Two days till Black Friday, and four till Cyber Monday - there's still time to make these last-minute tweaks to boost online sales!
Last year, Black Friday online sales reached $1.04 billion, a 28 percent increase over 2011, and Cyber Monday proved its worth as the highest online spending day in history with $1.47 billion, a 17 percent increase over last year, according to comScore's research. This ought to be all the incentive you need to spruce up your online stores and inventory in preparation - people will come to your website, your Amazon and eBay stores, but will they leave as customers? Or will they wander off and spend their $1.47 billion elsewhere? Read on to make them stay and spend on your turf.
- Use email BEFORE, as well as during, Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Your list is about to get bombarded on Friday and Monday, and your email's about to get lost in the swamp. To get your marketing message across intact, try spacing your emails out; that is to say, don't ignore the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as that's precisely when your list will be carding through their promotional newsletters looking for the best deals. Reinforce your message by emailing out on the days themselves as well, but remember that the emails you send out leading up to those days can be just as valuable. According to Monetae, 46 percent of shoppers hear about the deals they end up taking advantage of in emails sent directly from the retailer. So get crackin'!
- Add a countdown to your website. Seriously.
This is simple psychology, according to the University of Nebraska. A countdown to savings creates a feeling of anticipation and urgency in your customers, which is, let's admit it, precisely how you want them. You want your customers excited about what you have to offer, and what better way than to do it with a countdown? Whether it's a big one counting down to midnight on Thanksgiving, or a bunch of little countdowns ticking off the time remaining for specific products, our advice is that you get one, pronto.
- Double check your inventory before the party starts
You probably won't have time for an exhaustive physical count, but I'll bet you have time to go over your top ten performing SKUs if you pull your resources. Make sure your listings accurately reflect the quantities in your warehouse. It's prooobably too late to get set up on an automation tool like SkuVault (warehouse & inventory management) or ChannelAdvisor (channel management), but definitely keep something like that in mind for next year, if you're not on a system already. At the very least, you can set up merchandising rules to offer substitutions for your top products in case you run out of stock.
- Double check product photos, prices, links, and descriptions while you're at it
You might not have time to go over everything, but it's worth it to take a quick look at the product photos, descriptions, links to, and especially prices for your top performing SKUs. We've heard some pretty embarrassing horror stories.
- Optimize your "404 Page Not Found" and "No Results Found" pages
These two pages are pretty common sources of bounces during the holiday season - bounce back with a related search, as shown in the example from Amazon below. Or if that's too fancy for you, simply apologize and provide a list of "Top Items" or "Best Gifts under $20" to get customers interested in clicking around your site again.
- Gift cards as an incentive
According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, 8 in 10 Americans will buy at least one gift card during the holidays. Holiday shoppers will spend an average of $163.16 on gift cards, and total spending on gift cards is estimated to reach $29.8 billion this year. What you ought to be taking from all this is that Americans are nuts about gift cards, which makes them a perfect incentive to entice them to spend more on your online store. Try offering a $10 gift card for every $100 spent, and see how popular that makes you. To tip the scale past awesome and into really, really satisfying, roughly 70% of customers who receive gift cards spend more than the value on the card. Excellent.
- Up-sell everything
Customers love up-selling, and they vastly prefer it, 20-1, over cross-selling, according to research done by PredictiveIntent. For the uninitiated, an up-sell refers to when a customer is presented with a similar yet more expensive item, and a cross-sell refers to when a customer is shown other products commonly purchased with their chosen product, aka, "people who bought this also bought these".
- Learn from last year
We know it's crazy right now, and last year seems so far away, but try to think back - what was the worst thing that happened? Did you stock out early in the game? Did your printers all run out of ink? Did your warehouse workers pick reeeally slowly, scanners slipping from their mittened hands, because you refused to turn the heat on? Try to learn from your mistakes.
- Free Shipping
The only reason this is so far down on this list is because it's so obvious, and it's becoming such a standard, that it feels more like a rule of survival than a tip. I mean, customers would rather have a $6.99 shipping fee waived than take $10 off their entire purchase, apparently, so it's kind of a big deal. The only thing really up for optimization is how high your threshold is before you offer free shipping - personally, we think that Amazon's got it right with their threshold of $35. There's no reason to lose money on free shipping, after all.
- Parting shot: Gather emails during Black Friday and Cyber Monday to enjoy all year long
This is like your Kwanzaa / Christmas / Hanukkah gift to yourself. You can get those emails, and you can do it without aggravating those customers who don't want to create an account with you. That's right, you can have your cake and eat it too. Here's one pop-up nobody minds getting when they're checking out - enter in your email and take $5 off your purchase. Or 10% off the highest item in the cart. Or free shipping (you were going to give them free shipping anyway). Heck yes, absolutely, here's my email, TAKE IT. You will be rolling in emails. If emails aren't your game, you can apply the same principle to social - Like our page, get this discount. Boom, drop the mic! Best eCommerce seller of all time!