holiday-season

'Tis the Season to Get Ready for Your Busiest Time of Year

  |  August 27, 2013   |  Comments

Five tactics to focus on now that will help turn holiday browsers into buyers.

Last year around this time, I talked about the importance of auditing your metrics from the prior holiday season. Assuming you took the advice and this year have your shop in order, here are five tactics to focus on now that will help turn holiday browsers into buyers.

1. Define and target seasonal customer segments. Don't get overwhelmed with how much customer data you can get your hands on. Instead, look for customer segments that you can reach immediately. One such segment could simply be called "Gift Buyers," customers who bought from you last year during the holiday season, but haven't been back until now.

Other customer segments to continue focusing on are new visitors, as well as returning visitors to your website who have never purchased. As you uncover more about your online shoppers, it's easy to lose sight of the more basic customer segments like new and returning visitors, but these simple segments can make a big difference in your overall success.

2. Use merchandising tactics to make holiday products easier to find, consider, and purchase. Every marketer wants the right products to jump off the page. One way to do this is to use product badging to make key recommendations, such as "Great Gift Idea," "Gifts For Him/Her," and "Popular Gift Pick."

By emphasizing key product attributes with badges, you can help customers make faster purchase decisions. These visual cues help website visitors make split-second decisions about whether to buy or move on. Badge with site-wide consistency so that regardless of where visitors enter or go, they see the same experiences that help them make purchase decisions.

And keep in mind that no successful merchandising tactic works by itself. Use product recommendations and visual search to reinforce the product badging used elsewhere.

Where you put your product recommendations should not be limited to specific locations on a web page. Deliver product recommendations anywhere on your website and uncover new ways to upsell and cross-sell relevant and complementary products.

Lastly, as part of your ongoing analysis of your website traffic, you'd most likely discover that a significant amount of your visitors never reach a product detail page after using your website's search engine. Consider a more visual approach to showing search results that return relevant, type-ahead results that connect visitors with the products they want.

3. Add immediacy and become more relevant by leveraging location. Consider what else you can do when you know a visitor's location. Beyond simply mentioning the visitor's hometown when someone arrives to your website, you can also trigger website experiences based on the visitor's proximity to stores, distribution centers, and competitors.

Once you get started, the possibilities will be limited only by your imagination. For instance, add banners and other messaging that indicate the exact number of days left for shoppers to qualify for various shipping methods in time for Christmas morning. You also can provide shipping deadlines by region, for instance, extending deadlines for shoppers who live close to your warehouse or distribution center.

And as the days dwindle down closer to Christmas Day, consider these other ways to maximize what's left of the holiday shopping season.

4. Provide service guarantee messaging, return policies, etc. Do you know each of your product's unique value propositions? I can tell you that it's not always price. Getting a conversion during the holidays will often come down to a service guarantee or return policy that needs to be highlighted throughout the user experience.

Test different treatments and placements, and create more value around what makes you truly stand out from the competition. One location to test is your shopping cart pages. I've witnessed firsthand that testing just a small box above the cart summary stating a 100 percent guarantee and "no questions" return policy can increase average order value by nearly 7 percent.

5. Focus more mobile and tablet traffic. Within only the past year, total combined smartphone and tablet traffic to leading e-commerce websites has increased from 15 percent to 22 percent, according to my company's Ecommerce Quarterly.

While much of your attention may be on creating a native app, retailers that focus on delivering relevant website experiences for both mobile and tablet shoppers are seeing increases in key metrics such as conversion rate and average order value.

A few mobile-friendly tweaks can go a long way. Try simplifying website navigation on mobile devices by deactivating behaviors like mouse hovers. Or streamline the checkout process by eliminating clutter and testing alternative payment options such as PayPal.

And if you're struggling with low conversion rates on smartphones, use the mobile website experience to highlight store locations or "wish list" features that can drive in-store shopping.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nathan Richter

Nathan Richter is the global director of client solutions at Monetate, where he advises top enterprise clients on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David's Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

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