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Naughty & Nice Holiday Testing Tips

Six ways to approach optimization during the holiday shopping rush

A guest post from our agency partner, Pointmarc.

Testing during the holiday season is a mixed bag. It can be a tough time of year to kick off new initiatives and take potential risks within the e-commerce holiday pressure cooker of lofty seasonal revenue goals and rigid code freezes.

On the other hand, even minor testing wins can create major revenue impact during peak holiday traffic times and create momentum for your testing initiatives moving into the New Year.

Retailers are reporting record online sales this Cyber Monday and are expecting an increase in sales throughout the rest of the holiday season. To help out, we came up with six easy yuletide testing tips to maximize your holiday traffic conversion rates.

1. Shipping offers and rules

Start by determining what kind of shipping rate messaging resonates with your customers. You might target different audiences based on location or order history. "Free shipping" on orders up to a certain amount is a widely-used and effective tactic among online retailers. But remember, it's important to display the free shipping offer from the moment visitors land on your site (see Sears example). In addition, "free store pickup" could resonate favorably with last minute, budget-minded shoppers.


2. Related items at checkout

Displaying accessories and last minute gift ideas related to the items in a customer’s cart could prove to be a strong play on incremental sales and a way to increase your average order value (AOV). If you're not already doing so, try comparing the AOV when you offer additional items at checkout compared to the default experience. Extended warranties and gift cards are two offers you might test.

Many retailers offer service plans to handle the replacement of damaged items and the shopping cart is the perfect place to make this upsell offer. Another checkout variant to test is a gift card offer for that "hard-to-shop-for" recipient on their list this year.

3. Optimize for anxiety

The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Don't add to the stress with a cluttered online shopping experience. Keep the experience simple and clean, eliminating unnecessary anxiety for shoppers as they make their decision. Consider testing a minimalized product detail page that reduces distractions.

For example, Amazon has many different instances of their call to action (CTA) from the homepage or category pages. However, as shoppers discover their intended product through browsing, the ability to add the item to the shopping cart and complete the order is displayed much more prominently.


4. Keep your loyal shoppers informed

Sometimes your customers are more concerned about being able to buy a “hot” item and less concerned about its price, especially if supply is scarce. Don't disappoint your shoppers because they waited for a sale price and missed out, when they would have gladly paid the full price for it. In a tactic employed successfully by Best Buy, communicating early access sales with loyal shoppers allows them to see what's right around the corner and decide whether to purchase immediately or wait.

5. Uncover historical success metrics

Review data from prior years and discover success metrics that can inform your future. Perhaps you don't have to slash prices during the final days of shopping right before Christmas; perhaps your customers value rapid shipping instead. Your data might suggest setting a fair suggested price gives the customer a genuine sense of value and allows you to emphasize availability and shipping options over sale prices the 18th through 24th of December.

6. Mitigate your testing risk

The higher-than-normal volume of traffic on your website during the holiday shopping season allows you to test and learn more quickly than other times of the year. Just because the site is in a code freeze or your marketing teams have set a merchandising or promotional calendar doesn't mean you stop learning. Many retailers test small changes to select segments’ experiences, which represent only modest risk but could have big conversion rewards while you gain insights and knowledge from your customer base and target audiences.

As you make your way through the holiday season this year, remember optimization of your online sales needs to be strategic, but it isn't meant to be concrete. Be prepared to try some new ideas this year, adjust or make changes that help to streamline sales and improve the customer experience. Even if you don't have all of the answers this year, take an iterative approach to make progress over time.

Be sure to measure and share your success throughout your organization to carry momentum into next year's optimization initiatives.

Visit Pointmarc online to learn more about their connected analytics consulting services.

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