E-commerce: Four Lessons Learned From Holiday ’06
As holiday sales results continue to roll in, now’s the time to start thinking about ways to improve your online preparedness for the 2007 holiday season. Search marketing firm Oneupweb offers four best practices based on data from the past holiday season in its recent whitepaper “2006 Holiday Online Retail Buying Trends”:
1. Be ready by Halloween. Consumers start thinking about the holidays in October, making this holiday a good milestone to keep in mind, the whitepapers’ authors note. During the final full week of October (23-29) in 2006, retail site traffic went up 14.2 percent, conversion rates grew 15.7 percent and sales rose by 9.8 percent. These rates didn’t drop to pre-Oct. 23 levels until the final week before Christmas. In order to determine if your Web site can handle the Christmas volume, “whatever volume is occuring Halloween week, prepare for four times that during peak weeks,” Oneupweb officials write.
2. Conduct all major site testing during back-to-school season. “It’s too risky to make major shifts in creative once the [holiday] season starts,” the whitepapers’ authors caution. Test creative messages, landing pages and promotions when kids start heading back to school and have creative studies completed by the second week of October.
3. Protect peak season opportunities. Conversion rates on pay-per-click (PPC) keywords usually increase during the peak of the holiday season. Since most retail segments see PPC keyword prices rise as the holidays approach, set bid strategies to take advantage of the increased efficiency relative to seasonally higher pricing for competitive keywords, Oneupweb notes. If you’re still losing money on a particular product’s keyword, consider using that product as a loss leader, gaining profits through add-on sales or cross-selling.
4. Prolong the season with e-gift cards. Online sales began a rapid decline in the week before Christmas, probably due to shipping times, Oneupweb officials write. To minimize this effect, start promoting electronic gift cards around the same time you’re no longer able to meet Christmas shipping deadlines.