Optimize your website for any holiday

Every marketer knows there are certain selling seasons that cannot be ignored -- Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukah, Valentine's Day. However, they may not be aware that today's digital marketing should go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach, regardless of consumers' natural inclination to shop more at certain times of year. Marketers need to start going above and beyond offering deep discounts or clinging to catchy marketing messages.

With consumers spending more time and money online, marketers must prepare their digital marketing strategy to proactively target today's savvy shopper -- or risk losing prime revenue to the competition. This year, Channel Advisor's 2010 Consumer Shopping Habits survey found that more than 58 percent of consumers are very likely to purchase gifts online, as opposed to the 41 percent who choose to shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

According to comScore, consumers spent $29.1 billion online alone during the 2009 holiday shopping season, and eMarketer predicts that e-commerce spending will reach $51.4 billion by the fourth quarter of 2010. With numbers like these, the online opportunity -- both during holidays and off-season -- has nowhere to go but up. That said, driving online retail traffic is only the beginning: Marketers must step up their game and begin to truly engage customers by personalizing and tailoring the seasonal shopping experience.

What works
Improving web traffic via analytics and SEO methods has been digital marketers' focus for so long that most have pretty much mastered it. And while landing page optimization strategies are often given careful attention, content and design decisions are typically based on subjectivity. It's time to stop guessing and concentrate on what happens after visitors arrive. By neglecting the real tactics that convert browsers into buyers, marketers continue to miss out on tremendous revenue growth.

As consumers evolve, marketers attempt to improve website complexity and messaging -- keeping it fresh and up-to-date. But sites that do not employ methods to truly remain dynamic are not equipped to optimally perform during seasonal holiday spending surges. Changing your content and adding new product offers isn't enough to drive double-digit revenue growth: You'll need to go a few steps further:

  1. Cater to your customers' mood. Create a seasonal site design to demonstrate your brand's holiday spirit. Display items most likely to sell during a particular season on your most popular website pages. 

  2. Target and recommend. Prominently display product offers, discounts and promotions targeted to match customers' needs. Make sure everything they may want to buy is easily located in a single virtual aisle.

  3. Make it easy to buy. Thoroughly A/B test and improve important forms. If the registration, login, or checkout processes are too cumbersome, shoppers will simply give up at the point-of-purchase.

  4. Use live multivariate testing and iterative tweaking to drive higher conversion rates. Subtle changes such as font size, color, and copy can have a huge impact on revenues. Test different variations to see what yields the best results based on your live visitors' interactions. 

  5. Monitor and learn from customer behavior. A one-size-fits-all website doesn't deliver the best brand experience. Improve behavioral targeting to deliver a better online experience by offering page layouts, product recommendations, sequences, content, and offers that have been dynamically selected based on users' demonstrated preferences.

  6. Make navigation effortless. Shoppers won't fill their shopping carts or click anywhere near the checkout line if they are bounced around a poorly designed website. Go back to the basics: Make it easy for customers to find their way around by including a search facility; make the checkout page prominent; and avoid zeroing out filled-in forms every time they change pages. 

  7. Make it personal. Go beyond the standard "people who bought this, also bought this" suggestions by using website personalization. Product suggestions and wish list options that are relevant based on the individual shopper's site activity will vastly improve revenues.

Make every season a success
All the time and money spent on search, SEO, advertising, and landing page optimization will be wasted if true optimization strategies aren't put into place. Solutions such as multivariate testing, website personalization, and behavioral targeting make marketers' job easier every day -- they also automatically improve the digital experience with fluctuations and changes in seasonal spending and customers' shopping moods. Ensure every seasonal shopping experience with your website is a happy one, for each and every individual user, and never miss your revenue mark again.

Mark Simpson is the founder and president of Maxymiser.

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Comments

Liz Zedo
Liz Zedo December 20, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Great point! This would not only work for an e-comm website, but also ads on holiday/seasonal related spaces online. Do you know if there has ever been a study during a holiday season that analyzed which type of ads got more clicks - ads with holiday related content verse other types of content in ads?

Liz
Marketing Manager - ZEDO, Inc.
www.ZEDO.com