Tips for Increasing Holiday Conversion

| By: Kristina Burbich

‘Tis the season!

It’s that time of year again, and the holidays are swiftly approaching. Many ecommerce retailers have their holiday promotions up and running by now, if they didn’t already back in October. If you’re feeling behind, don’t panic. The beauty of the digital commerce space is that there is always room for tweaks and improvements to any campaign.

Last week, we hosted an ecommerce forum at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica along with some of our partners, including AffiliateTractionSandbox Studio, Optimizely, and Listrak. With quite an amazing turnout and opportunities to network with the retail industry’s best and brightest, we aimed our focus on a few last-minute strategies to increase conversion for the 2014 holiday season.

For those of you who were not able to attend, below is a quick recap of tips ecommerce retailers can focus on to improve holiday sales.

1. Engage + Guide Your Customers

It seems obvious, but the holidays can be a very stressful time of year for shoppers. Your customers may be overwhelmed by their gift lists, searching for the perfect present for that  “picky mother-in-law” or the “dad who has everything.” Make holiday shopping easy for them by engaging and guiding customers into making an informed purchase decision, and you will have a much greater chance of winning that sale. Also, don’t forget to look at your data and analytics to see what kinds of customer engagement work best for your brand and demographics.

  • Gift Guides by Price: Holiday Bargains under $99, Stocking Stuffers under $10. etc.
  • Customer Segments: Gifts for the Dad who has Everything, Must-haves for Mom, For the Aspiring Chef, etc.
  • By Theme: Last-Minute Gift Ideas, Stocking Stuffers, etc.
  • Offer bundled products, cross-sells, and up-sells (a great way to increase your AOV)
  • Make offers discoverable throughout your site and easy to access. Align the creative of your ads, email and landing pages across all touch-points and be consistent.
  • Leverage social proof: “36% of Americans will consult social media content for around 30% of holiday purchases.”
  • Start engaging with your customers through live chat, especially when selling higher ticket items like cameras or electronics, and watch your conversion opportunities increase.

2. Create a Sense of Urgency

The customer is more in control than ever before. As a retailer, you still have the opportunity to give them that extra nudge to convert. The majority of consumers have been conditioned to expect sales and discounts, especially around the holidays. They know they can shop around, research online, and find the best deal. Psychology triggers and wording still play into getting them to convert on your site over those of your competitors.

  • Use messaging on key shopping pages such as Guaranteed “Deliver by/order by” dates, “Only x left in stock,” “While supplies last,” etc.
  • Match holiday messaging to cart abandonment emails.
  • Make sure to update any triggered emails to include key information like holiday shipping cut-off times or specific holiday-only offers.
  • Clearly communicate and remind your customers of shipping cut-off dates.
  • Leverage your social channels to communicate holiday urgency or offer messaging.

3. Provide Incentives

Customers are always looking for deals, especially during holiday shopping. Tailor your offers for what is specific to your brand and customer profiles. Look at your data, see what’s working, and then create content and offers around that.

  • Offer free gift wrapping, gift messaging, contests or giveaways to build your email list.
  • Don’t forget about your best customers! It costs about 3x’s the amount of money to acquire a new customer and 1x to focus on your current customer or reactivate an existing one. Reward your most loyal customers by creating exclusive emails specifically for them, such as early holiday sale access, special items just for them,  or custom coupon codes.
  • Allow your customers to earn a gift card or coupon code toward a purchase in 2015 with their purchase during the holiday season. This not only gives them an incentive to purchase now, but also encourages them to return in the new year to purchase again.

4. Emphasize Shipping Messaging + Expectations

According to Forrester Research, 61% of online shoppers prefer to shop with a retailer that offers free shipping than one that doesn’t. Additionally, an Econsultancy report showed that 24% of online shoppers in 2012 avoided an online purchase because delivery options didn’t suit them. Obviously shipping is a large concern for customers, so be sure to address those concerns during the holiday season.

  • Remove fears associated with completing the purchase.
  • Provide clear shipping details, deadline dates and delivery guarantees.
  • Make the return policy easy to find and understand.
  • Increase post-purchase communication, provide order tracking, and make these follow-up messages easy to find within a consumer’s inbox.

5. Remember: Searchers Convert Better

Customers who search for products on your site convert 3 times better than customers who do not search, according to Econsultancy. Is your ecommerce search prepared to handle those holiday shoppers?

  • Make sure that any items featured in your holiday offers, products and promotions are searchable on your site.
  • Create custom search results and link them to landing pages for better conversion.
  • Run daily search reports to see if you are missing out on any opportunities to create new categories, offers or promotions.

And don’t forget…

Support + Q/A Testing

Now is the time to be extra meticulous. Holidays generally mean more traffic on your site, which can also increase the chances for things to go wrong.

  • Prepare for the holiday rush by setting up 24/7 support.
  • Leverage the partners and tools you have access to for support.
  • Test your campaigns, promotions, and coupon codes early. In other words, don’t wait until the day before Thanksgiving to see if your Black Friday links are working!
  • Sync up with your customer service department to monitor social media channels and reports from live chat, if you have it.

Analytics and Measurement

  • Make sure your analytics and tracking are set up and working properly, especially if you have recently upgraded from classic to universal analytics.
  • Start with a baseline. Compare your previous holiday performance and see if there are insights you can glean from this data, like subject lines, frequency, offers that worked or didn’t work, and social chatter.
  • Monitor campaign effectiveness. Be aware of how your campaigns are performing and make changes if you see that something isn’t working.
  • Be reactive. Do you have a backup plan in place if anything goes wrong? Are any extended offers or apology emails ready to go? Are 404s in place?

Whatever happens this holiday season, it’s important to stay focused and true to your brand, monitor your analytics, and continue strong until 2015. Cheers to surpassing your revenue estimates this holiday season! Happy shopping.

Photo via Flickr

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[rendertool][type_person][prop_name]Kristina Burbich[/prop_name] is [prop_job]Commerce Strategy Consultant[/prop_job][/type_person] at [type_corp][type_corp][prop_desc][prop_name]Corra[/prop_name], a [prop_loc]New York[/prop_loc] and [prop_loc]Los Angeles[/prop_loc] based digital agency [prop_mkffr]that delivers high performing ecommerce solutions for fashion, lifestyle and beauty brands and retailers.[/prop_mkffr] With a team of more than 100 ecommerce strategy, creative and technology professionals Corra delivers rich shopping experiences across all channels and devices by balancing the right amounts of branding, commerce and content for each client. Corra is trusted by retailers of all sizes to implement and support Magento Enterprise, Demandware and hybris platforms. [/prop_desc][/type_corp][/rendertool]