November is here, which means the Christmas shopping season is officially underway. There may still be a few weeks before Thanksgiving, but that shouldn’t stop you from preparing for what could be the most profitable period for online sales you experience all year. Black Friday happens on November 27, and today we’ve prepared a series of tips to ensure your holiday sales happen without issue. Some will seem obvious, but no point should be overlooked. Every step outlined below will help streamline your business, improve shipping speed, and – if you’re lucky – bring in a few additional customers.
Check your inventory. Twice (just like Santa).
Your goal with holiday sales should be to liquidate as much of the merchandise you have in stock as possible while still making a healthy profit on each product sold. Before you can do this to the best of your abilities you need to know what you have available, and how much of it is in stock. Running out of something during your holiday sale will cause headaches for everyone, and that goes double if you run out of something because you forgot to check your inventory prior to launching your sale. The back and forth required to straighten out orders that cannot be fulfilled may cause you to lose future sales, as well as those you are forced to cancel. Prevent this mess from ever happening and do inventory first. Do it twice, in fact, and ask someone else to check your work.
Promote your entire sale, as well as individual items.
You want people to use your discounts to buy more than they usually would, but often those attempting to promote a store-wide sale forget the impact that promoting key items one at a time can have on consumers. You should still mention store-wide discounts, of course, but you should also make room to highlight individual items. If you’re offering 25% off everything online, you should promote the sale as how it impacts items like shirts or vinyl. Create images for Instagram and other networks that highlight how the discount impacts the cost of single items, that way people can more easily understand what a great deal you are giving them. Likewise, you can use Twitter to promote various items and their price after discounts throughout the holiday weekend.
Speaking of promotion, think about paying for it.
I’m about to say something most artists hate to hear: Paying for promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter can have a positive impact on your reach, as well as your overall sales. It would be wonderful if this were not the case, and that those who could not afford paid promotion on social networks saw their sales work just as well, but years of research has made it clear that is not the case. Thankfully, the cost of entry into paid promotions is low. For as little as five dollars you can have a guaranteed reach to hundreds, if not thousands of people who have previously enjoyed your music enough to give you a Like/Follow online. Whether or not they take advantage of the message being conveyed will depend on how you choose to present yourself, but at least you know your efforts are reaching those who are most likely to jump on them.
Create specific Twitter search streams for particular items you sell.
This one is a bit more time-consuming than other tips, but it can help you bring in a lot of new consumers who may have otherwise not checked your store. There are numerous tools that allow you to create and save Twitter search streams. Find one you like and use it to track people tweeting about shopping/looking for things like ‘new vinyl’ or ‘cool band t-shirts.’ It’s likely these people already have an artist or genre in mind when they send these messages, but you can still reply with links to your store and music. If they don’t respond, oh well. If they do, you’ve got a potential new consumer/fan.
Make the most of SEO
We’ve talked about this before, but keywords are becoming increasingly important when it comes to how people find your content online. Use a tool such as the Google Keyword tool to better understand how your customers are searching, then modify your own store to reflect what you have learned. It is important to know which keywords are mostly used during the holidays, such as ‘sales,’ ‘top gifts,’ ‘cyber Monday,’ and ‘Black Friday.’
In the event you know nothing about SEO there are services that can help you improve your efforts, as well as people on Fiverr willing to work for just $5. Get creative if you must, but the smart decision would be to master SEO yourself as soon as possible.
Make sure everything is working before promoting your sale.
This one may seem obvious, but every year there are a handful of musicians who see their site, or at least parts of their site, crash amidst the sudden upswing in view brought on by the holiday shopping season. Before you push your sale live, make sure every item on your store is properly listed and that every sale is working correctly. If there is a code word needed, make sure you test it out prior to sharing it online.
James Shotwell is the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also the Film Editor for Substream Magazine and host of the Inside Music podcast. If you enjoyed this post please take a moment to follow James on Twitter.