How to prep your online shop for the Christmas holidays
September is all about strategy. This month you want to actually plan out what’s going to be happening around Christmas so that you can spend October and November making it happen.
In September I want you to install Google analytics on your website or your Etsy store. It’s easy to install and doing it now will give you a couple of months to accumulate priceless data and help you understand what products work, how long people are staying on your page and so on. All of that can really help you plan your promotion for Christmas.
Next thing I’d like you to do is to install the Facebook pixel. That’s something you can do on your own website and can’t if you only have Etsy store. The idea is the same as with Google analytics – you’ll gather more data which will come in handy when you want to run Facebook ads for Christmas. Install it even if you think you are not going to be using ads – it doesn’t cost anything. That way you’ll have more data when you’re ready to use ads and they are going to be cheaper because they will be more targeted.
The third piece of your strategy this month is building an email list. If you don’t have an email list already this is a good time to actually go and build it. It’s still early so you have pretty much 3 months to get subscribers on your list that you can then promote your product and sales to. I actually just did a workshop on building your email list when you’re an Etsy seller, and you can find it here. An email list is the best asset for your business at any time of the year but it can really help you with your promotion for Christmas if you start building it now.
When you have those three pieces ready, it’s time to actually plan your promotion strategy for Christmas. If you have any data from your last Christmas, now is the time to look back on what worked and what didn’t. Check what was your best seller, what you thought was going to sell really well and didn’t, what price range were people actually buying at.
Look at your copy from last Christmas and see which product description worked, and which didn’t. Take notes and use them to create a better strategy this year. September is actually a great time to do that as you’re not in a Christmas rush yet and you can carve out some time to sit and plan it properly, even with a busy schedule.
Next step is your promotion strategy:
- Are you going to offer any special bundles? Sometimes you can bundle your products for Christmas and add a little basket or something like this, depending on what you’re selling of course. If you are going to make a bundle, what is it going to be made of, how much are they going to cost?
- Are you going to offer gift cards? Those are great for people that just don’t know what to give other people. Are you going to offer them and if so, how are they going to work?
- Finally, are you going to offer discounts and when? There are a few dates before Christmas that you can leverage for that. First, it’s Black Friday, this year it’s on November 24th. Next, it’s Cyber Monday, on November 27th. This is a great time because people are starting to stress out that it’s almost December and they have to buy all the presents. The next day is Green Monday, and if you’ve never heard of it, Green Monday comes from eBay looking at their data and saying that this is the day with most sales. It’s on December 11th, so pretty late, but it’s a great date to catch those people who still haven’t figured out what they’re going to buy for Christmas yet. It’s also a way for you to stand out by having something a little later than Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s also a day called Free Shipping Day, and it’s on December 16th. It’s just as the name suggests, people that order on that day get free shipping. Don’t do that if you think that’s something you can’t afford or that’s doable for your type of business. Finally, there’s also obviously Christmas and Boxing day. That’s too late, to be honest – you could always do an extra sale on Christmas or Boxing Day but you really need to catch people before that, ideally in November, early December. After that, you just have to focus on creating and dispatching your products.
Those dates are all on a checklist, too, so download it above if you want.
You can also add your own dates, of course. This is your business and you get to decide for which day are you going to do a sale. But for each promotion you run, ask yourself: when am I going to update the graphics on my Etsy store or on my website? When am I going to start promoting this on social media and to my email list? That is what September is all about.
The last thing I want you to do this month is to brainstorm the elements and decoration that you might need to purchase to style your product images in your store for Christmas. You could do flatlays, do some new product or lifestyle shoots, depending on your situation, to put a bit of Christmas vibe in your pictures. You might need to find that box of decorations somewhere in your house and see if you can maybe use something from your own Christmas tree or things around the house that you could use to style your photos. Maybe you’ll need to make a list and buy some new ones to help your product images go from plain white to plain white + Christmas vibe. That’s it for September. I know it is a lot but it’s actually just a matter of really planning your holidays season so you don’t have to stress about it later.
October is all about the content itself. You’ve already done the strategy, now it’s time to actually prepare all the content you’re going to use in November.
First is product photography. As I’ve mentioned before, you need to theme your images for Christmas and style your product images for the holidays season. It would be great to do it in bulk. Write it down in your agenda over a couple of days, over the weekend or whatever suits you, maybe in the mornings to catch that best light. During this time you’re going to style your flatlays and retake your images to match the Christmas mood.
There’s also social media content to think about, and during these days you can also take images that you can use there, so you can just add captions to them later. You can use Canva to do this – it’s a graphic design tool, but it’s free to use. Their design is beautiful and they have pre-made templates that you can use. They also have pre-sized templates for social media, so if you for example use Facebook you can just choose this template and don’t worry about the dimensions. Just change the text and a couple of colors if you want and you’re good to go.
Another quick tip for graphics is stock images and mockups, that you can buy from Creative Market or get for free from Unsplash. You can get some pictures from just $2, put some text, your design and use them for the banner on your website or your Etsy banner on the top. You can watch more about the graphics in the video above, starting around 18:16 mark.
Apart from product photography and images for your social media and website, October is also a good time to write that email copy that you’re going to be sending during the holidays. That way when your promotion date comes you don’t have to stress about it because you’ve got everything ready. I know it may be weird, but just try to get into the mood and come up with those nice Christmassy social messages. If you have a blog, that’s also when you want to start thinking about what you’re going to blog about around Christmas and write what you can ahead of time. I know it’s not always possible, but at least think what the blog is going to be about and prepare what you can.
We’re getting real here. The entire world starts to look like it’s Christmas tomorrow, and that’s also time for you to decorate your store.
You can add Christmassy elements to your Etsy banner, your new product images and so on. Don’t overdo it, just add little Christmas reminders and touches – that really goes a long way in putting people into the Christmas shopping zone.
In November it’s also time to start thinking about packaging for Christmas. Are you going to offer special packaging? Are you going to have some Christmassy elements in your packaging? If so, what is it going to be? Do you need to buy something special? You don’t have to do that, as people often buy presents and repackage them themselves, but it’s something you need to decide on and start implementing now.
You want to decide on shipping as well. Are you going to offer faster shipping? That’s something you don’t have to do if it’s too expensive, don’t go bankrupt because of that, but that’s something that people love, mostly because they’re late. Decide on the last order date before Christmas, too. What is the max date that people have to put an order in so they can still get their presents on time? You have to calculate it depending on what shipping you are using.
The last element is titles and product desriptions. As you’ve changed your graphics and images to match the Christmas mood, now it’s time to change the titles and tags. In your product description, include sentences explaining why it would be the perfect gift for him or her, depending what you’re selling.
December is all about product creation and shipping. Because of all the hard work you’ve put during October and November, there’s nothing more to do than that. Obviously, you still have to deal with customer service and all that, but it’s going to be a lot easier because of the work you’ve done ahead of time. If you have some spare time, you can plan some sales for January and February as well to try and get rid of any leftover stock. I have last little tip from my friend Clare from Indie Retail Academy for you.
She said that because December is usually really stressful on a personal level, you can do all the Christmas shopping before, like in October. I know it sounds weird, but it’s going to make you feel so much better that you have your shopping done when you’re already busy with work during December. This is pretty much it! I know that we went through a lot of different tasks but I really hope that breaking it down into chunks like that will help you to have less stressful, and most importantly, more profitable Christmas. So remember: September is for strategy, October is all about content, November is for making everything looking Christmassy and December is all about dispatching your products.
Don’t forget to download your free checklist to help you with all that:
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