5 steps to convert holiday website traffic to new year sales
by Bryan Caplan
his article was originally published on Dec. 23, 2019. It was updated on Dec. 3, 2020, and Nov. 8, 2021.
Ah, the holiday season. Snow flurrying, chestnuts roasting, and (hopefully) a large amount of website traffic for your business. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen consumers quickly pivot to online buying because of its convenience and inherent safety in reducing in-person contact. Essentially, people have grown more comfortable making digital purchasing decisions, which is a huge bonus as we roll into the thick of the holiday shopping season.
If your website is designed properly, you’ll be able to convert holiday website traffic into sales. But how do you keep them coming back after the holidays?
With so many buying options out there, you must stay top of mind after January 1st, and we’re going to show you how.
5 ways to convert holiday website traffic to new year sales
When you’re thinking about the process of converting holiday website traffic to new year sales, we have several steps to follow:
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Understand leads vs. customers
You probably know this already, but it’s important to understand the difference between prospects, leads and customers.
Specifically, two conversions can occur on your site.
A prospect becomes a lead and a lead becomes a customer.
A prospect is anyone who visits your website. Prospects may be on the site for just a few seconds, or they may click through every page and read every blog post because they’re interested in learning more about your product or service. We call these “Digital Tire Kickers.”
A prospect converts to a lead when they provide you with their contact information.
In most cases, a lead will provide you with their name and email address to join your mailing list, or they may fill out a contact form to receive more information.
Turning that prospect into a customer is the lifeblood of your business.
You’ll want to make sure you contact them right away — and keep in touch until they make a purchase. I’d highly suggest an automated welcome email to make your life easier.
Sometimes, depending on what you’re offering, you may be able to collect information such as their phone number, address, business name, or a special date like a birthday or anniversary. Of course, the more information the lead provides, the better you can segment and personalize your marketing messages.
Prospects are willing to give you more information if you provide them with something of value in return.
A lead converts to a customer when they purchase your product or service.
One transaction is great, but your real goal is to create a loyal, repeat customer who comes back to purchase your products again and again. In fact, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
One way to bolster customer loyalty is email marketing.
Editor’s note: Looking for an all-in-one tool for your website and email marketing efforts?
2. Drive email marketing subscriptions
Driving email marketing subscriptions is mission-critical if you want to convert website traffic to repeat sales in the new year.
"Transactional emails have 800% more opens and clicks than any other type of email, and can generate 600% more revenue."
In short: Email campaigns drive revenue.
One way to convert prospects into leads on your website is by enticing visitors to subscribe to your email list. To drive email subscriptions, you could offer:
A percentage or dollar amount off of a purchase
Entry into a contest, drawing or giveaway
A sneak peek at new content
Exclusive email-only offers and promotions
Website popups, when used properly, can be an extremely effective way to grow your email list.
The science and psychology behind the efficiency of pop-ups has to do with the reptilian brain or “lizard” brain, which is also known as your limbic system. Our reptilian brain is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear and freezing-up.
In this case, when a pop-up appears on a website, it triggers our fight or flight response. Do we engage with this thing that just interrupted our user experience or do we close out the webpage to preserve our overall web surfing experience?
It turns out that pop-ups, no matter how annoying or interruptive you may think they are, actually work in driving email marketing subscriptions.
Once you’ve collected an email address, don’t forget to instantly greet your new email subscribers with an automated welcome email.
I can’t stress enough the impact a welcome email can have on engaging (and potentially converting) your new lead. Imagine someone walks into your storefront and says, “Wow, this is a great item. Do you have any more in the back?”
And now imagine you sitting behind the counter, playing on your phone, and totally ignoring the customer. They’d probably walk out, right? Well, that’s very similar to someone signing up for your email list — signaling that they want more information from you — and getting nothing in return.
We can’t have that happen.
Welcome emails are powerful; averaging more than 70% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages. Welcome emails provide instant gratification, delivering a campaign instantaneously in your lead’s inbox.
As you design your welcome email campaign, keep in mind that the average prospect opens about 18% of the emails that they actually receive — so you need to be impactful and timely.
With that in mind, be sure to use a catchy subject line to differentiate yours from the other countless emails in the inbox.
3. Spotlight your social media
With the average person spending 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social media, you definitely want to make sure you convert your website traffic into social media followers.
Some would argue that your follower count is a vanity metric — that it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. On the contrary, followers do matter.
Followers equal trust. The more followers you have, the more customers trust your brand.
It all has to do with the psychological phenomenon of social proof.
The Social Proof Theory maintains that a person who does not know what to do in a certain situation will look to other people to imitate what they are doing.
A great example: think about when you step into an elevator. Everyone is facing the door, but when you step in, you’re facing the back wall. Social proof dictates that you will spin around and face the door like everyone else.
Because social proof is so powerful, if more people are following your social media pages, then more prospects and leads assume that you’re the right business for their needs.
In addition to social proof, social media provides you with a way to interact and engage with your prospects, leads and customers.
At the core of social media for small businesses is the opportunity to connect with customers and grow your influence over their purchasing decisions. It’s all about having a discussion around your brand, products, and services.
Nearly three-quarters of business owners and marketers believe that social media marketing has been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business.
Through social media, you can:
Highlight new products or services
Invite customers to events
Promote sales or special offers
Run giveaways or drawings
Answer questions about your products or services
On your website and in your email campaigns, you should include links to your social media channels.
Be sure to include your social links in either the header or footer of your website and always include your social links in the footer of your email marketing campaigns.
Don’t be afraid to be shameless here: You need those followers to buy from you in the new year.
4. Rely on retargeting your customers
A recent survey by Oracle found that if you can increase your customer retention rate by just 5%, you’ll see a potential increase in profits from 25 to 95% depending on your industry.
That’s powerful! To convert your holiday website traffic to repeat sales, you’ll want to consider retargeting.
Retargeting allows you to reconnect with holiday visitors even if they don’t share their contact information with you.
At a very simple level, retargeting works like this:
You add a line of code to your website that puts a cookie on a user who visits your site. Most often, the code comes from Google, Facebook, Twitter or other platforms that show ads to their users.
The code creates a list of people who visit your website.
You create an ad that will only show to the list of people who have visited your website.
You can implement retargeting campaigns with different services including Facebook Ads and Google Ads. When you use Facebook Ads retargeting, you’re showing ads to Facebook Custom Audiences.
Be sure to use lots of different ad formats and keep it interesting.
Google’s retargeting ads show up on the Google Display Network, which is a group of over 2 million sites, apps and videos that reach more than 90 percent of the world’s internet users.
To build a successful retargeting campaign, you will want to follow these best practices:
Segment your audience by behavior, time and existing customers.
Add a burn pixel to untag users who have made a purchase.
Set a frequency cap, so your audience doesn’t suffer from ad fatigue.
Rotate your ads to keep things interesting.
Split test to see which ad version works best.
5. Automate your follow-up emails
It’s one thing to drive email subscriptions, but to convert those subscribers into customers, you need to continue to nurture the relationship. Knowing full well that you’re busy focusing on other areas of your business, email automation is a key player in your marketing program.
At its core, email automation enables marketers like you to send scheduled or action-triggered emails containing content and offers about your products and services.
When you use email automation, you can increase your email open rates and click-through rates without having to be at the computer continuously clicking “send.”
Since you’re trying to convert holiday website traffic to drive sales in the new year, your goal with these email campaigns is to drive clicks. The more clicks, the more potential sales you get.
Your automation will begin with the automated welcome email, but it can keep going with a drip marketing series.
A drip marketing series is a series of email campaigns that you pre-schedule.
So, instead of writing the same email over and over when a new customer joins your list, you are programming your email marketing platform to automatically send these campaigns for you. An example of a drip marketing series would be:
Automated welcome email (Day 0)
Introduction to the team (Day 4)
Highlight of products and services (Day 8)
Customer testimonials (Day 12)
Special offer to drive sales (Day 20)
For an example of a drip marketing campaign, download my free marketing guide. As you receive the emails, read them, and dissect what I do. Take notes and copy as you’d like to create your own email series.
As for timing, this series can be spread over eight days or 80 days depending on the type of products and services you sell.
Since you want to convert holiday website traffic to customers in the new year, your series would most likely last for 20 to 30 days. (That does not mean you’ll be sending 20 to 30 emails — simply that your emails will be sent over a 30-day span.)
The beauty of a drip marketing series is that you can always change the campaigns, add new campaigns, or delete campaigns.
What you do with your series will be dictated by the performance (namely metrics) you measure. The better the open and click rate, the more you know that your campaign is working as you intended. If you’re seeing a large drop-off of opens or clicks, then you may need to adjust.
You also have the option to create action-triggered emails. When a subscriber clicks on a link in your email campaign, they can automatically be added to a new email list where they begin receiving a brand new drip marketing series.
For example, let’s say you send an email about smart thermostats or kids’ toys, and the subscriber clicks on one of the links. By clicking, they are demonstrating their interest in the product, and thus, should receive more emails informing and inspiring them to make a purchase.
By clicking, your subscriber has indicated that they want more information on a particular product.
Depending on what they do with those follow-up emails, they can receive other email campaigns to drive purchase behavior.
Both drip marketing series and action-triggered emails are powerful tools to have in your marketing toolbox.
Putting it all together
Attracting visitors to your website is important during the holiday season. Bonus points if you can get them to buy a product or service while they visit.
The true name of the game is to convert your holiday website traffic into sales in the new year.
To drive those repeat sales, you’ll want to:
Know how to turn prospects into leads.
Convince more people to subscribe to your email marketing list.
Showcase your social media channels on your website and in your emails.
Use retargeting on platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Ads.
Rely on email marketing automation to sell while you focus on your business.
After the snow melts, the chestnuts have long since been roasted, the pandemic has been wrangled, and prospects have visited your website, you’ll want to follow the above tips to convert your holiday website traffic to new year sales.
Bryan Caplan is all about helping you build a bigger, better business. A national speaker for Grow with Google and Constant Contact, award-winning CEO of Bryan Caplan Marketing and host of the Bigger Better Biz channel on YouTube, Bryan works with entrepreneurs around the world, teaching and coaching on digital marketing topics to help small businesses grow and succeed. Connect and learn with Bryan by visiting https://www.bryancaplan.com/go.