Halloween is over, so you know what that means: it's time to prepare for Christmas! As the traditional 12 Days of Christmas carol illustrates, no one can prepare for the holiday rush in a single day. But what good are French hens and calling birds to your eCommerce site? Read on because it just may surprise you.
We have tied the entire traditional Christmas carol to the modern day eCommerce experience with 12 tips to make sure your site is ready for the onslaught of holiday shoppers. (Feel free to sing along!)
12 Drummers Drumming Up Business
The first step towards a successful holiday season is bringing customers to your site. An effective way to attract your potential customer is to use creative content. This begins with original and engaging content on social media as well as through marketing and blog posts.
Offering valuable content on social media, whether through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or other sources, can increase customer engagement. This holiday season, why not start a Twitter campaign to drive customers to your site? Even something as simple as encouraging your customers to share their purchases on social media can help increase traffic to your site during the holiday rush.
Blogging, of course, is another way to use compelling content to entice shoppers to your site. Creating a voice for your company through blogs, as opposed to strictly promotional blogging, can increase customer loyalty and conversions. Creating a holiday blog series that allows your customers to better get to know your brand would be an effective way to drive traffic and increase conversions this holiday season.
Check out this ebook from SLI Systems for more ideas on creative content, including how to use pictures, videos and site search to drive sales.
11 Pipers Piping
So, your customers have come to your site and entered their email information. Now it’s time to make some noise! Don’t give your potential customer the chance to forget about you. The easiest way to stay on your customer’s mind is through email campaigns.
Emails are one of the more crucial ways to engage your customer, especially during holiday shopping season. They can help drive traffic to your site as well as increase sales. But you’re going to have to do more than just write the perfect subject line. Now is time to step up your campaign. During the holiday rush, when dozens of retailers are competing for the business of the same customers, a well-crafted email campaign can make the difference in clicking though to your site or clicking “delete.” Personalization is key to driving sales, especially in emails. Messages with incentives to purchase or suggested items specific to your customer are easy and successful ways to make a sale.
Bronto Software recently released a list of email- and marketing-specific tips to gear up for the holidays. Using information from last year’s holiday sales is a good place to start. Compare numbers to help determine which campaigns can be reused and which need a little work.
Bronto also has a great whitepaper full of more ideas to get your holiday email marketing campaign moving.
10 Lords a-Leaping to Your Site
Congratulations! You have achieved your first holiday campaign goal: traffic is flowing to your site. Due to your creative marketing efforts, valuable content, and well-executed email campaigns, you have your customers leaping over to your site. But there is no time to pat yourself on the back because the next challenge you face is to make sure your site is capable of handling that traffic. No matter how elegantly designed or user-friendly your site is, if performance is down your customers will leave.
A study by PEER 1 Hosting found that “81% of consumers expect faultless online shopping experiences.” With the possibility of 8 out of 10 customers leaving your site because of a sub-par shopping experience, getting your hosting in order is crucial for the holiday rush.
The PEER 1 study also revealed that 65% of customers have abandoned an online shopping cart due to poor site performance and 52% said that a poor website experience “makes them think less of the brand.” Those statistics alone should make you want to double-check your hosting capabilities before the holiday shopping season.
If, after evaluating hosting options and current capabilities, you decide your store still needs a boost, then it is time to replatform. There’s no time to wait with this, because Cyber Monday will be here before you know it! Your sales results will thank you for replatforming while you still can, instead of waiting until after the holiday season.
9 Ladies Dancing
How important is it to get those ladies dancing this holiday season? Studies have associated a 7% loss in revenue for every second of site load delay. That's money you can't afford to be losing this holiday season.
Additionally, from the aforementioned PEER 1 study results, two of the top three online shopping frustrations are slow web page load times and interruptions/timeouts.
But don't dance yourself into a tizzy just yet; tackling site speed issues can be easier than you think. Our IT guru, Derrik Nyomo, wrote a great guide to improving site speed. The tips don't require a tech specialist to complete and include things like reducing the size of images and checking log files for errors. Other useful steps to take to speed up your site are to enable caching, flat products and catalogs, and to install only those modules that are necessary.
8 Maids a-Milking
Now that you have your customer’s attention and business, how can you milk the situation to increase your revenue? Upselling and cross-selling are great ways to get the customers you already have to get what they want while increasing your revenue.
An article from Econsultancy cites a statistic that up selling can drive more than 4% of sales. As the holidays approach and your customers are purchasing for others instead of themselves, upselling can make quite a difference in your sales results. After all, who doesn’t want to give their loved ones a bigger and better gift?
Whether it’s something as simple as suggesting batteries along with this year’s hottest toy, or more complex, like coordinating accessories for the dress your customer is buying, cross-selling is a great way to up the order value of your customer’s purchase. In fact, research from Predictive Intent has shown that suggesting cross-sells at checkout can increase sales by 3%.
While these two techniques can be extremely helpful, they are only successful when they are executed in a thoughtful manner. This includes truly personalized and relevant product recommendations, not just pushing the flashiest, most expensive items.
7 Swans a-Swimming and 6 Geese a-Laying
When purchasing merchandise online, it can be tough for customers to know whether the products are a gem or a dud; a swan or a goose, if you will. Updated, descriptive, and relevant product descriptions and imagery can make all the difference in helping your customer find the perfect “swan.”
Imagine shopping in a brick and mortar store and finding a beautiful leather handbag, but it’s enclosed in a glass case. You can look at it but not see how many pockets are on the interior or, say, rub your face on it (just me?). That is what online shopping would be without product descriptions and informational pictures.
So before the holiday rush hits, take a look at your product descriptions and pictures. Are they unique, enticing and, above all, accurate? If not, it’s time for an update because the last thing you want to land this holiday season is a goose egg. According to Page Traffic Buzz, your products need not only accurate, but also unique descriptions in order to differentiate from other sites and increase your search engine visibility. Their article also claims that improved content for product descriptions has been associated with a conversion increase of up to 30%.
5 Golden Rings
Although accurate and updated product descriptions and pictures are helpful on their own, they work hand-in-hand with customer reviews to make the sale. Even better than receiving five golden rings would be to see five-star reviews for products on your site. Giving your customers the chance to rate your products can be hugely beneficial for your business during the upcoming holiday season.
Customer generated content, like reviews, is great for your site because it boosts your SEO value. According to Brick Marketing, customer reviews provide more content for search engines, target long tail keywords, and increase your click through rate.
While Search Engine Optimization is important, in business it’s all about the bottom line. A study from Econsultancy revealed that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site with user reviews, and 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. The study also says that, according to Reevoo, customer reviews are associated with an 18% increase in sales.
4 Calling Birds
So, your potential customers have checked out your updated product descriptions, read customer reviews, and placed items in their shopping carts. But what if your customer leaves the site without checking out? This is a great time to use your email skills and send out a cart abandonment email campaign.
Retailers lose $18 billion due to shopping cart abandonment every year. That is a statistic that you can’t afford to contribute to this holiday season.
According to an infographic from Get Elastic, every single cart abandonment email that is sent delivers over $5 in revenue. That infographic includes other important stats such as:
- Over 1/8 of cart abandonment emails are clicked
- Over 1/3 of those clicks lead to a purchase on the site
- The average order value of purchases made following cart abandonment emails is 19% higher than typical purchases
If you have followed all of the previous tips, then cart abandonment email campaigns can be a great last addition to boost your revenue this holiday season, as well as year round.
3 French Hens
We’re going to be honest with you here: we have no idea what purpose French hens serve. Are they livestock? Are they for exhibition? Why would you want three of them? Even more confusing than French hens is sales tax.
Between sales tax holidays, and differences in cities and counties as well as states, selling and shipping to customers across the country (or around the world) can be incredibly complicated and nuanced. If any of these specifications are overlooked, whether intentionally or accidentally, your company is vulnerable to a host of legal issues. Do as much research as possible and consult the professionals.
A pair of turtledoves is an ultimate example of true love. The bond between them is not unlike the relationship between a devoted shopper and their failsafe eCommerce site.
Although a large portion of your new customers this holiday season will be shopping for gifts, they may find something they like for themselves as well. Now is the time to establish a solid relationship with new shoppers by engaging them and encouraging their return to your site.
As our own Gian Genovesi discussed in his article, The 4 Pillars of Interactive Marketing, Customer Lifetime Value benefits greatly from rewarding customer loyalty. This can be in the form of reward programs, email campaigns, or members-only sales. By re-engaging previously converted customers in a memorable (but not annoying) way, your new holiday season customers can become year-round shoppers.
And now for the pay off; what does it truly mean to be the partridge in the pear tree?
If you have followed the previous 11 tips, then at this point you should have the ultimate gift: one happy customer who likes to visit your site and take advantage of the fruits of your labor. Not only does that one happy customer spend more and return to your site, they refer you to others. Whether that’s by word of mouth to family and friends, through positive feedback on social media, or by leaving five-star reviews on your site, a happy customer is the ultimate marketing resource.
So, here is to receiving a partridge this holiday season!