THE BLOG

Preparing Your Online Presence for the Holiday Rush

10/11/2013 11:29 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

When it comes to your online presence, do you know where your company stands? That doesn't just mean, "Do you have a website and does it look good?" An online presence encompasses many different areas that you might not be taking into consideration. When you're preparing for the increase in sales and website traffic you will see during the holidays, are you including managing your online presence as part of that plan? Whether you're an online retailer, brick and mortar powerhouse or a global ecommerce business, it's important to have a grasp on best practices for your online presence. Here are five things to consider when it comes to your online business:

  • Customer support saviors - Having a team handle support questions - even if that's just you - is the first step. Your customer service responses should be prompt, concise, smart and helpful. When customers have questions, they expect answers, and fast. Be prepared to handle these inquiries quickly and efficiently. Most people remember the way a problem was handled, not the problem itself.
  • Social media maintenance - So you have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account, great! Now what? These channels are key in reaching your audience, amplifying your message and addressing concerns or issues with your customers. When people have a problem, they will take to the interwebs to express their issues. Make sure you are responding to the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to current and potential customers. Social media channels are like a second customer service center. If customers don't have the time to write or call in, expect to see their comments online. Social channels are easy to navigate and manage, so be prepared to respond in a timely manner.
  • The more you know - Having an easy-to-find knowledge base is invaluable. Though most people still like to have their answers addressed immediately, some people - gasp! - like to check out the help sections of a website to be sure they are navigating a site correctly. Making sure you have a solid FAQs section or a knowledge base will keep your customer support tickets down and provide an easy location to direct those who do write in. Already have a knowledge base or FAQs section? Great! Is it updated and correct? Now's the time to do that.
  • Balancing the load - According to Statist.com, in 2012, U.S. online shoppers spent 1.47 billion U.S. dollars. With that number expected to increase in 2013, you don't want to be left behind with a slow or unavailable website. Make sure your site is prepared for heavy spikes in traffic from visitors all over the world. There are many website performance and security options out there, some starting at free. Signing up for these services can help you sleep at night knowing your online business is running smoothly. Make sure you sign up for a service that provides you alerts as well. You don't want your customers being the first to tell you your site is offline. Services like Pingdom and Monitis will monitor websites and let you know if it's underperforming, or just not working at all.
  • Mobile, mobile, mobile - It seems to be that all we've been hearing about lately are mobile trends, but we can't deny that making purchases and browsing from our phones has made our lives exponentially better. Making sure your site is mobile ready is a key to capitalizing on this trend. According to Statista.com, 17.4 percent of global web traffic comes from a mobile device. Making an effort to mobilize your site or creating an app to support your service will help you to reach the mobile audience who is most likely leaving their shopping cart before they hit "purchase." Services like Bluetrain Mobile and Duda Mobile make it simple to convert an existing website into a mobile site.

As the holidays approach, it's important to have an understanding of your online presence and be prepared for the rush you are guaranteed to see this year -- because an overwhelming amount of traffic to your website is actually a great problem to have.