With a record $60 billion projected in online sales for the 2011 holiday, the time is now to ride the peak and give your customers a reason to buy online. IT’S NOT TOO LATE! However, with average time on site down by 30% and bounce rate up by 35% vs. just three years ago, you have less time than ever to convert a customer once they land on your site (IBM Coremetrics). Getting customers quickly to the right products with the right merchandising is now more important than ever before.
For those of you that missed our recent Webinar with SLI Systems on this topic, we wanted to share a few things you can do now using your site search and/or content management tools to help you to optimize your site’s performance now. While we are already in the thick of the season, by dedicating a few resources to these tips, you can finish out peak season strongly!
Tip #1 – Optimize your holiday search terms
Terms customers use to search on your site change during the holidays! Review your peak search terms from 2010 (and even from 2009) – and make sure you have these terms well merchandised. And don’t forget the misspellings and top “no results” terms. Also, give your customers reasons to buy right inside of the search results with messages embedded in the images. Below is a great example from Harry & David’s website.
Tip #2 – Use site search as your “ears to the floor”
Use your site search as a way to listen to your customers in real time – watch what they are searching for and adjust your home page and category landing page featured items. Highlight top searched and top sellers right within your merchandising feature zones. In the example below from Beauty Bridge, note how the retailer uses “Best Sellers Yesterday” as a way to feature holiday favorites..
Tip #3 – Use site search to easily and quickly create gift finders on the fly
Creating holiday gift finders using your on-site search tool provides several advantages. It gives you a means to create landing pages without involving your IT department; it enables built-in dynamic navigation to let your customers narrow their selection quickly and find that right holiday product; and it keeps your inventory up-to-date on your landing pages without the need to manually manage and update the pages. In the example below from BedBathStore.com, the retailer created an entire Christmas shopping experience using their site search tool (SLI). The products within each sub-category are populated by search when clicked on – which ensures products are in stock and presented in order by top sellers. Also note the persistent link to this page from the top navigation (‘Holiday’) and the SEO-friendly text on the left to help search engines to index the page.
Tip #4 – Bring holiday themes into search and navigation
Giving your customers obvious navigational elements to help them find holiday-themed products, such as gifts and items for the home, will accommodate shoppers’ needs to find what they are looking for quickly – and help keep your bounce rates low and conversion rates high. See the example below from FTD.com, where the retailer creates holiday drill downs to enable sorting by holiday gift-types, featured promotions, and holiday top sellers.
Tip #5 – Incorporate Social and Mobile into your holiday promotions – to the greatest extent you can.
This is a breakout year for mobile – more than 40% of consumers now own smart phones, and 53% of them will shop with them this holiday season (NRF). If you have a mobile-optimized web site, incorporating your holiday optimizations into mobile search and optimizing for mobile use will pay dividends this holiday. Remember to include large navigation links, a prominent and well-placed search box, and a link to your holiday specials. Check out what Target.com has done on its mobile site in the example below – a good example of a clean and easy way to navigate this holiday mobile site.
Incorporate social media content right into your search results and give your customers an additional reason to buy by highlighting top Facebook likes. In the FTD.com example below, the retailer is using site search from SLI to rank products by the number of Facebook likes right within search results.
There are a number of things you can do to quickly optimize your site for the peak. Some of these tips might seem like common sense, but these basics can sometimes get missed in all the peak frenzy. Use these tips to help your customer find your products quickly and include a good reason for them to buy, particularly in these days of waning consumer attention spans. Good luck this holiday season!