The end of the year holidays can bring in some big numbers with November being the most popular shopping month of the year, and you don’t want to miss out! Even though the big end-of-the-year holidays might seem like a ways away, it’s time to start prepping for them now to ensure you are as ready as possible to cash in on increased shopping traffic. The experts at Studio put together a Holiday Prep Checklist for you to make it easy peasy to stay on track in getting ready for the big sale days. 

Below you’ll find steps to take for Design, Paid Search (PPC & Shopping Feeds), SEO, and Social Media aspects for the holiday sale prep as well as a handy calendar to keep it all straight

Design for the Holidays

Creating a new design or going responsive? Start the process in early July to give yourself a couple of months to complete its look and have it installed onto your site by late September. Your organic traffic will take a slight hit with the new design install while search engines re-crawl your site and you’ll want to give yourself enough time to bounce back before the holiday season ramps up. 

Promotions/Sale Graphics: In August, map out ahead of time what promotions or sales you want to run through the end of the year, and plan to have those graphics designed as soon as you have the plan decided. This will be a good bit of work up front, but it will allow you to easily swap in and out promo graphics as needed in the coming months to get them up on the site quickly. 

Email Marketing for the Holidays

Create Buzz: With email marketing, you can send out emails to your customer base ahead of any promotions and sales coming up to stir up excitement and create awareness for your brand and products around throughout the different holidays. To make it easy on yourself, create a few email templates at the end of Summer you can use and reuse with new content each time you want to create buzz for your promotions. This way you’ve done most of the leg work already and just have to plug in the content about the promotions, what’s the latest with your brand, etc.. each time you need to send out an email blast.  

PPC & Paid Ads for the Holidays

What to Prep: Prepping for the holidays starts can be a big undertaking when it comes to your PPC ads and you don’t want to fall short on time. Our PPC experts recommend starting to prep for the holidays in early to mid September for those running PPC campaigns. Campaign prep include:

  • Auditing keyword lists
  • Identifying top performers
  • Segmenting campaigns
  • Creating new audiences lists

Holiday Specific Ads: If you’re running some holiday specials, September is a great time to get all of your ducks in a row to run promotional ads for the holiday season. This includes:

  • Creating designated/gift related landing pages.
  • Creating new ad copy
  • Setting up promotions
  • Creating Promotion extensions
  • Creating and managing themed image ads

Shopping Feeds for the Holidays

New campaigns: The earlier you can start implementing them, the better off you will be to troubleshoot any unforeseen errors that might pop up to get your feed in tip top shape before the holiday season. Our experts recommend starting any new campaigns in early September to give the campaign ample time to be reviewed and indexed. 

Existing campaigns: If you have existing campaigns, it is a good idea to start prepping for the holiday season in October for your campaigns. There may be less prep work than starting a new feed campaign, but don’t wait too late into the season to make your adjustments for the holidays. Remember, things move a bit slower in Q4 due to more players on the field to have their feeds reviewed and sites indexed.

What to Prep

Start early to give yourself a buffer: Starting early on building and implementing your feed campaigns gives search engines the time they need to crawl and index your site after submitting your first data feed. Keep in mind, reviewing feeds and indexing sites can typically take longer in Q4 due to increased number of sites getting on the platform.  

Stock up on inventory: With more shoppers on the prowl for the best deals at the end of the year, you want to make sure you have the stock in place to fill a higher volume of sales. Start stocking up in September to ensure you have enough to fulfill holiday orders. 

Check your data: Ensure you have high quality product data for new items you add to the site for the holidays.

  • High resolution photos
  • Descriptive product titles and descriptions
  • Check that your products and site all follow Search Engine rules for advertising

Check your Competitor’s moves: It’s always a good idea to checkout what your competitors are doing with their site and feeds and the deals they are offering so you can be as competitive as possible. Our Feeds experts recommend browsing sites that offer the same products or similar products to conduct your research and form a strategy. If you’re able to offer things like discounted or free shipping or have a sale on popular items, this helps your site stand out of the crowd when shoppers are comparing products.

Streamline your checkout process:  Minimizing the number of clicks a user has to take from the product page to the order finished page should be a top priority for your site for the holidays as well as year round. Start removing any barriers to purchase in late September to allow visitors to get to that “Order Complete” page and dollars in your account faster. Additionally, you’ll want to make it as easy of a checkout process as possible by removing any possible barriers to complete the purchase.

SEO for the Holidays

On-page SEO To-Dos: It’s pertinent you optimize the pages of your site to be unique from each other to allow the search engines time to understand what makes your site relevant and different from your competitors. It is best to get started on your on-page SEO between August and September. Studio Experts recommend performing the following on-page work for your site: 

  • Research keywords to identify important terms to use in your content.
  • Optimize URLs with keyword phrases.
  • Optimize Meta Tag Titles and Meta Tag Descriptions on every category page.
  • Add descriptive Photo Alt Text image tags on product pages

Off-page SEO To-Dos: Using off-page SEO tactics, you can network with industry-related websites to gain backlinks and incorporate social media to turn your brand into an authority. It is recommended to start gathering backlinks in October. A couple of routes to do this is by networking with industry influencers online for product reviews and offering to write guest blogs for popular bloggers or informational sites. Additional off-page strategy can include being active on Social Media and developing email marketing campaigns in November and December to further engagement with your brand. While these are year-round tasks, you can ramp up the efforts for them closer to the holidays for a bigger impact.

Social Media for the Holidays

Pinterest: It’s a great idea to create infographics on Pinterest with product collections for gift ideas during July – September. This could be gifts for her/him/kids, etc.. Holiday shoppers will thank you for helping make their holiday buying just a bit easier with curated collections to find the perfect gift for those on their shopping list. Additionally, be sure to enable rich pins for Pinterest ASAP to provide visitors with a shoppable experience from your Pinterest page.  

Facebook: Start planning your posts, sales promotions and pre-schedule your coupons on Facebook in September and October. You also can go ahead and enable Dynamic Ads on Facebook now. With Dynamic Ads, you’ll be able to not only retarget your web visitors, but retarget them with products they’ve searched for, viewed, and even added to their carts but forgotten about. 

Instagram: Plan out your posts a week ahead of time for holiday dates for quick and easy posting. Tools like Planoly.com and Later.com can help you keep things straight to plan out your posts in advance. 

Social Ads: For the big sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s best to place ads on your social channels at the beginning of October to build up the community around your brand. After a couple of weeks of running the ads, check the stats to see what is resonating with consumers and build on those key points. 

Whether you’re including one, two, or all of the above strategies for your business, they can all be done successfully before the holidays with just a little bit of pre-planning. To help you keep it all straight, we’ve created a printable and pinnable graphic to keep you on track from month to month. Check it out below and get started with your holiday prep today!