We’re already in the middle of the biggest sales season of the year, and more and more of it is taking place digitally. In 2017, the number of people visiting brick and mortar stores decreased by 4% versus 2016, while online sales for Black Friday were 26% higher. And, of course, November is closely followed by the Christmas season, which can be an even more significant revenue-generator for eCommerce retailers. To maximize your eCommerce store’s slice of the high-season pie, it’s worthwhile making sure you’re prepared to make the most of the peak spending period. We’ve put together some of our top tips for making the most of the remaining holiday season, and some best practices to keep in mind for 2019 preparations.
Things You Can Do Now
Remarketing, or behavioral retargeting, is a powerful technique to advertise products and promotions to people who have already shown an interest. The period running up to the holiday season, and throughout November and early December, generates a lot of traffic from undecided “window shoppers” looking for gift ideas. Using remarketing to have the products shoppers looked at but didn’t buy advertised to them, is a powerful way to reintegrate buyers into your sales funnel and guide them to purchase from you.
Abandoned Cart Recapture
The typical abandoned cart rate for eCommerce stores is somewhere north of 60% — and that rate increases over the holiday period with all the window shoppers umming and ahhing. You won’t be able to recapture all abandoned carts, but given the billions of dollars in lost sales that they represent, it’s worth implementing a solution that offers promotions to users who have filled a cart and not made a purchase. The best way to do this is to email users who abandon carts with specific promotions. There are various ways to go about implementing abandoned cart recovery strategies on a Magento store – check out the Magento marketplace for specific solutions.
Well-Tested Holiday-Specific Content
It’s difficult to tell which landing page design, promotional content, or advertising techniques will be most effective. You should leave yourself plenty of time to split test seasonal content before the peak traffic period, but if you’re making some last-minute changes or building those on-the-fly landing pages, use the content that is tried and true.
Run A/B tests on copy and design, see which promotional strategies have the greatest response, and experiment with different audiences. While the benefit attached to finding the best conversion strategies right in the middle of your peak sales period may be less than to discovering it beforehand, it is still worthwhile to dig in than to give up. Be ready with data-driven selections.
Make the 2018 Holiday Season Your Best Yet
For many eCommerce stores, the holiday period can be the highlight of the business year. And while every strategist will tell you that the best means of achieving success is with preparation, you can still make the most of the seasonal traffic boost now by implementing tested strategies.
If you’re kicking yourself and already thinking of 2019, use these tips for preparing your eCommerce store the right way – in advance:
When Should You Begin Prep?
Every year the holiday promotional season gets earlier, with stores decked out for Christmas months before Santa is due to start his annual run. This year is no different, with holiday promotions already well underway. It’s no surprise, considering that people think about holiday shopping well in advance; trying to grab the best deals and prices for presents and gifts. Moreover, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just a short month before Christmas day, it’s in your best interest to tap into people’s desire for an early bargain.
With this being said, the age-old adage “There’s no such thing as too early” couldn’t be any more appropriate. Interest in holiday gifts tends to start to rise around late September, but there’s nothing wrong with running promotions even before this.
Since it’s already December and Black Friday seems eons ago, just tuck this piece of advise in your back pocket – or better yet, set calendar reminders for 2019 now and avoid last-minute scrambling.
Make Sure Your Site Is Prepared
The first, and most important, part of being prepared for the holiday season is to make sure your Magento site can handle the load. There’s little more disheartening than seeing your store grind to a halt because too many shoppers are filling their baskets and trying to check out.
It’s important to take a look at your store’s performance metrics over the past year and ask yourself if you have the infrastructure it takes to support the traffic you’ll be getting over the holiday period. If you’re noticing dips in speed and bottlenecking, then it may be fine to upgrade to a host that supports your requirements.
If you’re running on a budget, it may be a good idea to consider a reliable cloud hosting provider with an auto scaling mechanism. This will allow your store to increase capacity as and when it needs it.
Start promoting deals and discounts early by leveraging email lists to send personalized content. These email lists should be segmented based on a benefit analysis of your customers. Use customer purchasing history to see where each customer falls and you’ll be seeing repeat purchases in no time.
On-site banners are also a great way to offer holiday promotions ahead of time. Some creative copy and design ready in advance will set you up for success.
Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
In 2018, this one should go without saying, but there are still eCommerce stores that perform terribly on phones and tablets. 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months. That’s a huge chunk of cash to leave on the table because your store doesn’t offer an excellent mobile experience. If your Magento store doesn’t use a responsive theme, now’s the time to make the change.
Thank you to our friends at Nexcess for contributing to the Human Element holiday blog series with this insightful article! We value your partnership and are continually impressed with your breadth of knowledge.