On the Web: Testing, Testing: 5 Web Attributes to Test This Season
Sure, you're entrenched in the holiday season by now, making sure your website is up to date with the most current inventory and that every one of your customers is happy and well served. But that doesn't mean it's time to rest on your laurels. In fact, the holiday season is a great time to test new web attributes and programs that may improve your shoppers' experiences, and ultimately bring you more sales.
After all, you're dealing with a very engaged audience right now, and their feedback can help you make decisions about the direction your website is headed this year and beyond. Here are five web attributes to test that will give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck this holiday season.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, but that's not the real reason video is effective. Video works because the visual cortex plugs directly into the brain that buys. Successful video doesn't necessarily need to be fancy — just look at Musician's Friend and Eastwood Company for solid examples of video that works — it just needs to sell.
New to video? Start with a two minute to four minute play on your product pages (or your entry page if you can handle it). Provide a solid call to action throughout the video, but most importantly at the end, complete with a phone number (yes, a phone number!). The end of the video should have a screen with the "ask" — for the order — and all relevant ordering information.
Also, consider using a footer that plugs your offer and call to action. The more aggressive, the better. Don't autostart videos (unless you've thoroughly tested them first), making sure consumers have to push play to start them.
Depending on whose research you believe, there are either five or six handheld mobile devices for every one computer out there these days. There's no doubt the mobile world is upon us; just look at Amazon's mobile sales of $1 billion. Unfortunately, most companies aren't embracing mobile the way they should. They're taking the wait-and-see approach that they followed in the mid-90s with the "World Wide Web."
Dare to be different and get a jump on the competition by testing out the mobile waters. It's not expensive and the benefits far outweigh the resource outlay. Feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of mobile? That's OK. Just start by optimizing your emails for mobile. Less than a quarter of companies are doing that, and it's a great way to get your toes wet. Cindy Krum's book, "Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are," is a fantastic primer on mobile.
Live chat has come a long way. If you haven't tried it yet, now is a great time to start. There are two major types of chat: one, the customer contacts you by clicking on a live support button (check out MARCO Promotional Products; it has a good example of this on its site); or two, instigated chat where you contact customers based on a formula you've preset (oftentimes this is the length of time a user has been on a particular page, the site in general, or in a "trouble" area such as text search results or the shopping cart. Check out Tiny Prints; it does a nice job of this.)
Both types of live chat are worth testing on your site. What's more, live chat services from companies such as LivePerson and Bold Software make it quick and easy to set up. If you can only test one, try instigated chat first. It's easiest because you get to choose when and where you want to use it. (Hint: Try checkout first.)
A/B Split Testing
For many companies, the holiday season (or the end of the year for B-to-B folks) means increased traffic, which, in turn, makes it one of the best times to test. There are lots of good A/B split and multivariate testing tools out there (e.g., SiteSpect, Adobe Test&Target, and Vertster), but if you have a limited budget, Google Website Optimizer is free and Visual Website Optimizer is dirt cheap and super easy to use.
Make a list of all the things that you want to test and then prioritize them based on what you think will bring the biggest immediate return on investment. Oftentimes, marketers don't test because they think it's overly complicated. It's not. All you've got to do is take the first step.
These days, everyone and their dog has a thrust email program. Sadly, very few companies have a handle on triggers. Trigger emails are sent to individuals based on their actions. The action could be good (thanking them for signing up for your free e-letter), bad (abandoning a shopping cart) or indifferent (confirming a vote in a poll), but it's always a happening, event or instance.
Triggers have higher response rates, better deliverability and improved lifetime profit. Find the whole concept of triggers overwhelming? Start with the easy ones, such as thanking customers for their orders and shipping confirmations.