10 Questions Ecommerce Marketers Must Ask Before Holiday 2017

Online retailers bring in well over $50 billion in sales during November and December. Here are the questions you should be asking now to position yourself to achieve record-breaking holiday performance.

There's no question that the holiday season is a make-or-break opportunity for ecommerce companies. The holidays offer the demand that you're constantly looking for, but the time of year also comes with a boatload of competition.

As an ecommerce marketer, it's important to make sure your brand stands out in the bustling crowd of online shoppers.

The good news? Holiday shopping is a major money-maker for ecommerce companies. Online retailers generated $56 billion in sales during November and December. And that number is growing. Last year, online retailers saw an industry growth of 6  percent over the holiday season.

So, even though the competition's steep in the digital world, there remains plenty of consumer interest and need for your products--you just have to demonstrate strong marketing campaigns to find those consumers.

Here are 10 questions to ask to help form a proactive holiday ecommerce strategy.

1. Which Campaigns Need Full-Asset Support?

Holiday marketing might require you to go the extra mile: creating a landing page, a slider on your homepage, social media and email campaigns, banner ads, that revolve around a single product or promotion. But not every promotion merits full asset support. It's best to pick the strongest campaign or two that will appeal to your ideal audience, and assign full-asset support there to save time and money.

2. What's Your Plan for Creative?

Think of the creative behind your marketing as the face of the brand. Making sure you have all of the creative in place to support full-asset campaigns, email campaigns, social campaigns, and more may be the most important choices you make throughout your campaign. Pay close attention to photography--nearly 70 percent of consumers feel that the quality of photos on ecommerce sites affects whether or not they'll purchase from it.

3. How Will You Use Email to Your Advantage?

Email matters a lot to your marketing campaign. Take the time to brainstorm your subject lines, since they will determine whether the rest of the email is read. A helpful fact: The word "secrets" has led to the highest open rates in email marketing.

4. What Will You Do on Social Media?

There's a reason most marketers spend at least six hours per week on social media: it's where consumers spend the majority of their time online. In fact, people spend 28% of their time online social networking. Think about which platforms you'll use -- Facebook and Twitter are definitely the big ones, and Instagram is one of the fastest growing for many online retailers -- but don't forget about Pinterest.

5. Will You Offer Gift Options?

Determine whether you'll offer to include a gift receipt, gift wrap, and include a card or note when consumers reach checkout. Most of the major brands, like Amazon, do offer gift options, and many shoppers will pay extra to have their products wrapped.

6. How Much Traffic Will You Need to Hit Your Goals?

Since ecommerce is a traffic game, mapping out your traffic goals prior to launching your campaign can help you determine the success of your marketing efforts. Always aim for the most relevant traffic possible, because the more quality traffic your site receives, the more opportunities you have for conversions and sales.

7. Where Will That Traffic Come From?

Focus on options like search, where 44 percent of online shoppers begin; social media, where retail leads the pack in terms of the most customers reached through platforms like Facebook; and email marketing, as more than half of your consumers are reading a majority of their emails -- including those you send. Make sure that your top landing pages are the correct landing pages for search queries. You should also be sure to analyze your keyword research and traffic sources so that you know exactly where this traffic will come from and how to truly optimize accordingly to attract more relevant traffic.

8. What Does Your Average Order Value Need to Be to Hit Your Goals?

Take the time to map out how much each customer needs to order, on average, to help you reach your holiday numbers. This will help inform both promotion of your products and which incentive campaigns you should focus on.

9. What Does Your Time Frame Look Like?

You'll need to select your target campaign launch date, and work backward in your plan to allow enough time for the creative creation and development. Last year, shoppers had made more than half of their gift buys before December 10. Let this number guide your campaigns.

10. What Will You Do After the Holidays to Capitalize?

Just because the holidays end, doesn't mean your holiday campaign has to, too. Will you offer any after-holiday sales to both make the most of the season and also to sell any additional products you have in stock? Many retailers offer discounts as great as 30 to 50 percent, beginning the day after Christmas, and savvy shoppers keep an eye out for these deals. Don't miss out on the opportunity to profit from the season just a bit more right after the holidays have ended.

Now What?

Answering the questions above will inform your holiday strategy planning and put you on the best path forward to a successful holiday season. Now, it's time to start executing!