GUEST BLOG: Guy Levine shares his top tips for boosting e-commerce at Christmas

At Christmas, consumers - one and all - go into a buying frenzy. You can capitalise on this trend in two ways: The first is to drive more people to your website giving you the opportunity to make more sales; The second is to increase your conversion rate, boosting sales from increased visitor numbers.

Let's look at increasing the visitor numbers first...

Now is the time to send out your first email about final shipping dates before Christmas. A simple email sent to your list should give people the nudge they need to stop stalling on their orders and take action in order to make sure gifts arrive on time. You might have just seen Amazon's arrive in your inbox! With the threat of a truly white Christmas imminent an 'Order now to avoid disappointment' should really work well.

Another great email strategy is to do a list swap with another company. This works great if you can find another company who has the same demographic but a different product.

These deals are normally brokered in one of two ways. Either swap a mailing for a mailing if both lists are of similar size, or pay commission on any sales made. My ultra sneaky tip is to make sure there are some really great, no brainer offers to entice new customers to buy. While making lots of profit on a sale is nice, attracting new shoppers for free who you can remarket to again and again is even nicer!

As well as marketing to your existing list via email, it is also time to ramp up your online marketing. It may be too late to see any major search engine optimisation results, but targeted pay per click campaigns around products on sale can give a real boost to visitor numbers.

Infiltrating the social networks with product chat can also work really well, just make sure you don't overdo it and upset your fans or followers!

Now we have attracted more visitors, how do we sell more?

Christmas time is offer time, so (if you haven't already) it's time to apply some healthy discounts to make people want to buy. Examples of offers which work well for retailers are offers based on increased spend, such as 10% discount on all purchases over £100 or buy two and receive the third free. At the very least this should bump up your average order value.

Not only should we be looking at product offers, it's also the time of year to add offers such as free delivery or gift wrapping. A strategy which is used very well by a certain extremely large ecommerce site is to offer free shipping which is the most basic shipping option with the option to upgrade for a fee. For some people this will feel a little uncomfortable but it's worth a test! Another option worth testing is free shipping on returns. While this may cost more money to offer, it also removes the risk of a purchase so could increase the number of orders.

While we are driving more visitors, it's important to capture email addresses so the database grows in size for next year. Offering competitions or prize draws is a great way to do this. From our testing, we have seen that you can get a better response by offering lots of little prizes, rather than one large one as people believe they have more chance of winning!

And finally for the ultra-savvy marketers, split testing should definitely be employed to make sure conversion is as high as possible. This could simply be having two different offer pages, and sending half your email database to one page and half to the other to see which makes more orders. Google has a free website optimiser system which will allow you to run this seamlessly.

The final strategy is to offer exemplary customer service. Remember, a customer is for life, not just for Christmas. It's a stressful time so be on the ball with keeping people informed of late delivery or snow delays.

I hope these strategies boost your Christmas sales. Happy Holidays!

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