How to Increase Online Sales for Christmas

If your business focuses around selling products to consumers, you will no doubt be looking forward to the festive period. Even during these tough economic times, consumers love nothing more than braving the cold and splashing their cash on their loved ones.

Over the past few years, eCommerce has jumped in leaps and bounds and now more and more of us are shopping online in the comfort of our own homes. But how can we ensure we are making the most out of our online business?

This article aims to describe the tools and techniques that you can use on the run up to Christmas to bolster your sales and take advantage of increased spending.

Create a Blog

BlogA blog is a great (and free) way of describing, reviewing and publicising the products that you stock. Use each post as a showcase for your favourite products. By creating a blog and consistently adding new content, this content will be distributed around the blogging networks.

You can download WordPress for free and install it within 5 minutes if you know what you are doing. There are also thousands of different themes available to choose from to make sure your blog suits your branding and looks unique.

If you don’t know how to install a blog, you can always use WordPress.org and signup for free. They will host your blog, but they are designed for non-commercial use, so be careful as they could get removed without warning if they become overly commercial.

As your blog gains momentum in the number of posts and subscribers that it has, you will find that you start gaining some great search engine rankings for individual products. An product/lifestyle blog that has been created for this purpose can be found on Dennis & McGregor. Within each blog post, you can create a simple button to direct users to your product page if you wish.

Signup to Google Base

GoogleGoogle loves creating free services and their Base service is no exception. All you need to do is get your web developer to create an XML file (a simple text based file) containing your product information such as title, condition and price. The XML file can be uploaded to Google Base or automatically retrieved every day by Google from your website.

Once you have this file up and running, register with Google Base and within a couple of hours your products will be displayed on Googles “shopping” tab for everyone to see!

This tool is a great way of increasing traffic/sales on your website for specific products and comes with a suite of reports to use.

Setup an eBay store

eBayeBay is a great way of selling your new products online. As well as the well-known auction style listings, you can setup your very own eBay store for £15 per month plus listing/sale fees.

The process is really simple and a product can be added by either using the list functionality on the website, or by using software created by external vendors such as iSale (for Mac) or Blackthorne (for Windows). eBay will give you a wide range of product options to select, the ability to host your images, add a description and choose a price.

Payment can be made in various forms too including cheque, cash on delivery or BACS. The most popular option is PayPal – a free to signup service that charges you a percentage fee each time you receive money.

Another benefit of using eBay to promote and sell your products is that eBay gets some great search engine rankings. You will regularly see your eBay listings popping up in the search engine results when searching for your products in Google, Yahoo or BING.

Register with Etsy

Screen shot 2009-12-14 at 11.16.51Etsy is a fantastic way of selling products that you make. This obviously won’t be relevant to every retail business, but if you make your own posters, jewellery, clothing or home products, Etsy will be perfect.

Etsy basically works by you uploading your handmade products to the website, choosing a relevant category and adding your product information. End users can then search, browse and view your products online.

It costs just 20 cents to list an item on Etsy for 4 months plus a 3.5% transaction fee when a sale is made, so its a great way to increase your online sales.

Use Google Adwords

This is a great tool to use in short bursts over Christmas. As well as your natural search engine rankings that you have obtained through your website, blog and eBay store, Google Adwords can be used to promote even more.

Adwords is ultimately a method of displaying adverts at the top and right of the Google search results. Users then see these adverts, click on them and are directed straight to a product, category or information about your business.

The service is fully customisable and can work on any scale of budget as the adverts stop showing when your daily budget runs out. As a guideline, your daily budget can start at £5.00 per day to receive a good level of traffic, but this really depends on your market.

To find out more about Google Adwords, there are some great articles and tutorials available online such as Adwords Learning Centre.

Advertise on BuySellAds

Screen shot 2009-12-14 at 11.17.53BuySellAds is a reasonably new service which lets you display visual adverts on well known websites and blogs. The beauty of the service is that if you know that your potential customers frequent a particular blog or website regularly, you can advert on it!

Budgets are determined by the number of impressions that each website gets, with the higher visitor counts costing more money. You can easily advertise your products or services on websites/blogs that receive thousands of impressions (visits) for relatively little money.

The whole service is fully trackable and you have access to reporting showing you how many people saw your adverts, clicked through to your website and what the effective cost per click was.

From a billing perspective, the traditional model for BuySellAds has been to pay monthly, although they have just launched a pay-per-click model now too.

Summary

As you have read, there are many opportunities to increase your online sales over Christmas. The key to success is preparation as some of the options available take a few months to gain momentum (such as blogging to gain search engine rankings).

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