CTO, Partner @ Marena Cosmos overseeing all technical decisions and consulting & advising clients regarding websites & martech. My LinkedIn
The summer sun is setting a lot earlier and you can smell the sweet delicious scent of pumpkin spice lattes (PSLs). Love it or hate it, we all know what it means — the holidays are not far off. Luckily for me, I get to write about the upcoming online holiday sales season that is less than three months away: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You remember those: pretty big deals and some of the largest shopping days of the year. Cyber Monday shoppers spent a record $9.4 billion in 2019, with a “b,” up 19.7% from a just a year prior, according to information released by Adobe Analytics.
Due to the pandemic, this year has been a struggle for many U.S. businesses. Hopefully, I can help you change that by making some adjustments to your site.
A well-known client of ours (who shall not be named) can receive as much as 30% of their annual sales in the two weeks after Black Friday. After 25 years of accumulating expertise in website e-commerce and software design, I thought I might take a step back and share with you how to best maximize your revenue this 2020–21 Cyber Holiday Season.
It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it … the right way.
Building and maintaining any website, from the smallest to the largest enterprise e-commerce site, can be daunting because a website is arguably the most important foundational technology a business has today. It’s something every website design and development company would agree with.
That’s right, all you e-commerce store owners, managers and webmasters (yes, they really do still exist, like elves): the big holiday season is much closer than you think. As I write this, it’s three months away — oh, no.
Where do we start, and how can we get it all done in time?
Month One: Creating A Plan Of Attack
Don’t panic. But don’t procrastinate either. First, it’s time to admit there is some necessary action to take and that priorities need to be set. Therefore, we are going to create a battle plan and schedule. We’re going to attack our highest priority and “lowest-hanging fruit,” as they say, so we can get you maximum returns from these 2020 holidays.
Step one is to analyze and create an attack plan to get into holiday shape.
I usually start by playing one of my favorite holiday albums, Christmas with the Rat Pack, but I digress. Let’s start evaluating and testing.
Evaluation: You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.
That’s not exactly how the saying goes, but it still gets to the essential element of importance, which is that you have to look at your analytics, metrics, reporting, surveys and general business pulse to see where you may have problems.
Break down your site or app into three core pillars and see what’s going on and if there’s any leakage or area you need to concentrate on most.
• Stack up to date
• Security in place
• Credit card processing
• Speed, speed, speed
• Email delivery
• Up-to-date scripts and APIs
• System messages/logs
• Custom dashboard with individual username and password access
Website Office, Control Panel Or Back End
• Order processing
• Gift order processing
• Email notifications
• Site search
• Holiday incentive campaigns
• Customer account
• Email automation
Testing Each Of The Above
The necessary testing tools and their reporting are fairly easy to get a hold of. Google has provided some of the best tools available, and they are mostly free of charge.
Month 2: Fixing The Most Critical Issues
If you want to get a professional review of your website, there are tons of resources for getting user feedback.
But, you may be a little too late to engage a testing group, so it’s best to focus on what most pros will agree on. Those factors are site speed and SEO. Why do I always go back to these two items as the highest priority fixes one should focus on? Even if it’s not broken, there are always extra sales to be made or “money left on the table,” and these two issues can always be improved.
First, let’s look at speed. Images and CSS issues are more often than not the culprit. Sometimes it’s all the code you have loaded in your pages to help advertisers but again, focus on fixing what you can, such as image optimization. Look into lazy loading, which can have an enormous impact on improving load times, and try to optimize for all the correct formats, especially mobile.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is also a very important way to increase your holiday sales. One little trick that works great is adding “holiday sales,” “holiday discounts” or “holiday gifts,” especially in your meta keywords. Use Google trends and your product categories to find out what is getting the most attention this holiday season.
Month 3: Stress Testing And Dress Rehearsing
Test your own site and ask people that you trust to test your site. Give your “family and friend testers” free coupons or gift cards and let them go shopping. (Who doesn’t like spending someone else’s money?) This will remind them that they need to give you real honest feedback on the user experience and that they need to report any bumps they may have experienced using the site or mobile app. The feedback is essential to knowing how your site is performing. The best e-commerce experience is one you should not even think about. A frictionless, seamless, enjoyable user experience should encourage you to want to shop and check out — not abandon your cart.
I hope this article gives you a couple of ideas on how to get the most out of the upcoming 2020 e-commerce holiday season. Best regards, stay healthy and let’s get through these tough times by working together.
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