How to Profit from Seasonal Shopping April 2002

When our last newsletter was published in January, the Holiday shopping results were not yet in, but reports over the last three months have made it clear that online holiday shopping is a growing phenomenon. For example, the traffic to shopping sites for the five weeks preceding Christmas over the last 3 years has been:

Holiday season Average weekly unique visitors
1999 26,303,000
2000 34,265,000
2001 51,318,000

In terms of unique visits, there is a 50 percent increase compared with the 2000 holiday shopping season and a 95 percent increase versus 1999.
(Statistics provided by Jupiter Media Metrix). Click here for a weekly breakdown for 2001.*

In terms of actual sales revenue, online sales in the fourth quarter of 2001 totaled about USD10.5 billion, up from USD10 billion last year according to ComScore Networks (ComScore’s estimates do not include online travel sales).

Bizrate, on the other hand, estimated online spending for the fourth quarter of 2001 to be USD12.4 billion (up 35 percent on last year) and its estimate for the holiday season is USD 6.4 billion.

In order to profit from an online seasonal rush it is important to think ahead. Unfortunately, most promotion activities take a few months to kick in. However, there are some short term tactics that you can use before an upcoming lucrative season to bring the customers to you. These tactics can be used for any seasonal rush, be it for holidays, sports seasons, back to school or even events such as Formula One Racing, the World Cup Soccer or the Olympics. Below is a breakdown of some short-term marketing tactics that have immediate results, as well as long term tactics that take more time to mature.

Short-term tactics:


  • You can submit specific web pages to the Inktomi directory for under $40 each and they will add you to their database in less than 48 hours! This is great for seasonal specials. However, it is up to you to make sure that your page is well optimized to increase your potential for high rankings. In other words, the page that you submit should be about the keyphrase that you are targeting. Once you are in the Inktomi directory you can also be found in the following search engines: MSN, AOL, Overture, Hotbot, Iwon, LookSmart, About, and Espotting.


  • Starting a pay for placement campaign produces very fast results; but you can bet your laptop that you will not be the only one to bid on terms like “Christmas Gift” next December. Nevertheless, if you have a page on your site relating to something specific, it is a good idea to bid on that item in Overture when the demand is highest. Overture is also useful for seasonal specials since any changes made to a listing are posted the same day. See our previous issue for more details on pay-for-placement bidding.

Long term tactics:

Search engine and directory submissions

  • The most cost-effective way to attract traffic (even for something seasonal like ski equipment) is to work at it all year round. For example, if you have a summer collection and a winter collection of products, you are much better off having two sites instead of flip-flopping your site with the seasons. This way each site will have the whole year to climb in the search results pages and your traffic will be better with each coming year. To switch collections to accommodate each season on the same site would entail having to start from scratch at the onset of every season.

Keyword Research

  • In any search engine positioning campaign, it always pays off to conduct proper keyword research. Knowing which keywords are most in demand, and which ones are overloaded with competition, is essential to making informed decisions about which keywords to focus on.

Other interesting 2001 Holiday shopping facts:

  • In marked contrast to their offline counterparts, few online retailers slashed their prices towards the end of the holiday season. (ComScore)
  • There was a strong growth in clothing and consumer electronics sectors in particular. (ComScore)
  • The number of online holiday shoppers grew from 53 million adults in the 2000 holiday shopping season to 64 million in the 2001 holiday season. (Jupiter Media Metrix)
  • The average spend per order was up 13 percent ($126 USD from $112 USD last year). Consumers also spent an average of 27 percent more on shipping, and 87 percent of orders were delivered on time.(BizRate)

In terms of the top shopping sites, Jupiter Media Metrix provided the following list of average daily unique visitors over the five week 2001 holiday season. These top sites should give you an idea of the holiday shopping mentality.

# website 2001 Holiday Season
Average Daily Unique Visitors in the U.S.
Home/Work Combined
1 4,515,000
2 2,519,000
3 2,016,000
4 683,000
5 660,000
6 652,000
7 columbia house sites 598,000
8 588,000
9 563,000
10 toysrus 515,000
11 447,000
12 434,000
13 416,000
14 408,000
15 379,000

If you are wondering which products or services to promote, visit these sites to see what they are offering. If you can combine the right product with the right keyword, and promote it so that shoppers can find you, then you will truly profit from the public’s growing love affair with e-shopping during the holidays.

Jason Campbell

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Jason Campbell is the co-founder and President at Red Carpet Web Promotion, Inc.

Written by

Jason Campbell is the co-founder of Red Carpet Web Promotion Inc. Jason's interest in web design, search engine optimization and social network applications grew out of his studies at Concordia University in Communications Studies. Jason and his family live in the Mountain ski village of Sutton Qc. He works in both English and French languages.