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Your Holiday Ad Campaigns Are Ready. But Is Your Ecommerce Website Optimized?

As every online marketer knows, the cost of paid customer acquisition has been on an upward trajectory for years. With less inventory available on social media and more demand for eyeballs comes higher prices — and therefore less of a guaranteed return on investment.

And as every B2C marketer knows, ad expenses skyrocket during the holidays, making the stakes higher than ever. Online merchants are up against other competing brands to reach their most valuable target audiences, driving paid campaign costs through the roof.

Meanwhile, Internet shoppers have become extremely savvy at comparing prices, waiting for discounts, and taking advantage of flash sales.

Thanks to all that pressure and competition to get in front of the right people at the right time and grab their attention, digital marketers often spend months prepping for Q4 — and unfortunately, most of that time is spent overlooking the step after that first ad click.

Consider this:

Now that you’ve committed to driving all this extra traffic to your ecommerce website via paid social, TV ads and seasonal email campaigns, have you thought about how you’ll maximize all the new visitors you’ll be getting?

If your answer is no, the silver lining is that just a few design tweaks can bring in hundreds, even thousands of additional dollars over the holiday shopping season.

If you haven’t optimized your ecommerce website for conversions, there’s still time — but it’s quickly running out. Here are four steps you should take immediately to improve your on-site ROI this holiday season.

1. Identify the weak points in your customer’s purchase path on your website

Google Analytics will tell you what your most popular pages are, what your bounce rate is like, and what the split of new vs. returning visitors is, but do you know how far down people are scrolling? How they’re interacting with your nav bar? Whether they’re even seeing your “Buy Now” CTA?

Using website heatmap reports, scroll maps, and user session recordings, you can see exactly how people are interacting with your ecommerce site — both from an individual and a group level.

These insights will help you identify “dead clicks” (spots where people expect links, but there are none), opportunities to move ad landing page CTAs into attention hotspots, and elements in the checkout process that cause shopper confusion.

2. Keep a close eye on the mobile vs. desktop shopping experience

It’s been well documented that people are inseparable from their phones these days, and that means holiday shopping has gone massively mobile. What was once a mall experience, and then a desktop-only experience, is now squarely in smartphone and tablet territory.

According to Salesforce, 50 percent of orders were done via phone on Dec. 25, 2017 — compared with less than 40 percent in 2016. As mobile adoption continues to climb, chances are the majority of your new holiday customers will be experiencing your site through smaller devices.

Your site may be mobile responsive or designed to be mobile-first, but do you know how mobile shopper behavior on your site differs from that of desktop shoppers? If so, how does your website design account for these variations?

To get some insight into how your desktop and mobile audiences react to your ecommerce website, we suggest you pull and compare visual user behavior reports to pinpoint challenges and preferences through website shopping behavior. For example, how are these two different types of shopper reacting to forms on your site?

That way you are not applying a one-size-fits-all design strategy to a 50/50 split situation.

Whether you run an aggregated site visitor report or zero in on individual mobile visitor recordings, you will be able to make much more informed, impactful design changes when you base them on real customer interactions.  

3. Use your site visitor observations from steps 1 and 2 to run simple A/B tests

As I mentioned earlier, there is still time to make improvements to your site UX ahead of Black Friday.

And when a fraction of a percent lift in holiday shopping conversions means thousands of dollars in extra revenue, it’s well worth the effort! With A/B testing tools, you can track your test results against a specific goal. For ecommerce, this is generally a purchase.

Here are some optimizations we suggest that you test to see if your conversion rates go up:

  • Change the color or copy of your CTA button
  • Change the headline and subheader copy
  • Experiment with % off vs. dollar amount off
  • Experiment with lifestyle vs. product photos
  • Swap in different testimonials/customer quotes as social proof

You may be surprised to learn that something as simple as changing the featured image on your ecommerce site’s homepage can boost your conversion rate up to 550%.

4. Apply what you’ve learned across all your marketing campaigns

Once you have clear winners from your A/B tests, you’ll know exactly what design preferences your current customers have. This is a great indicator that your future new customers will also react favorably.

Let’s say that the A/B test above indicated that shoppers preferred strikethrough prices with the dollar amount of the discount spelled out, rather than “50% off” or “Buy one, get one free” copy. Then, you’ll know this will likely work across your paid ads and email campaigns as well!  

With a little bit of research and A/B test experimentation, you’ll be in prime shape to maximize your increased investment in paid traffic, convert more on your ecommerce website, and have an especially merry holiday season.

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