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Prepare Your Website for the Google Page Experience Update | Windows VPS Hosting Blog


 
Google Page Experience Update

Google has a hot and happening history of algorithm updates focused on the page loading experience improvement for users. Operation “speed up the internet” slogan has been underway since 2010, and in that year, Google first announced consideration of site speed as a new ranking factor in ESRP.

In 2018 they simply doubled down and announced their ranking algorithm would look upon mobile page speed as a factor.

There were really blazing announcements, which brought large-scale changes on the whole internet. The users are really enjoying it, but it brings so many challenges for the website owners.

Since these announcements, site speed and page speed have only become so crucial. Users increasingly expect pages to load faster, and the internet continues to enlarge and become more complex.

Period, page speed was directly linked to both how well your website converts its visitors into customers and how your website ranked in Google before the 2021 Page Experience Update.

The June core algorithm update is going to make page speed more important for ranking as well as converting. In case you aren’t ranking right now, or your site has a pretty low conversion rate, you need to check your page speed score right now.

How’s the page speed ranking factor changing in June 2021

Page Speed Ranking

  • In May 2020, Google declared that they planned to launch a huge new algorithm update in the next year. They exclaimed that the 2021 Google Algorithm Update is going to focus on measuring how users experience the web page’s performance and will be known as the Page Experience Update. Further, Google explained that they wanted to allot webmasters much time to update their websites before they make an official new ranking factor because of the Coronavirus crisis.
  • On 10th Nov 2020, Google declared the new update would roll out in June 2021 – nearly one after their 2020 announcement.
  • On Apr 19th, 2021, Google declared a new launch date for the new Page Experience Update, and it was mid-June 2021. This rollout will be granular in the beginning and will progressively affect rankings more and more with time. Google wants the new ranking signals to play their full role by August’s end. They relate the rollout to slowly flavoring food, saying, “You can consider fitting as if you are adding a flavoring to the food you’re preparing. Instead of adding the flavor all at just once into your mix, we’ll be gradually adding it all over this time phase.”

Google’s intension to protect webmasters from “the big shock”

As you can read, Google has given webmasters much advance notice regarding this update, and their intention is to ensure that websites don’t take huge ranking hits when the update rolls out fully.

Google looks upon page speed as a tricky issue to solve and can take long troubleshooting. In case you haven’t thought about what these new guidelines and updates are going to mean for your business, just consider this your official call-to-action. Yes, we strictly mean that, be alert, and start working now.

Take action on the page speed and page experience of your website for protection against the upcoming update.

Tools for adapting to this upcoming algorithm update

There are heaps of tools available that help all digital managers and webmasters monitor how they perform according to these metrics, including:

  • The Chrome UX (CrUX) Report permit historical monitoring of all these signals in an awesome DataStudio Dashboard.
  • Google Search Console now accompanies a Core Web Vitals report.
  • Webpagetest.org is a 3rd tool that includes these metrics in its extensive load speed reports.
  • PageSpeed Insights is another legacy tool from Google that has had a recent renovate to report on these metrics – however, the output proves to be somewhat misleading at times.

Google also plans to test out a visual indicator within SERP to highlight pages providing an amazing experience. This means that in case your web pages offer a bad page experience, it won’t just hurt your rankings but also highly affect your click-through rate.

Flipping the coin, in case you get it perfect, then you could really earn big benefits and watch your organic traffic grow quickly. They’re planning on testing this soon, and we need to see what’s in store! Not just Google tools, but various other tools will also certainly bring some big changes.

What do Google Core Web Vitals say?

As mentioned up there, Google plans to deploy the upcoming Page Experience Update of 2021.

The new Core Web Vitals, along with a list of various other factors, will comprise Google’s ranking algorithm. Such new factors are known as “page experience metrics.”

These are all metrics of Page Experience:

Metrics of Page Experience

  • Https (security)
  • Safe-browsing
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • No intrusive interstitials (pop-ups)
  • FID (less than 100 ms for 75% of page loads)
  • LCP (less than 2.5 secs for 75% of page loads)
  • CLS ( less than 0.1 for 75% of page loads)

These new page experience metrics are known as Core Web Vitals (first input delay, largest contentful paint, cumulative layout shift).

CWVs measure various aspects of user experience that go into adjudging your overall speed score (along with various other metrics) and page performance.

Google’s existing user experience metrics ( safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, intrusive interstitial guidelines, and mobile-friendliness) will still be appropriate ranking factors.

Recently, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst,t John Mueller — put together a whole thread of tweets explaining the Core Web Vitals in normal words.

How to Measure Page Speed & Core Web Vitals

You can measure the CWVs using the Google Lighthouse and Google Search Console page experience report.

How does it work:

Field Data:

The page experience report on Search Console shows the performance of your pages based on field data derived from the CrUX report, and this report is best used for identifying user bottlenecks and knowing how your website performs for real-world users.

This is the information you derive by concentrating on real-world user experiences.
It solves the query: How’s this page loading for real users on various computers that are trying to interact with a webpage after it loads?

Lab Data:

Google Lighthouse offers web performance data based on “lab data.” This is perfect for fixing bugs on your website since the report operates in a controlled environment.

  • This is the info you derive from testing in a controlled environment and concentrating on the results.
  • This is a beneficial method if you want to identify and fix bugs.

Do consider that Search Console and Lighthouse could show various results for your Core Web Vitals besides overall page experience scoring as the reports use different data.

LCP or Largest Contentful Paint

In contrast to FCP, the LCP metric quantifies how rapidly the main element above the fold gets ready for the user. Talking technically, LCP measures the render time of the biggest text block or image visible within the viewport. You need to aim to keep LCP below 2.5 seconds for exactly 75% of their page loads as per Google.

High LCP is anything over 4.0 sec and is considered bad.

Low LCP is under or equal to 2.5, and that’s Good.

FID or First Input Delay

FID calculates the reaction time of a given page to the first user input (no matter they click or press any keys).

In simple words, if it appears that a page has completed loading, but when you click on it, nothing is responsive, it means that the page is facing the high FID time issue.

You have to keep FID below100 ms for 75% of pages. High FID means over 300ms, while Low FID is under or equal to 100 ms.

CLS or Cumulative Layout Shift

The best way to recognize the CLS is to consider it as the metric that calculates visual stability.

The target is for a score of below 0.1 for 75% of webpage loads. High CLS is over 0.25, while Low FID is under or equal to 0.1.

How CLS works

In truth, CLS is a bit harder to understand. When a webpage is loading, a few the user can see that the page is finished loading, but when the user clicks a button — or some any content on the webpage — the page shifts a bit, and the button moves because of an error in the loading process, and that’s what we call slow CLS.

This can be a significant issue for users. For instance, if any user is trying to cancel out his purchase, and right above the “Cancel Purchase” button, there’s another button saying “Buy Now” — Imagine going to tap “Cancel Purchase,” and the page shifts all of a sudden and the user end up tapping “Buy Now.”

It’s truly annoying, and in the worst-case, the user makes a non-refundable purchase. Oh Gosh, that’s hectic.

The impact of page experience update on SEO

The impact of page experience update on SEO

We know that CWVs measure a good user experience, and CWV scores will influence rankings to some extent.

Yes, CWVs will certainly influence rankings. Also, it will be an SEO ranking factor. However, according to Martin Splitt, from Google, you shouldn’t simply abandon your content generation efforts.

Here’s how he explained the same in a LinkedIn comment when he was asked whether we should be religiously following CWVs:

You should still provide valuable content to your web users that solve their queries, and you still need to think of other ranking factors. However, in case you aren’t considering user experience in terms of page performance, you simply aren’t providing the best value to your webpage viewers, and your Google Search rankings will surely reflect that.

What’s the Page Experience Badge mean in Search Results

Recently, evidence has surfaced that Google is preparing a “good page experience” report in Search Console that supposedly lists the pages that score well on the page experience metrics. It also plans to highlight a badge in Search Results for websites with great page experience as page experience update’s part. Google is taking user page experience so seriously, and why not?

The impact of Google Page Experience Update on Conversions and Revenue

So, are you not currently meeting the criteria for a good page experience previously mentioned? It’s already hurting your website conversion rates and your revenue.

Google and industry research from elsewhere has several reports that indicate the correlation between good user experience and conversions. Let’s list down a few:

  • Pages loading in 2.4 seconds attained a 1.9% conversion rate, and at 3.3 seconds,1.5% was the conversion rate.
  • The conversion rate was below 1% At 4.2 seconds.
  • Conversion rate was 0.6% at 5.7+ seconds.

Longer page load times have a diverse effect on bounce rates. For instance:

  • If page load time elevates from 1 second to 3 seconds, a 32% increase in the bounce rate is noted.
  • If page load time elevates from 1 second to 6 seconds, a 106% increase in the bounce rate is noted.

For the relationship between revenue and first contentful paint:

  • Per session on mobile, users experienced quick rendering times leads to 75% more revenue generation than average, and it calculates 327% more revenue than slow.
  • Per session desktop, users experienced quick rendering times leads to 212% more revenue generation than average, and it calculates 572% more revenue than slow.

Again, this is truly hurting your business, and you may not even know.

What’s about to change with this page experience update from Google is that in case you don’t meet the minimum criteria set for Google’s new page experience metrics, You’ll have an even tougher time while ranking your website and attracting traffic (thus, getting conversions will prove to be more difficult).

Solutions: How to Improve Core Web Vitals Scores

How to Improve Core Web Vitals Scores

Here’s the point, these new page experience metrics can be taken as technical, and even for those having knowledge of this territory, they are instead complex.

So what’s the solution?

The first thing you must be understanding is the specific issue to your website.

If you don’t know what awful things are happening to your website, fixing anything might get hard.

Google’s tools for webmasters are currently capable of supporting the CWVs measurement.

Try this:

  • Use Search Console’s freshly resealed CWVs report to know about page groups, which are worth your attention (on the basis of this field data).
  • Once you’ve discovered pages that require fixing, use PageSpeed Insights for diagnosing lab and field problems available on a page. You can discover PageSpeed Insights (PSI) through Search Console.

If your scores of CWVs are indicating a green signal, you are good to go.

If not, then addressing & fixing page issues is crucial. This can easily be done within 1-2 working ways:

1.) Take help from Huckabuy PageSpeed software to technically optimize distinctive sections of your site automatically.

The more efficient approach is to begin seeing an improvement in page performance, and to discover results fast, is to just integrate a PageSpeed software solution. This is undoubtedly a great option as it’ll remove your workload for website owners and team development. However, they won’t require revisiting the problem after making it solve. Besides that, automated software solutions will make sure.

2.) Allocate Dev. Resources in fixing the problems one by one.

Allocate development resources because of this problem to fix the issues one by one. The Google web developers’ tools offer guidance on the process of approaching and finding a solution.

THE FUTURE OF CORE WEB VITALS

While the Core Web Vitals incorporate the three metrics, that doesn’t imply that the Core Web Vital Metrics is not gonna change in the future.

The point of the Core Web Vitals is to make sure that websites are offering a quality page experience to users. In case Google determines the cumulative layout shift is not truly that essential to the entire page experience for users, then they might get rid of this metric in the future. They might also add some new metrics.

THE CONCLUSION

Don’t be highly aggressive in pushing signups and heavy discounts as soon as individuals enter your website. Offer them time to browse some sections and then go through with higher disruptive marketing tactics.

Also, as Google has implemented the rule, it suggests that it might even add icons in the searching results that indicate what the page’s experience is like.

As we know from recent trials, they’ve tested in the results, getting the nod from Google and having such icons got displayed next to the listings you are gonna do, and it will enhance your pages’ click-through rates.

Covid-19 has held the entire world in submission for the majority in the previous year, and discovering positives are few & far between. However, with the national lockdowns’ enforcement, the shift to digital has highly accelerated, and numerous businesses have been a lot busier in generating their digital platforms for the very first time.

This is highly intelligent as even digital skeptics are reaping the advantages from their online offerings and they are gonna continue to do so once the retail gets to normal.

As several are finding, the move in presenting a steep digital learning curve and the competition to accomplish visibility is getting high fierce, but individuals have been able to sustain their livelihoods and begin producing incomes online within 12-month and that might be worth forgetting.

Google has indicated this move to digital as well as to speculate on the feelings of Google; they understand that more people are feeling slightly downtrodden due to the current climate.

As a result, or it might be by coincidence, this ‘awful period’ has offered us all a fantastic opportunity to make the way we sell online pretty better.

The very last word: expert’s assistance

Bringing betterment to webpages’ speed is a hundred times tougher task than what one thinks. It needs deep knowledge of the functioning of the website CSS, Java, and tons of other aspects.

Better don’t try shortcuts like using plugins, as it may disturb the configurations of your whole site. Even if such plugins work, remember, it’s just a short-term solution. It’s time to consider only long-term and solid solutions.

We suggest you contact the professionals who can save you from the adverse effects of this update.

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Prepare for Q4 with ShareASale’s partner checklists and important dates

As more consumers venture online for holiday shopping this year, it is crucial to have a solid affiliate marketing plan in place.

Our Q4 checklists for merchants, agencies and publishers contain tips and tricks to ensure partners are set up for success this holiday shopping season. Regardless of where you are in the planning process, our checklists have been created to prepare you for a Golden Quarter that anticipates a surge in digital commerce, with eMarketer predicting that in the US Black Friday sales will be up 18% and Cyber Monday up 19% compared to 2019. In addition to the checklist, we’ve put together a calendar of notable holidays and important shipping dates. As consumers continue to adapt to the ongoing and evolving COVID-19 landscape, it is especially important to pay attention to these deadlines.

For additional Golden Quarter questions, strategy and recommendations, please contact your account representative.

View our Awin Q4 partner checklists here.

How to Prepare a 1099 Form as an Independent Contractor


If nothing, this year has taught us that we should be prepared for different and sudden changes. It has hit a lot of aspects of our lives, including 1099 forms. This information is especially important for people who are either contractors or have hired someone who is.

If you are just getting started or your company is contracting outside help, then you are probably familiar with the IRS Form 1099. Maybe you do not know every single detail about it but you have probably at least heard of it.

To many, it sounds too complicated. Something that requires too much time, but actually it’s not really the case. If you have the right tools and processes in place, you can actually be done with it faster than you think.

If you are not sure where to begin and how to prepare it, we will give you a list of things that might be helpful to you. You need to take care of the basics before doing anything else, so let’s begin!

What Does This Form Represent?

Starting From Scratch

Before we start explaining the preparation, let’s first learn more about this form. So, if you hire someone, for instance, a gig worker, a freelancer, or anyone else and you pay them more than 600 US dollars then you are obligated to prepare and issue an IRS Form 1099-MISC.

Why does that matter? It has to be done, so they can file for an income tax return. Furthermore, this document is used by small businesses, independent contractors, or any other individual that isn’t an S or C-level corporation. 

They use this document to report how much they’ve earned as well as determine how much they will owe. It’s important that you send out this form to anyone you’ve hired and paid more than 600 US dollars. Moreover, this also involves LLCs or any partnership you have contracted.

How To Prepare It?

Track Your Records

The first step you have to take during this process is to gather all the information you have about your independent contractors. You probably remember that you have filled out the Form W9 before you have hired anyone.

This form should contain the name, the address, and Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN). It would be advisable to see if that person has changed any of this information before you continue with the process. 

Acquire The Forms

It may seem logical that you should just find the paper forms on the internet and simply print them out, but unfortunately, that’s not how things work and the IRS would definitely not accept them. You need to get the official 1099 forms from the real source. Where to go?

1 – From your payroll software provider: For example, you can utilize an accounting program such as FreshBooks.

2 – From the IRS: Go to their official website if you want to obtain this form or you can just contact 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).

3 – From an accounting corporation: Most local accounting companies have a plethora of these forms. Buy it from them.

4 – From an office supply store: Find the nearest office supply store and see if they have it. They usually do.

Calculate Your Deductions

To many, this seems like a never-ending process. Creating a list of 1099 deductions is a bit exhausting, but you simply must calculate them. Start by deducting any costs that are classified as “ordinary and necessary”.

This means that you need it to do your tasks and it is also an expected part of your job. Further, there are some expenses that you shouldn’t count as deductible, such as acquiring expensive business clothes.

Besides this cost, other common expenses involve things like gas to drive people, any brand-new software or computer, as well as electricity expenses if you are working from home.

Anything Else?

Complete The Forms

One of the first steps you have to take is to determine the gross income for the last tax year. This shouldn’t be anything too complicated. Just add up the amount on each 1099 form you have.

The second thing that must be done is to utilize Schedule C to add up all your deductible business costs. That means that if your costs are less than 5,000 US dollars, plus you do not have any workers and you are not deducting for your office at home, then you can freely utilize Schedule C-EZ. This option is much more efficient and faster.

Make sure you have obtained form 1040. This one is important because you will have to write down all your expenses on it to uncover your net income. This form comes with the table that contains instructions as well as your net income. They should help you determine how much you owe in state taxes and income.

After you’re done with this, ensure to calculate your Social Security and Medicare contributions. The rate for 2017 is 12.4% of your income for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. Add these amounts on form 1040 and also add them together to determine your self-employment tax total. 

Send The Forms To Vendors

Don’t forget to send a copy of the 1099-MISC forms to all your contractors. Do it as soon as you can to give them enough time to include it in their personal tax returns and report their yearly income. It’s important to respect the deadline, because if you don’t, the IRS may penalize you with fines.

Submit The 1099 Forms

There are two ways you can do it. First, you can do it by sending them via e-mail. This is the most common way. You should do it no later than January 31 of the year. Make sure to incorporate the 1096 form as well.

The second option is to do it online, through the IRS’s online submission service by utilizing the Filing a Return Electronically system (known as FIRE). This shouldn’t be too complicated for you to do.

Wrapping It Up

All these things that we named probably seem a bit too scary for you. But don’t worry, it only looks like this because we wanted to make sure that everything is listed and that nothing is forgotten. Of course, this requires a bit of your time and effort, but it’s doable, just like everything else.



2 Things I’m Doing to Prepare for Another 2020 Stock Market Crash | Personal Finance


To be clear, I assess my portfolio fairly often no matter what, but because a stock market crash is on my radar, I’ll pay extra-close attention this time around.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst

I can’t predict what the rest of 2020 has in store for the stock market. That’s why I’m willing to sink some time and effort into being prepared.

Would I love to take a couple of weeks off from cooking and order takeout every night? Absolutely. But I also know that saving more money right now could serve me well if the market takes a serious turn for the worse. While it would be easier to just assume my portfolio is in solid shape, spending time on it could set me up to better withstand another downturn.

Of course, I hope the stock market will end the year strong; 2020 owes us at least that much. But I also want to be prepared in case the opposite ends up happening.

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How to prepare your email subscriber list for the holiday season


Get started early

Isn’t it hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us again? It feels like just a few weeks ago we were throwing off our sweaters and digging out sandals for the summer. Our snow shovels and winter hats have been collecting dust, unused and stored for cooler weather. It’s time to start pulling out the winter gear and, similarly, now’s the time to prepare your holiday email subscriber list.

Email marketing was responsible for a total of 24% of holiday sales during the 2018 holiday eCommerce season. That means email marketing alone brought in nearly $170 billion in revenue for businesses during November and December of 2018.

7 steps to prep your email subscriber list for the holiday season

So, before you gear up to send out your Black Friday messages, let’s get your email list and email strategy ready for holiday sales with these seven steps:

  1. Clean up your email subscriber list.
  2. Get new email subscribers.
  3. Build new email segments.
  4. Update and fine-tune your automations.
  5. Superpower your transactional messages.
  6. Mark important dates on your calendar.
  7. Make a plan for the holiday season.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Gift-Wrapped Box Represents Holiday Email Planning

1. Clean up your email subscriber list

The first thing to do to get your email list ready for holiday promotions is to clean up and remove inactive subscribers.

Think of it like doing a deep clean before you start putting out the holiday decorations.

 

Start by segmenting your list into people who haven’t opened in more than 90 days. If you haven’t emailed in more than 90 days, then you’ll need to start with people who haven’t opened in the 90 days before that. It could even be up to a year since they last opened.

Next, you’ll send that group of subscribers a special series of emails to ask if they still want to hear from you.

These messages should be short and to the point.

 

You can use humor to encourage open rates if it works with your brand. Remember, your subject line is very important for these messages. They can’t click to stay on the list if the subject line doesn’t get them to even open the email.

Here are some sample subject lines:

  • Long time, no see!
  • Is this goodbye?
  • We miss you
  • Was it something we said?
  • Do you still want updates from us?

The content of these messages should be straight-forward with a single call-to-action: Click here to keep getting our messages.

Communicate the benefits of staying on the list, whether that’s access to exclusive sales, notifications about new products, or never missing an episode of a podcast or blog post.

Send at least three re-engagement messages to this segment of the list, removing anyone who did click to stay on the list from the segment.

After sending those three emails — if they never clicked to stay on the list, remove them. This might be painful if you’re focused on list size, but a smaller list size actually helps with your engagement and deliverability.

You’re paying to send them emails that are ending up in spam folders and trash bins, all while hurting your deliverability to the people who really want your messages.

Time to let them go.

Related: 6 holiday email campaign tactics to compete in crowded inboxes

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2. Get new email subscribers

After you’ve bid farewell to some unengaged subscribers, it’s time to build your list back up. You’ll do that in a few different ways, including collecting up all the subscribers you have across multiple systems, testing your email subscription forms for any leaks, and running campaigns to get more subscribers.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these processes below.

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Gather all your subscribers in one place

If you’re like most business owners, you’re collecting contact information from your customers in several different places, like your eCommerce system, your landing page software, your CRM, and even your social media accounts. Remember all those email addresses you collected when people wanted to join your Facebook group? Did those addresses actually make it to your email system?

Collect up all those email addresses that you have explicit permission to use, and add them to your email list.

Related: Beginner’s email marketing guide for small businesses

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Test your integrations and forms

Next up, test your integrations and forms to ensure that the people who are joining your list are actually making it onto your list. A good way to test is to use a special email address so you can track each form individually.

Rather than create a bunch of free accounts, you can modify your existing Gmail email address, for example, and still check whether or not you receive your test messages. To illustrate this, your email address might be hikingfan@gmail.com. You can add a plus sign after the first half (before the @ symbol), and any words you want after, ending up with something like hikingfan+reddit@gmail.com.

This is really handy if you’ve got several different lead magnets or signup forms to test. Examples of these test addresses might look like this:

  • hikingfan+footerform@gmail.com
  • hikingfan+popup@gmail.com
  • hikingfan+leadmagnetA@gmail.com
  • hikingfan+leadmagnetB@gmail.com

Just don’t forget to delete all of those dummy subscribers after you’re done testing!

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Ask to be whitelisted (or ask for a reply!)

One way to get your subscriber list ready for the holiday is to ask your new subscribers to whitelist your email address or add you to their address book.

Another way to get whitelisted is to have them reply to an email from you. Most ISPs will automatically add an email address to the address book when you’ve sent them an email. By simply asking a question — like “What is the biggest problem you’re facing” or “Which is your favorite style” and asking for a reply (instead of a click), you can improve your deliverability, strengthen your relationship with your subscribers, and get some customer feedback all at the same time.

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Re-share your opt-in to encourage new subscribers

Once you’re sure that your opt-in is running like a well-oiled machine, it’s time to share it with the world to get even more subscribers. Here are a few ways you can share your opt-in to get new subscribers.

Share on your social media profiles

This includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can share as a post as well as in your header image.

Related: A beginner’s guide to social media for small business

Post in related and appropriate Facebook Groups (as allowed)

If you’re a member of a Facebook group that allows promotions, share your free opt-in.

Related: Make social media and email marketing work together

Pin it

Pinterest can be a massive traffic generator, especially around the holiday season. As a matter of fact, 72% of pinners say Pinterest inspires them to shop when they aren’t actually looking for anything. Your freebie can be just the hook they need to start buying from you.

Update your website

If you’re already promoting your website on social channels and ad campaigns, make sure your opt-in lead magnet is easy to spot. If you’re looking for ideas to promote your lead magnet, check out 70+ ways to promote your email opt-in.

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Pair up for a collaboration

The holiday season is also a great time to partner up with other businesses that have similar client profiles. You can create a collaborative product, or simply promote each other’s products to your own lists.

Remember — you can’t exchange email subscriber lists (that’s strictly against CAN-SPAM regulations), but you can certainly tell your customers how great the other person’s products and services are.

Another great option is to create a buyer’s guide that includes products from multiple businesses. You can create it once, and then have everyone share it because their products are featured!

Related: How to make a buyer’s guide

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Ask for referrals

Another easy way to build your email list is to ask your existing customers to invite their friends to shop with and buy from you. We all have an innate desire to display what we’ve learned, found, and discovered.

One of the best ways to encourage your customers to share is to give them something to give, and something to keep.

This can be a special offer for each of them, including a discount for their purchase, free shipping or even a gift with purchase.

Asking for referrals doesn’t just have to be for the holiday season. You can build an automation system that works with a specific segment, like automatically asking for the referral after someone makes their fifth purchase.

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Red Bow Gift Box Illustrates Holiday Email Campaign

3. Build new email segments

Now that your list is clean, and you’re beginning to grow your subscriber list, it’s time to dig into your email system and build new email segments.

An email segment is a collection of people from your email list who meet certain criteria.

 

Here are some of the most popular segments in eCommerce marketing, and what they mean:

  • Big spenders: These are the people who have purchased the most from you — often the top 5% to 10%. You can target these customers with new product releases and higher-priced products.
  • New customers: New customers are the ones who have made their first purchase from you in the last 30 days. It’s nice to reward them for buying from you with a special offer on their next purchase.
  • Churning customers: These are customers who have purchased from you more than once, but who haven’t purchased in an extended period of time — often 60 to 90 days. Verify these timeframes against your average customer buying behaviors. Use a win-back campaign with a special offer, like a free gift with purchase or free shipping, to get them back into buying.
  • Frequent buyers: Frequent buyers might not always be big spenders. They’re often looking for something new or exciting, so send them your latest and greatest!
  • Specific category buyers: Depending on what you’re selling, you may have categories that appeal to specific customer groups. A great example is a clothing retailer that sells for both men and women. You can segment people who purchase only one type or the other and target your promotions accordingly.
  • Customers by region: When it comes to holiday-centered segments, it can be helpful to group customers into geographic areas, which is especially useful if you’re going to have shipping deadlines. This way, you can tailor your emails to warn of upcoming cutoff dates for holiday orders.

Of course, these don’t have to be the only segments you create! Your creativity is only limited by the capabilities of your email service provider.

Related: Using customer segments to build lasting relationships

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4. Update and fine-tune your automations

This isn’t directly related to your list prep for holiday promotions, but it’s a really important element of your overall email marketing strategy.

Set aside some time to review all of your running automations and transactional messages to ensure that they’re up-to-date, and helping to drive improved conversion rates.

Automations and funnels are a series of emails that are sent based on a customer’s activities on your website or in your email list. They’re triggered when someone takes those specific actions that you’ve defined.

A good example of an automation, or funnel, is your welcome series or an upsell series of emails after someone buys a smaller product. When you’re reviewing these, make sure they’ve got relevant dates and offers that align with your upcoming holiday promotions.

And don’t forget to check your links!

Before launching your holiday promotions is a great time to build upsell and cross-sell automated messages. Cross-sell products fit into the category of “People who bought this also bought,” while upsells are often accessories and services related to what they bought.

These messages help your customers fill their holiday gift bags and stockings with goodies from your store, based on what they already know and love.

Plus, those automated messages can help you sell more year-round!

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5. Superpower your transactional messages

Transactional messages are also emails that are sent based on someone’s activity. The difference is that they’re related to their specific shopping and purchasing activities.

Transactional emails include order confirmation messages, shipping confirmation, and delivery confirmation. It can also include abandoned cart emails.

If you’re not already sending abandoned cart emails, this is the time to turn them on. An estimated 70% to 80% of eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned, and abandoned cart emails can recover anywhere from 3% to 12% of those transactions.

Not sure how those numbers affect you? Here’s how that could impact your bottom line:

  • Completed orders per month: 100
  • Average order size: $100
  • Estimated abandoned carts (75%): 300 cards abandoned
  • Abandoned Revenue: $300,000
  • Recovered Revenue (3%): $9,000

And if you think your transactional emails have to be 100%-related to their current purchase, think again! In these messages, you can include cross-sells (other products that customers who have purchased this have also bought) and upsells (including accessories and services related to their new product purchase).

Your transactional messages are also a great place to remind your customers of deadlines, like the last day for ground shipping in time for holiday delivery.

Related: Upselling and cross-selling techniques for online stores

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6. Mark important dates on your calendar

Speaking of dates, the last thing you’ll need to do to get your email marketing strategy ready for the holiday season is to mark important dates on your calendar — including anything you need to do for those dates, like update messages in your automations and transactional messages.

As an example, in your abandoned cart email, you may add some text or a graphic with your shipping deadlines for holiday delivery, simply as a gentle nudge to remind someone that they don’t have a lot of time if they’re planning on gift-giving.

After that initial deadline has passed, you’ll want to update that text and graphics to promote expedited shipping. And if all the shipping deadlines have passed, then you may want to promote a gift card instead.

And when the holidays are over, don’t forget to take all those mentions back out of your automated emails and transactional messages!

Set a reminder now in your favorite task management system or on your calendar.

 

It’s easy to think now that you won’t forget it, but after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, updating those messages will likely be the last thing on your mind.

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7. Make a plan for the holiday season

Tying into marking important dates on your calendar, making a plan for your holiday emails benefits both you and your subscriber list. You’ll be less stressed about meeting your deadlines, and your list will get well put-together emails with plenty of time to make their shopping deadlines.

Things to include in your plan:

Shipping deadlines

One of the biggest challenges around the holidays is shipping deadlines. If your deadlines are too early in the season, you might miss some of those impulse buyers. On the other hand, if they’re too late, then you run the risk of a shipping delay ruining the customer’s holidays.

Related: Tips and tricks that make shipping easy for small eCommerce businesses

Sales and special offers

While most people are always bargain hunting, holiday shopping brings out the hunters in all of us. By planning your sales, you can encourage customers to purchase earlier in the holiday season — reducing your stress in processing orders and reaching your goals, and their stress in making sure that their gifts arrive on time.

Related: How to use discounts and coupons to increase eCommerce sales

Last chance

Some of the most important dates in your holiday planning are the last chance to arrive for the holidays. You’ll need to factor in production time and shipping time for all of your shipping methods.

Related: 5 things you must do now to prepare for the holiday shopping season

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Wrapping it all up

There you have it! Seven things you can do right now to get your email list and strategy ready for holiday marketing. Of course, these tips aren’t just great for the winter holidays. You can use them for any holiday that resonates with your business, from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day and beyond. Happy holidays, indeed!

Image by: David Beale on Unsplash