The holidays are your chance to test out all the new strategies and products you’ve been working on throughout the year.
The last thing you want to be during your busiest time of the year is uncertain. You need to go into the holiday season prepared. You need the data to back up each of the decisions you make. And you need to act quickly, or you’ll have to wait until next year to try again.
As the founder and developer of Metorik, I’ve worked with thousands of stores around the holiday season, helping them maximize and understand their results. In this post, I want to share with you some tips that will ensure you’re ready from a reporting perspective these holidays.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail – Unknown.
Decide which numbers matter most
The first question you need to ask: Which numbers matter the most to my business? Every eCommerce store is unique and each has its in own goals, KPIs (key performance indicators), products, and agenda.
Once you know what numbers are important to you, you can calculate them and track your progress towards hitting certain goals. Every store is different so only you will know which numbers truly matter for you, but here are some of the metrics you should keep an eye on:
- Average order value.
- Average customer LTV (lifetime value).
- Average customer order count.
- Abandoned cart rate.
- New vs. returning customer rates.
Prepare your command center
When December comes around and you’re (hopefully) being inundated with new orders, you don’t want to be fumbling in the dark trying to get answers.
“How many sales have we had this week?”
“What’s our most popular product?”
“Who does order #243 belong to?”
To be prepared, you should have your command center ready as early as possible. By command center, I mean the place where you manage your business and orders day to day.
That could be the WooCommerce dashboard, the Metorik dashboard, or even just a spreadsheet you’re manually filling in every day. Any solution is better than no identified solution.
If you’ve connected your store to Google Analytics using the free plugin, you’ll be able to access most of your store’s data right through the Google Analytics dashboard.
I do recommend opting for a solution that allows for some customization though, so you’re seeing the data that matters to you. In Metorik, it’s possible to customize your dashboard with ease, combining data from external sources like Google Analytics with the KPIs that matter most to your store.
It’s crucial that your team has access to the data they need quickly, whether it’s answering questions through reports or handling customer service inquiries.
If you’re sticking with the WooCommerce dashboard, you’ll want to add your team as users to the store and give them the Store Manager role. One potential issue here though is that your customer service team could access reports and see sensitive financial data. To combat that issue, consider installing the free User Role Editor plugin, which allows you to limit what each Store Manager can access and update.
For those using Google Analytics as their command center, it’s possible to invite team members there so they can view your reports.
If you opt to use Metorik as your command center, you have the option to invite unlimited team members and give them certain roles. For example, most stores invite their customer service team as Packers, which lets them manage and search through orders but not see reports.
Being able to search through data quickly is also of importance. In Metorik, this can be done by using the global search tool at the top of the dashboard:
Data-led tactics for driving holiday sales
1. Set yourself some targets
My first tip for you: Review your reports and KPIs from last year’s holiday season. Try to determine what worked in previous years and what didn’t, so you can go into this year’s season with realistic goals and attainable targets.
To do this, head to WooCommerce > Reports in your store dashboard. At the top of the page, you can set a custom range to report on:
Of course, the dates you select will depend on when you consider your holiday season to be. For some stores, it’s just mid December to early January, but for others, it may start even earlier. Depending on the product, customers may want to start purchasing it around November, so they have time to receive their orders before gifting them.
Once you’ve set the dates of the report, click the Go button and you’ll see a sales report for that period. The main numbers you want to focus on are:
- Net sales in this period.
- Average net daily sales.
Why average net daily sales? Well, since the holiday season spans over several weeks, it’s important to look at the bigger picture and focus on the average daily sales, rather than individual days. That way you won’t get caught up when you have one poor day of sales.
For example, a customer of mine sells a product specifically designed for Christmas. But since it’s a physical product customized for each customer, their orders will start coming in around October. In their case, it’s important to get an idea of the average daily sales from October onwards, rather than just looking at their sales from the week leading up to Christmas.
If you’re using Metorik, you can take a similar approach to finding this data. Simply open up a report, set the date range to your holiday season last year, and then you’ll able to see daily net sales, gross sales, orders, and items. Importantly, it shows you the growth in each KPI vs. the previous period, so you can easily compare your average daily sales from 2018 vs. 2017:
2. Segment your data
I’m constantly preaching to eCommerce stores about the value of segmenting their data.
Segmenting is when you take your store’s data and use filters/rules to get a subset of that data. For example, if we wanted to figure out which of our orders were for more than $100, we’d do that by filtering them by the order total. That would then give us a subset, or segment of orders.
The art of segmenting isn’t limited just to order data though. You can segment anything in your store, from subscriptions to customers.
Segmenting can be especially valuable around the holiday season. For example, we may want to find all customers that made orders last holiday season and then promote this year’s sale to them through a marketing email, Facebook ads, etc. But first we need to find out who those customers were.
In WooCommerce, this can be easily done on the WooCommerce > Orders page by changing the date range in the filter section:
When it comes to exporting that data so you can get all of the matching customer emails, the WooCommerce Customer/Order CSV Export extension will be your best friend. Another option, albeit a simpler and more limited one, is the free Advanced Order Export plugin.
If you’re using Metorik, you’d do this by going to the Customers page and creating a segment like this:
And then clicking the Export customers button. You could go a bit deeper and add extra filters like “Total spent over $100” and “Purchased products include x and y”, but we’ll keep it simple to start.
Once you have your list of customers from WooCommerce or Metorik, the next step is emailing them. How you email customers will depend on your email marketing tool of choice. MailChimp for WooCommerce is a great option, but I also recommend Email Octopus if you’re looking for an affordable but less comprehensive tool.
I’d also recommend uploading that customer list to Facebook advertising as a custom audience, so you can advertise to them. Be sure to set up Facebook for WooCommerce first so it’s easy to retarget customers with more ads in the future.
If you aren’t familiar with segmenting and how it allows you to easily increase retention, you should read the blog post I wrote about it recently – Understanding Your WooCommerce Data Through the Art of Segmenting.
3. Reactivate dormant customers
A new customer is something that should always be celebrated. But I’d argue that a returning customer can be even more exciting. Retaining existing customers is one of the easiest ways to grow your store.
It’s valuable to track the retention of both customers that came during previous holiday seasons, and also the future retention of customers you acquire during the current holiday season. But more importantly, you should try to recover these inactive customers.
One way is to get customer data from your store by using the Order/Customer CSV export extension Once you’ve exported your customer list, you could try to find:
- Customers that joined during the holiday season last year (or previous years).
- Have made only one order.
You’d then want to upload the customer list to your email marketing tool and send a bulk email out to them, mentioning the fact that you’re running a holiday promotion again and would love for them to come back.
Don’t be afraid to offer a small discount too. It’s not good to train customers to expect discounts, but at the same time, it can be a cheaper way to win back inactive customers vs. acquiring new ones through expensive marketing campaigns and advertising.
Another option is to use Metorik to segment your customers like we discussed in the Segment your customers tip above. I’d likely add another rule though to target customers who have only made one order, like so:
4. Run a campaign or promotion – and track it
As consumers, we love the holidays. It’s a chance to pick up a deal on an item we’ve wanted for a while or buy a gift for a loved one. And as store owners, it’s a chance to run promotions alongside other stores and capitalize on everyone’s desire to shop.
But with each promotion you run, it’s important to know how they’re performing so you know if a change is required and you can decide which promotions to run again the following year.
The key to accurately tracking promotions: UTM parameters. Whenever you’re linking to your store, albeit a Facebook ad, a Twitter post, or your marketing emails, by adding UTM parameters onto the URL, you can see where each customer has come from. For a complete guide to UTM parameters, I recommend Buffer’s comprehensive guide.
Once you’re using them, you’ll be able to see user stats for each one in Google Analytics:
But how about seeing the sales stats for each one? For that, Metorik’s sources report will come in handy. It allows you to see the sales for each UTM campaign, source, medium, term, and more:
Going further, you can even click through to see the specific orders that came from a certain UTM tag. This allows you to segment customers by the campaign they came through or the medium of the link. For example, finding all customers that came through Facebook ads.
Even if you don’t use UTM parameters, it’s still possible to track the success of your holiday promotions if you’re using WooCommerce coupons. In Woo, you can see the usage count from the coupons page under the Usage / Limit column:
In Metorik, you can see some more data about a coupon’s usage, including the amount actually discounted and significantly, the sales generated by it:
Even if you normally give out a discount code to prospective buyers, be sure to create a new one just for the holiday season, so you’re able to accurately measure the success of your holiday marketing campaign.
Just make sure you aren’t over discounting and you keep your eyes on profitability.
5. Brush up your automated emails
Automated emails are valuable throughout the entire year, not just the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your full attention come December. You can also achieve much better conversion rates simply by giving your existing emails a holiday focus.
Did you know that even if you’ve never explicitly set up automated emails for your store, you’re still sending some right now? I’m talking about new order emails! Every order on your store gets one automatically, and they’re a great opportunity to developer your relationship with new and existing customers.
You can access them in your dashboard WooCommerce > Settings > Emails. For the holiday season, you may want to change the colors used, or perhaps use a different logo that has a holiday spin to it.
Going further, I’d recommend customizing the emails and the copy used in them to be a bit more festive. Those little details make a world of difference to customers and how they perceive your brand without a huge investment of time and resources on your end.
Undoubtedly, the first advanced automation you should set up is an abandoned cart email, which can be set up quite easily using Metorik’s built-in cart tracking and abandoned cart email sending, Conversio, or JILT.
I’d recommend setting up 3 emails, sent in different intervals after the cart is first abandoned:
- 3 Hours
- 1 Day
- 7 Days
Of course, you should experiment with these intervals and figure out what works best for your store by looking at each email’s conversion rates:
In keeping with my advice above, I’d recommend taking it further in terms of personalization. If you’re selling a specific product for the holidays, you may want to create a cart recovery email that is specific to that product. In Metorik, it’s simple to add more rules so emails only send for carts containing a certain product:
Coupled with a unique subject like “The holidays are near! Don’t forget to purchase your Pink Glow LED Collar”, you’ll be able to achieve excellent open and conversion rates.
This is also a great opportunity to set up some holiday-specific automated emails. Perhaps you want to email a custom coupon to all customers that joined during the holidays but didn’t buy a certain product? This can easily be accomplished with a Metorik Engage customer email automation:
In the above example, we’re targeting customers that joined during the holidays. To ensure we only email them 3 days after they joined, we’ve added an additional rule of ‘customer joined over 3 days ago’.
When it comes to writing the email, we’re creating a unique discount that results in a coupon being generated just for them when the email is sent:
One final little tool tip: Try OneTab
Another tool that can help you be prepared for the holidays is a free one that I personally use and love – OneTab. It’s a Chrome & Firefox extension that lets you create a group of tabs/windows that you can lock and favorite. Then when it’s time to work, you can easily restore the tabs and be ready for anything:
Enjoy using data to drive holiday sales
Setting targets, segmenting your data, reactivating dormant customers, running campaigns (with tracking), and brushing up your automated emails are just a few ways you can use data to drive more sales over busy times, like the holiday season. Get started today by deciding which numbers matter to you the most and getting your command center in order – and let us know in the comments how you get on!