For the past several weeks, we’ve been pulling together eComm’s best and brightest in our on-demand webinar series, Holidays, Unwrapped. While the topics have changed from session to session, one thing remains consistent and clear: this year will look markedly different from the rest — particularly in eCommerce.
In a recent study by Wells Fargo, 70% of customers reported that they would not be returning to storefronts anytime soon. If customers are planning on doing most (if not all) of their holiday shopping online, that means that brands who want to cash on the massive business opportunity are now competing solely online (which means we’re really talking about your website).
Your website is your company’s primary shopping experience and it’s arguably just as important to your brand’s success as the products and content that are hosted there. This Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM), customers won’t just be making their buying decisions based on the killer deals on your site, they’ll also be paying close attention to the overall experience they have there. Whether it’s got laggy load times, untimely pop-ups, or quite simply, just difficult to navigate — avoiding these common pitfalls will be critical to nailing your strategy this BFCM.
Not sure where to start? No problem. This past week, we met with several leading eCommerce brands to discuss just that.
Here are 4 highlights from the session:
- Timing is everything. (In comedy, and also, eCommerce.)
- When in doubt, test it out.
- Tech is your friend. (Build a killer stack.)
- Data FTW.
Timing is everything.
We’ve all been there. You search for a brand or product, click to visit their site only to be taunted by an incomplete load bar and a white screen. Tom Petty said it best, the waiting really is the hardest part. And it’s bad for your business, too. Latency can result in tremendous amounts of lost revenue. That’s no good, and when traffic is high, it’s a very likely occurrence. Luckily, there are some really simple things you can do to optimize your site performance so your customers can get to the good stuff (your products). One suggestion is to check your images. High quality and resolution are great, but not when they’re slowing down your site unnecessarily. Check the weight of your images and press them down to help with load times. Another idea? Pre-fetching. Essentially, this entails anticipating a visitor's next course of action and ‘pre-fetching’ it on the backend so you’re not waiting for a “call” to pull it up (you can read more on that here.) While these are just a couple of examples, all of our speakers cited a need for speed — and shared some ideas both essential and ingenious to do so.
While timing is critical when it comes to overall site performance, it’s also surprisingly important for pop-ups as well. Love them or hate them, you’d be hard pressed to find a brand that isn’t using them, and interestingly enough our speakers had varying recommendations when it came to timing them: either immediately upon visiting the site, or at checkout. While there are benefits to both , what we can tell you for sure is that your strategy should be unique to your brand goals and your customers. The key thing to consider is the behavior you’re trying to influence. For example, displaying a pop-up immediately upon entry to your site can help to incentivize shopping behaviors, but it’s also great for basic lead generation and email capture. At check out, you can help to increase AOV (average order value) by including coupons or discounts for certain cart totals or bundled products. Either way, what you don’t want is for customers to have to hunt for this type of information on your site. Choose the option that works best for you so you can put your customers in a prime position to spend and save.
That leads me to point #2.
When in doubt, test it out.
This BFCM, the last thing you’ll want to do is take guesses at what products, promotions, or pop -ups will perform best without testing them before the big day. That’s where A/B testing comes into play. Whether it’s finding just the right timing for your pop -ups (see above) or how to word your promotions to reel in your customers, testing out different options is a foolproof way to prep for the holiday rush. A/B testing allows you to test your site using the scientific method so you can draw reliable conclusions about what will and won’t work moving forward. By choosing a specific scenario, you can choose a dependent variable (like including “20% off” or “$10 off” in a pop-up promotion) and test both options out with real visitors to determine which will work best long term. It’s important to look closely at the data. Outliers in order totals, for example, can skew results so you’ll want to take this into consideration when making strategic shifts.
Another way to learn what is and isn’t working for your customers is to have a good old-fashioned conversation with them. A few speakers cited using tools like Recart that allow you to plug in Facebook Messenger so you can start a convo with customers and keep it going — even after they leave your site. Leveraging chat is a great way to instantly and dynamically engage visitors so you can learn more about their goals and their experience. And bonus, it works. For Facebook Messenger the open rate is on average 90%. That’s about as close as you can get to guaranteed engagement and valuable insight.
The above options offer simple ways to quantitatively (A/B) and qualitatively (Chat) test your site. Not into the scientific method? You can DIY, too. A few of our speakers make it a regular (daily) practice to visit and explore their own sites to literally put themselves in their customers’ shoes. The odds of your customers reaching out to you to let you know when things are working is low. Finding it on your own is a surefire way to catch what might be slipping through the cracks.
Tech is your friend (so build a killer stack).
Nailing your web strategy isn’t something you have to (or should) do on your own. The same digital transformation that is pushing customers online is also catalyzing mass proliferation of tools and tech to make the online experience that much better. And smarter. We’re dumping out our guests’ bag of ‘tricks’ to help you build a winning tech stack that will make your site sparkle and shine. Here’s some of the solutions we discussed:
- Justuno — Rev up revenue by connecting your paid media and ‘pop up’ strategy for big impact.
- Recart — Imagine that. Instantly plug in FB messenger so you can start meaningful conversations with your customers today.
- Octane AI — Nail your next ‘quiz’...with your customers of course. ;-) Surveys have never been easier. Or cooler.
- Google Optimize — Don’t guess. Test. Use Google Optimize to A/B test to your heart’s content.
- Gorgias — Bad customer service is ugly. Nail your customer experience and do it better with Gorgias.
- Nacelle — Optimize your site performance and boost your conversion rates.
- Malomo — Shipping, fulfillment, and post-purchase engagement made simple.
- Yotpo — Customer reviews are the lifeblood of any good marketing strategy. Yotpo makes it easy.
- Rebuy — Upsell, cross-sell, buy it again. Earn customers for life with Rebuy.
- Daasity — Shameless plug: Data makes everything better. Daasity does data better.
Which leads me to my final point.
Data FTW (for the win).
Looking at historical data is another great way to take the guesswork out of getting your site right, but it also helps you look forward to the future, too. And that’s critical to your strategy this holiday season. If it’s your first time, you should get started now, but note that BFCM is an outlier in your data collection. Anything you track now will be for next year.
A lot of what impedes and takes away from a visitor’s experience on your site can be avoided altogether just by looking at your data. Take, for example, your products. Looking back to determine what your best sellers are (and what times of the year customers buy them) can help you get your inventory just right so you’re not out of stock and leaving your customers out of luck. Leveraging a data analytics tool can also help you look directly at your site performance. Which pages are customers spending most of their time on? What type of device are they using? It can also help you segment your customers so you can, say, tailor your pop-ups to feel more personalized and useful for your customers.
One of our speakers noted how important the customer reviews were on their website overall. What did they do? They started including pop-ups with reviews in them when customers we’re stalled out on the site, or navigating away to help reel them back in.
That wraps up our recap on session three. Be sure to catch the rerun here if you missed it for the full download on how to get your site up to speed from our speakers at Blend Jet, Lively Root, Daasity, Justuno, AOA and Drip Drop.