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Friday, Dec. 10, 2010 at 11:17 am

Tips and Tricks To Bank Big Bucks This Holiday Season

By Melissa Burdon
December 10th, 2010

By looking at the purchasing patterns of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we can usually get a pretty good indication of what to expect for the rest of the holidays.

Matt McGee wrote an article telling us that we should expect good things this 2010 holiday season. He mentions Kenshoo’s results from their first Online Holiday Shopping Report. Kenshoo is a digital marketing software provider, used by five out of the top 10 US retailers. This is what was reported:

“Overall, for the 26-day period ending with Cyber Monday, 2010 search advertising budgets were up 31% compared to 2009. Total online sales transactions increased 83% during this time, resulting in 60% more online sale revenue for retailers.”

This is exciting news for all of us, right?! So, why am I still feeling like we’re not living up to our full potential?

Back in 2007, I wrote The Battle Between Search Engine Optimization and Conversion that talks about investing in driving more organic traffic and addresses the fears many companies have that this will lead to less visitors and lower search engine rankings. These days, people are focusing a little less time on SEO and more time and budget on PPC, social media and other marketing efforts with the goal of driving more traffic.

My point from 2007 still is relevant today, just in a slightly different context. Ultimately, you WILL increase sales and revenue by simply driving more targeted traffic. The good news about investing in PPC, social media and some other marketing channels is that you can drive highly-targeted traffic to your site. If done intelligently, you can say with reasonable certainty that these visitors want what you have to offer. Still, I believe we are not getting the results we could be achieving: conversion rates are still low. And the Kenshoo report belies the fact that we are still more focused on increasing traffic than we are on increasing conversion, even though increases in sales and ROI are much more robust if you focus on the latter. Just check out the chart in MjB’s recent post to see a comparison.

Spending money on driving highly targeted traffic to your site, is a great idea. But if you haven’t optimized your site so that you effectively persuade the traffic to take action or move forward in their buying process, then you are just driving visitors into a leaky funnel, leaving the money they should be spending on the table, and not maximizing the return on the dollars you invested to get them there in the first place. Furthermore, that bad experience has lasting effects on your visitors: I doubt they will ever come back again.

So, here’s my gift to you this holiday season: Optimize these high impact elements on your site to persuade even a few more visitors to take action, collect more money from your visitors, and drive your cost per click down:

  1. Shopping cart
    1. Reassurances. Make it clear to the visitor that this area is safe and secure. Provide links to your security and privacy policy.
    2. Calls to action. Your “Continue To Checkout” button leading to the checkout page should stand out effectively, and be located above the fold. Create a smaller but still effective “Continue Shopping” button and feature it to the left of the “Continue” button.
  2. Checkout
    1. Reassurances. Next to any field where you’re asking for personal information, provide the correlating reassurances.
    2. Reduce steps. If you don’t have a one page checkout, see what you can do to get one. If you can’t, then at least try to reduce the number of clicks visitors need to perform to complete an order and be sure they always know where they are in the process (step 1 of 2, etc).
  3. Top Landing Pages
    1. Unique Value Proposition. Tell the visitor in a concise statement what you do (differently from your competition, if possible) that will benefit the visitor.
    2. Contact info. Clearly feature a phone number and a link to a contact us page in a top banner of your site.
    3. Entry Points. Feature entry points (ie: top categories) within the active window (above the fold of the page, and to the right of the left navigation).

Suzanne Wells also has some good eBay-specific tips she posted on Stamps.com. When you do make changes to your site, only change and test one or two elements at any one time so that you know which improvements were responsible for the results and are able to quantify the impact those changes made.

Are you currently investing in more than one marketing effort at a time? Do you have a marketing team and resources that can implement changes and tests on your site? You may be the perfect fit for our subscription website optimization service.

We can help you make more money online this holiday season by identifying the reasons your visitors aren’t converting, and giving you a prioritized to-do list detailing what to fix/test on your site. Our client success stories prove it’s worth the investment.


Add Your Comments

Comments (17)

  1. I totally agree with that.

    Organic traffic must increase for long term success!

  2. Solid points you have here. PPC, social media and the likes may bring in the needed traffic but optimization is significant. Your bullet points explains what should be done.

  3. Diggin the rich media integration on grok, nice play. As for big bucks, we already missed out on one of the sickest cyber mondays in recent memory. Google changed their algo to shift toward trusted domains, so play with what’s on the table for now…

  4. Great points you’ve made here. I’ve recently been working on updating the landing pages on several sites, cleaning up basically… more white space, more content, easier navigation is key in my book! Oh… and “relevant”, useful content is always a must.

  5. CRO is really tricky, but all I’m really sticking with is the principle of implying “trust” when it comes to optimizing important pages (or basically signaling visitors that my site is trustworthy). I do think that this is the best season to reevaluate landing pages to improve conversions, knowing that a lot of search is happening in this time of the year.

  6. You all have had several posts about not forgetting about conversion. Point definitely taken. And its definitely a lot of work to think the whole process through. And it takes time to watch visitor behavior, but you’re right this is where the big bucks are.

  7. I’m wondering if you have a feel for when a good time to cut off the ppc investment for xmas gift conversions.

    I’m getting the feeling right now Dec 14, that it’s just happened.

    Anyone?

  8. Shawn- I wouldn’t speak so soon. I launched several black friday and cyber monday sites that saw serious gains right up until midnight and even the day after. Christmas gift conversions will continue strong into last december….

  9. Organic traffic is the way to go! When you have more visitors more of them will convert into buyers

  10. Google changed their algo to shift toward trusted domains, so play with what’s on the table for now…

  11. Organic traffic? I am not so sure about that…

  12. “Furthermore, that bad experience has lasting effects on your visitors: I doubt they will ever come back again.
    ” – so true. I saw so many times that traffic to not optimized sites or sites that do not know how to sell (in the bottom line..) is a wasted traffic.

  13. Great post, thanks. Reassurances are so important. Using a secure payment system like PayPal can help with that.

  14. More white space, and more content and easy navigation key in my book! Oh … And “relevant”, and useful content is always a must

  15. Organic Traffic,,,? Maybe yes…

  16. I think that the PPC as well as the SEO work is important. Search engines seem to pick up different information. So by using the PPC and directing the exact traffic you are looking for, while the SEO generates traffic that people stumble across.

  17. “we are still more focused on increasing traffic than we are on increasing conversion, even though increases in sales and ROI are much more robust if you focus on the latter” – That is so true…and yet so hard to accept.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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