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John from iContact has been in the ecommerce business for many years and today shares his experience of sales patterns from previous Christmas holiday selling seasons along with tips to help you maximise your sales well into the new year.

Christmas Sales: the gift that keep on giving

How are your Christmas sales going? If the UK press is to be believed things are looking pretty rosy at the moment with today being touted as potentially the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day online to date. And while we may have reached the peak of the festive shopping hump there is still a good two weeks of busy Christmas trading before things start to quieten down.

But in retail (and in this uncertain economy) should we really be looking forward to a peaceful Christmas? If you really want to start 2012 with a bang you shouldn’t really be planning to put your feet up until well into January or even February.

I’m not suggesting you forego your Christmas dinner with the family. Instead you should plan to use the days after your recommended last posting date to Christmas (Royal Mail 1st Class and Recorded is Tuesday, December the 20th) to plan and execute a campaign to ride the festive momentum well into the New Year.

New Customer Data

You’ve undoubtedly paid a lot of money and worked extremely hard to acquire new customers over the Christmas period. You should plan to get the data collected from these newly acquired customers working for you as soon as possible. Get any new email addresses uploaded (where possible in clearly segmented lists) onto your email marketing system or CRM software and plan to hit them with a series of targeted email marketing campaigns over the Christmas holidays.

Many gift purchases provide excellent upsell opportunities. Think about it: new games for that new console, a matching pair of shoes to go with that bag, a new protective case to go with that new iPhone or tablet computer. And while we are on the subject of mobile devices, Christmas wish lists are going to be crammed with internet enabled devices that are going to be used throughout the big day itself – so why not plan to send an email on Christmas day itself?

January Sales

Make sure all your post-Christmas promotions are in place before heading out on Christmas Eve. Equally important make sure your delivery schedule is updated to reflect the reduced service over the festive period. You’ll want to set expectations clearly to maintain positive feedback during periods of reduced service. Failure to do this might give potential customers the impression you have closed shop until the New Year and hit the high street instead.

You’ll want to maintain a high profile throughout the close of December and beginning of January to attract bargain hunters. As long as emails are relevant and offer value to your customers there is no harm in sending multiple campaigns in any one week.

A Healthy Social Life

The social networks such as Facebook and Twitter will also be incredibly busy over the festive period with people sharing photos of their Christmas gifts, drunken office party antics, elderly relatives falling asleep in front of the television, etc. etc. There is no better time to engage with your customers via social media. If the thought of posting to Facebook and Twitter when you should be spending time with friends and family is too much to bear, you should consider scheduling and automating your social media output over the holidays using software such as iContact’s new social media tools.

There is still time to save Christmas

If you are reading this and thinking to yourself that the Christmas sales period hasn’t been as good as it could have been, don’t worry there is still time to save Christmas. If you are sitting on customer data that you are not marketing too, you are sitting on an untapped reserve of marketing gold. And the beauty of email marketing and social media marketing lies in its simplicity and effectiveness, meaning you could be up and running within a matter of hours helping you hit your Christmas sales targets today.

iContact have a ton of useful information about Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing for small and medium sized businesses, regardless of which solution you use. You can also get a free trial of iContact’s email marketing software

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