5-Step Plan to Get Your Business Ready for the Online Holiday Season

The holiday season is right around the corner, making it the ideal time to get your online marketing campaigns mapped out. The holiday season provides a massive opportunity to increase sales and revenue for your business online, but it takes planning and execution -- your revenue isn't going to just magically increase.

You need to plan in advance. Waiting until the last minute will result in throwing together a rushed campaign with very little though or strategy. At the very least, you need to be fully ready to roll out your holiday marketing campaign on Black Friday. Use this 5-step plan to make sure your business is ready to capitalize on the approaching online holiday season.

1. Make sure your website provides a great mobile experience.

You need a mobile-friendly website. Consumers are more comfortable making purchases on their mobile devices and if your website doesn't provide a pleasant experience they will quickly leave and find another option. Run your website through Google's mobile-friendly test to make sure it passes, but don't stop there.

You also need feedback from real users. Ask family, employees, friends and even complete strangers to run through your website on their mobile devices and provide you with feedback. Can they quickly find what they are looking for? Are they able to easily navigate your website without having to manipulate the screen by zooming in and out? Are your contact and offer forms easy to submit? Use this feedback to improve the experience your website provides your visitors.

2. Review the data from last year.

Go through your data from the previous holiday season and find out where the majority of your conversions came from. Many businesses will look at just the raw traffic numbers and assume those are the best sources to target again. You need to see where the majority of your revenue producing conversions came from.

If you determined that Facebook pushed 100,000 visitors, but only converted at a 1% rate, compared to 50,000 visitors and a 4% conversion rate via email marketing, wouldn't it be wise to ramp up your email marketing this season? This is something that I am currently doing with my consulting clients. We are using the data from the previous year as a starting point to map out the campaigns for the upcoming holiday season.

3. Free up time by scheduling holiday-specific social media content.

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year, so the last thing you want to do is take time out of each day to create your social media content. Use an automation tool, such as Hootsuite, to schedule all of your holiday social media content in advance. You never want to rely 100% on automated social media, as it can appear very spammy, but using a tool to schedule your content is fine -- it will actually save you a great amount of time.

You will want to create social media content that features your holiday offers, as well as uses holiday images and hashtags. You never want to be overly promotional on social media, but during peak holiday season, don't be afraid to put more direct offers out there. Your audience is actively looking for deals online, so put them out there for them to find while they are in buying mode.

4. Lay out your holiday email marketing strategy.

You are going to need to tweak your standard email copy and your funnel system for the holiday season. Some businesses might put their email leads into a funnel that drip-markets to their subscribers over a period of several months. There is no need to slowly nurture during the holiday season.

If a consumer comes to your website during the holiday season there is a very good chance they are very close to being ready to make a purchase. Adjust your email marketing to be more aggressive and push for the sale quickly. Rather than just sending information and providing value, include special offers like free shipping, exclusive discounts, and direct links to products on your website. The conversion window is small during the holidays, so map out your email marketing to quickly convert the leads you generate.

5. Create landing pages for your holiday offers.

If your business is going to have special offers and promotions for the holiday season you will want to create landing pages that highlight these. You aren't going to know what landing pages perform better until you actually test them, so make sure to create several variations to split test.

You will want to eliminate the landing pages that perform poorly early on, so the majority of your holiday traffic is being sent to the landing pages that are producing the highest conversion rates. There are several tools, such as Optimizely, to help you easily create and split-test multiple landing page variations, even if you have limited or no coding and programming experience.

Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media®, an online marketing agency that provides SEO coaching and online marketing consulting. Jonathan also created EBOC (Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community), a private business forum. Follow him on Twitter.