As seen from the last 3 years, ecommerce sales shoots up to all time high during the Christmas shopping season (Nov1-Jan31) making it the most profitable time of the year for online merchants. Projections from various sources indicate that in U.S, consumer spending surges during Pre-Christmas weekend and this year (in 2014), the U.S retail sales is likely to increase by 4-4.5% (~ from $981 billion to $986 billion) by the end of the quarter.
With festive season catching up fast, how should you tweak your online store to give your customers the most exciting shopping experience while fetching maximum sales? In this post, I’m sharing top 18 ecommerce website optimization tips that can increase the conversion rates of your e-shop by up to 40% more, if implemented rightly. For your convenience, I’ve listed all the tips under 3 major categories – ecommerce website design & user experience, promotional marketing/email campaigning & ecommerce SEO tactics along with live examples so that you don’t miss any single aspect while prepping up the whole store to boost sales for the big Christmas shopping carnival.
Ask your website designer to use a themed background with a golden, silver, green or red colour scheme and create beautifully styled banners. You can also get a completely custom designed theme by hiring dedicated resources from professional website design companies. While most of them are busy this time and have already stopped taking ecommerce projects for Christmas 2014, TIS India will be taking up overseas projects from ecommerce merchants worldwide till the end of November 2014 so that shop owners across the globe can cater to the last minute rush easily !!
Creating targeted content-specific landing pages convert better than homepage when it comes to exclusive promotions and sales especially if you’re planning a PPC ad. Get an attractive responsive landing page design for Black Friday, Super Saturday & Cyber Monday deals. Don’t forget to include some of the key landing page elements like Header, Body copy, call to action and trust elements (testimonials, return policy etc) while designing a landing page.
You can also download some popular Christmas Landing Page templates like Noelle, Feast, XMAS Season, Gadget, Mistle Toe etc from Themeforest.
Example – Last year Tesco, the biggest online retailer of electronic devices used the below Landing Page with a countdown in their PPC Campaign which highlighted their products and ranked their website 5th in the paid search index, just after Amazon, Apple, Techradar & Kobo. The sale targeted Cyber Monday – the busiest day of Christmas weekend in US & UK & ended up with an exponential boost in revenue.
Make sure you make the navigation easy enough to help visitors reach the most relevant product they’re looking for in no time. Using website architectural organisation as a sales tool will make it even easier for visitors to stop by.
Optimize the no. of clicks by mapping the whole user navigation so that customers can find your products easily & quickly, like if you’ve just one subcategory for a product, remove the subcategory and place the subproduct under the top-level navigation category only.
Say, For example – If there’s a top-level-category Christmas Decor and you just have Christmas Trees to sell under this category, then instead of making a complicated navigation like Christmas Decor à Christmas Trees & creating a separate page/link for both; list down all the Christmas Trees directly on your Christmas Decor webpage. This will make it less-time consuming for the shoppers.
Last year, ecommerce website Totes-Isotoner positioned a 50% off as a thank-you gift to their customers by scheduling a second message immediately after a customer bought something from them. The message looked like this –
This “thank you” message delighted their customers upto an extent that they kept on purchasing more & more and in turn the website was able to boost sales upto a great extent.
Research the top-picked gifts, top-rated products or the most trending items on your website that have received best ratings/reviews from customers. Tag them under brand exclusives and showcase them into sections like “Deal of the Hour” with a countdown. This is a great way to prompt visitors to take actions almost instantly.
Research shows that 50% of all ecommerce sales on Christmas are now driven by Search advertising. So, don’t follow a “one-strategy-fits-all” approach here and assign different bid levels for each advertising campaign. Before campaigning, research the right data & plan which high-value products you can monetize on for gaining maximum returns. Use some conversion-tracking tools also to know the success %age of each campaign and understand how you need to change bids based on the performance of keywords (Cost-per-click bids). Use competitive intelligence tools to find the best keywords that you can target for selling products on Christmas. Also, don’t forget to create dedicated landing pages relevant to what you’re selling through the ad.
For example – if you’re selling an iPhone with a PPC ad with keyword like – Buy pocket-player at 50% off –Xmas exclusive offer; you can plan a landing page something like this
Bonus Tip– For executing effective PPC Campaigns to get maximum returns on your investment, always avail services from a PPC advertising agency who is a Google Partner and comprises Google Adwords Certified Professionals only.
Email marketing still remains the most effective way of reaching out to customers. The biggest evidence is the Direct Marketing Association that claims email marketing campaign has a 4300% impact on ROI. So, plan exclusive email campaigns for the pre-Christmas weekend rush especially for Cyber Monday, Super Saturday and Black Friday by creating newsletters with suitable imagery & catchy subject lines. But remember to space your campaigns decently so as not to end up annoying customers. Map out the suitable dates for sending campaigns and make distinct campaigns everytime. Also, include links to get customers back to your product pages while designing the newsletter. One amazing idea that can fetch you even more conversions is by implementing an email remarketing strategy after tracking the success of previous campaigns and use effective email tactics to reach out to people.
According to recent data report from Exact Target, a large chunk of merchants miss sales opportunities due to the inability to use effective email campaigning tactics & messaging.
The data clearly shows that how important it is to implement all the five email tactics wisely to produce “excellent returns”. For Christmas sales, just focus on the 4 strategies like Loyalty email, Welcome series, Browser Retargeting and Abandoned carts.
Social care is the major factor that influences customers. Besides this, adding product ratings and review sections to the website can build up trust and will allow customers to make ‘more informed’ purchases while enabling them to recommend your products within their social circle. Ask shoppers to make word of mouth recommendations by offering them special Christmas gifts or you can plan some group purchases for better response. An amazing idea is to allow shoppers who use social media networks like Facebook to access customer service or seek shopping advice through Facebook timeline/comment/post just like NM Incite did last year. Also, encourage positive customer reviews by offering them rewards. Here’s a screenshot that will give you an idea how to do this.
Example – Below is a screenshot attached from an ecommerce website that sells baby products & accessories. Look at the highlighted top message that they incorporated in their website to reach more people, build loyalty and boost sales
With Panda 4.1 rollout, it is necessary to tweak your SEO strategy before-hand if you don’t want to lose sales on this big shopping season. Apart from the 4 tips shared below, you can read this blog on Ecommerce SEO Tips to drive more sales- 10 Secrets shared that explains 10 quick tricks to optimize website for search engines using examples from popular online stores.
Now the Google search engine is no less than a human and will turn off if you offer irrelevant product pages that don’t add any value. Take time and write effective product descriptions for what you sell. Don’t clutter the content here and there as Panda 4.1 will slam the websites that look like a content farm
Update the whole content of your website to get ready for more Christmas cheer. Tailor your content according to relevant industry, link popular sources and sync your content publishing efforts with social media as well to create maximum impact.
Run link tests especially on the landing pages designed for conversion. Visitors should not end up on the similar product pages while looking up for the same product. Use canonical versions to be safe and tag the “child” pages with a ‘noindex, follow’ in your robots.txt file.
Broken links are the worst thing that can happen to your ecommerce site and costing you sales. Identify them and fix them before launching the new store.
The last-minute rush can crash your website. To avoid this, pre-check whether your site is equipped enough to handle bulk visitors. You can detect this by signing up free with Load Impact and check it via running 5 free tests per month.
Here, I’m sharing some bonus tips to help you ramp up your ecommerce store for more sales.
You can offer Free Christmas gift wrapping service along with Free Delivery.
How about creating a Christmas Gift Purchasing Guide for customers and showcase selected products that can make up the best gift according to different age-groups.
You can Launch E-Gift Vouchers and outline the benefits of choosing a voucher as a Christmas gift and surprise friends. You can also lure customers by giving Cash Back Offers on selected range of credit/debit cards.
Competitions will help customers win free stuff. This will get you extra visibility & potential traffic straight on your website.
You can promote your store and offers across multiple channels for extra visibility.
Big Christmas bucks are eagerly waiting for you!! So, it’s high time that you take action and touch up your ecommerce site to gear up for the biggest shopping carnival. Tell us in comments how’re you planning to cash visitors this Christmas?? If you have any questions or queries, you can take actionable advice from our ecommerce consultants. Happy selling!!