The holiday spirit has kickstarted already. Agreed that there are still two months to go until Christmas, but the winter chill and the endless discussions about oncoming holidays are starting to grow.
The holiday season also means you need to perform a job loved (or hated, depending on which side of fence you reside) by many: researching and purchasing gifts.
In earlier days, options for gifts were limited to 10 or 20 odd items available at your next-door mom-and-pop shop. But these days, thanks to the hyper-connected world, you can find most exotic gifts online: from instant underpants to an inflatable 6-foot alien.
The holiday season is the most important period for e-commerce websites. Last year, it was estimated that consumers spent about $38 billion online during the holiday season alone, which is about 24% of total online sales generated in 2010.
In other words, about a quarter of total yearly sales online is generated during just two months: November and December. Clearly, the holiday season is what defines most of the e-commerce companies.
A/B Testing & Conversion Rate Optimization During Holiday Season
E-commerce customers that I work with can be clearly segmented into two buckets: one who stops A/B testing completely in order to focus on holidays, the other who goes into hyper-excited mode and tries out a lot of ideas (using A/B testing) because s/he wants to make most out of holidays.
My personal preference is to always keep testing new ideas and strategies even during the holiday season because trends change from year to year and what may have worked in 2010 may not necessarily work in 2011. Hence, the importance of testing and experimentation.
Let’s talk about five tips that you can test this holiday season to boost your online sales:
1. Mobile website/app
Clearly, one of the most important shifts recently has been in mobile space. More and more consumers are purchasing gifts using their iPhones, iPads and Droids. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, go find an agency right now that can quickly make one for you.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also develop your own little app/game this holiday season. Your e-commerce store should be seen where most eyeballs are, and these days they are hooked on mobiles.
2. Split test a holiday-themed website
If you usually don’t change the look and feel of your website, try making an alternative holiday-themed website (with all bells and whistles, literally). And, if you have completely switched to a holiday theme, try split testing it against your usual website. Maybe your visitors are bored of that holiday look?
The point I’m trying to make here is that without split testing different themes on your website, you will never know which one makes your customers purchase more!
3. A/B test different offers: free shipping, discounts, special packing, etc.
There are hundreds of special offers/promotions you can run during the holidays. Of course, the big question is which one to actually run on your website? Well, why don’t you A/B test different offers? One of our customers found out that a next-day shipping offer outperformed a $5 discount offer or a free shipping offer, and ultimately increased sales by 41%.
4. Change default call to actions
Usually your button says “Add to cart” or “Buy now,” why don’t you A/B test them against “Gift Now” or even something unusual such as “Add to your Santa list.” Visitors are usually in an upbeat mood during the holidays, and a little creativity will go a long way in amusing them (and hence making them buy more).
5. Segment and personalize
If you kept track of what a particular visitor bought last year, you can use that information to personalize and recommend new items this time. This may be little difficult if you don’t have a personalization platform already running on your website, but doing simple segmentation and targeting should be easy (using an off-the-shelf tool or in-house coding).
Try showing different items on the homepage depending on whether the visitor uses MacOS or Windows, visits during work or in the evening, arrives from Facebook or a search engine. Other numerous variables can help you do first level of personalization quite easily, thereby increasing your conversions and sales.
This holiday season, I hope you try these ideas on your website and pleasantly see your sales break all previous records.
Photo from colonelchi. Used under Creative Commons license
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.