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Think It's Too Early to Strategize for Holiday Ecommerce Sales? Think Again.

Now is the time to ensure that your strategy is well-targeted and measurable.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The expression “Christmas in July” is more than just a throwaway remark when it comes to getting ready for a successful ecommerce holiday season. While July has come and gone, early preparation remains key to outstanding holiday .

Brick-and-mortar businesses may be dusting off holiday decorations and changing playlists, but online businesses need to look for different strategies. The good news is online shopping has grown in popularity over the past decade or so, and the growth became exponential throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Insider Intelligence’s U.S. Ecommerce Forecast sees digital sales growing by nearly 18% in 2021 compared to 2020. Brick-and-mortar retail is also predicted to grow, but only by approximately 6%. The forecasters believe that the growth will continue after the pandemic subsides as it is likely to be a permanent shift in consumer behavior.

Related: 12 Awesome Tips From Ecommerce Experts

"To maximize potential sales, they need to be as targeted as possible"

As ecommerce is growing, it is likely that more retailers enter the field. The holiday season and sales running up to the holidays are a particularly important time for businesses to maximize sales. Standing out from the crowd will depend on a well-considered digital- strategy combining social media, , search-engine optimization, pay-per-click, email and influencer marketing.

Social-media sales are set to increase by more than 35% this year to more than $36 billion. Ecommerce retailers cannot afford to bypass this channel. However, it is important to understand your target market and which social-media outlet it's using. Even if your market spans both Facebook and Instagram, it is unlikely that the same messages will work across both channels.

To maximize potential sales, they need to be as targeted as possible. While this may seem like a labor-intensive and costly way to set up a campaign, it will pay dividends for retailers.

Social-media marketing often goes hand in hand with influencer marketing. The concept is simple: Your company partners with well-connected individuals or businesses (so-called influencers) that have a large following among your target market. These influencers test, endorse and talk about your products or services, and word spreads. Influencer marketing works best when it is based on genuine endorsements over a period of time rather than as a one-off activity.

Related: Why You Should Bet on the Future of Ecommerce

"Search-engine marketing has the potential to make a big difference in the short term"

Search-engine optimization and search-engine marketing are most likely already part of an ecommerce company’s strategy. Right now is the perfect time to ensure they are relevant for the holiday period. While search-engine optimization is generally a long-term activity, search-engine marketing has the potential to make a big difference in the short term.

Search-engine marketing refers to paid-for activity that can help your appear at the top of search-engine results pages with an advert for a relevant product or service. For this strategy to be effective, it is important to select the keywords your customers may be using when they are searching for your product.

Generic keywords will be useful throughout the year, but during the holiday season, it is important to narrow them further and target customers even better than normal.

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Building a Profitable Ecommerce Business

"Email marketing may not be new, but it would be foolish to overlook it as part of your strategy"

If your business has not started already, now is the time to focus any content you publish on holiday sales. Content marketing includes any online material: blogs, videos and social-media posts can all support your company’s holiday sales this year. There is a difference between direct sales and content marketing. The latter focuses on answering customer questions, solving problems and providing valuable information rather than directly pushing a product or service. Again, this strategy is most powerful if it is employed in the long term, but refocusing it right now can make a difference to your holiday sales.

Email marketing may not be new, but it would be foolish to overlook it as part of your strategy. In 2020, four billion people used email, a figure that is set to grow to 4.6 billion by 2025. In the developed world, and especially within a business-to-business scenario, it is safe to say that almost everyone can be reached by email.

For ecommerce businesses, email marketing is a perfect option to speak to consumers directly. It is also cost-effective and easily measurable.

The most successful digital-marketing strategies combine different tactics and target consumers as precisely as possible. Another characteristic they have in common is excellent timing. With a view to holiday sales, businesses can opt to create one single holiday campaign.

However, a more targeted approach could take into account key dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consumers are used to looking for Black Friday sales, and many of them are expecting to receive marketing messages with outstanding offers around those dates. As a result, they are potentially more open to consider your products and services than they would be at other times.

Preparing your ecommerce marketing campaign for the holidays does not need to break the bank. Start now and ensure each part of your strategy is well-targeted and measurable to achieve the best possible outcome.

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