It’s that time of year again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are looming large. People are on their desktops, phones, tablets and phablets scouring the Internet for discounted goods and gifts for their families and friends. It is why holiday season ecommerce, by which I mean revenue and sales from November and December, can account for between 20 and 40 percent of your annual sales. I know what you’re thinking: “That increase is all well and good for sweater makers and video game consul dealers. But I sell software! Is anyone looking for software this time of year?”
Even software manufacturers are capitalizing on holiday season ecommerce and can expect significant growth in November and December, which often precedes a relatively lackluster January. Bottom line: You want to get customers in your cart and make sure they convert.
Getting Customers in the Cart
According to HubSpot, succeeding in November and December ecommerce is all about the inbound visitor. By definition, inbound means attracting visitors, converting them into customers, and delighting them with content delivered at the right time through the right medium.
Let’s just meditate on the purpose of your business for a minute. Think about your product and why it was built in the first place. It was built to solve a problem, right? Now think about the people who have the problem that your product solves. How can you help them understand the connection between their problem and your product without giving them the hard sell?
For holiday season ecommerce, the key is to drop some knowledge on your website visitors, social media and email audience about typical situations that cause problems for their friends and families.
According to HubSpot: “Offer special holiday deals with a very clear expiration date. You could also do well to place that special holiday price immediately next to a crossed off “regular” price that will highlight just how much money your customers stand to gain by purchasing now.”
To illustrate, let’s look at an example:
Strangely, the only purely independent software vendor that displays for either paid or organic search for the term, “black friday software deal” is Adobe. I’m not saying this term is widely searched for, but it does show that Adobe is covering all their bases. And the landing page for both the paid listing and organic search result is highly relevant too. It offers a discount and creates a sense of urgency for the customer by limiting the discount’s applicability to a specific time frame. The one thing they seem to be missing, according to HubSpot’s advice, is the “crossed off ‘regular’ price,” which makes it difficult for visitors to understand precisely what kind of value they are getting:
Email Marketing During the Holiday Season
Email will obviously be an important channel this time of year, and software companies must make sure to capture their audience’s attention through their inboxes. Corel, for example, does an excellent job of catching their email list’s eye with a highly compelling offer that also creates a clear sense of urgency (“Ends 19 Nov 2014 at midnight”). Plus, they make sure to highlight the value of their offers by crossing out the regular price.
Chargeback and Fraud Rate
With an increase in traffic and a spike in paid orders, you can be sure that fraudsters are lurking in the background to try to abuse your system by placing orders with stolen credit cards. According to Verifi, a provider of risk management solutions for card-not-present merchants, your chargeback volume can spike by as much as 50 percent, and up to 86 percent of those affected by chargebacks won’t contact you until after a dispute is filed.
Fraudsters are probably relying on your company’s desire for more orders to exploit a laxity in your fraud detection system. Don’t let them create a chargeback and refund headache for you as you try to meet your revenue goals.
Bandwidth and Infrastructure
Bandwidth is going to be important if you’re expecting an increase in website traffic. But it’s not just about being able to handle website visits. With each conversion and payment submission, you’re probably generating a download link or password, a PDF receipt and other items that your servers need to process.
If you outsource your ecommerce capabilities to a third party, coordinate your email marketing sends and when they should expect a surge of visits to the checkout process. This is a great way to prepare and can potentially save you from an overload of customer contacts.
Just the Beginning
One of the great advantages of selling software is that its not holiday specific in the same way that pine trees or crepe paper turkey decorations are. This means that you can capture some initial attention from customer who are not ready to buy your product for the holidays, but who can be persuaded to convert and purchase at a later day.
Make sure your November and December campaigns cover all the important channels, including organic search, PPC ads and email, and make sure that your infrastructure is capable of handling a surge in visits and orders.