Holiday Prep Checklist - Tips for Holiday Season Success
The week that many of you have been waiting for is finally here, it's the beginning of the holiday shopping season!
Last week, we shared 10 ways for your shop to add value this holiday season, and today we wanted to give you a holiday prep checklist to work from.
The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of preparation for those of you who are shop owners, and so today, we wanted to put together a simple checklist for you to make sure that you have everything taken care of and ready to go. We'll explain this step-by-step in the post outlined below, and we've also included a free checklist at the bottom of the page that you can download + print to have on-hand as you go through everything.
We hope that this post will help you in taking some time to make sure that everything is ready to go, and that you have a successful holiday season!
We’re starting first with the back end of your website, and working through all of the pieces you need in total. A free download is included to help you to keep track of everything beyond this blog post as well!
Affiliate Disclaimer: There are links to affiliate links included in this post, as noted by an asterisk (*). By clicking on those links, we may receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you. Thank you for fueling our coffee habit to continually create resources for you!
1. If you do not yet have them incorporated, set up Google Analytics for your website.
You want to be able to track who is coming to your website so that you can look into the user experience and look at how it can continually be improved. It allows you to track your customer's behaviors and make sure your website is meeting their needs. It also can show you which are the most popular pages + products shown per day, even including where people are going step by step on your site.
2. Next, take the time to set up a Facebook Pixel.
This is a piece of code that you input on your website so that you can learn more about your audience, track conversions, and gain incredible insight into who comes to your website and what they do when they're there. Even if you do not yet plan to create Facebook ads, it can still offer incredible insight that will help you to see how the people who come to your website interact with it, so that you can learn how people are using your website. Having these analytics is incredibly handy.
3. Set up your email list and create a welcome email for new subscribers.
Hopefully you have already created an email list, but if not, it's okay! However, you want to be able to have a way to capture the email addresses of the people who are shopping from you, or who are looking on your website in the first place.
Suggested Email Providers: Mailchimp or ConvertKit*
4. Get out a calendar, and write down the important dates needed for your shop.
Will you be Drop-Shipping your products this season? If so, write down important deadlines from your printing companies to ensure that you can have all products submitted to them in time. For example, if you'll be using a company who needs your order by December 7th, you need to make sure that you stop offering those products for holiday delivery before that date.
On that same calendar, write down shipping deadlines from USPS, UPS, and FedEx. This is vital to know so that you can make sure to ship your products in time for holiday delivery.
Direct Links to 2018 Shipping Deadlines: USPS / UPS / FedEx
Decide the day that your shop will be closing for the holidays so that you can give yourself enough time not only to get orders out, but also to give yourself time to enjoy the holidays as well! Think about all that you need to take care of for your personal life, in addition to everything you need to do to keep your business orders ready. What is the last day that you can have your shop open to make sure that you can create + deliver it in time for the holidays? Note that date on your calendar as well.
5. Packaging Supplies - do you have more than everything you need?
The last thing that you want is to run out of packing supplies. Whether it’s a shipping label or a box that you ship your products in, make sure that you’ve ordered enough of everything that you need, and then some! You don’t want to have all of your products ready to go, and then not be able to ship items because you are waiting on items to be shipped to you. Make sure to order enough shipping boxes, promotional cards, stickers, shipping labels, and bubble wrap / tissue paper etc. for packaging with plenty of time for it to arrive, and make sure to check in on your supplies as you go, so that you can order extra pieces if you think you’ll run out!
6. Determine your Promotional Items
Will you give a free gift with purchases, or give a certain discount on certain products in your shop? Will you run different sales each day, or perhaps offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount? Make sure to have this determined sooner than later so that you can add it into your product listings.
Need a few ideas to get you started? Here are 10 Ways to Add Value to your Shop This Holiday Season!
7. Update your Product Listings with pertinent information, including:
Update your product titles + tags to include holiday searchable descriptions - is this a great gift for a teacher, a mom, a designer, or kids? Input those key descriptive words into your product title and make sure to think both broad and honed in to specific keywords for searches.
Update your product descriptions - who would this be a great gift for? Write a few sentences to help them picture it in the hands of the gift-receiver. Any pictures that you can paint as they are reading your product descriptions will be helpful in them determining their needs!
8. Organize your holiday order canned emails + Schedule your promotional emails:
There are a minimum of four main emails that you want to make sure you have ready to go for those who add products to their cart and purchase from your site. When their order has been received, when their order has been shipped, when their order has been delivered, and an abandoned cart email. Make sure these are ready to go for your shop by inputting the correct headers for graphics, correct wording, and make sure that they all work correctly.
Additionally, back to that email list once more, make sure that you send at least two promotional emails over the course of the holiday season. If you are already in the habit of them hearing you on a consistent basis, fantastic! At the very minimum, send them three emails: one to let them know about the holiday promotions you'll be offering, one that is highlighting particular products in your shop, and one that is a holiday shipping deadline reminder so that they can remember to purchase from you in time.
9. Create the promotional graphics needed for your shop, and put them into one folder all together in one place.
The key in this is to make sure that they are consistent, that they reflect your shop and your products, and that they are cohesive across the board. You can create a variety of images in different sizes, but make sure that they are set and ready to go before you need them, so that you can pull them as-needed for your shop. Another key thing to remember is to have them in one folder, all together in one place. You don't want to have to search for them when it's time to use them, so put them all together in one spot where you can keep track of them.
10. Determine your marketing + social media strategy.
Which of your main products will you highlight? You could highlight every single product that you have in your shop, but instead, think about those that you think will do really well this holiday season, that you think will make great gifts for people on their list. Incorporate a give, give, give, ask strategy, and incorporate Content Marketing.
Read further on this topic here, on How to Get Started with Content Marketing!
11. Create your social media images + write captions for each
Use a social media planner to keep track of everything and also be able to schedule things out ahead of time. Although you may want to make sure you can still post in real-time, using a scheduling planner like Planoly* can make things so much easier for you! Using Planoly, you can store your Instagram Stories, your photos, even create folders that house different collections for your shop. Especially if you incorporate content marketing that we mentioned above, it will help you to see everything in a grid-like fashion, in addition to plan things out ahead of time so that you're not posting on the fly. Another reason that we love to use Planoly is that there is a desktop version, meaning you don't have to type out any more captions with your thumbs or concentrate on a small space on a screen. #winning
Take the time to write out your captions - infuse a mix of directly promotional posts with sharing about the heart behind each of your products. If you can do it beforehand, you won’t need to be thinking on the fly. Block off time and write, write, write.
Look at the insights on your accounts for social media - especially if you have a business account for Instagram, determine when your followers are on Social media and make sure to post during that time, to try and make sure that your posts will be given the best opportunity to be seen when you want them to be, in addition to when you want to be on social media as well.
Determine your hashtags. The more people that use a certain hashtag, the less your chances are for your products to be seen. For example, the hashtag #shopsmall is incredibly popular, and at the time of this blog post being published, has 16.3 MILLION USES. #shopsmallbusiness currently has 1.4 million as well. However, #shopsmallsaturday currently only has 72.6k posts, #smallshoplove has 162k, and #shopsmallthischristmas only has 16.4k. You want to find a happy medium between the niche hashtags (the ones that aren't being used very often) and common hashtags, but if it has over 1 million uses, if you're using hashtags in order to be marketed, you want them to be effective for your business as well. Take a bit of time to research hashtags that will work for your business, so that you're using every single one of those 30 hashtags to your business' advantage.
12. And last but not least, have an incredible holiday season for your shop!
Each year, following the holiday season, take some time to reflect on everything you learned in addition to making a preliminary plan for the next year while you've got everything fresh on your mind. It's a lot easier to jot down notes on what worked well and what didn't as you go along (especially if you are using Trello to keep track of everything for your shop!), rather than thinking about it in September or October of the following year.
We hope that you have an incredible holiday season, and that you love every single minute of being a shop owner this season! Want all of this in a short, detailed checklist to follow? You're in luck! We created a short, concise, and to the point downloadable checklist for you to check off things one by one. Download it for your shop below!