According to BlackFridayDC, there have been exactly 98 injuries and 7 deaths related to the holiday shopping celebration known as Black Friday. Traditionally regarded as the biggest “Consumer Holiday”, Black Friday is soon followed by Cyber Monday which is observed internationally and is traditionally the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. This year, it falls on November 28th.
Both days (and as a matter of fact the days preceeding them) bring a sudden surge in traffic – something that might surprisingly be too much of a good thing for some online retailers. In fact, according to Madeleine Scinto of Business Insider, “55 top retail websites went down” on Cyber Monday 2015. This included, ironically, the website of hi-tech computer vendor PC Mall that went down for 9% of the 24 hour frenzy. Similarly, Crutchfield (an online retailer that sells high end audio equipment) saw their site go offline for 19% of the day, while gift store Brookstone was lights out for a total of 6 valuable hours or 25% of last year’s Cyber Monday.
Business website Fundivo reports nearly one third of all online purchases occur on Cyber Monday. If your site were to crash during this Consumer Holiday, your losses could be considerable.
But before you rush and spend money on improving your infrastructure, take some time to analyze your site requirement first. Time and money can be saved by first optimizing the site and then ensuring that there is an infrastructure that can support it rather than boosting up, say, the server’s processing power to support a flawed site structure.
Make a Plan
The National Retail Federation reports that 40% of consumers start searching for holiday deals online directly after Halloween. Ok, by now you may have missed out on the first wave of searches this year. That being said, remember to set an appointment in your calendar to offer “early-bird” promotions following Halloween of next year.
And speaking about calendars, adding a Google Calendar widget to your website is not difficult, and you can use it to share promotional deadlines.
Depending on how badly you want to market, you might want to advertise online or use Search Engine Optimization products and/or services to improve the likelihood that a user finds your site via an online search. There is a whole range of companies and tools available in this domain. Keval Baxi, the CEO of Codal, the company where I work, recommends Moz – a suite of search engine optimization tools that is considered as being one of the best in the business. In short, you pay for tools to analyze and monitor your site’s online performance. This would form the basis for tweaks and enhancements that you would eventually implement in order to contribute towards increasing the likelihood that your company’s site shows up on search engines.
If your site has a social media presence, it is also recommended to makes a few posts regarding Cyber Monday sales – including of course products or services that you are offering at an incentive. Just do not over do it, because nobody likes spam.
Optimizing Your Site
Tweaking your website to better handle the different waves of holiday shoppers could boost your revenue. For starters, you could start by adding links to your return policies. Most customers are more suspicious of online retailers as opposed to retail shop locations. In order to create trust in your customers, move any sort of security badges that you have onto your homepage where your viewer can better see them.
Including a countdown timer to Cyber Monday or Black Friday is another great way to create a sense of suspense and urgency in your customers. In turn, this may get users excited enough to make a purchase from your website. Additionally you can offer an incentive (such as a small discount over the recommended retail prices) on certain products for users to ‘avoid the rush’ of the holiday shopping. This will inevitably trigger some pre-holiday sales coming from more eager users who are super excited about the sales and are afraid of missing out because of the rush. Such users are still very likely to purchase during the holiday shopping period due to the feel-good factor generated from the pre-season purchase.
Internal Links and Related Products
Do not assume that your customer purchases the first product they click on. If he/she accesses the landing page for a product and is not impressed, you should keep them captive with image-based links of related products sold on your site.
One of the best places to put these image-based links is near the footer of the product page, right after all of the details of the current product have been shown. In this way, the user will see the related products once they finish reading about the product they clicked on initially.
Additionally, for maximum effect, consider placing image-based product links dispersed throughout the landing page for a product. As you probably know, users can abandon conversion funnels at any moment, so you ought not rely on just one such CTA.
Mobilize Your Site
Clustrix CEO and contributing writer for business magazine Entrepreneur reports that mobile purchases in 2015 totalled $42.13 billion.
If you do not at least have a minimum viable product (MVP) for mobile that allows your customers to login to their shopping cart and make secure card-based transactions from their phone or mobile device, you are missing out on a fast-growing market.
This is something that is important not only around the holiday season, but every single day. Through our research, we have established that 67% of users are more likely to purchase from a website that is mobile-friendly.
Maximize Your Landing Pages
Each landing page you have on your site is another possible route to a sale. Every product you have on your site should have an individual page. If you support product reviews, making each review page into a stand-alone landing page is a great way to increase your search engine traffic.
Conclusion: Preparation is Key
“Be Prepared” may be the Boy Scout motto, but the phrase is applicable to Black Friday and Cyber Monday preparation as well. Cyber Monday has grown each year to the point that it is on the verge of overtaking Black Friday as the biggest “Consumer Holiday”.
If you have not optimized your site for Cyber Monday at least a month in advance, you are leaving money on the table in terms of sales. That being said, there are full-stack developer teams that can still optimize your site in time for the November 28th shopping frenzy.
In short, you may have missed out on the earliest waves of shoppers, but it is still not too late to optimize your site for Cyber Monday.
(Lead image source: Negative Space – Creative Commons)