The 2010 holiday season is nearly here. With that in mind, we are publishing a few good holiday-selling tips, from experienced ecommerce professionals, each week. Our fifth, and final, installment is below.
Anticipate Microsoft, Yahoo! PPC Integration
“Build out and optimize your Microsoft AdCenter campaigns immediately.
“Microsoft will begin powering Yahoo!’s paid search results as early as October. If the transition happens on time, Microsoft’s AdCenter could influence a large percentage of online shoppers this holiday season.
“Be careful, though. Transitions like these often get delayed. You should continue to manage your Yahoo! Search Marketing Campaign up until the point that Microsoft AdCenter officially takes over.”
Make Shipping a Priority
“Declare a strong commitment to deliver your products on time and be prepared to back it up with reliable service. If you are in the position to offer aggressive shipping pricing and options during the holidays, push your shipping advantage strongly in the masthead of your pages. As key holiday dates approach, tune your shopping experience and messaging to last-minute shoppers who are more apt to base their decision on shipping guarantees and assurances.”
Prepare Ahead for Holiday Spike
“Getting caught off-guard is one of the worst things that can happen to your online storefront during the holiday season. Prepare to accommodate a spike in traffic by upgrading server resources. Site downtime can causes catastrophic damage to your holiday conversion rate and, even worse, your brand.
“In general, forecasting your holiday season sales is crucial to ensuring your store’s supply matches demand. Items that sell out before the holiday represent wasted selling potential. Strong forecasts based on market trending and in-house data analysis lead to better buying and restocking decisions and a stronger fulfillment process.”
Chief Technical Officer
Put Reviews Front and Center
“Something retailers should be paying close attention to this holiday season is their ratings on Google. Google has recently announced Seller Rating Extensions, which embed reviews directly into the search results for retailers with four or more stars and at least 30 reviews. Shoppers can click on the reviews and be directed to a page with a complete breakdown of the retailer’s reviews, which are compiled from multiple online sources.
“What this means for retailers is that reviews can no longer be ignored—they are now front-and-center on Google and should be part of your paid search campaign.
“You can check your ratings by inserting your company name where it says “XXX” in this URL:
http://www.google.com/products/seller?zmi=XXX.com. Look at the sources of reviews to determine where they are originating.
“Seek to improve your ratings via comparison shopping engines. Listen to what people are saying in negative reviews and work to rectify those issues.”
Expect Conversion Rates to Fall Before Black Friday
“Unfortunately, online buyers have become conditioned to expect discounts, especially in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. SeeWhy tracks shopping cart abandonment rates across approximately 900 ecommerce sites. Shopping abandonment rates averaged approximately 69 percent in 2009, but in the six weeks leading up to Black Friday, rates shot up to peak at 83 percent on the weekends. The pattern of behavior was clear: sales dried up and customers were searching for deals.
“This is mass customer behavior in action, and it’s much bigger than any one ecommerce site. The answer is to save your promotions, and hunker down to wait. In the meantime, there is a host of valuable buyer behavior data in your ecommerce platform and web analytics systems that you should be looking at. This data tells you what customers are likely to buy when the floodgates open. Using this data in email marketing, and with shopping cart reminder emails, in the run up to Black Friday, is a very effective technique to keep your brand front-of-mind for your prospective customers.”
Founder and Chief Strategy Officer