5 Best Practices to Rock Cyber Monday

5 Best Practices to Rock Cyber Monday

I wonder if The Mamas anCyberMondayEarthmand The Papas realized how prescient they were in 1966 when they wrote these fine lyrics:

Monday Monday, so good to me.
Monday Monday, it was all I hop
ed it would be.

With Cyber Monday nearly upon us, it’s a sentiment shared by most (check that … by all) eCommerce companies. Which is pretty phenomenal for a day that’s only been around since 2005. To put this in historical perspective, the Industrial Revolution – which profoundly changed retail and socioeconomics – took 200 years.

What a difference a digital day makes.

Depending on the source, Cyber Monday pulled down between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in sales last year. That’s roughly 30% more than 2011 results; 50% more than in 2010.

Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn’t guarantee …

Clearly a whole lot of revenue is up for grabs this year, and the cyber train shows no signs of slowing.

To help eComms get the biggest bang from the big day (which is Monday, December 2nd … aka “Yes, We’re At Work But Don’t Expect Too Much Productivity Because We’re Shopping” day), here are 5 best practices for increasing your piece of the revenue pie.

 

PLAN PROMOTIONS FOR BOTH KEY AND NICHE AUDIENCES

Before crafting your messages and offers, it’s important to mine your customer files to get a clear picture of who your customers are and what motivates them. For example:

  • When they shop
  • What they buy
  • Who your top spenders are (often determined by a metric called RFM – recency, frequency, monetary)
  • What your best- and worst-selling products are
  • Gift card and/or promotional code usage

When you understand the big picture, think about where you could uncover other opportunities that could deliver a big payoff.

For example, do you have customers who seem to purchase only baby products or youth sizes? Or do you have a subset of customers who are “gift givers” – i.e., they only buy from you during the holidays? (Check for different “ship to” addresses.) If so, you could send a reminder email or a “recommended gift ideas” email to encourage their spending.

 

OPTIMIZE YOUR LANDING PAGES

This best practice is eCommerce 101 regardless of the season, but big shoppapaloozas are prime time to ensure your site is ready for its close-up. Here are some strategies to keep in mind:

  • Turn your landing pages into “gift guides.” Cyber Monday (heck, Cyber Anyday) is about standing out from the crowd and making an impact within about 3 seconds. So make it as easy as possible for shoppers and customers to find what they’re interested in by optimizing your search filters. For example, offer gift finders by price, gender, Top 20, reviews, material, color, size, you get the idea.
  • Optimize for SEO. Let the search engines know you have products and services for the holidays by incorporating good search engine optimization practices into your page design and content. Need a refresher on how to do that? Check out our SEO 101: The Basics and Beyond guide here.
  • Go mobile. Although the percentage of sales made from smart phones remains small (approximately 15% or so), optimize for mobile devices anyway, thereby ensuring your brand can be easily found wherever your audience is … even if the sale eventually happens on a PC or tablet. If optimizing for the small screen isn’t in the cards this year, make it a stretch goal for 2014.
  • Make sure your servers can handle the traffic. Shopping carts are good. Crash carts? Not so much. No matter your business size, make sure your network pipe is big enough to handle a stampede of visitors and shoppers without taking a nose dive. Shopper frustration is the death knell for cyber sales … and most others sales for that matter.

 

PROMOTE!

I can hear you now: “Thank You, Captain Obvious!” Yea …

I doubt I’m going out on a limb when I say you spend a LOT of time focused on inbound and outbound promotions. But similar to the landing page section above, high-stakes shopping seasons are great opportunities to (re)assess what you’re already doing and entertain some new ideas. So here are a few to consider:

  • Extend the sale. Who says you can’t have Cyber Tuesday? Have some fun and add some urgency (e.g., “Another 23 hours and 56 minutes to save!”).
  • Send email to non-openers. Although it’s true that open rates can’t be tracked when images are turned off, it’s also true that the majority of people have email images turned on. So it’s probably worth taking a small risk by resending email to people who didn’t open it the first time (and theoretically didn’t see it). Change the subject line to reduce the risk of duplication even more. Chances are you’ll see a sales bump with little or no retribution.
  • Use email as a retargeting device. This is a sticky wicket if you’re in the European Union, but if you’re not, taking advantage of technology (e.g., cookies) can encourage visitors to take the next step in the buying process. As an example, if your visitor browses for coats but doesn’t buy, send her an email a day or two later that offers a deal on coats (or even the particular brand and style she was looking at).
  • Use videos. From how-tos to product demos to customer reviews, videos are powerful ways to showcase products and drive sales.
  • Recapture abandoned carts. You should be doing this already. Every day. But if you’re not, set up triggered emails that remind shoppers there are still items in their cart. Maybe offer discounts to encourage them to get to the finish line.
  • Promote shipping windows vigorously. Shipping is a BIG deal – both the cost and transit time options – and it regularly makes or breaks an online sale. During the holiday season in particular, understanding shipping cut-off days is vitally important for shoppers. So create a big countdown clock and promote it everywhere possible: your website and check-out pages, your blog, in emails, and on social networks. Maybe create a branded app or widget that can be downloaded.
  • Offer deals on expedited shipping in the last week. As already mentioned, shipping = big deal. Giving your shoppers a break in the home stretch can significantly impact their satisfaction with your brand and increase cart size.
  • Extend your return window through the end of January. Like shipping, return policies can be deal-breakers, especially when they’re too short or, worse, nonexistent. Give customers confidence to purchase early and still have time to return an item if it doesn’t work out. They’ll reward you for it.

 

PREPARE FOR DECEMBER 26TH

Most everyone knows that great deals can be found on December 26th. In fact, you can almost feel it in the air at about midday on the 25th – like a weather pattern – a perceptible sense of shoppers getting into position at the starting blocks, awaiting the next savings race.

And the gun goes off at midnight.

Take full advantage of this opportunity by ensuring you have campaigns ready to launch on December 25th at midnight. (Might be easier to think about it as December 26th at 12:01 a.m.)

 

PLAN FOR 2014

Big promotions commonly take longer to create than you think they will. So if this year’s Cyber Monday/holiday campaigns don’t come together the way you want them to, don’t despair.  Use the opportunity to set the wheels in motion a bit earlier and a bit more strategically for next year.

This is where marketing automation can really help you shine, measurably optimizing productivity across a broad spectrum of strategies and tasks including the majority of those listed in this post:

  • List segmentation based on a range of filters
  • Lead scoring and hot-prospect alerts
  • Targeted, dynamic, personalized email messages and offers
  • One-click custom landing page design
  • Easy integration with your sales and marketing tools
  • “Set it and forget it” campaign scheduling
  • Website visitor tracking
  • Social marketing
  • Full analytics, from channel tactics to campaign revenues

If you want to know more, you can get the 4-1-1 on marketing automation here, or brush up on your sales and marketing skills at the Act-On Center of Excellence.

Here’s hoping your Cyber Monday is all it could be.

Bah-da bah-da-da-da

 

Photo of Cyber Monday by Kevin Marks, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.


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