8 DON’Ts and 7 DOs For Holiday eCommerce

The holiday season is almost upon us. It’s time to start looking over the inventory, keywords, and offers to make sure you’re ready for Cyber Monday. In today’s column we offer several things to do and important don’ts that will help you have a successful holiday season.


Blindly test

Traffic in December is unlike any other month of the year. Conversion rates go up, and cost per conversions go down. If you are running split or multivariate tests throughout the month to see which ads or pages convert the highest, do not blindly trust that the data will carry over into January. It is not uncommon to see the highest converting pages (or ads and keywords) not be the highest performer once the buying excitement of the holidays melts away.

Make major site changes

According to a recent Advertising.com study, 75% of all shoppers are visiting 2-5 sites before making a purchase. We also see many visitors come back to a site a few times during a short span of time in completing their purchases. You do not want to confuse these shoppers. These visitors should be able to use the exact same navigational method to find that product or shopping cart every time they come back to the site. If you are changing a website’s layout, you can confuse those potential buyers and lose their dollars.

Forget to add a recommended gift buying section

We’re all short on time. Choosing the perfect gift takes time. Many of us never know what to buy for our spouse, let alone for the office Christmas party gift exchange.  Offer a recommended buying section. Break the recommendations into several sections. While you should examine your products in determining how to section them out, here are some common categories:

    Ladies Under $25
    Men Under $50
    Niece (or young lady) Under $100
    Nephew (or young boy) Over $100

And the chart could easily keep going. Think of these categories: Infant, Toddler Boy, Toddler Girl, Boys (4-12), Girls (4-12), Teen Boy, Teen Girl. Examine your products, and then see which audience demographics fit best for classifying your recommended gift section.

Treat the Thank You page as just a thank you

Just because someone completed a purchase on your site, it doesn’t mean they are done shopping. If someone gave you their credit card, they put some trust into your site. Offer  additional suggestions for complimentary products, either yours or your partners, on the thank you page. At the least, call out your email newsletter where they can be updated with your latest specials and products.

This marketing should extend past the Thank You page and be included in the confirmation (receipt) email as well.

Forget about first page bids

The holiday season converts well. Bid prices will go up. The ads on the first page receive most of the clicks. At this time, you cannot forget about first page bids. Have your keyword report emailed to you each morning so you can quickly make sure your top keywords are on page one.

Always use the negative keyword ‘free’

‘Free’ is one of the most commonly used negative keywords. However, if you use it, you will not show up for highly desirable searches like ‘last minute Christmas gifts with free shipping’ or ‘free delivery Sony plasma TV’.

Make shoppers register before buying

The fewer barriers to conversions that exist, the higher your conversion rate will be. Forcing someone to register before checking out adds a barrier to conversion. Do not require shoppers to register, confirm an email address, or do any action other than inputting their credit card and shipping address.

Give up too early

Last year, as the days grew closer to Christmas, the online spending grew as well. According to comScore, last year there was $430 million spent on black Friday, $610 million on Cyber Monday, and an amazing $660 million spent on Green Monday.


Show delivery dates and shipping options

Everyone wants to make sure their package will arrive before Christmas. One of the fastest ways to lose a repeat customer is for your shipment to reach someone on December 26th. Reinforce delivery date options throughout your site. “If you order by today, we guarantee your package will arrive by December 21st”. In your shopping cart, make sure you call out the delivery options and the arrival date for the product.

Offer multiple delivery options

You will have some shoppers who want to ship their purchases to multiple locations. Do you allow your shoppers to ship to either an address that is not their billing address or to multiple addresses?

Offer gift wrapping

This is a quick way to add a few dollars to each checkout. You should also allow the buyer to choose not to have the receipt included in the package in case it’s being delivered to another address. Don’t forget, some people will want the receipt included so that the item can easily be exchanged (especially in the case of clothes).

Offer gift cards

Even if you have a nice recommended gift section, there will always be those who don’t know what to buy. Offering gift cards is a great way to have the undecided audience buy from your store. You should also allow someone who buys a gift card to receive either an email certificate (for those who are shopping on the 24th) or a physical card which they can put inside a nice envelope.

Give affiliates special banners or offers

Do not forget your affiliates. Your affiliate manager should reach out to your affiliates over the holiday season. Special banners, offers, or even some recommended products can go a long ways towards increasing your sales through your affiliate channels. If you have a sale, special shipping offers, or guaranteed returns – make sure affiliates know that information so they can use your offers in their presale pages.

Have wish list options

When we’re shopping for Christmas gifts for others, we often find things we’d like ourselves. Let your shoppers save items into a wish list that they can share with others. Make sure others can easily find wish lists and can search for someone they know. This is a great way to increase your shopper’s interaction with your site.

Save for later

Admit it, you shop from work. Most of us have. However, we’re often reluctant to actually pull out the credit card while sitting at the desk. Make sure that your visitors have a way to save their shopping cart items so that when they return from their computer at home they can finalize their purchase. According to Advertising.com, one third of consumers spend 2 or more days researching a purchase before actually buying. Make sure this third of consumers has a way to easily find their way back to the products they are interested in on your site.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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