Auld Lang Sigh! 3 New Year’s E-Commerce To-Dos

Let’s take a break from the stress of the holiday season and start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Drop some vices, hit the gym, find a new job… What? That stresses you out, too? OK, let’s instead explore something between the pressures at work and personal anxiety that we all experience as the year ends.

The calm after the holiday storm, also known as January, is filled with the best “new year, new attitude” intentions, though many marketing teams struggle to buckle down and actually get things done after the rush of the holidays. Many folks are simply swamped trying to catch up from being out of the office for a few days. Some just need a month to recover from the long hours worked during the holiday months.

To help get you back into the swing of all things e-commerce, I’m going to share three high-priority, low-impact tasks for you and your team to tackle during the first month of 2015.

1. Prepare a Partner Plan

One lesson the 2014 holiday season taught us all is that consumers are not just shopping on their mobile devices; they are actually using them to make purchases. Thirteen percent of Black Friday sales were made using smartphones, nearly doubling sales from last year, according to a report by IBM. Tablet sales only jumped 2 percent to represent 16 percent of Black Friday sales. Even if mobile commerce was a priority for you in 2014, I guarantee there are still ways to make the mobile experience better for your customers. Set up meetings with your partners to discuss how they can help you go beyond simply being optimized for mobile devices. You will probably find that many of your partners have integrated services that can help you analyze how folks are using mobile devices to shop and buy from your brand. This is the time of the year to start testing different user experiences that will help your shoppers find products they want, submit the order, and have an engaging post-purchase experience regardless of the device (or devices) they use or whether they are shopping on your site or in a store.

2. Audit Automated Messages

There is a downside to the “set it and forget it” convenience of automated messages. These triggered messages will enhance the customer experience, keep shoppers engaged, and drive sales without anyone having to closely monitor them. But, this also means these messages can be ignored, appear dated, and lose some of their power if not occasionally reviewed for ways to bring them up to date. Get your team together to audit all the automated messages you currently send. Don’t be surprised if some of the emails are severely out of date, contain links that don’t work, or are just plain ugly! Use this meeting to get these messages up to date and develop a plan to make your triggered message program more robust and sophisticated. Expand single messages, such as a welcome email, into a series of messages that goes into more detail about the benefits of buying from your brand. Take your cart reminder emails to the next level by targeting customers based on the product category abandoned or the dollar value of the cart. There’s always a way to make these messages better for your customers and your bottom line.

3. Prime Your 2015 Holiday Plan

Holiday 2015 is probably the last thing you want to think about right now, but this is the best time to lay the foundation for your next holiday plan. While holiday 2014 is still top-of-mind, document what worked, what didn’t, mistakes that happened, unpredicted shifts in shopping, last-minute decisions, etc. Organize reports that were used during the holidays so they are easier to access and understand when you are ready to start a more formal plan. Screenshot your competitors’ emails so you are able to quickly compare how strategies and promotions measured up. You’ll be glad you took the time to get everything organized when the time comes to truly start building out your holiday plan.

One thing is certain as we march into 2015: The e-commerce landscape will continue to evolve and consumers will expect more from retailers. Dig deep and find some motivation to tackle these three tasks to ensure you are maximizing the potential for your online marketing, keeping customers interested, and starting the new year off with a bang.

Related reading