Last year, omnichannel was one of the hottest topics during the holiday season for retailers. Companies were focused on giving their customers what they wanted, which was giving them the same experience both online and in-store. Having a mobile responsive site was also another focus of the 2015 holiday season. Online shoppers are beginning to have no patience for unresponsive sites and have high expectations for user experience.
This year, there’s not an incredible shift in focus but customers are expecting an even more seamless transition from platform to platform and no hiccups while they are browsing on their mobile devices. While you are preparing for the 2016 holiday season, here are a few strategies to keep in mind.
Plan Your Holiday Calendar
If you haven’t already started doing this, you need to ASAP! Take note of each huge shopping day, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and make sure your website is prepared for the holiday traffic and that your marketing efforts coincide with the appropriate dates. Also think about showcasing your holiday shipping deadlines on your site (for example, “order by Dec. 18th to ensure delivery before Christmas!”).
Get Development Work Finished & Ready for Holiday Traffic
You’ll want to make sure that any development work you are working on is getting finished and any kinks you may have are worked out. During these high trafficked and crucial times, you do not want your website glitching, taking too long to load, or any hiccups resulting in shoppers having cart/checkout problems.
One way to prepare your site for high amounts of traffic and orders is by testing it! You should think about conducting performance tests, capacity tests and load/stress tests. Huge retailers like Guitar Center and Walmart conduct load tests, especially in preparation for the holiday season. Internet Retailer reports that Guitar Center starts conducting load tests in September to prep for the holiday rush, with the goal of handling three times the amount of traffic and orders from their last holiday season. One of the worst things that could happen during high-traffic holiday times is having your ecommerce site not fully functioning on a national shopping day – you could be losing thousands or millions of dollars while the site is down.
Have a Responsive Site
The biggest strategy that you need to be implementing is having a responsive site. If you do not already have a mobile-friendly site, this is something that you need to very strongly consider doing as soon as possible. Why would customers spend time and frustration on trying to navigate your unresponsive site to make a purchase when they could easily find another site with similar products that is easier to navigate on?
Nearly a third of online purchases were made on mobile devices last year during the holiday season (Marketing Land). There’s no sign of this trend slowing down, so you should be taking your website’s usability on all devices into careful consideration this holiday season. And also in relation to being mobile friendly, make sure that you are sending responsive emails this holiday season. Over 50% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices, so having an easy to read email that includes your promotions and sales is crucial.
Implement Personalized Messaging & Make Your Email Game Strong
The 2016 holiday season will also be focused on personalized messaging. Customers are no longer responding as well to gimmicky advertising or generic promotions as they have in the past. Your customers need to feel an emotional connection with your brand and your products. One huge way to build the relationship and learn more about your customers is through personalized content. This can include emails, promotional content on the website or cross-selling them items on the checkout page. These marketing tactics can be based off of each customer’s personal browsing behavior and purchasing history.
With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you want to make sure that you are keeping your brand and products on the customer’s’ mind. Listrak has a very helpful article explaining how to personalize your emails and also gives you a list of best practices to use in your email campaigns.
Focus on Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization is always a good tactic to utilize on your ecommerce site, and even more so during the holiday season. CRO is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to your site that convert to customers. These tactics are intended to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to make it to your cart and checkout.
There are a lot of factors that go into CRO and many strategies that you should be implementing. Some of these tactics include having a responsive website, a simple and easy to follow checkout process, accurate search results for those looking for specific products, and offering quick customer service to answer questions and solve customer problems.
If your ecommerce site is running on Magento, we have a great whitepaper on conversion rate optimization tips.
Utilize Buyable Pins
You may have heard a bit about Buyable Pins within the last year, as they have become a huge asset in ecommerce. Buyable Pins make it simple for a Pinterest user to purchase a product in the Pinterest app while they are browsing. It is a great opportunity for retailers to catch a sale at the moment of inspiration.
Another benefit of using Buyable Pins is that you can acquire new customers at a very lost cost per acquisition. As opposed to other forms of online advertising, Buyable Pins are free to use. As the merchant, you aren’t charged any additional fees to use the extension – no monthly fees or transaction fees like some other programs may charge you.
Some ecommerce platforms have Pinterest Buyable Pins already available to utilize on your website but if you are on Magento, you need to be accepted into the program and install the Buyable Pins extension. Simply head to the Pinterest page on our site to get more information on the program and to apply. Once you’ve been accepted into the program, you can install the extension and start setting up your Buyable Pins! If this is something you are interested in implementing before the holiday season, we suggest starting the process as soon as possible.
Many companies depend on the holiday season to bring in a lot of revenue, so making sure that you are implementing the best ecommerce strategies is critical. Now is the time to be planning out your holiday strategy (if you haven’t already) and putting those plans into motion. To help bring in more sales this holiday season, ensure that you have a functioning site that is responsive and mobile-friendly!