You may not be conscious of this, but the holidays produce a timed-sale effect for almost all e-commerce websites, and even some lead-gen sites selling/promoting products or services. The approach of the holiday acts like the same kind of purchasing deadline that a timed sale has. It pushes people toward a later stage of buying more quickly, forcing them to dig for answers to their early and middle stage questions and concerns, and make a decision before the deadline arrives.
Another factor also means a greater portion of your visitors are likely late stage buyers at this time of year: people often put off buying a special something they really want in the hopes it will show up under the tree with a bow on it. They may have started their research back in March, slowly come to a decision about the product they wanted and the vendor they wanted to purchase from, but now they’ve finally passed a link to your site along to Great Aunt Mary in the hopes of avoiding another knit sweater with snowflakes and tassels on it. And Great Aunt Mary knows no greater joy in life than finding just the right gift for someone special.
Too bad Great Aunt Mary isn’t very Internet savvy. With all of her baking and knitting, she hasn’t stopped to think about just how close the Holiday is. So when she finally got around to asking Susie, who stops in every day to check on her, to read her email, she was surprised to find that week-old note from Johnny about the special hunting knife he’s been shopping for all year. It’s hard to believe that a click of a button will produce a gift at Johnny’s house on the other side of the country, especially when 2/3 of your life was under your belt before you even laid eyes on a computer. But even Susie, who’s studying medical technology at college and deals with computers all the time, is wondering how long it takes to process and ship the order. It’s not that either of them is really all that bad at math, but they have questions about just exactly what 3-day shipping means…
If I order today, is today included in the three days?
Is Christmas Eve included in the three days?
Are weekend days included in the three days?
Can I get away with ground shipping…. Or do I need to buck-up and overnight the knife?
Even conversion optimization analysts who spend most of their waking hours advising clients how to make a website better can face questions like these when they are under pressure to make sure there is a neatly wrapped package under the tree for someone special come the Holiday. That’s why Melissa Burdon was pleasantly surprised when she received an email from a website with specific details and deadlines for ordering in time for Christmas. Not only does the featured information of this email (deadlines for ordering) demonstrate an excellent customer focus by offering useful information that is often overlooked by companies and customers alike, but it also has the added benefit of making the marketing message (security is a great gift for a loved one) more subtle and genuine. The message here is all right (click image at right to enlarge)! Best Stun Gun manages to hit all the most important highlights:
Can you think of other e-Commerce related issues that customers tend to struggle with or overlook entirely at the Holidays? How can you beat potential customers to the punch and provide the details that delight them by pre-empting their questions, or addressing concerns they didn’t even know they should have? Share your experiences and ideas with our readers.