Top Tips For Improving Christmas Sales Online

improve your xmas sales 600It’s that time of year again! Not quite Christmas but not too early to start grabbing gifts. This is one of the most crucial seasons for those who sell online, particularly independent business owners hoping to carve out a significant slice of that Christmas sales cake.

The good news is that if you’re running your own online shop there are countless resources out there to help you make the most of this busy period, but don’t go anywhere just yet because this guest blog from Jamie Pitman of Create.net  is one of them!

Be Prepared

The key thing to do is to start planning very early on. If things go really well on the run up to Christmas you might not have time to work on new plans so it’s best to have these in place in plenty of time. This way you’ll be sure you have all the stock you need when it comes to the busy period.

However, if you’ve just started thinking about planning for Christmas, you’ve still got time to make a big difference to your sales with some clever promotion and quick thinking.

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Why you shouldn’t bombard your customers with discounts this Christmas

I don’t know about you, but this year I feel bombarded by Christmas discounts.

Sellers often think that they’ve built up enough goodwill by mailing regularly (but not too often) the rest of the year to allow them to bombard their users with discounts during on the run up to Christmas.

However, during December your customers could be receiving several emails a day that are exactly like the emails you’re sending. And if you keep sending them, there’s a good chance that your subscribers will lump your emails in with the rest of them and simply hit ‘delete’.

A customer isn’t just for Christmas

The long-term relationship you have with your customer has to come first. Instead of trying to maximise your gains from your holiday sales in the short term, aim to maximise your long-term customer value.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to sell your products during the holidays. You should. But don’t do it at the expense of your relationship with your customers.

Email only two or three times maximum during the run up to Christmas. Send enough mailings that you let your customer base know about your offers, but don’t try to pressure them into buying.

Making your products stand out

If everyone is receiving multiple sales emails every day, the answer is not to mail them even more often to try and get sales. Instead, try to make your offer stand out.

Ask yourself why they signed up for your email list or purchased your products in the first place.

If you’re selling jeans, they might have signed up because they want to look great. If you run a website for work at home mums, they might have signed up because they want to make more money.

Identify what the core desire of your market is, then try to tailor your offers to that core desire. Instead of just discounting, try to come up with more creative offers that stand out.

Tailor offer around past purchases

Instead of just mailing all your customers with the same offer, try to segregate your list based on products they’ve purchased in the past. Then send offers based on what people have bought in the past. Whether this is possible for you or not will depend on how you have set up your mailing list. So if you can’t currently do this, it may be worth looking at the information you gather on your clients so you have the option to do it in future.

Ideally, this should give you a higher conversion rate as well as a lower unsubscribe rate.

So there you go, three ways of making the best of the run up to Christmas without annoying your customers.

Don’t miss a thing! Click here to get my newsletterI’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Karen Roe

Will you be ready to take your clients’ money this Christmas?

You could make more money in the next few months that at any other time of the year.

And that doesn’t just apply to businesses selling gifts, either.

Christmas is the party season so we want to look good (health, fashion, beauty products), we want to entertain family and friends (food, party supplies, TVs and audio) and we want our houses to look great too (furniture, soft furnishings, DIY). Then at the end of it all we’re so exhausted we want to give ourselves little treats like a weekend away or a new iPod!

Many businesses need extra admin support during this busy time of year and that means more clients for virtual assistants, for example. So even if you’re not selling direct to the public, there are still opportunities for you to support those businesses that are.

True, people may be spending less since the credit crunch, but the run up to Christmas is still the best time in the year for maximising your profits.

Are YOU ready to take advantage of all that spending?

Here are five ways you can get yourself and your business in tip-top shape for the Christmas season:

Your marketing plan

Update your marketing plan to make sure you’re squeezing the absolute best from your time and budget. If you don’t already have a marketing plan, now is the time to get yourself one. It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated document, just some notes about what you’re going to be doing to promote your business on the run up to Christmas and how and when you’re going to do it.

Make sure all your efforts are working together in a strategy. Look at which marketing methods are working well for you and do more of them. Is it time you dropped a marketing method that isn’t very effective?

Are you charging enough?

How do you feel about your pricing? Do you feel confident when you name your price or do you drop your prices too easily? Are you charging less than you deserve for what you do? Take a look at what might be behind this. Does your confidence need a boost? Do you need to work on your selling skills? Are you in a very competitive area and need to find a way to stand out from the crowd?

Are you in control of your money?

Unless you know how much your costs add up to (and yes, that includes paying yourself for the time you work on or in your business) you can’t know how much you need to charge to break even.  If you’re not breaking even – or don’t have a plan for how you’re going to get beyond break-even – your business is just an expensive hobby.

Having your financial facts at your fingertips makes it much easier to price your product or service, too.

Get better at following up

Are you telling potential customers all about you/your product but not actually asking them to buy? If so, you’re just warming them up for your competitors to come along and make the sale.

Following up could be as simple as making a phone call to see if they need any further information, explaining how you can solve their problem, then making the sale when the time is right.  If they aren’t ready to commit right then, make sure you arrange to follow up again. Book a date for another meeting, ask if you can add them to your mailing list or ask if you can call them again next month.

Think bigger

Whatever you have planned, take it to the next level.

Going to a conference? Don’t just network with the delegates, get to know the speakers.  Look at your branding: your logo, colour scheme, fonts, photo, business card, tagline, website, customer service, marketing materials and so on. Boosting the image that your business gives out to the world will improve the way people perceive your product/service and you may be able to charge more.

If you act like you’re running a little business just for fun, that’s how people will see you. You can think big even if you’re running a business part-time from home. It’s just a question of attitude!

Your customers are ready to spend their cash. Are you ready for them to spend it with YOU?

If you need help getting your business in shape for Christmas, get yourself a copy of the Earn What You Deserve as a Mumpreneur e-course. You can download it for just £24 if you buy it before 30th September (usual price £37).

Creative Commons License photo credit: Karen Roe

 

Earning Extra Money in the Run up to Christmas

I'm delighted to introduce my first ever guest blogger, Gemma Johnson, who co-founded www.babeecard.com. Many mums who are starting their own business find they need another income stream to keep them going in the first few months. Here are some great ideas for topping up your income in the run up to Christmas.

As Christmas approaches, we could all do with a little extra money. Here are some swift and simple ways to boost the family budget over the next few months.

Sell Something There are lots of opportunities to earn extra income through direct selling. To find the best direct selling business, do a little research. Ask friends what they are planning to buy for Christmas. Find out what other direct selling companies are operating in your local area. Last year at my daughter’s school everyone was having Body Shop parties and it got to the point where there was almost no-one who hadn’t been asked to host. Pick something that is different AND make sure that what the company offers is in the right price range for the people you will be targeting.

Earning Online If you have a computer there are lots of simple ways to make your money go further and earn cash back, commission or affiliate fees. Start by signing up for a cashback site or two, so when you do your Christmas shopping you get a few percentage of what you spent back in your account. You can sign up for affiliate schemes where you promote a link and get a small amount every time one of your friends or contacts shops through that link. If you’re a BaBeeCard member, for example, you earn £5 credit for everyone you get to sign up.

Look for a Job In the run up to Christmas lots of businesses need extra help. Spend an afternoon going round your local shopping centre and asking about whether they will be hiring extra staff before Christmas. Wear something reasonably smart: you don’t need to wear your interview suit, but look like you are smart and ready to work. Ask to speak to the manager if possible. You may be asked to supply a CV if they have vacancies, or you could be given a form to take away and fill in.  If they will be looking for staff in coming weeks, make a note of when and where they will advertise vacancies. And if you have a CV, revise it with an emphasis on skills that you have which would be useful in a busy store in the run up to Christmas.

Remember, whatever way you choose to earn some extra money, persistence pays off. If you don’t get the first job you apply for, keep trying. If you go for direct selling, look beyond your friends for party hosts and target groups and offices too. And if you opt for an affiliate scheme, spread the word to as many people as possible to maximise your earnings.

Gemma Johnson

Co-founder of www.babeecard.com Winner of Mumpreneur of the year 2009 sponsored by WBMN

BaBeeCard Winner of Best Gift Card Award 2009 by Prepaid365.com