Top 10 E-commerce Tests for the Holiday Season

In the days before e-commerce, catalogers pretty much had to have their holiday marketing programs signed and sealed weeks before the shopping season began in earnest. But the immediacy of the Internet now allows—and all but requires—multichannel merchants to continue testing their programs throughout the holiday season.

With that in mind, San Francisco-based Offermatica Corp., a provider of hosted online testing and optimization services, offers a list of the 10 tests most likely to help you improve sales throughout the holiday season:

1) Test landing-page merchandising. There is nothing more important on a retail landing page than the merchandising. What you show, how many items, which photographs, the quality and quantity of copy, all benefit from aggressive testing and optimization.

2) Test percentage off vs. dollar savings. Often customers respond differently depending on how a promotion is framed, even if the effective price is the same (say, 10% off a $100 purchase vs. $10 off a $100 purchase).

3) Encourage customers to act now. Test different scarcity messaging such as “Limited Time Only” vs. “While Supplies Last” vs. “Offer expires Nov. 31.”

4) Reflect paid-search content. Test customized landing pages for your five top-performing keywords. Make sure that the landing-page content obviously relates to the search terms. Try repeating the phrase verbatim or reorganizing your content to narrow the focus of the page.

5) Reinforce your affiliates. Reminding customers where they came from (by showing the logo of the referring affiliate, for example) may increase conversion, especially if a visitor stands to gain by spending money with you.

6) Test promotions in e-mail marketing campaigns. If you plan to run a shipping promotion, you might test various thresholds to see which brings optimum results: “Spend $100 dollars and get free shipping” vs. “Spend $150 and get free shipping.”

7) Test the call to action. On paid-search and e-mail campaigns, test “Learn More” or “Start Now” vs. “Buy.”

8) Test gift suggestions. Test whether gift suggestions improve your site’s conversion rates and sales. Generally speaking, the sooner you can move to what people actually want to buy and give, the better.

9) Increase trust during checkout. Test placing confidence-building information (return policy, privacy policy, customer service number, recent awards) and security “trustmarks” (TrustE, VeriSign, HackerSafe) above the fold and in combination with each other.

10) Test radical simplification. Yes, cross-sells and other content may increase average order values, but there may be a downside–in some cases superfluous content distracts customers from completing their purchase. Lost revenue from abandoned shopping carts may exceed revenue gained from cross-selling. Test it and find out.

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