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2022 Holiday Guide: Tips for Improving Ecommerce Holiday Conversions

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Part 1 of 3

There’s no lack of conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practice guides out there. If you’re just getting started, guides like HubSpot’s Get Started Guide, or CRO Tips for Low Traffic Websites, and even Neil Patel’s Best Practices can be helpful reads for all-year CRO. However, when it comes to the holidays you’ll need to adopt a slightly different mode of thinking.

In this three-part series, we’re arming you with ideas, checklists, and approaches to help you prepare for the impacts on optimization and testing through the lens of the holiday season.

Our customers who consider these factors consistently outperform internal benchmarks and industry averages over the critical holiday period.

Your business is unique

To help craft your CRO strategy, keep in mind these unique year-round factors that need special consideration during the holidays:

  1. Session and Conversion Volumes
    High session and conversion volumes can enable you to reach testing milestones fast and make decisions quickly, but holiday traffic may not be representative of typical volume or customer buyer behavior. Alternatively, spikes due to short campaigns such as flash sales and one-day offers may yield lower volumes that force you to rely on directional data. Knowing your volume baseline can help you assess how traffic impacts testing and help you make decisions about whether to include learning in ongoing program optimizations or save your new insights for the next holiday season. 
  2. B2C vs. B2B
    Direct-to-consumer (DTC) are likely to be directly impacted by holiday trends but B2B brands may not be impacted by holiday traffic at all. In some cases, businesses may need to spend the remainder of their advertising budgets in Q4, so don’t turn your nose up at sending more email blasts now. The end of the calendar year is a great time to reconnect with customers and prospects, regardless of segment.
  3. Marketing Channels
    Stick to your current setup. Introducing a new channel may yield unexpected results, especially so close to a large increase in traffic volume and you need a baseline in order to run an effective test, so be mindful of changes you make during the holidays. An exception to this is branded search. It’s wise to set up branded search campaigns to capture users who are searching for a specific product.

Best practices for the holidays

Some tactics that are proven to increase conversions no matter what the time of year. These are specific areas to pay attention to, test, or optimize this holiday season.

If these elements aren’t already on your website, add them now. There’s still time!

  • Clear Return Policy
    You may have a return policy on your website, but providing a clear link to your returns policy on your checkout or product detail page (PDP) can instill confidence with buyers and increase the likelihood of a purchase. Use the return policy to reassure customers that if the product isn’t what they expect, you’ll help them find a solution.
  • Transparent Delivery
    Letting users know when to expect a package can be critical for holiday planning. According to Shopify, 45% of customers abandon their carts due to unsatisfactory delivery options. Consider offering expedited shipping options at checkout to give consumers a choice during this stressful shopping season. If you can’t offer faster ways to deliver items, make sure to set clear expectations for delivery times.
  • Email Automation
    Abandoned cart automations can help recover lost sales by letting a visitor know they left something in their cart. Consider increasing the frequency of these notifications around the holidays when cart sizes increase and distractions may interrupt intent to buy.

    Additionally, create a list of non-purchasers who have opened a reminder email within the last 30 days. This dynamic segment will respond because they’re typically in the “consideration phase” or holiday procrastinators.
  • Upsell and Cross-Sell
    Suggest upsell and cross-sell opportunities based on customer data including geolocation, demographics, frequently bought together, or similar items. Missing customer data? Manually include a small add-on purchase at checkout and compare it to your control page. Suggesting accessories and smaller items can not only increase cart size, but it is also an opportunity to delight customers who may be interested in rounding out a gift purchase.
  • Checkout Optimization
    • Guest Checkout – First-time customers may not feel comfortable saving their contact information right away. To help build trust, implement an anonymous or guest checkout option so these users aren’t deterred.
    • Payment Options – Decrease checkout friction by offering multiple payment options. Also consider payment plan tools that allow users to break up payments. This is a great option if your products are more expensive, but still important for an expected increase in average order value (AOV).
  • Personalization
    Personalization can make a big impact on holiday shopping behavior and there’s a lot you can test, but it’s not easy to do manually. With an AI-driven testing tool, you can test millions of combinations ranging from updating page copy depending on a user’s source to changing offers based on the number of times they visit your website. Honing in on “what works for who” will set you up for success when the holidays inevitably increase traffic.

With so many elements to consider when aiming to improve e-commerce holiday conversion rates, marketers are tasked with combining their expertise with testing tools to improve and scale personalization. Optimizing for unique shopping experiences with a well-rounded marketing stack is worth investing in. If you’re ready to take advantage of the fast approaching holiday traffic, chat with one of our experts to learn about the full lineup of tools available for you.

Looking for a few more tips? Continue reading the next parts in our series:

Free ebook: CRO Holiday Checklist

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