I recently received this in my in box and thought it worth passing along to all of you. It was written by a woman named Erin Presseau, who is strategic interactive manager for SilverTech, a leading New England-based website development and interactive marketing agency.

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A record number of shoppers will make purchases online this holiday season and according to recent industry estimates they’ll spend more than $39 billion. Unfortunately, many small businesses will lose out on their share of this spending because their ecommerce websites aren’t up to snuff.

If your business is one of these, a website overhaul is out of the question at this late date. However, the good news is that you don’t have to settle for a lump of coal. Here are five quick website fixes that will make your holiday season more jolly.

1. Dangle a carrot
Don’t be shy. Point out how consumers can use your products to make their shopping easier or the gift they purchase from you more fulfilling to its recipient. This small edit to your website will greatly increase impulse purchases.

Prepackaged gift items are popular with consumers during the holidays. Don’t just display these items on your homepage or in a simple product listing. Give consumers creative ideas about how your packaged gift can help them quickly cross people off their shopping list. 

For example, rather than just showing a basket of nicely arranged holiday-themed candles, wrap a message around it, like, “Don’t forget to thank teachers and coaches with this lovely candle gift basket.”

Here’s another idea: Package your gift card with a small-dollar item and a nice box. It makes giving your gift card more alluring for those who like to put packages under the tree.

2. Optimize your site to grab free traffic
It’s surprising that more small businesses do not take advantage of search engine optimization because it’s virtually free and it is highly effective. This is one of the most important quick fixes you can make to your website to increase holiday sales. More than 60% of online shoppers will use a search engine to find or compare products this holiday season, and those numbers will increase during the last few weeks of shopping frenzy.

Most ecommerce stores are database-driven and are difficult for search engines to index, but many e-tailers don’t even cover the basics. Choose appropriate keywords and put them into the URLs, page titles and content of your web pages to move you up in search listings.

3. Countdown shipping days
As mid-December rolls around, there is only one thing on the mind of a last-minute online shopper, “Will I get it in time?” This anxiety easily accounts for a significant number of abandoned online shopping carts. 

Add simple notes to your home, product and cart pages to remind shoppers how many shopping days remain and when they need to order from you in order to get their gifts on time. This will both jolt them into action and reassure them that the gift will arrive in time if they buy now.

4. Guide consumers to jump “ship to store” and not overboard
If a customer cannot complete a transaction on your website for some reason, and don’t kid yourself that it doesn’t happen, try to persuade them to call a customer service representative to place their order, or to shop one of your stores rather than jump ship and start shopping online somewhere else. 

Strategic placement and graphical emphasis of customer service numbers, store locator tools, shipping and return policies within the pages of your shopping cart are proven techniques that salvage sales from online shoppers who are about to abandon ship. 

5. Add promotions to receipt and confirmation pages
Most online retailers know by now that email receipts and order confirmation pages are absolute musts. But most businesses only use these pages for customer service purposes and ignore their potential as an easy and inexpensive marketing tool.  

Even if you do not have the website capability to integrate promotions to upsell products that complement those your customer just purchased (and that’s obviously the recommended, most-effective way), you still can promote universal products or seasonal items that will result in additional sales. 

One last important tip
Finally, the receipt and confirmation pages are the most printed and saved from any ecommerce website. Why not take advantage of this with either text or html add-on promotions? These automated customer notifications can become the gift that keeps on giving — to you. Happy holidays!

To contact the author and/or to learn more, email Erin at

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