Online Holiday Prep = Holiday Profit

online holiday prep - holiday profitsWith Labor Day right around the corner, it’s time to firm up your plans for the biggest online retail season of the year – Q4. Online retailers with affiliate programs who are well-prepared can expect the biggest returns this holiday season.

According to new research released by CJ Affiliate this week (CJ Affiliate’s 2017 Holiday Intelligence Report), 2016 revenue from affiliate marketing within global publishers and advertisers increased by 16 percent year-over-year, with an average 4 percent increase in the number of orders. The US market led revenue growth with a 16 percent increase, partly due to strong growth in overall order size.

In addition, global advertisers experienced the greatest growth in affiliate revenue driven by search and ad network publishers, followed by email and incentive publishers. Revenue from coupon sites increased by 7 percent. Clicks from ad networks increased 53 percent year-over-year, followed by 31 percent growth in clicks from content publishers, the CJ report says.

Here are some things to keep in mind as the online holiday shopping season draws closer:

Refine your Plans

Now is the time to set your plans in stone. Prep those gift guides. Firm up any partnerships or sponsored placements you were exploring. Finalize creative ads, images and artwork. Set your social strategy. Determine and map out timing for every campaign and marketing activity. You’ll also need to make sure that each stakeholder (if you need creative help, IT assistance, social media people, etc) fully understands what their role is in each step and how they are expected to execute on the plan.

Focus on Mobile

It’s been said for years (but that doesn’t make it any less true) —  that mobile will be huge this holiday season. Think about how your marketing efforts will need to adapt to consumers’ multi-device shopping habits. Pay special attention to mobile ad units, mobile landing pages, and mobile offers—these should be tested, loaded, and ready to go at the start of the holiday season. According  to the CJ study, mobile sales in CJ’s global affiliate network jumped 21 percent last holiday season, giving mobile commerce a 30 percent share of total holiday sales.

Timing is Everything

Historical data shows there are certain times that consumers are most active. Of course, there’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But there is a period being called Peak Week. It occurs between the 16th December and Christmas Eve. Have focused conversion tactics for each of these “events”. Free shipping works earlier in the season,. However, closer to Christmas some shoppers are often looking for gift cards (or memberships to food and wine clubs) as an option. If your online business has a brick-and-mortar component, you can also tout in-store pickups as way to entice online shoppers.

Play it Smart

Be sure to have all your holiday deals grouped together. You can also have prominent placement for special deals. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to consumers to find and purchase from your holiday offers. Make sure to optimize hoilday landing pages. You’ll want to give special care to newsletters and retargeting emails to promote all your holiday marketing efforts. And, of course, leverage your social media. You’ll want to get the widest distribution of information with the intent to drive people to make a purchase.

If you plan now, you’ll be setting up your business for a successful holiday shopping season. And as a business, that’s the best gift of all.