Still trying to prioritize your to-do list to get your site in shape for the holidays? Jamus Driscoll, vice president of marketing of e-commerce systems provider Demandware, has zeroed in on 10 things to do now.
- Make sure your customers can find you
Your search engine optimization must be complete and up-to-date. Look through your search logs from last November forward for ways to improve site search effectiveness, such as:
- Adding to synonym/hypernym/dictionaries
- Enhancing product descriptions (adding relevant keywords)
- Expanding the product assortment (in product lines that customers seem to want but you don’t yet carry)
- Build out your affiliate network
Invest time in building out your affiliate network. Holiday shoppers this year are going to be very savvy about looking for the best deal online. Start building strong relationships now with those affiliates that are likely to drive significant traffic and volume for you during the holidays. Also, consider setting up automated product feeds to key shopping comparison sites like GoogleBase, Shopzilla, NexTag and other sites that your customers frequent.
- Set your product catalog
Pay particular attention to catalog readiness for cross-selling and upselling opportunities, item-related promotions and product categorization for easy navigation. Make your products easy to find by adding the proper keywords for search results. And make sure you can cross-merchandise products in different categories. During the holidays, you’ll want to present a given product in both its core category — say, men’s shirts — and also theme, event or occasion-based categories like “Gifts for Dad,” “Pre-Thanksgiving sale,” “Hot Gift Ideas,” etc.
- Prepare holiday site enhancements
For instance, add “wish list” functionality. By helping customers create the list and linking other people to that list, you not only convert — you reduce returns and increase customer satisfaction. Other tactics include promoting gift certificates and gift cards on the home page, and adding the ability to redeem them to the checkout process. Gift cards are a convenience item, so make their purchase convenient by putting them on the home page and other frequently visited landing pages. You should also offer gift wrapping as a service and convenience to customers.
- Segment your audience
The holidays are the season for gifts — so most shoppers are buying for other people. For example, if you’re a jeweler, anticipate that men will be buying for women. Change the look and feel, products, and promotions for the type of audience that is going to be buying during the holidays.
- Bestsellers and gift ideas
Use these on your homepage to provide additional gift ideas for uncertain shoppers. Create detailed gift guides based on the recipient, the price point, and other elements to lead customers to a purchase.
- Engage in A/B testing now
A/B testing will help you gauge new site design concepts, features and functionality. This will also provide some real-world data before you settle on what you’ll go with during the holidays.
- Get creative with promotions
Don’t just use flat discounts to drive traffic. Think about the long-term relationship with the customer, and consider loyalty-based promotions that will create repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing. Make order-by dates and time-sensitive offers as part of your promotions strategy.
- Leverage social merchandising
Using consumer-generated content makes your Website a destination site, and helps to speed conversion by delivering a third-party endorsement.
- Update inventory on product pages
Nothing infuriates a customer more than to find out that the product is out of stock after the completion of the checkout process. Post inventory levels on the product pages to set expectations for customers and also create a sense of urgency when levels are low.