Don't depend on last-quarter sales to carry the whole year’s expenses. Try an off-season strategy for growth all year long.
Do you see a big drop in ecommerce traffic and sales after Christmas?
You’re not alone.
After all, cycles are a normal part of business. The high season is followed by the low season. Things heat up for a while, then cool back down. One day, it’s tough to find time to eat lunch—then, all of a sudden, you’re scrambling to find something to do.
The worst part is there doesn’t seem like much can be done about it. Erratic traffic and erratic sales are to be expected. Such is life for an ecommerce team.
But that’s not true.
There’s plenty that can be done to help smooth out the rollercoaster ride. You can keep employees busy and the transactions coming in year-round.
Stick with me a few minutes, and I’ll provide examples of tactics you can use to accomplish that feat.
There’s no reason for any ecommerce website to depend on last-quarter sales to carry the whole year’s expenses. Follow these suggestions to keep customers coming back all year long.
5 Game-Changing Tips for Boosting Ecommerce Sales in the Off-Season
Breaks in the action aren’t always a bad thing. Basketball coaches use halftime to make strategic assessments, change up the game, and boost team morale. NASCAR teams use December and January to rebuild and redesign, so their cars will run even stronger the next time the flag drops.
You, too, can use the off-season as a time for growth instead of a time to pull back. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in mindset to turn slow-time doldrums into “Let’s get ready for the next round” excitement. All you need is a different perspective – one that sees value in the quiet hours.
Here are five examples to get the ideas flowing:
1. Focus on what you can’t do during the busy times
If you have a code freeze during the busy season, for example, your off-season is the perfect time to make changes. Less traffic means less load on your resources – both machine-based and human.
In the rush to keep the wheels turning, it’s easy to forget you can purposely save some of the work for later. The old maxim about “Never put off until tomorrow…” isn’t always correct.
Have you been putting off a site redesign? Do you need to generate new images or other creative assets? Are there employees to hire or train? Do you need to launch an in-house initiative to make sure the team is working together effectively?
Slow time is the best time to get those and many other tasks accomplished — not the time to take a break. Smart ecommerce VP’s know their most lethal competitors are doing push-ups while others sleep. If you’re going to compete with those astute ones, you’ll need to do push-ups too.
2. Tailor your website to your target audience
Use A/B Testing to optimize your website for your targeted audience segments. That will help to increase conversions and bring in more sales revenue all during the year.
Here’s something else: once you’ve optimized your site, you’ll get more return on ad spend (ROAS). That will allow you to get more aggressive with advertising and attract even more visitors to your site.
Ads alone won’t provide the desired results. You can get ten times more traffic, but fail to get an appreciable number of more sales. The often-overlooked ingredient is conversion rate optimization.
Higher numbers mean nothing if those visitors aren’t converting from prospects into buyers. More about that in the next tip.When you say ROI, do you mean return on investment or risk of inaction? -@pgillin Click To Tweet
3. Find the roadblocks
Remove friction. Use the slower periods to analyze data from when things were hopping. Where did you underperform? Where are your biggest bottlenecks? Once you’ve identified your stuck points, you can plan improvements based on your highest impact areas.
All of that assumes, of course, that you’ve identified the metrics you’ll need and the formulas you’ll use. If you find there are holes in your strategic view, you’ll need to patch them. Maybe you’ll need new tools, maybe you’ll need to train staff members, maybe you’ll have to hire to cover lapses.
Your off-season strategy will include time to take a close look at the buyer’s path to sales and kick the rocks out the way. It may be there is no other activity that can pay off like this one. We preach it over and over and over again: traffic that doesn’t convert is like a car with no wheels; you can steer it all you want, but it’s not going to take you anywhere.Every aspect of marketing is entirely useless unless it produces conversions - @jeremysaid. Click To Tweet
4. Bring your new customers back
Keep your first-time customers coming back by designing and implementing an effective onboarding campaign via email.
You can bring them back with offers of complementary products, for instance, or by offering special rewards for purchasing again soon. You’re limited only by your imagination.
The main thing is to let those new customers know you appreciate their business, you’re open to feedback on their shopping experience with you, and you want to keep them as ongoing customers.
Your onboarding campaign begins the grooming process for those who will eventually become your evangelists. Statistics consistently show it’s considerably easier and less costly to sell more to an existing customer than to acquire a new customer.
5. Develop a loyalty program to reward repeat customers
Those customers you acknowledge and treasure are the ones you keep. Make sure your loyal customers receive special treatment, and you’ll cement the relationship – they’ll be “in the family.”
It’s in this group that you’ll find evangelists who will freely provide invaluable word-of-mouth testimonials for you (unsolicited). They’ll talk about you on social media, they’ll brag about you to their friends, and they’ll love the fact that you not only recognize them, but that you do special things to reward them for their consistent support of your business.
It’s difficult to find a company – online or off – that’s really good at this. One huge, but often overlooked key, is that you want a high percentage of your messaging aimed at serving these loyal customers instead of selling them.
You’ve already sold them, and you should know them quite well. Now focus on giving them unexpected value. Don’t make it all about sales and discounts. Throw in informative content on topics you know they care about.
If your customer loves to camp, for instance, send updates on the latest advances in sleeping bag construction. It’s okay to mention your products, but don’t make the message a barely-hidden sales pitch.
Be real, and provide real value.
What You Do Now Will Pay Off Big When Black Friday Rolls Around
When you begin thinking like a coach at halftime, instead of falling for the trap and acting like the season is over, your enthusiasm will spread to the rest of the team.
Go over the five suggestions above with your team. Get everyone brainstorming about the opportunity they have to get the engine powered up. Not only will your increased conversion rate provide more revenue during the rest of the year, but it’ll pay off in spades when the high-season rolls back around. You’ll get more conversions at that point too — maybe a whole lot more.
At The Good, we get to see what happens when companies take these suggestions to heart. We’ve seen battle-worn ecommerce VP’s get their smile back and begin loving the work again.
May that also happen for you!
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