools to monitor page load time and optimization!  

Next, take a look at your traffic patterns from last holiday season and note which days were busiest and plan to keep an extra-close eye on your site performance on those same days this season.

Finally, you’ll want to review the third-party apps running on your site:

  • Remove any redundant apps or plugins that may be slowing your site down.
  • Be sure any apps or plugins you’re using are performing correctly and ready for a spike in traffic.  
  • Talk to your app providers to make sure you know what their communication plans are in case you need an emergency contact during the holidays.

You’ll also want to set up tracking and analytics tools with heatmaps and pixels for reliable data at the end of the season (Take a look at HotJar, Lucky Orange or Clicktale).

The holidays are a hectic time in ecommerce, and there will always be fire drills and last-minute issues that pop up. However, with a little bit of planning, you’ll be well prepared to address any issues that come up head-on, minimizing the stress your team experiences during this crazy time of the year!  

Download your Holiday Planning Checklist today!
Erin DeCesaris

Erin DeCesaris

Erin is Fuel Made's expert growth strategist and has helped ecommerce companies grow for the past 10 years. She's got a deep love for the outdoors and loves exploring the mountains near Golden, Colorado with her two large, hairy pups.