INside Performance Marketing
How to Optimise your Online Store for the Holiday Season
Image Credit  Mike McCune Creative Commons license

How to Optimise your Online Store for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is just around the corner for online retailers and before you know it Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be upon us. To make sure you get the most out of the traffic you have worked hard to acquire, we have put together 12 tips from reducing bounce rate to sending abandoned cart emails that will increase your conversion and sales over the holiday season without requiring any additional resources or marketing spend.

1. Optimise Your Online Store for Mobile

Did you know?

20% of online shoppers use mobile phones or tablets to do their Christmas shopping.

Are you enabling your customers to enjoy online shopping on the go? Not having a mobile optimised online store means lost revenue this holiday season, so be sure to optimise your online store for all devices well ahead of the rush. Remember to take into consideration the small screens your customers will be browsing your site through. Also display top lists on category pages and search related recommendations on search pages to narrow down long lists into the most relevant items. With less time spent on the site through mobile, it is vital to be showing the most relevant recommendations as early on as possible.

How?

Simplify all content on your site. Less is truly more in a mobile friendly online store. Add space between buttons and links to easen usage on touch screens, and remember to make the checkout hassle free.

2. Reduce Bounce Rate - Display the Selection in your Storefront

Did you know? 

Visitors take on average 3 seconds to decide whether they stay or leave from your site.

Bounce Rates will increase over the holiday season. Most shoppers are in a hurry to find the perfect item in your store and many shoppers will be first time visitors not necessarily familiar with your brand or the breadth of what your store offers. Make sure you display the best selling items in your store across the major categories as soon as a visitor arrives as the best selling items always convert best!

How? 

Add automated top lists on your front page filtering recommendations to display, for example, best selling items over the last seven days from each of the major categories to keep your storefront up to date.

3. Increase your PPC campaign ROI with Landing Page Recommendations

Did you know? 

Landing page recommendations have a CTR of 5%.

During the holiday season PPC budgets soar, but instead of increasing your marketing spend, concentrate on increasing your ROI of PPC campaigns by converting the visitors who actually land on your site? People who  search are out to find something specific so why not show customers products other customers arriving from the same source went on to buy. By adding landing page recommendations based on the search term bringing the customer to your site, your customer is immediately met by highly relevant recommendations.

How? 

Add landing page recommendations on your site, so customers arriving through a certain PPC AD are recommended items other customers have gone on to look at or buy when using the same search term.

4. Leverage Data You have Collected to Convert

Did you know? 

Customers who are displayed personalized recommendations can convert 65% better.

Buying cycles are getting longer and more complicated: users are spending more time researching products, browsing your competition, comparing prices and sharing with friends. In fact, less than 15% of users buy on first contact with site. Competition will only intensify over the holiday period so it is important to leverage the data you have collected about your customers’ previous interactions on your store and display personalised recommendations to immediately show highly relevant items specific to the customer as soon as they return to your store. This will not only make it much easier for customers to resume shopping in your store but also delight a returning customer.

How?

Add personalised recommendations to your frontpage suggesting items the visitor has earlier viewed but not bought, giving more weight to items viewed repeatedly and for items that have been added to a shopping cart without being checked-out. e.g.  as: “Items you recently browsed” or “Still interested in these?”

5. Make Shopping Easy - Suggest Gifts in Different Price Brackets

Did you know? 

87% of all holiday shoppers bought gifts online in 2013.

Millions of people online are looking for the perfect gifts this holiday season. They are browsing several online stores simultaneously - most likely including your competition - to find what they are looking for and in most cases they have a specific budget in mind. Make it as easy as possible to find your top converting products over the holiday season by adding a ‘gifts’ section on your site showcasing best-sellers within the different price ranges.  

How? 

Create a Gifts page with columns or rows displaying bestsellers in different price ranges to help your customer find the most fitting products for each recipient. Nosto offers the ability to filter products by price, category, brands or any other custom tags in your top lists.

6. Remove Fears Associated with Completing the Purchase

Did you know? 

In 2012, 24% of online shoppers avoided an online purchase because delivery options did not suit them. 

Make sure that when holiday shoppers find products they want to buy, you make it as quick and easy as possible for them to complete the purchase. During the holidays customers will be extra careful only to buy gifts they can be sure will be under the tree when Santa arrives, so display your shipping times and methods clearly on your site. Be also sure to make your return policies clear: no one wants to be stuck with unwanted gifts on boxing day that they can't return.

How?  

Add a countdown to next delivery on your main navigation as well as a short description of your holiday return policies.

7. Do not Distract your Customers - Small but important changes to Product Pages

Did you know? 

The CTR of cross-selling recommendations on a product page is 6.9%.

We love automated recommendations and so should you, but remember to use them correctly. Product pages are meant to display a product a visitor is interested in buying, not confuse them by suggesting items in unrelated categories. So, if a customer is on the lookout for snowboards, display other snowboards with slightly different features (cross-sell) and showcase more expensive snowboards to encourage upsell. This will help the customer find what they are looking for more easily and allows for a more confident purchase with a reduced chance of a return. The chance to make additional sales will come later.

How?

Add cross and upselling recommendations (using dynamic pricing filters) within the same category on your product page.

8. Offer Complementary Products - Increase AOV on Cart Page  

Did you know? 

Shopping Cart Recommendations are one of the most powerful cross-selling.

Yes, now you should allow the customer to “buy the whole set”. When customers arrive on the cart page they are ready to complete a purchase. In order to increase AOV, display other items that go together with the product/s already added to the shopping basket. A recommendation of related products to those already in the basket is like a sales person asking you if you would need a new pair of goggles with your brand new snowboard. Great service and a chance to increase revenues! Another great feature is adding stocking-filler recommendations on the cart page to encourage impulse buys - like the last-minute gift you forgot for Uncle Charlie - at checkout.

How? 

Add a list of complementary products on your cart page to make sure your customers find everything they did not even realise they needed/wanted. 

9. People Who Search Convert Better - Enhance Conversion on a Search Page

Did you know? 

Customers who search for products on your site convert 3 times better than customers who do not search.

70% of e-commerce sites require users to search the exact term for the product type that the website uses. If a customer fails to search using the exact phrases or product number, search might fail to return relevant products, or worse, no products at all. Items are also often listed in an irrelevant order, perhaps based on product ID, that has no relevancy to the used search term at all.

The CTR of search related recommendations such as “people who searched for (term) went on to buy these items” is a whopping 13%, so why not add these to your site to aid navigation?

How? 

Add search related recommendations displaying a suggestion “people who searched for (search term) went on to buy…” to your search page.

10. Collect Email Addresses to Bridge the Valley of Death

Did you know? 

Personalised triggered emails boast an average open rate of 51% compared to an average open rate of 10% for standard newsletters.

The holidays are great for increased sales, but what happens when Santa is long gone? To reduce the decrease in sales you would normally experience after the holiday season, start collecting email addresses of your visitors during high season. This way you can send out automated We Miss You emails to entice your customers back to your online store when your new spring collection arrives.

How?

Begin by sending out ‘We Miss You’ emails and add coupon codes to your personalized emails to entice people back for their holiday shopping and lay the groundwork now for the January sales.

11. Make the Most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Add a Personal Touch

Did you know?

Cyber Monday 2013 was the biggest online shopping day in US e-commerce history with sales of $1.74 billion USD.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two peak days when you really get the chance to kick-start your holiday season sales. Make sure you get a head start on your competitors by announcing your discounts early in an email or newsletter. By giving customers a glimpse of what’s to come with recommendations based on what they have been browsing or have bought previously, you will entice them back to your store on the big day with highly relevant products. Not only is this going to increase your sales, but it is also exemplary customer service. Remember that when you promote special discounts, these should be communicated immediately on the front page.

How? 

1. Send out an email to your customers announcing your discounts. 

2. Customise the content with personalized recommendations so every customer is greeted with items they have previously browsed especially if they are on discount.  

12. Send Abandoned Cart Emails

Did you know? 

The total cost of abandoned shopping carts for online retailers has been estimated at more than $18 billion per year while abandoned cart emails generate on average $3.95 (€3) per sent email.

On average 70% of carts are abandoned prior to purchase, which is a huge opportunity cost. An item your customer was close to buying once is highly relevant to that customer, so why not remind them about what they might have forgotten also taking the opportunity to suggest related or matching items at the same time to increase the likelihood of click through and eventual conversion.

How? 

Set up abandoned cart emails by Nosto in less than an hour and start sending out emails immediately. Below the abandoned cart contents add personalised recommendations suggesting items that the customer has already browsed but not yet bought, or simply cross- or up-sell by displaying items related to the ones in your customer’s basket.

Continue the conversation

Got a question or comment – tweet Isaac @isaacmoshe or comment on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Isaac Moshe

Isaac Moshe

Isaac Moshe is the Marketing Director for Nosto Solutions, a plug and play personalisation engine that enables any online retailer to deliver their customers a personalised shopping experience, increasing conversion, average order value and customer retention as a result. Free to install, the solution works with any online store and e-commerce platform and the implementation is as easy as adding Google analytics to a site. 
A serial entrepreneur with a passion for disruptive technologies, Isaac was previously co-founder and CEO of Academize, an online education company, acquired in 2012. Prior to Academize, Isaac was Founder and Managing Director at Parlay Digital, a global digital agency for Adidas, Marvel, Canon and the UK Government.

Read more from Isaac

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