Guest Post by Connor Cartwright, blogger at BlueFire PR, LLC

'Tis the season to be merry but if you are worried about how your business will fare during the holidays, you might feel more bah humbug than ho ho ho. Fear not. According to Experian Marketing Services, consumers are expected to spend 11 percent more during the 2013 holiday season than they did in 2012. So how can you boost your chances of increasing sales for your company? And where are the best places to focus your marketing efforts?

holiday sales

Make Sure Your Website Has a Holiday Section

Don’t treat this time of year like it’s nothing special. Your customers are not just shopping, they are holiday shopping. Even if your prices are not any different than other sales throughout the year, make sure your customers know these are your holiday deals. That way they will be more comfortable shopping with you and not worried about better deals that haven't been released. Either revamp your entire site to have a holiday theme or add a holiday specials section. For Black Friday at Macy’s, the retailer has developed an entire subsite devoted just to its Black Friday deals. The site is designed to assist customers in discovering what the department store is going to discount.

Add Cyber Monday and Black Friday Terms to Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

There are expected to be more Black Friday shoppers this year than in the last five years, states, which also reports that 65 percent of shoppers plan to look online before they head out to the stores. If your store does not show up when customers search for your products for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you are going to be off their radar and could lose out on potential sales.

Get Social

The holidays are a fantastic time to be social, so why not promote them on your social networks? Overhaul all your social networks with holiday-themed graphics. If you are offering anything storewide, like an extra 20 percent off or free shipping, then make that information front and center on your holiday graphics. The DB5 Twitter 2013 Holiday Shopping Study showed that 64 percent of holiday shoppers made their purchase because they saw something about it on Twitter.

Run Contests

It is the season of giving after all. If you really want to increase your social chances, do not just rely on your social media campaigns to spread the word. Instead, run contests. Give your stuff away, but make your followers share your deals. Tap into their networks too. And use multiple networks. Pinterest is a great network to reach your customers. You can show off your deals, and have shoppers pin what they like and share it on Facebook or tweet it to their friends and family. Make short Instagram videos that are product reviews or even show how happy people are to receive your items as gifts.

Adopt a Sense of Urgency

One of the great things from a selling perspective for the holidays is that you know what the deadline is for shoppers. Unlike other sales you may run where you have flexibility to set an end date, the days people have to buy what you sell for the holidays is set in stone. Make sure they know how long they have to shop. Not just when the holiday is, but what your shipping times are. The more they are reminded about when they need to order, the more likely they will not put it off. It can be a fine line between gentle reminder and harassment, so be tactful. Have a countdown on your site for various shipping times. Send out emails with some of your top offers and when they need to be ordered to make your shipping windows.

If planned properly, your current and potential customers will see your holiday offerings in multiple places. Know exactly what your deals are and how long they have to meet your deadlines. As long as you stay in front of them, you can feel confident that you will grab some of that 11 percent increase projected for 2013. That will keep that lump of coal far away from your stocking.

About the Author: Connor blogs about the retail industry when he is not remodeling his mid-century modern home.