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7 Steps to Improving your Online Holiday Sales

Date: November 12th, 2007

So you own a website to sell products or services online and really want to increase those holiday sales? You've come to the right place, in this 7 step guide, I will help you increase those holiday sales and help you convert website visitors into website customers.

Step 1: Refresh the Site Design.

Constantly changing and updating your website is not only important for Search Engine rankings, but also helps keep a fresh image and customers returning to your site.

Step 2: Add High Res Thumbnails and Update Product Descriptions. 

I do a lot of my online shopping by browsing through product images and reading product descriptions. Nothing bothers me more while browsing Sharper Image or SkyMall's website than poor images and non-descriptive product titles or descriptions. Every product should be listed with a clear and sharp high resolution thumbnail image (compressed for faster loading) and a descriptive product title or description. These two items alone will increase customer conversion rates and increase online sales.

Step 3: Add High Resolution Product Images and allow Zooming.

When a customer clicks on a product image to enlarge it, the image should enlarge - not full screen, but enough to distinguish from the zoomed out and zoomed in views! Make sure that you are adding High Resolution product images to your website so that customers that wish to zoom in can do so.

Step 4: Optimize your Images.

Optimizing your images in Photoshop or other graphic editing software can drastically improve your website's load time and allow customers to browse faster, more efficiently and with less stress. This is a simple process and should be done to any and all images on your website. Your customers will thank you!

Step 5: Smooth out the Checkout Process.

There are numerous industry studies and reports that say shorter, fewer page checkouts improve conversion rates. I personally think the ideal is a two page checkout- Enter your stuff, confirm, you�re done.

We have a lot of experience with setting up shopping cart systems and many code hints, tips, and tricks. We specialize in making the checkout, account creation and making the customer log in, etc. a smooth process. It's a great thing and I would say a requirement for anyone wanting to run an online shop of any caliber

Step 6: Promotion.

Internet promotion is great because it allows you to target your customers without the large budget requirements such as print or television and radio advertisements. This allows you to spend more on inventory, employee holiday bonuses and other business expenses. The first and most important form of internet promotion is Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization is the technique of developing quality, accurate and reliable content on your website. Search Engine Optimization also includes, Title, META and ALT Image HTML code tags which Search Engine spiders use to rank your website. Search Engine Optimizing helps your website place higher the keywords you are targeting.

Other forms of internet promotion include affiliate programs which offer commissions paid to outside resellers or partners of your website who refer new customers to your site. PayPerClick (PPC) campaigns is another avenue which allows you to place in the top one or two spots on a particular Search Engine result page for a set amount. Participating in online forums, communities and discussions related to your business’ subject or target audience and writing online articles such as this one will increase links back to your website and generate holiday traffic.

Step 7: Add Privacy Policy, SSL Certificates and a Return Policy.

Its easy to forget to add these crucial items to your website. You spend weeks, months even, tweaking your site, two months adding products, and you just want to launch that puppy and let it fly. However, these are documents that your customers are going to read when deciding if they want to give you their email address, credit card number or address.

Statistics show that while more and more people are buying online, an increasing number of them are even more wary about Privacy Policies, if they can return an item, and how their credit card information will be handled.

Do your customers a favor and put these policies in place, even if its only to cover your own butt. That way if there ever is a problem at least you have a published, established policy you can point the customer to and not come off like you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes and take advantage of them.

© Copyright 2007 MJM Design. All rights reserved. This article was authored by Matt McWilliam for MJM Design. Matt McWilliam is the owner of MJM Design located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Read more about Matt McWilliam.

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