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eSellers: How to Prepare Your Website for Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of the web. Online retailers will pull out all of the stops this year to get the attention of potential online customers. Over the years the tactics have changed and competition is only a click away. The holiday season is a great time to run promotions and try new things in an attempt to get more traffic to your site. If done right, those sales can turn into repeat customers who can keep your sales up year round.

With my 12 years of web design experience and even more as an online shopper I thought I would throw down a few ideas that I believe will increase your sales if implemented correctly. Some of these suggestions are pretty simple to implement and for those of you who are serious there are a few more advanced suggestions as well.

Cross Selling
You know how Amazon suggests items that you may like based on what others have purchased? The feeling they invoke in us is pure selling awesomeness. Showing items that compliment each other is cross selling. For example, a camera selling on a website may have a few items listed below it such as camera straps, memory cards, cases… You get where I am going with this.

Depending on your website, this functionality may not be available to you but if it is or you can figure out how to make it happen you can turn one sale into two, there or more. A great open source platform that comes with cross selling built in is Magento Commerce. Something easier to get started with is Spotify.

Simplify Your Customers Experience
Can you remember the last time you were on a website that frustrated you? It is all to common, especially when you just want to buy something and get back to what you were doing. If you sell a product that can be found somewhere else then you can not afford to leave a snag for potential customers to trip up on.

Getting feedback can be difficult. I have never been a fan of asking customers to specific of questions about the process through my websites however there is nothing wrong with asking your best customers if they think there is anything that would make the process better. They have probably been through it multiple times and may have some insight. If you really want to make sure, have a couple of those family members of yours that never seem to be able to learn how to attach a photo to their email to buy from your site. If great aunt flow can make it through with out calling you five times then you are probably good to go 😉

Create ways for your customers to get to your holiday specials. This could be as simple as adding a menu item, a banner image that links to your holiday specials or special landing pages that link to your social media sites.

Do all of these things. I am a huge fan of covering all of the bases and being everywhere.

Optimize for Search
I say optimize for search rather than search engine optimization because I don’t believe that you should position your website to appeal to a ranking that you may think is relevant to get more traffic. I have found that people search in a less logical fashion then you would assume. The only time they search in a specific manor is when they have the specific answers. This means that they already know what they are looking for they are just looking for the website with the best price. If you think like I do then you don’t want to be that website. The web is filled with to many websites that lack in so many areas because their owners are not making enough money to take their website serious. If you want to find the customers who went to Google because they did not yet know what they were looking for then you need to position your products and content to be found by those people.

Positioning your website and products to be found by the less informed takes a lot of work. You may be selling products produced by another company, which means that your content and resources are probably handed to you by the manufacture. I always tell my web clients that as an online consumer, I am not the type of person they should be targeting. I know how to find something, even if I don’t know what it is I am looking for. It is very rare that I spend more then a few moments looking for something that I didn’t even know existed. However, people who are “pretty good” at searching the web are not your target. Those people generally can find you if they wanted to as long as your website is in decent working order, is fairly modern and has decent content.

This is where I suggest that you optimize your website for those searching. A best practice that you will see on many blogs is to make sure that the text on your website is “keyword” rich. That is only a small step in the right direction. What you really need to focus on is making sure that your website’s text is search phrase rich.

A search phrase is what most of us do when we search. If I am looking for a camera I don’t google search the word camera. Most people will search based on what they are trying to accomplish. For example, if Jane was looking for the best camera for taking sports photos of her son playing soccer and you really want to sell a certain camera that is good at fast moving shots to soccer moms she would probably do a search in Google for “best camera for soccer photos” or something along those lines (keep in mind this is an example). That is a search phrase. Read through the content on your website and most importantly the product descriptions you have and see if you have any potential search phrases in there. Here is an example of how you could word your content: “The SL140XT is an affordable choice for the mom who wants the best camera for capturing her children’s soccer moments.”

Of course that example is very specific. I would suggest you try to be as broad as possible with out sounding like the manufacture wrote it. To make this process easier you could put together packages. If a mother wanted to buy a camera for the above mentioned purpose she would probably need a compact camera case, extra batter and possibly a zoom lens. Why not create a package that is for the “soccer mom.” If you can figure out how to create some specific niche packages you could take care of your Cross Selling and the same time.

Website Redesign
I am going to be honest. I judge a website by it’s cover and I know you do too. We all do, the same way we decide to walk into a store or not. When it comes to spending our money we want to make the best decision on who to spend it with as possible. At all costs want to avoid a negative experience or even worse, an embarrassing experience. A website is a lot like high school, the pretty ones get most of the attention. Of course there are the occasional loud websites that just seem to be popular for no apparent reason but the pretty sites have to work far less at it. If your website design is not on par with what people would expect from your industry then your website’s look could be costing you more money than it would take to redesign it. Of course it does not come down to the look of the website along, however this is one of those things that helps. A typical website redesign could cost you as much as a few thousand dollars but if the feeling people get from your website when they first click on it is less than desirable, you could be loosing much more then that.

People expect consistency, it helps us feel like we are on the right path. I get frustrated when I click on a link or an ad that looks and sounds like what I wanted only to land on a website that looks and feels nothing like what I expected. Create the experience you want your customers to have from the first link or ad they click on to the pages they land on after the checkout is finished. When it comes to selling online there is no such thing as to much testing.

Simplify and Reward
I think I have spoke enough on the topic of making the process simple. Once you have achieved this, make sure that you reward your customers for buying. I have seen websites give free shipping on the next order, a 20% discount if another order is placed with in the next 6 hours and coupon codes on the invoice with the shipped product. Make sure you give them something for next time. Make them remember your store, especially if you sell something that can be found somewhere else. You can not afford to be forgotten by your customers.

Online selling is much harder then it was 10 years ago, even 4 years ago for that matter. Don’t ever get comfortable. Keep trying to improve the process and make the experience better. Know what your customers are looking for and provide it. Know who your customers are and be the kind of seller they want to buy from. Just because your website does not have a physical face that people can see does not mean that you can not make it feel just as warm as dealing with a real person. Check out Zappos.Com’s iPad app. When you add an item to the cart a kitty jumps out with a thumbnail of the product in hand and drops it in the shopping cart. It is clunky looking but it makes me smile every time. What are you doing to make your customers smile while on your website.

This article quickly turned into an article on things you should do to your website anyway. I could go on in extreme length on examples of exceptional websites and practices that seem to be working for other people however I believe that you should figure out the kind of customer you are wanting to attract and build the shopping experience that person would expect to get.

Resources:
Spotify – Online Selling Platform with a free trial
Magento Commerce – Opensource eCommerce platform. Not easy to setup but it’s amazingly powerful.
OSCommerce – Opensource eCommerce platform. Not nearly as robust with features as Magento but easier to setup.

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