Improve Your Holiday eCommerce Sales – 10 Tips

Summer time for an ecommerce web designer should be preparing web site for the holiday season. This includes A/B testing, SEO and making any final design changes. Here’s an interesting article that can when redoing your site for the upcoming holiday season…

Top 10 Tips to Boost Holiday SalesReprinted from Offermatica Blog

The holiday sales season is drawing near, complete with dramatic increases in sales — and the accompanying fear among online marketers of doing any testing that might jeopardize those increased numbers.

Giving in to fear and avoiding such a smash-hit tactic as testing, however, can be far more risky during the holidays than continuing to test. After all, the testing of promotions and content during off-peak times results in significant increases in ROI. Imagine, then, now much more you can bring in by testing during the busiest time of year.

Testing technology, too, has changed in recent years, so that web operators no longer need to fear that making changes, testing those changes and optimizing for the best results will put any real restriction on their daily traffic or run the risk of a system-wide failure.

So rather than avoiding testing because of fear, take control of your site and your traffic by testing any or all of the following things:

1. Landing page merchandising

There is nothing more important on a retail landing page than the way the merchandise is displayed. What products you show, how many items are displayed, whether photographs are large or small, the quality and quantity of copy all benefit from aggressive testing and optimization.

You might also consider testing how products are grouped: Try listing best-selling items versus most popular items versus most-often-recommended items to see which is most effective in prompting visitors to buy.

2. Percentage off versus dollar savings, and other promotions

Customers often respond differently to promotions, depending upon how it is framed, even when the ultimate price is the same (e.g., 10% off a $100 purchase versus $10 off a $100 purchase).

You can also test free shipping — the most popular form of holiday promotion last season — along with the threshold for free shipping, to see if the resulting boost in sales makes up for the loss in shipping fees.

Test, too, how long you offer free shipping. The promotion matters a lot in, say, early December, but it ceases to matter later in the month. Last-minute shoppers tend to make purchases no matter the cost. So at what point do you stop offering free shipping? On December 15th? December 18th? There’s no guessing.

Divide your traffic and show visitors two offers: 90 percent of them get free shipping, while 10 percent do not. The branch of the test receiving free shipping will most likely show increased sales over the non-free shipping branch.

As the holiday approaches, you’ll reach a point when free shipping stops having an effect, when the two branches begin to converge. At that point you can change the promotion, stop the free shipping, and save yourself a bundle without sacrificing sales.

3. Encouraging customers to “act now”

You can often improve conversions by generating a sense of urgency among visitors. Test different scarcity messaging like “Limited Time Only” vs. “While Supplies Last” vs. “Offer expires November 31st.”

4. Reflecting paid search content

Create customized landing pages for your 5 top-performing keywords. Then, make sure that the landing page content obviously relates to the search terms. You might repeat the search phrase verbatim, or reorganize your content to narrow the focus of the page.

It helps to consider the intention of visitors who arrive using those top 5 keywords. For brand-specific keywords, you might test an offer-based landing page more focused on selling, as brand-specific words sometimes indicate a higher level of intent.

Category words can indicate that a visitor is in a browsing mode. They might need more trust statements and branding elements.

5. Reinforcing your affiliates

Reminding customers where they came from can also increase conversion, especially if a visitor stands to gain by spending money with you (e.g. Upromise).

Try showing the logo of the affiliate to those who arrive from affiliate sites. Test size and placement of logo, as well as reinforcement copy.

6. Promotions in email marketing campaigns

You don’t have to limit yourself to testing a promotion within the email itself. You can also carry the promotion forward onto the website, customizing it so that only the people who received the offer will see the offer, and so that they will see only the specific offer that they received in the email.

If you plan to run a free shipping promotion in an email campaign, for example, you might test various thresholds to see which brings optimum results. Offer A might be, “Spend $100 dollars and get free shipping,” while Offer B would be, “Spend $150 and get free shipping.”

On the website itself, those who saw Offer A would see it reinforced on the site, while those who saw Offer B would see that offer.

7. Call-to-action

On paid search and email campaigns, test “Learn More” or “Start Now” versus “Buy.” When writing your call-to-action copy, finish the “I would like to…” sentence.

8. Gift suggestions

Test whether gift suggestions affect sales in your particular environment. If so, you might begin testing what you yourself think will be a great gift idea. Is it really something people want to give? Keep back-up ideas on hand in the event that what you think they want to give turns out to be wrong.

The sooner you can move to what people actually want to buy and to give, the better.

9. Increasing trust during checkout

Test placing confidence information (return policy, privacy policy, customer service number, recent awards, etc.) and security trustmarks (TrustE, VeriSign, HackerSafe, etc.) above the fold and in combination with each other to see if you can reduce abandonment rates.

10. Radical simplification

Yes, cross-sells and other content may increase your visitors’ average order value, but there may be a downside — in some cases, superfluous content distracts customers from completing their purchase.

Lost revenue from abandoned shopping carts may exceed revenue gained from cross-selling. Test it and find out!

As the holidays approach, of course, it makes no sense to rewrite the entire holiday shopping experience by fiddling with the checkout process or offering a slew of new products. But by making certain assumptions about merchandising, categorization and promotion, and then being willing to test those assumptions with customers, you can improve revenue far beyond your expectations.

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