"More than just a holiday trend, using videos and 360-degree images build customer confidence and increases time spent on site which dramatically increases your SEO, traffic, conversions and revenue," Robinson says. "Dynamic images and videos will transform your customer experience by better showcasing your products -- and [diminishing] the risk of returns."
11. Implement a holiday SEO strategy. "SEO takes time. So optimize your top performing pages [now], starting with the home page," says Reed Daw, SEO associate, Volusion, an ecommerce software and shopping cart provider.
"Make sure you include several highly searched keywords while matching them up with your title tags and headers," Daw says. And "don't forget to update your meta descriptions, the snippet of information that appears below your URL in search engines so Google gives your pages high priority when users are searching for those keywords."
"Introduce seasonal product pages on the same URL as many months in advance as possible to build up organic SEO juice before the actual buying period begins," says Rob Hooton, VME eCommerce APAC, NetSuite, provider of cloud-based financials/ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites.
"If the products can't yet be sold, have a 'Coming Soon' page and ask the customer to sign up to be notified when the product is available," Hooton says. "Linking these pages from blogs and external content will help drive the organic SEO in time for when the product becomes available. By the same token, if your products are seasonal and only available from year to year (Christmas trees for example), keep the page URL the same or make sure you 301 it if it changes."
12. Staff up -- and be ready to answer customer queries quickly. "Fulfilling orders is a time-consuming process, especially for smaller ecommerce businesses," notes Philip Masiello, CEO of 800razors.com. "Hiring additional staff ensures that orders ship out the same day they are ordered."
"Calculate staff and machine capacity for the worst case scenario," says Jurgen Gauger, COO, Spreadshirt, which produces custom t-shirts and personalized gifts. "Remember that scaling down in peak times is easier than scaling up during the holiday rush."
And make sure you have people ready to answer customer emails, tweets, Facebook queries and calls.
"Holiday shoppers generally ask questions when they are ready to make a purchase," says Masiello. "Focus your customer service strategy across all channels -- Twitter, Facebook, 800 number and emails -- and aim to answer questions in under 15 minutes," Gauger says. "The faster you respond, the higher the conversion rate."
13. Ramp up your email marketing campaigns -- and add SMS marketing to the mix. "Stage your email offers to begin approximately 4 to 6 weeks out," says Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science, a customer retention solution provider.
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