Modern Retail

Five Ways Retailers Can Use Content Marketing and SEO to Boost Online Presence This Christmas

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This year, reports show that 85% of retailers believe online sales will increase this holiday season compared to last year, while 61% are expecting higher engagement and purchasing rates via social media – despite the Covid-19 impact on the retail sector. 

As the Christmas period is known to be one of the most lucrative times of the year for retail, the eCommerce market becomes highly competitive for some of the biggest players, so what can businesses do to cut through the noise and keep customers engaged during this time?

Head of Content and PR Hayley Stansfield and Head of Performance James Kelly of Digital Marketing agency Blueclaw provide retailers with some top tips on how small, low-cost sprints of content activity can help maximise your online strategy this Christmas. 

1. Re-work your top-performing content online

Generally, successful seasonal content marketing shouldn’t require a major and costly change in your strategy – instead it may need some finessing based on the key learnings you took from when things went well for your brand earlier in the year. 

A great way to get the most out of your top-performing content is to create a new version, and re-optimise it with seasonal keywords that target the most popular long-tail search terms this holiday season. The idea of targeting long-tail keywords is that your content is much more likely to get qualified traffic that will turn into valuable conversions.

Or, you could keep it even simpler than that. For example, you could use your internal data to review which of your email or content marketing campaigns gained the most sales and attraction earlier this year, and re-work the original concept for Christmas without overcomplicating or changing its foundations. 

2. Consider Retargeting

Many retailers experience high rates of customers who add products to their baskets but don’t finalise the sale, commonly due to high shipping costs and slow checkouts. Also known as ‘cart abandonment’, it’s predicted that UK shoppers abandon online baskets worth almost £30 a month, resulting in a more than £18 billion potential loss in sales for businesses each year. 

As an issue that is naturally expected to rise as seasonal shopping booms, it’s crucial for businesses to retain as many potential customers as possible.This can be achieved using a simple ‘remarketing’ or ‘retargeting’ strategy, which is a quick, relatively low-cost and effective way to recaptivate the interest of users who have left your site without converting. 

It works by using a small piece of data stored by a customer’s web browser (also known as cookies) to remember who visited your site. This allows you to target site visitors with relevant banners of display adverts while browsing elsewhere, with the aim being to entice them back.

3. There’s still time for public relations

No content marketing strategy should overlook strong, traditional public relations. Product-led PR is a great way to tell the story of your brand and drive sales through referral traffic; you just need to target publications that are relevant to your product and audience. 

This year, journalists have been requesting Christmas content from brands as early as June, but it’s not to say there isn’t time to be featured in their up-coming features on the best gifts to buy this Christmas. 

Organic, product-led PR is a great way to promote your best-selling items, as many journalists are now on the lookout for brands to contribute to their listicle type features. This could be anything from ‘top beauty gifts for Christmas this year’ by an editor at the Mail Online, or ‘the Best Christmas Gadgets for Under £20 by The Guardian – and it’s not as hard as you think to be included in their round-ups.

Simply search online to see which journalists produced similar content this time last year and reach out to them via the journalist’s email address on the website, or find the journalist on Twitter to see what they’re working on this year.

Another top tip is to follow the hashtag ‘#journorequest’ on Twitter too, which provides a constant stream of media requests from journalists wanting products to feature in their articles that you could capitalise on.

4. Utilise Google Trends

From an SEO perspective, Google Trends is a fantastic tool to use when looking to identify key head terms and related search behaviour trends over the Christmas period.

Google Trends can be used to identify seasonality around your most vital search terms and determine when the traffic begins to spike, or drop, over the holidays. If there’s a spike, it’s important to know when exactly the traffic begins to increase so that you’re able to ensure you have relevant products available on your core Christmas landing pages in advance. This will ensure you’re well placed to rank.

Google Trends is also useful when it comes to outlining trends around any niche terms focused on specific products, as it allows you to consider optimising product copy against long tail terms – for example, “medium red dress Christmas”.

5. Publish your landing page early

Finally, it’s important to make sure you update or create your Christmas landing page as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have your full product range available, getting the URL and content published and indexable as before the season rush starts will give you the best possible chance of ranking.

Your Christmas landing page needs:

  • Relevant unique copy around your core offering for Christmas
  • A well optimised page title and H1 related to your offering (not just “Christmas 2020 *insert brand*”). Do some competitor research and find out what is performing well for your competitors and utilise that information to help create your content.
  • Give people simple options at the top of the page (which is also great for UX) to drive users further into the site. This could be as simple as “For Him” and “For Her” options.
  • Don’t stuff the page with heavy images. Page load speed is even more important now than it has ever been and heavy images will slow it down.
  • Design your page mobile first as this is the experience Google now indexes. Keep in mind, if there is copy and images missing on the mobile experience, Google won’t record them in the mobile index.

Overall, with Christmas quickly approaching we hope you’ve already gotten started with your planning and optimisation. However, if you’re feeling a bit behind, or for more tips on how SEO and Content Marketing can be used to boost your digital marketing strategy over the holidays, visit the Blueclaw website and get in touch with our team!.

Authors: Hayley Stansfield, Head of Content and PR, and James Kelly, Head of Performance at Blueclaw

Holly Worthington

Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail's Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today's ever-changing market.