Holiday Trimmings to Start Hanging Now!

Just as the “yuzh,” for e-commerce retailers looking ahead to the end-of-year gift-giving season, there’s some good news . . . and bad news,

First, the bad news. It’s late. You’re late.

When fireworks light up the sky on July 4th, it’s best to be thinking of--and acting on(!)--your promotional and merchandising plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (#BF/CM).

And don’t forget Cyber Week that some retailers will be promoting. Or Green Monday, the last Monday with at least ten days prior to Christmas (it’s December 13 in 2021). It’s a rule-of-thumb cutoff when shoppers should have their online purchases completed so they can get delivered in time for Christmas.

Don’t forget, your expediting services, U.S. Postal Service employees, UPS and FedEx drivers and pilots, can make your store (and brand) a hero--or a zero--this season, as always. [Insert small prayer here for every soul in the warehouse, logistics managers, drivers, and pilots.]

Not to panic you, but if you’re reading this in July, your Back to School/College (#BTS/C) promotions should be teed up and ready to flip the switch on. Or even better, on already.

Yikes! That’s a lot to think about and execute well.

132,121 people are already helping you.

Thank goodness, the 132,121 full-time employees* at Google have the good news, and your back. They created a little monster called a “crawler.” Sometimes you might be mad at The Crawler for not indexing things instantaneously. Or maybe you have a lingering dispute with a Penguin, Panda or Herb?

Nevertheless, the Googlers have given you a gift with Googlebot,The Crawler. Because it never sleeps and does its job 24/7/365, works across borders, and while it does surprise us once in a while, it generally just settles down and crawls your website (and every other Tom, Dick or Harry site) and “indexes” your content.

That is, it finds your new online content, crawls or “spiders” it, and plunks your new content right down amidst all other search results. It’s a free ride. Does that mean your site will magically appear on the first page of search results for “Himalayan Salt Lamp” or the “Moo Cow iPhone Case” with cute goat pics from Syman Farms. Ah, nope. That’s gonna take some long-term work, and maybe deep pockets.

On winged feet like Hermes; the Greek god, not Hermès the scarf maker.

Here’s the deal: fly on winged feet (wearing a Hermès scarf if you want), don’t walk, to your marketing, merchandising, and site manager gurus and say the following: “Stop everything you are doing and start building collection pages (like hats or jewelry categories) and gift guides up the wazoo. Take enough time to be creative, but start making these pages now.”

Speaking of creative, don’t only build gift guides like “Christmas for Him” and “Christmas for Her.” Have fun, stand out (in search results). How about “Christmas Gifts for Her When She Can’t Own a Dog” or “Holiday Presents in Bright Yellow for Teen Girls.”

Sticking in the word “Christmas” or “Holiday” in your headings (think H1 and H2) and descriptions will serve you better for the year-end holidays. More so than just “Gift,” that will produce traffic all year.

And, don’t forget Kwanzaa and Hanukkah! There’s going to be less competition for keywords around these seasonal events.

Tell your team, “don’t faint!”

Before your web team faints or goes ballistic on you, please share with them the trick behind creating these collections and gift guides. They don’t have to populate these new pages with much more than a headline and SEO friendly descriptions. They’re buying time.

Once these pages are deployed (but not available in your public navigation), your friend The Crawler will be capturing this data and yes, indexing and ranking (!) your new pages. The Crawler’s friends at other search engines (Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.) will do the same.

Don’t get us wrong, if you have the bandwidth and a proper plan to add more content ASAP or an SEO/content team that has the holidays well mapped-out, that’s fantastic. Don’t interfere. As Steve Jobs (taken from Votaire) liked to say, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” Put another way: git ‘er done!

Now you have bought some time to trick these pages out completely. Continue to add collections and guides, but now you have a foothold in showing up in search engine results because your basic pages will already be indexed.

Pro tip #1: Maybe not today, but soon, you should be thinking about site-wide discounts and a schedule for them through to the new year. Not to encourage bait and switch, but some online retailers are known to kick prices up in the fall, ahead of site-wide discounts, to soften the blow on the P&L when it’s time to lower prices.

Pro tip #2: Lots of CMS platforms, including Shopify, make it easy to duplicate SKUs with higher prices and have them at the ready to deploy when you want to up the ante, err, price.

Our mantra at Text Connects for this gift season is “planning is calming.” Getting a plan together to execute on these tips will not only be calming, it can also help to drive sales in the last two months of the year.

Remember the winged feet of Hermes? In Roman mythology he is known as Mercury. A name that comes from the Latin merx, meaning “merchandise,” and the source for “merchant” and “commerce.”

So, like Mercury or Hermes, get your winged sandals on now to position your online store for year-end merchandise success.

Till soon.

* as of September 2020