Tis the Season Before the eCommerce Season
Depending on where you live in the United States, you are either experiencing a late Indian summer or feeling the first few chilling winds of fall blowing through your life. Wherever you are, if you have an eCommerce site, it is time to think about preparing for the Holiday Season, and here’s why.
The holiday season is typically the highest revenue-driving time of year for retailers — both online and offline. Average order values (AOV) are around $140 from Thanksgiving–Cyber Monday! The holiday season overall also sees a high average order value at nearly $132. This fact signals that running seasonal promotions and marketing can have a strong return on investment. Throughout the entire holiday season, conversion rates peak at 4.7%.
Research shows that consumers spend more during the winter shopping season than on all other shopping holidays combined. If you aren’t confident, your eCommerce site has fully embraced the holiday shopping spirit, follow these tips to get it ready.
It’s not a Race to the Bottom
Your eCommerce site should aim to beat the competition by offering the best experience, not the best deal. We all know shoppers are looking for bargains and discounts – but leaning on those special offers to drive customers to your site is a great way to destroy your margins. Providing your customers with a seamless, user-centered shopping experience is the long-term solution to increasing your Site’s conversion rate.
Check out Your Checkout
The final part of the customer journey should not become the shopping cart graveyard. When working with our clients, these are the most common suggestions we give to e-commerce managers when we audit a checkout process:
- Don’t ask your customers for the same information twice.
- Try to remove as many distractions as possible. These could include Promo code fields, sitewide banners, headers, and footers.
- The checkout page is the business end of the process and should be as clean as possible.
- Keep your check out process to one page
There is Something Special about the Season
It will soon be the Season of Goodwill, so this is an opportunity to show your love for your customers. Whether it is free shipping, buy one get one free, or discount codes. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to get these offers. Use all the channels at your disposal, email, social media, ads, to promote your offers. When they arrive at the Site, make the sale easy and quick.
Make it Mobile
Three out of every four dollars spent on online purchases today is done so through a mobile device. Online shoppers are even more demanding on a mobile device than when using a computer. Here are a few improvements that can increase revenue.
- Integrate digital wallets (Apple, Android, and Google pay)
- Simplify your navigation menu – only show the customer what they need
- Optimize your search functionality – provide visual search and/or voice search
Driving Traffic to Your Site
Whatever you have allocated for advertising during the Holiday Season is not enough.
PPC and competition for your best keywords can rise considerably.
Below are some best practices to follow to help optimize your email and social media marketing campaigns this holiday season.
Tell Me a Story
First, map out an email strategy that includes a plan for segmentation and frequency of messages. Build the suspense with a series of emails leading up to special dates (Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Christmas sales, etc.), and make it personal. Talk to your customers as if you’re speaking to individuals, not to a large group.
Segmentation Delivers Results.
It is essential to identify customer segments, then tailor messages accordingly. Merchants consistently see ROI boosts that justify those efforts. Customers appreciate it if they feel like you’re speaking directly to them, not on the receiving end of sales pitches to the masses. The more you understand your prospects, the better you’ll be at influencing their buying decisions.
No One Likes to Miss Out
Remember to create a sense of urgency in your email campaigns. The fear of missing a bargain can draw sales from people who might otherwise abandon a shopping cart and not return to complete the sale. Get creative: Include a countdown in your emails to let customers know how much time is left for a sale and send reminder emails before special offers end. If stock is running low on an item, let your customers know to get theirs before it sells out.
For those who have taken the trouble to sign up for your emails, make sure they feel rewarded.
Create special offers for only those that have signed up. You can do this by sending them a unique discount code when they join your mailing list. In addition, let them know in advance when you are having a sale so they can get in before the crowd comes along.
Dealing with Distractions
The Holiday Season is the time of multi-tasking and distractions, and that means carts get abandoned. To rejuvenate the sales, send out a cart abandonment email that reminds the prospective buyer that the cart is waiting where they left it and highlight the benefits of returning to complete the sale.
Get out there!
New customers will not arrive at your eCommerce site by chance. Create your content calendar months in advance to know what you’ll be communicating when it will be posted and how it will fit into your overall marketing strategy.
Specifically, it is important to have a content strategy that will generate excitement leading up to (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Day, and such). You might consider using a countdown to build anticipation leading up to a sale or increasing your social ad spend during peak shopping times. Create your content calendar months in advance, so you’ll know what you’ll be communicating when it’ll be posted and how it’ll fit into your overall marketing strategy.
Just for the Special Ones
The more interactions and engagement you can generate with your social media campaign, the more traffic you’ll be able to drive to your eCommerce site. Creating social media-only promotions can build a sense of urgency and exclusivity. Tactics like holding contests and providing special discount codes can boost sales from your social media followers.
Show Me the Data
Consumers are a fickle bunch. Rather than rely on your ongoing observations, tools like Google Trends can add value by gauging what the public wants, is searching for, and discussing. It’s easier to sell customers what they want rather than make them want something. Don’t guess about what to promote on your social channels. Make your decisions based on user research rather than leaving this to guesswork.
Can You Deliver?
People who buy things online want them delivered in as little time as possible for as cheap as possible. Your ability to deliver won’t be the same during peak holiday shopping times as during the rest of the year. It’s important that you prepare now before you have to scramble to restock product inventory the week before Black Friday. Even during the Christmas rush, there’s no good reason to let your customers down. Use these quick wins to help prepare your fulfillment, shipping, and distribution channels for this years’ chaotic holiday shopping season.
While Stocks Last
We are living through a Pandemic. Customers are stocking up for the holidays, so make sure you do too. Your records from last year will be helpful for this year’s predictions, but there’s more to Check-in with your suppliers, and how confident are you that they’ll meet their delivery targets? DO you need to rent temporary storage space to augment the fulfillment center, or can you create more space at your current location? Getting the order is just part of the sale. Delivery and support are equally important as they are an integral part of your experiential brand.