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Expert Advice
For Ecommerce Success
Our team of Ecommerce experts outline effective strategies for optimising your site and increasing your sales!
 
Summer's in the air, and I don't mean the smell of the next door neighbour's dodgy barbeque! Are you planning a summer sale? Now's the time to start preparing; marketing strategy, site optimisation, prep your team and follow our advice for optimising your landing pages and email campaigns.

The double digit ecommerce growth in January kept overall UK retail sales afloat and although the New Year sales present a bigger opportunity for emerchants than the summer sales, planning now will put you in good stead for making the most of the summer.

Traffic sources for the January 2015 sales came mostly from direct traffic and affiliate links source (Contentsquare.com) which is where the importance of strong email campaigns and optimised landing pages, come in. They are key elements for a successful summer sale as they help attract visitors to your site and then ease them swiftly into the buying funnel.

Let's get 'site-ready' for summer!
Keep in mind:
1. 51% of marketers still rate email as their most effective channel.
2. Ensure your email campaigns are mobile optimised.
3. Test the loading time of your site for free with Google's Pagespeed Insight.
4. Optimise images to decrease loading time.
5. A performing landing page should be well organised with clear images and load in less than 3 seconds.

Email campaigns and landing pages : 2 key tactics for a successful summer sale

01 6 tips for creating an effective 'Summer Sales 2015' email campaign
According to a digital marketing report, released in January, by Smart Insights, 51% of marketers still rate email as their most effective channel. It's the most established channel and the easiest from which to determine ROI, it boosts traffic and sales, fosters customer relations and is a powerful tool for keeping customers informed . . . what more could you ask for?

Newsletters give you the opportunity to communicate regularly with your customers and are key to retention. Sales periods are the perfect opportunity to leverage this channel, telling your customers about discounts, stock clearances, giveaways, product bundles and so on.

To help you segment your customer base and send targeted and pertinent newsletters, Actinic is integrated with SmartFocus, a platform that offers campaign personalisation, marketing intelligence and social insights, across any device, all from your back office.

1. Personalise!
Take the time to personalise your emails, integrate your client's first name into your newsletters for a personal touch and to avoid the spam like, 'Dearest valued customer!' There are automated solutions for mail merge, "first name" tags or "last name" if you are looking for a more formal approach. Don't forget that you can only fill in these fields automatically, if your customer database is up to date. All the more reason, to keep your sending list neat and tidy!

2. Stress free planning!
Newsletters need to be planned in advance and ready to send before critical sales periods, a few weeks before, a couple of days and on D day. It almost goes without saying that you're not trying to bombard your customers but to remind them of dates and special offers so they can plan ahead too! Don't forget to give your readers some special email only offers so they know how much you value them!
3. Be clear and direct!
Creating a visually pleasing email template is obviously important but there are a few other details to bear in mind too. During sales periods, it's particularly important to work on your subjects lines. Your customers may be receiving a fair few sales emails so making yours stand out is vital. Highlight your special offers, clearly, no fuss or frills, and your emails are more likely to be opened.

4. Think strategically!
Remember that email is just another brick in your sales communication wall! There are other bricks you need to build with, such as, social networks, blogs, AdWords campaigns, etc. For a successful strategy, you need to build a strong foundation, incorporating and balancing your various distribution channels, to maximise your overall visibility. Email is the cement that keeps all your marketing bricks together! It highlights offers, can be a great touchpoint in the customer journey, a link to social media and blog posts and much more.

5. Offer exclusive services
An exclusive service could be, for example, giving VIP customers a 48hr window, before your sales start, to fill their shopping carts and save them, to be confirmed and bought on the first day of your sale. This way they are guaranteed to snag the discount products they want before stocks run out and become eve bigger fans of your site!
6. MobileGeddon!
Yes, we're stealing Google's algorithm nick name, but only because we want to be sure you are mobile optimised! M-commerce accounted for 32% of all online sales in 2014 (IMRG) and according to Experian, 53% of total email opens occurred on a mobile or tablet in Q3 2014 - which was a 5% increase from Q2! With more and more people using mobile devices to check their mails, 68% of Gmail and Yahoo! users’ opens occur on a smartphone or tablet (Litmus - Email Analytics), your emails need to be mobile ready (as well as your site!).
With Actinic,

With Actinic, you can personalise and optimise your emails for mobile from your back office, thanks to SmartFocus, the email solution integrated into the solution. Make sure you aren't limiting yourself to PC opens only, get mobile!
02 3 tips to prepare your landing pages for the summer sales
1. A landing page with clear and inviting images makes the visitor want to carry on the buyer journey. If you can also offer them shortcuts through your catalogue, "discount men's shoes," "discount women's trainers 4-7," and so on, they'll be happy to have saved some time, in their search. The easier the site search, the quicker the buy! Happy clients and higher conversion rates - everyone's a winner!

2. Once your landing pages are optimised, time to optimise your landing pages for mobile. As we may have already mentioned (!), mobile, mobile, mobile! People browse and shop on their phones throughout the day, in a variety of places, on the bus, queuing at the post office, whilst walking the dog and in a whole host of other situations, so if you want to be sure you're getting the most traffic possible make sure consumers can find you from all of their devices!
3. Time to get technical! You also need to optimise the technical side of your landing pages to ensure they load quickly. Akamai research shows that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, what's more, 40% of visitors will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 3 seconds seems like nothing but eshoppers are an impatient lot and when waiting for pages to load 3 seconds seems a lot longer than it actually is!

Even the market leaders, like Amazon, La Redoute, CDiscount, can experience longer loading times during peak periods of traffic. So, the challenge is to meet the increased traffic head on with a page that is optimised to load as quickly as possible. Optimising image size (not quality though) and format is vital and don't worry about our side of things, Actinic has a 99.99% uptime, so whatever the traffic on your site we'll support you.
Helpful Hint:
Thanks to the drop/drag design editor, SmartSkins, you can choose your image resolution, using 'original size' or customising the size. There are also a number of free sites you can use to strip your images down to the, fast loading, bare minimal!

Landing pages and email play a key role in your marketing strategy. Email marketing has the enormous potential of being able to reach your customers wherever they are, plus the added advantage of being a direct marketing tool that can increase turnover through direct sales and by bringing more people onto the site.
During your sales prep, think about how you can use email and what to focus on your landing pages, but don't neglect the rest of your site, managing your catalogue and products, creating a sales section and so on.
Preparation is everything, so start planning now ,so that you can get the best out of the summer, while your estore racks up the sales.

Over to you!