For most consumer brands, Q4 is the key period of the year, with brands often making over 50% of their annual revenue in the last 3 months of the year.
With big events like Black Friday and Christmas during this period, web traffic is high, but competition is fierce.
We take a look at how rural brands can increase their sales and stay ahead of the competition during this important trading period.
Improve Product Page Content
Your product pages are your salesmen when it comes to persuading a customer to buy one product over another.
Customers can’t physically hold products viewed online, so engaging content and imagery help to reassure them.
This is important with considered purchases such as equestrian clothing, English wine or fly fishing equipment.
People shopping for high ticket items need to know about features and benefits, along with strong imagery.
Some of the features you should consider adding to your product pages to increase conversion are;
Strong Product Descriptions – After images, product descriptions are the next stop for many online shoppers. Ensuring a decent length paragraph with engaging and informative content is important. A couple of lines of text will not cut it. Look at opportunities to get product-related keywords such as “navy quilted jacket” that will help from an SEO perspective.
Features + Benefits – Features + benefits are your opportunity to add depth to what the product is about. Pulling out 5-7 key features, listing them in bullet point form and expanding into the benefits that feature offers should be the goal. For instance, something along of the line of “The duck down filling in this Navy quilted down gilet, provides warmth to your core even when temperatures start to drop”. Again Features and Benefits are a great SEO opportunity.
Enhanced Features + Benefits – Made famous by Amazon and their A+ content which you see on product pages, it is possible to replicate this very visual content on most CMS platforms (both Squarespace & Shopify are capable of this). This content generally sits below the traditional product page content. It allows you to create additional content for those seeking in-depth information about a product. It can be key to converting them into a sale. Types of content which might be suitable; Hero banners, video content, recipes, pairing guides, size guides, lists of product awards etc.
Product Reviews – Reviews are important. People like to social proof their purchases, especially if it is a high-end purchase. This means products with reviews generally convert at a higher rate than those without. Encourage your current customers to leave reviews post-purchase, with incentives such as a draw for a £100 voucher once a quarter.
You may also like – It might be that regardless of the content on the page, the product isn’t quite right for the user. By adding other associated products at the bottom of the page, i.e a different style of waterproof jacket, you give the user a second chance to find a product which is correct for them. This reduces bounce rate and increases conversion potential.
Users also bought – As an alternative to “You may also like” there is also “users also bought”. This plays a different angle and tries to increase basket size by promoting complementary products or add-ons, increasing Average Order Value (AOV). Although some platforms can pull this information automatically, many need manual intervention. Some might be obvious pairings such as product-specific accessories. Others might not be so obvious. Start by looking through previous orders and looking for purchase trends. It may surprise you which products customers are purchasing together. It may take some time, but in the long run, will allow you to get to know your customer base better.
Other On-Site Converters
Website pop-ups/abandon basket emails – sometimes customers are almost ready to purchase and just need a little nudge to get them over the line. It may be a pop up offering them 10% off their purchase or an email in their inbox the next day offering them free shipping, that does it. These little tools can have a positive impact on purchase. You can also utilise them to build your email marketing database, a useful tool itself during Q4.
Promotions – Black Friday is the season of promotions. Customers expect to be able to shop at a discount, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a blanket 15% off site-wide purchases is the way to go. It’s important to look at your product range in advance and plan. Different products have different margins, it’s key to look at what has strong margins and can still be sold at a profit. You may want to run themes with your promotions, and rotate them through the Q4 period, giving a sense of urgency to the purchase.
Change Your Homepage Banners – The homepage is still the number one place visitors to your site are likely to land. Create new banners for Q4 with your key promotions, making it easier for users to get to the key areas of the site where the promotions are happening.
Extended Returns – A lot of purchases during Q4 are gifts, bought during Black Friday and beyond. one of our favourite Q4 marketing tips is offering extended returns until the end of January on all purchases during Q4. By doing this (and shouting about it), you are taking the risk out of the sale for the buyer, that the receiver won’t like what they’ve been given.
Free Shipping – Although it comes at a cost, site-wide free shipping can have a strong impact on Q4 sales. During this period you are up against Amazon who offers free next day shipping for Prime members. So £5.99 3/4 day shipping may look at little steep. When considering if this viable, however, it’s important to see whether the cost impact outweighs the forecast increase in sales.
Driving Traffic Website Traffic During Q4
Before undertaking any marketing activities during Q4, we’d recommend putting a marketing plan in place.
This means you know what channels you will be focusing on, what promotions will be running (and when), and what budgets are allocated to each activity.
Email Marketing can be extremely powerful during Q4. First ensure your database is optimised. By ensuring you have an optimised database, you can send out tailored emails that appeal to different customer segments.
This will increase their success rate and the sales they drive. By going through your database and identifying simple factors such as gender, you have the basis for personalisation.
By looking at purchasing behaviour you can categorise customers further.
If we look at marketing for equestrian businesses for example, by looking at purchases we can look for those who are interested in rider clothing compared to those who prefer to buy equipment for the horse itself.
This allows different versions of the base email with headline text and imagery altered, making emails feel more personal to the user.
Any email marketing activity must be tied into the rest of your marketing plan. This allows you to plan a schedule during Q4 that ties the emails into your ongoing activity, for maximum effect.
Paid Search (PPC)
Paid search (PPC) – is great for driving traffic to your site. PPC in Q4 tends to be more expensive as more businesses use it to try and increase their sales. However if done strategically, it can still offer a strong ROI. This will however take more preparation and management.
Manually Adjust Bidding – Although Google’s Smart Bidding feature is great most of the year, it struggles with the fluctuation and spikes that happen during Black Friday. We would therefore recommend turning off the Smart Bidding feature and revert to manual bidding.
Rework Ad Copy – During Q4 timed offers with periods as short as 12-24 hours are a popular sales mechanic. Add countdown timers to ad copy to create a sense of urgency. Don’t be afraid to put in some of your key selling points about free shipping, extended returns etc into the copy as they are good hooks. Ensure call to actions are supporting any urgency created in the ad copy.
Social Media is great for teasing offers and promotions. This is especially true ahead of the Black Friday weekend itself and has the benefit of having a ready audience at your fingertips.
Tease Promotions – In the countdown to Black Friday – tease some of the promotions you may be running to build anticipation before their release. Countdown timers on Instagram the day before could be very effective. This can then be supported with further posts and email marketing when the promotions go live.
UTM Tracking – Make sure all campaigns are appropriately tagged so you can track success (and failure) in Analytics. Using Google’s UTM builder you can attribute individual campaigns and channels which give more in-depth data on what is working.