6 Tips to Optimize Your Digital Strategy on Cyber Monday
This year's Cyber Monday sales will likely surpass the record numbers we saw in 2013 as more than half of shoppers plan to do at least some online buying this holiday season. Forrester estimates U.S. shoppers will spend $89 billion online this November and December, up 13 percent from last year. It's clear the stakes are disproportionately high — that $89 billion will account for nearly one-third of online retail sales in 2014.
Given that the majority of shoppers will begin researching gifts before Thanksgiving arrives, it's crucial to think ahead. In a perfect world, you've perfected your digital strategy months in advance. But even if you're late to the game, there are ways to fine-tune your digital strategies ahead of the holiday rush. Here are six tips on how to make the most of the massive e-commerce opportunity on Cyber Monday:
1. Drive conversions through search engine optimization and paid search. Ensure you have a solid search marketing strategy to capitalize on discovery through mobile search. To improve your organic search results, use a tool like Google Trends to understand popular terms and topics. Look at your historical data to see what keywords have driven conversions in the past — specifically, for Cyber Monday last year.
2. Separate your content. Ideally, you've already decoupled your web content from its presentation so you can reuse it in new mobile experiences (e.g., a native mobile app) without reinventing the wheel. If you don't have a separate content hub, create a platform in parallel to your existing system that lets you isolate your content and begin delivering a mobile experience. Don't invest in an architecture that you won't use in the future.
3. Be thoughtful about user experience. The user path should be both meaningful and streamlined for each device to avoid unnecessary clicks and complex forms that encourage abandonment. If you don't have time for a complete mobile overhaul ahead of Cyber Monday, focus on smaller issues — e.g., optimizing site speed and eliminating page errors — that will improve the user experience.
4. Test your infrastructure. You don't want to be the e-tailer that ends up losing customers because your site crashes, loads slowly or gets hacked. Be thorough with your performance and penetration testing, and stagger your communications such that you're not encouraging a huge influx of traffic at once.
5. Connect the dots between online and offline. Three-quarters of holiday shoppers plan to use their smartphones in stores this year. If you have a physical retail presence, take advantage of this trend. You might leverage beacons to give users immediate access to more information about the products in front of them. If you encourage online users to pick up their items in-store, use QR codes to expedite the process. If you primarily ship your orders, experiment with innovative methods of delivery, like Amazon has done recently with taxis.
6. Understand your customers and how they're buying. Do your customers like to talk to a sales rep on the phone before they make a big-ticket purchase? Are they using mobile payments? Make sure you can support different types of conversion paths, and that your online experience makes the conversion process as seamless as possible.
As consumers venture on an increasingly digital and winding path to purchase, it's important to meet them everywhere they research and buy. When refining your digital strategy this holiday season, make sure you're connecting the dots across devices to offer a holistic customer experience.
Ryan Donovan is the corporate vice president, commerce, at Sitecore, a provider of customer experience management software.