Countdown to the Summit: Maximizing Your Holiday Routine

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The Yahoo Merchant Summit will be September 13-14 in Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, CA). Yahoo merchants are invited to join us for this informative 2-day event. See the agenda, register, and learn more at the Summit web site.

Today’s Yahoo Store Blog post comes from Scott Smigler, president of Exclusive Concepts, Inc., a Yahoo Small Business partner that helps online retailers to increase revenue, get smarter, and do more with less. Services include advanced search engine optimization, profitable PPC marketing, scientific conversion testing, and optimized lifecycle email marketing. Exclusive Concepts is also a Patron Sponsor of the Merchant Summit. Scott will be speaking on several topics at the Summit, including preparations for the holiday shopping season.

When you grew up in bricks-and-mortar retail as I did, you learn to live for the holiday season. It’s a magical time when many retailers go from "being in the red," to "being in the black." For many merchants it also means long hours, big bank deposits, sore backs, and future sentimentalities that can only be appreciated by those who have experienced it directly.

Like many, your holiday routine may include buying merchandise, stocking your virtual shelves with the latest and greatest products for the holiday season, hiring warehouse workers, and updating your policies. This year, however, consider adding some new things to the mix.

One benefit of having the upcoming Yahoo Merchant Summit so close to the start of the holiday shopping season is that you will be able to compare notes with fellow retailers and interact directly with experts. This will give you an opportunity to add to your routine.

Here are some suggestions to get you started. Also, if you will be in Silicon Valley for the Summit, please don’t miss my panel discussion with McKane Davis from Scrapbook.com (moderated by Mike Ober, Senior Manager of Merchant Development for Yahoo Small Business), where more ideas and perspectives will be shared for preparing for the holidays.

Prepare your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns:

  • Update your ad copy (and your site) to emphasize holiday promotions like free shipping
  • Check your ads for dead links
  • Adjust budgets to allow for increased volume
  • Implement "remarketing" campaigns to target shoppers who browse weeks before they buy
  • Schedule regional/local campaigns to squeeze extra sales as shipping deadlines approach

Optimize your site for conversions:

  • Leverage increased holiday traffic by conversion testing
  • "Shop" your site and remove barriers to purchase like "add-to-cart" or "view cart" buttons that blend in too much with the rest of the page
  • Make your shipping and return policies clear
  • Ensure that promotions are promoted consistently throughout your entire site
  • Implement third-party tools like The Cart Closer that help you win back shoppers while they are trying to abandon your cart

Get outside of your comfort zone:

  • Don’t ignore Halloween and Thanksgiving, or the several important holidays that come in the first quarter of next year
  • Use email marketing to increase the value of each new holiday shopper you convert
  • Review data from Yahoo Web Analytics regularly to uncover new opportunities to improve your site
  • Engage new shoppers by inviting them to join your conversation on Facebook
  • Don’t wait until 1/1/2011 to begin implementing new strategic marketing initiatives.

I look forward to seeing you in less than two weeks. Exclusive Concepts is pleased to be one of the Patron sponsors of this event, and members of our team will be present to answer your questions and hopefully to inform your thinking. Please don’t forget to interact with us by following the links below.

Scott Smigler
President of Exclusive Concepts, Inc., and Guest Blogger for Yahoo Small Business
Follow Exclusive Concepts on Twitter – @ExclusiveTweet, Facebook, and our Daily Video Blog
Follow @YSmallBusiness on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook

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