For the past month or so, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from folks who are worried about the upcoming Holiday season. Most of them are on “lockdown” (meaning no new projects till after Christmas) and are concerned that their plans aren’t enough. Sales were soft for a lot of companies in August and September so I understand the anxiety – although the whole “IT gets a three month vacation” baloney? Not. A. Fan. But I digress.
If you’re staying up at night wondering if your company’s Christmas business is going to be a hit or a miss this year or if you’re just someone who wants to improve their sales but doesn’t have a lot of time, resources or money, here are some tried-and-true Duct Tape and Spit ideas you can consider.
EMAIL ALL OUTSTANDING CARTS. It blows my mind (and not in a good way) how many companies send their users a couple abandoned cart emails and then just delete them/leave them to rot. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before: diminishing returns blah blah blah. Putting that argument aside for right now (since it’s mostly based on vendor propaganda), let’s agree that the majority of people who put stuff in their baskets have propensity to buy it. (This is NOT like 1995 where people were enchanted they could SHOP NAKED but didn’t have the cubes to lay their credit card numbers bare on that mysterious information super highway.)
Let’s also acknowledge that those people – who put your products in their baskets – may not have been ready to purchase it within YOUR cycle of abandoned cart emails – ESPECIALLY if it was a holiday item/gift – and that they may be susceptible to another gentle reminder. Yes? Fair?
If you agree (and you really should because this program works like gangbusters for most folks), consider taking all your outstanding abandoned carts who’ve gone through your current abandoned cart series and emailing them a solid “I was going through my records and noticed you still have stuff in your cart” email. If you want to include an offer, that’s fantastic. If you don’t, that’s okay, but please add a deadline to the email anyway – deadlines create urgency and cause people to focus, which is extra important this time of year.
How far can you go back? As long as you have the carts. (And if you’re NOT keeping carts open indefinitely, you should be. Yes, even if you have limited inventory.)
How far back is profitable? You have to mail to figure that out. It varies depending on the type of item(s) you’re selling and how comprehensive your contact plan is. My experience is that if your creative is good (meaning the story about why you’re writing is tight and compelling) you can mail for as far back as you have carts. However, if you’re feeling conservative or just want to put your toe in the water on this, mail the most recent outstanding carts first.
WORK YOUR REMARKETING FOR THE HOLIDAYS. The Amy Africa Voodoo Doll has lost at least one limb – maybe two – solely from my oh-so-bullish stance on remarketing. I get the vitriol – I personally hate remarketing too but that doesn’t change the fact that it works. More importantly, it works even better if you work it.
There are lots of different types of remarketing (my personal favorite is competitive retargeting) but for now, while you’re trying to get the biggest bang for your buck, look closely at your existing program – there are usually some simple tweaks you can do to maximize its efficiency.
The three things you should look at first are: your frequency (there is a magic formula for frequency and a lot of folks tank their programs because they overmarket in too short of a window/time period); your creative (creative makes a HUGE difference in remarketing success and most companies don’t test enough creative versions) and your timing. The timing thing can be a big play at the holidays. You might want to market more aggressively faster OR you might want to market longer. (It doesn’t take long to test both and it’s definitely worthwhile.)
Best of all, like the abandoned cart email idea above, you can also test pulling from older universes (especially carts and searches.) Using specific banners to feature HOT products and bestsellers that you want to promote also can work really well too. However, if you can only choose a couple things to focus on, look at the carts (abandoned and adopted), searches and people who spent a boatload of time and/or looked at a bunch of pages on your site. (Mileage may vary on the latter – if you’re confused as to where to start, look at people who stay 1.5x your average user session or look at 2x the average number of pages.)
CHANGE YOUR MOBILE SITES TO GET MORE PEOPLE TO CALL. Look, chances are you’re like everyone else, and your mobile site leaves a little-something-something to be desired. It’s a mistake but with all the other stuff you’ve got going on, these things happen. Don’t beat yourself up about it. (Do put it on the plan for next year though – Mobile is NOT, I repeat NOT, a division of ecommerce, it’s a whole different beast and needs to be treated accordingly.) Instead, do the best you can with what you have – and for a lot of you that means putting click-to-call buttons and phone numbers all over the place (read: every view.) Will this save the world? No. Statistically though, if you’re uber-aggressive about getting people on the phone, you’ll capture about a third of them which is about THIRTY TIMES MORE than the 0-1% you are currently getting, right?
What else can you do with a little elbow grease when it comes to mobile? Work your entry page(s). It/they should be short, fast loading and have the essentials. You don’t need 4 buttons for customer service and you certainly don’t need to spend half a screen asking the people who come from your emails to sign up for your emails.
Once you’re finished, streamlining your entry page(s), look at the next 5-10 most popular pages on your site and work on those. It’s way easier – and more effective – if you break it down into small, bite-sized chunks.
Oh, and don’t forget to separate your tablet traffic from your phone traffic this Fall. Chances are they’re going to be different and even though you may not be able to impact your phone sales that much, you’ll surely be able to improve your tablet conversion just by paying attention to the differences.
Have an idea you’d like to add? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might just see it in Part II of this article.