The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means e-commerce sites are about to see a large uptick in shoppers. According to Statista, holiday online retail sales amounted to nearly $186 billion in 2020, and this number is expected to rise to $207 billion during the 2021 holiday season. With more people coming to your website and likely spending more money than usual, how can you set your brand up to make more money this holiday season? By strategically optimizing your website, you can offer your visitors a better customer experience and edge out the competition to increase holiday sales.
While the holiday season brings an overall increase in traffic to your site, it also brings a much larger variety of visitors than you would see at any other point in the year. Many of your visitors might be looking for gifts and have little to no familiarity with your brand. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to find ways to resonate with your visitors, both new and returning, to optimize the customer experience and meet your revenue goals.
Why You Should Always Optimize Your Site During the Holidays
Oftentimes e-commerce companies take a break from their website optimization efforts during the holiday season since there are so many other moving parts to keep track of (e.g. flash sales and frequent promotional changes) and they don’t want to jeopardize site performance.
While this is a crucial time of year to minimize risk for your e-commerce business, it’s even more important to maximize revenue. Just think: your marketing team likely increases its ad spend dramatically during the holiday season, and all of these ads will lead to your site. But how will you convert these visitors with a one-size-fits-all website that doesn’t match the ad they just clicked on?
Creating a seamless customer journey for your customers is the key to keeping spirits (and conversions!) high this holiday season. Best of all, it doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are 6 ways you can optimize your website for the holidays to drive more conversions and revenue.
1. Create a Sense of Urgency
As a consumer, there are many time-sensitive factors when it comes to holiday shopping––making sure your item will ship in time, taking advantage of a sale before it ends, and getting items before they’re out of stock. These are all factors on your visitors’ minds when they’re browsing your site. And, if they’re worried about your brand’s ability to ship something on time, or think another company has a better deal on a similar item, they might not convert and buy with you. But if you go above and beyond to provide an excellent customer experience that expresses a sense of urgency in the right way, you’ll mitigate hesitations on the spot and have the upper hand over your competitors.
A few ways you can create a sense of urgency that encourages your visitors to convert include:
- Adding a countdown to when a flash sale or promotion will end (further, if the sale only applies to certain products, add clear messaging to your site to specify which products are and are not part of the promotion)
- Having a message on your product detail page (PDP) to show a visitor when they need to order this item in order to get it in time for the holidays
- Using social proof to show the visitor how many other shoppers have viewed or purchased this item within the last hour or day
- Prominently displaying how much inventory is remaining for a certain product
- Reminding users of items left in their cart (either in a pop-up upon exit intent or in an email for returning visitors)
Rugs.com is one example of an e-commerce brand creating a sense of urgency for a special promotion. Note their ‘Lightning Deal’ message above the product info, along with more Lightning Deal messaging and an inventory notice above the ‘Add to Cart’ button. Below the ‘Add to Cart’ button, Rugs.com has also listed how many units have been sold within the last 30 minutes, showing the visitor that this is a hot-ticket item. All of these messages help to create a sense of urgency and encourage the customer to convert now if they want to get the deal.
2. Increase Average Order Value
Since people are more likely to spend more money during the holidays, this presents an excellent opportunity to increase your average order value (AOV) and cross-sell items. One key way to do this is to clearly promote any tiered promotions where customers get a better deal by spending more (e.g. 30% off when you purchase 4+ items, 25% off when you purchase 3 items, and 20% off when you purchase 2 items).
American Eagle often runs these tiered promotions and prominently displays them above the fold on their homepage. To clearly communicate this kind of promotion on your own site, consider using a website personalization solution that can individualize the experience for each shopper in the moment (like Intellimize). For example, if a customer only has 2 items in their cart, add a personalized message that encourages them to select 1 more item to save 25% off their purchase.
While displaying different promotional tiers is certainly effective, you can also cross-sell items that pair well with the product the visitor is currently viewing. When viewing a Samsung tablet on Target’s website, they build a recommended package to go along with the tablet which includes a case and a stylus. The visitor can easily add any or all of these suggested items to their cart with just one click. This feature not only helps the visitor understand the other products they might need to go along with their tablet but also helps Target increase their AOV.
3. Add Assurances Whenever Possible
Although customers will be excited to receive the best deal possible when shopping with you, you also want to provide other assurances wherever possible on your website. Given the increased demand for e-commerce stores (due to both COVID-19 and the holiday season), your customers are well aware of potential shipping delays. Guaranteeing delivery in time for the holidays is a crucial message to add to your site. Apple does a great job of this with a dedicated landing page of ‘Order By’ dates for each product they sell, to set expectations. The page also promotes pickup in-store options as well as same-day delivery on December 24th.
Aside from shipping assurances, don’t forget to clearly state your holiday-specific return policy on your site. Gift givers and receivers alike want to know that there’s extra time to make any returns after the holidays. Best Buy clearly states their extended holiday return period right below the price on their PDP, so customers don’t need to go searching for it somewhere else on the site. They also promote a price match guarantee, which is another great assurance to add to your website if it applies. With any type of assurance you add to your website, be sure to continuously test different variations of your messaging to see what resonates best for each visitor and drives them to convert.
4. Align Your Website with Your Advertising
While clearly communicating your promotions and assurances is essential during the holiday season, you also want to make sure your website is a clear continuation of your advertising. You’re likely spending more money on advertising at this time of year, so don’t waste precious ad dollars on a disjointed customer journey. Whether you’re using certain imagery, messages, or CTAs during your holiday season ads, make sure your landing pages align with your advertising so visitors are reassured that they’re in the right place and are seeing what they expected. Don’t make them search your site for the special offer or the specific item they saw in the ad. While this is something important to do all year round, aligning your website messaging and overall look-and-feel is especially crucial during the holiday season with the uptick in returning and new customers alike.
To ensure that each visitor to your website is getting a seamless experience that mirrors elements of the ad they came from, you can use a solution like Intellimize that provides this in-the-moment personalized experience to the individual, thereby giving you the best chance at executing this flawlessly.
As an example, Sisley Paris’s advertising makes a smooth transition to their landing page. Both use the term ‘Black Rose Friday’ (which plays off of the Black Rose skincare collection they’re promoting) and use the same color and product images throughout. The ad also promotes a free gift with purchase and this messaging is carried over to the landing page with a ‘Free Full Size Gift’ message. All of these factors add up to create a seamless customer journey for the visitor, thereby increasing chances of the visitor immediately finding what they came for, staying on-site, and converting.
5. Show More Brand Personality
The holiday season is the perfect time to have fun and show a little more personality from your brand. People are in the holiday spirit, and it pays to show that your brand is too. Get on the same page as your customer. Much of this will likely come down to your messaging or holiday-specific campaigns, but you can also consider more flashy, festive imagery like Marshall’s has included on their homepage. Make sure to test different variations of these elements and serve the right one to each visitor based on their needs and interests so you can create the most personalized experience possible and boost your chances of conversion.
Adding animation to your site with videos or GIFs is another great way to showcase your personality and engage with your shoppers. Under their Holiday Gifts section, Nordstrom has a ‘Make Merry’ video of a family dancing and celebrating. This is a fun way for the brand to simply wish their customers a happy holiday without promoting a product or sale.
6. Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier
While the 5 previous tips are all important to consider as you optimize your site, above all, your website experience should make your customers’ lives easier during the holiday season. It is a hectic time of year for all of us and, the more seamless the experience, the more likely your visitors are to convert.
Some simple ways to do this during the holidays are to offer free gift-wrapping services, gift messages, and, of course, gift receipts. All of these make gift-giving a breeze for your shoppers and, best of all, they make it a no-brainer for visitors to choose your site over a competitor’s. Brighton has a dedicated section on their website to promote their complimentary gift wrapping service. They even have a link to a video where visitors can watch how Brighton wraps their gifts, which adds an extra personal touch to their online shopping experience.
Adding a Recently Viewed section to your site is another way of making your visitors’ lives easier by keeping track of their browsing history. American Eagle has a ‘Recently Viewed’ section on their PDP so shoppers can easily pick up where they left off.
For returning visitors specifically, you can take this a step further and personalize your website with messaging that welcomes them back and allows them to pick up where they left off. These small gestures will help your visitors feel appreciated and greatly improve their customer experience.
No matter which sector of e-commerce you’re in, you’re about to see a large increase in your site traffic over the next several weeks. In order to make the most of these new and returning site visitors, it is essential to optimize and personalize your website so you can create an experience that resonates with each unique shopper.
With Intellimize’s AI Optimize solution, you can do just that. Intellimize leverages machine learning to provide a highly personalized experience to each unique visitor on your website. Intellimize predicts the best possible experience for your visitor in the moment, and even adjusts the experience as the visitor’s needs and interests change over time.
Request a demo today and see how Intellimize can help your ecommerce brand improve the customer experience to drive more conversions and revenue throughout the holiday season and beyond.