Today people across America will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with their loved ones; many will also be taking advantage of the long weekend to begin preparing for the upcoming December holidays – with Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially kicking off the holiday shopping season this weekend.
The Holiday Season for People in Online Marketing
However, if you’re a marketer, you’ve already been preparing for this holiday season for months!
Hopefully you’ve been following our E-Commerce SEO for the Holidays series and working hard to build your holiday SEO campaign using the tips provided in each post. I’ve walked you through each part of the process – from researching / creating a keyword list and performing competitive analysis to optimizing your user experience and product pages, as well as giving you some tips for last-minute linking strategies.
This weekend, your marketing efforts will begin to pay off as shoppers navigate to your website and make their holiday purchases online. But don’t get too comfortable! There are still things you can do to improve the success of your SEO campaign this holiday season.
SEO 201: Integration & Beyond Website Optimization
An important factor to any successful SEO campaign is integration with your other marketing efforts.
In this post, I will help you make sure you’re doing all you can to maximize the ROI of your holiday SEO efforts as the 2012 holiday shopping season gets into full swing!
Integrating Your Holiday SEO & Email Marketing:
Email marketing is an effective way to leverage all the SEO work you did on the user experience and product pages of your website and to engage with your past / existing customer base in time to drive sales for the holidays.
Ideally, you regularly maintain your all-encompassing customer list and have it segmented into various smaller email lists that help you send effectively targeted emails to those customers throughout the year. However, even if you aren’t a CRM / Email Ninja, you should still send your active customer list an email announcing your new holiday gift offerings (with a links back to those product pages you optimized in Part 3 of this series, of course).
Make sure your email subject lines are short and attention-grabbing, mentioning any discounts, deals or deadlines. Just like when optimizing of the meta titles of your website product pages, keep the most important information farthest to the left within your email subject line to ensure important information is not getting cut off in your recipients’ inboxes. The number of characters displayed in an email subject line varies depending on where the email is read (via desktop, mobile device, etc.) Err on the side of caution – my iPhone only shows me 20 characters of an email subject line before truncating. Don’t waste valuable space in your subject line to include things like your company name. For example, recipients can see the company name in your “from” email address.
In the example above, the email subject line is showing 45 characters in my desktop Gmail inbox.
Here’s the same email from my iPhone Gmail inbox, with only 33 characters of the subject line showing.
In the example email above, MAC does a good job of keeping the most important part of the message title – “MAC eGift Cards” – to the beginning of the subject line to ensure viewers see it.
However, I have to also point out a missed opportunity here. Notice in the screen shot above that the preview of the email’s contents (circled in red) says, “Trouble Viewing this email? View Mobile-Friendly | View in Browser….” instead of something more relevant to the email title?
I literally always see this same [essentially useless] body copy in every email this company sends me. Here’s why it’s happening:
The devil is in the details! Be sure to run email tests so you know what your customers are receiving in their inboxes and you can optimize your messages accordingly.
Just like with your website content, even if your email messages consist primarily of impactful well-designed images, you should include some actual text content at the beginning of your emails linking to & highlighting your holiday specials so your recipients get a little more of a teaser / preview and are enticed to open your emails – especially mobile users who do not have the same email preview / display options that desktop email users have.
Anne Taylor sure knows how to get my attention with their emails –even from my iPhone inbox!
Ann Taylor does a great job of including optimized calls to action that link to the content they are promoting on their website within the body copy of the emails they send to their Ann Taylor Rewards Card members, even though the messages still rely heavily on images. “You’re only one cute outfit away from your $20 LOFT Love Rewards Cards” is a lot more compelling than “Trouble Viewing this email? View Mobile-Friendly | View in Browser….”
Note the positioning of the link (to their new arrivals page) with the great call to action placed BEFORE the “mobile device / browse option” links.
I like to compare the appearance of an email subject line and content /message preview within an inbox to the appearance of a meta title and meta description in the search engine results page. You’ve got to write enticing copy that will get the reader to click on your content. If you fail to do so, they will never open your email / visit your website.
Bonus TIP: If you were following this series from the beginning – you signed up for your competitors’ emails when you were doing your competitive research and now have great insights into the email offers they are sending their customers. Make your deals and offers bigger and better!
Integrating Your Holiday SEO & Social Media Marketing:
In my last post, I briefly discussed how you can use Google + and Pinterest as sources for some last-minute links before the holidays. However, you should be utilizing ALL your social media profiles. User engagement is key here, so make sure that you’re posting updates to all your social media profiles daily with interesting images of your products, poll questions, client testimonials, announcements of special offers, etc. Provide a link back to your holiday product pages whenever possible to encourage users to visit your website.
View your Facebook Page’s Insights in “real time” to see what type of updates your audience responds to most.
Bonus TIP: Some sites such as Facebook and YouTube provide administrators with in-depth insights / analytics data so you can see which of your posts users have engaged with most – Facebook even started providing “real time” insights earlier this year. Use this data to help inform your social media strategy and posting schedule throughout the rest holiday season.
Integrating Your Holiday SEO & PPC Marketing:
If you work in a larger agency (or have hired an agency to manage your online marketing), you need to make sure your PPC campaigns are properly aligned with your SEO strategy (and vise-versa). As a best practice, SEO and PPC teams need to be sharing data regularly
Use your keyphrase research from Part 1 of this series to inform your PPC strategy. Create campaigns and ad groups that align with the various consumer profiles (typical consumers vs. gift givers) and stages within the purchase funnel (looking for the brand by name vs. using non-branded keywords) where a potential consumer might be, as well as the various devices they will be viewing the ads on (desktop vs. mobile). Incorporate your target holiday keyphrases into your ad copy, keywords and negative keywords.
Be mindful of any significant events / timing that can influence a searcher’s purchase decision like free shipping, or promoting a “Cyber Monday Sale,” etc.
Having well-optimized content on your new product pages will not only improve the organic performance of your website in major search engines like Google and Bing, but will also improve the quality scores of related ads and driving down costs-per-click as a result.
Bonus TIP: If you’re considering trying out Facebook PPC ads, be sure to read this article written by my colleague, Jason Corrigan, Facebook Ads vs. Google Adwords: Tips on Which to Invest In.
comScore Image Source: insights.marinsoftware.com
One Final Thought:
Remember, the holiday online shopping season lasts beyond just Christmas Day. As the chart above shows, online retailers continue to experience a seasonal spike in sales into January as online shoppers buy last-minute gifts and begin to spend the gift cards they’ve already received.
Don’t be too quick to dramatically cut your PPC spend, email campaigns or social media efforts after ringing in the New Year, or you could be missing out on last-minute sales!
Share your questions, success stories, or past learnings from integrating (or failing to integrate) your SEO campaign with your email, social or PPC marketing campaigns in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out our Ultimate Holiday SEO Checklist, too!