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Insights: Five last-minute holiday tips for online merchants


By Christopher Birkholm,project manager, SEO and site optimization, at Digital River

As the official kick-off of the holiday season approaches, your core online holiday campaigns are all wrapped up and ready for holiday shoppers. This year, it is expected that online consumer spending will rise 16% over last year to approximately $60 billion, according to the comScore forecast. Desktop commerce is expected to jump nearly 14% while mobile commerce could see an increase of nearly 25%.

With strong indications that we will see another record breaking holiday season, here are five last-minute tips to help maximize your online revenue and finish your holiday season ahead of the pack:

1. Don’t forget about mobile Earlier this year, comScore released a report stating that by June 2014 the number of smart phone owners increased by 22% and the number of tablet owners increased by 36% compared to the year prior. How important is that to your marketing? Mobile friendly sites are no longer a luxury but a necessity if you don’t want to turn shoppers away this holiday season. At the very least, you must ensure that your online store or holiday landing pages are mobile friendly.

2. Laser focus in the affiliate space If you are looking to boost your holiday numbers, narrow your focus on affiliate marketing. You should identify the strongest affiliates, provide them exclusive offers, and work with those that have a proven track record and history with your brand. This isn’t the time of the year to give every affiliate a little bit of playing time. This is the time of year to encourage your top performers to help you drive the big numbers. Since this is a competitive time of the year, remember that a little incentive can go a long way with affiliates – so crank up the commission a bit to give them another reason to go out and perform for your site.

3. The larger the target the larger the bull’s-eye Throughout the year, you are fairly particular and specific with who you re-target, how you re-target and what messaging you re-target with – however, the holidays aren’t like other times of year. This is the season when everyone is looking for great deals, the lowest prices on the gifts they need to purchase and a little incentive to click through to your site. To attract these motivated shoppers, you should re-target more consumers with less product-specific messaging and more holiday-specific messaging. Your best bet is to set up a landing page for all of your holiday deals and message to consumers more broadly. Holiday shoppers just need to know that your brand is having an incredible sale and that it will be easy to make a purchase.

4. Don’t forget the conversion funnel best practices Take the time to evaluate your site objectively. Ensure that you are utilizing online shopping best practices whenever possible. Include security messaging next to all “continuation type” buttons from the shopping cart to help convey a message of trust and security to your online consumers. Make it easy for a consumer to get through the checkout process. Provide “continuation type” buttons at both the top and bottom of the page or have the buttons scroll with the user as they scroll down the page. This minimizes the amount of interaction the consumer needs to get through the conversion funnel. Clickable breadcrumbs enable a user to easily transition between pages to easily make edits to their forms or orders and minimize the frustration they may encounter while trying to update previously entered data. Also, it is important to be clear about “Billing Address” vs “Shipping Address” fields. Many people ship their presents to a different address as they are travelling for the holidays. By making a clear distinction between the two fields, you can minimize potential future calls to customer service about missing packages.

5. Clear and concise shipping information Let your customers know when their purchase is expected to arrive at their doorstep. Nothing is more embarrassing than opening a great gift from someone and not having a gift to give them in return because your package did not arrive on time. You can prevent this situation by being EXTREMELY CLEAR on shipping cut-off dates. Include countdown timers that are clear and prominently displayed in the shopping cart or on the home page – this can provide an invaluable service by informing shoppers of when they need to purchase by to get that gift in time for the holidays. In reality, there is a plethora of things you can do to prepare for the holidays. However, if you are looking for last-minute tips, these five can help push you from good to a great holiday season performance. If you have more tips and tricks to squeeze out a little more revenue, please don’t hesitate and help each other out by leaving a comment with what has worked well for you.
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