The holiday selling season is nearly upon us. The estimated $68 billion in online sales this year will make up 12% of overall holiday spending, up from 10% last year (NRF).

As shoppers make their wish lists, here’s a list of important things to remember for a successful holiday selling season.

Use conversations to improve email and search marketing

For soft goods, email is the most-used touchpoint during the holiday season – 26% of shoppers use email and another source during the general holiday season, and 27% on Cyber Monday (Forrester). Mix authentic shopper opinions with your promotional content in emails to increase their impact on holiday shoppers. Retailer Argos finds that promotion emails with consumer-written content show 36% higher click-through rates than those without feedback.

Search matters even more than email for hard goods, with 17% of consumers relying on paid search alone in their hard good holiday purchases (Forrester). Look for trends in consumer feedback when determining paid search terms – your reviewers speak consumers’ language, and their feedback reveals what shoppers will search for. UK retailer DRL Ltd. found that review-related paid search terms deliver 30x better click-through rates.

Give the gift of helpful mobile experiences

Mobile commerce booms during the holidays. During Thanksgiving weekend 2011, 16% of consumers shopped on mobile devices – up from just 9% in 2010. Expect a similar jump this year. On their phones and tablets, mobile shoppers are reading retailer emails (65% of shoppers using mobile, 66% of those using tablets), browsing your merchandise (47% mobile, 71% tablets), comparing prices (37% mobile, 63% tablets), and reading reviews (37% mobile, 53% tablets). If your mobile experience isn’t equipped to serve these needs in an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly way, you’ll lose these shoppers – and their spending – to another site.

The average consumer checks 10.4 information sources before making a purchase – and often, they’re checking online while shopping in your store. You can assume many shoppers will use mobile in your stores, so create a mobile experience that makes showrooming work for you, not against you. Offer shipping options, additional sizes and colors, how-to videos, and any other information that will help your mobile-aided store shoppers buy.

Incentivize shoppers to share gift wishes through social

Gaining a Like or follower is like getting a business card – it means nothing until you form a deeper relationship. And like networking, getting introduced through a friend can be the best way to make a connection. About half (48%) of people say posts from friends on social are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers – and 17% have purchased something based on a friend’s social post.

Consumers want their friends to know what to get them, so let them create wish lists on your site and share them via social. Make it easier for them to get gift ideas – for example, by filtering your products by gender, age, interest, etc. Community Q&A forums are another way to help with gift ideas; a mother might ask other parents what they’re getting their 11 year-old sons.

You can further incentivize shoppers to share what they want with their friends by spreading the cheer to those in need. Last holiday season, Toys ‘R Us donated $1 in gift cards for every wish list created to the Make-A-Wish Foundation – helping ill children get their wishes granted, too. The campaign coincided with a $275,000 grant from the Toys ‘R Us Children’s Fund to the charity.

‘Tis a few short nights before the holiday season begins. With more online and mobile buying options than ever before, following these tips will help you delight more shoppers this season.

  • Caitlin @ Ketner Group

    Wow, this is packed full of helpful shopper behavior stats. Including consumer-written content in promo email communications is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!