Are you one of many people who never make the time to prepare for the holiday retail and commerce rush? I’m hoping this post will help you get ready.  You can use this list as a checklist to get ready. Happy optimizing for the holidays.

Site Performance

Optimizing the performance of your website if the foundation of the success of your holiday season. You can drive all the traffic in the world to your website, but if your site loads slow or isn’t up to the task, you will lose a lot of revenue opportunities.

  1. Make sure you have a big enough server. If you get increased traffic on the holiday season, you do not want to lose sales because your site cannot handle the traffic.  Also the metric that is most important is concurrent site users, or how many people are on your website at the same time.  Some quick rules of thumb. If you’re on WordPress you should have at least a VPS (Virtual Private Server), or a Cloud Hosting environment that automatically scales like Amazon Web Services (AWS). If you have an ecommerce site you should have a dedicated server. We recently moved a client site from a shared server to a dedicated server and saw an immediate increase in conversion rate from .7 to .95% and also saw an increase in 100 orders per month. The cost difference to the customer was $150 a month.  An immediate ROI.
  2. Make sure you have site Caching: Caching is a technology that can be added to any website that basically takes the equivalent of a polaroid picture of your website so the users do not have to wait for each page to load from scratch. Caching drastically improves mobile user experience and can increase page load times up to 30%.  An easy caching product to use is CloudFlare.
  3. Content Delivery Network: Every website fights the balance between great images and fast loading images. One way to fight and win this battle is to deploy a Content Delivery Network or (CDN). A Content Delivery Network pulls your images onto a third party server and loads them independently of your core web server. I’ve seen a CDN improve page load time up to 15%
  4. Have someone perform database maintenance: Most people don’t understand databases and so they leave them unmaintained.  Your database stores all kinds of information ranging from error logs, contacts, content changes and just about every administrative action that has ever taken place on your site. Hire a network admin to review and clean your database of unnecessary data and you will see your site performance increase immediately.  Additionally most websites should have what are called Chron Jobs setup to automatically perform some database maintenance. A Chron Job is an automated script that performs an action. For example, you can setup a chron job to clear the built up cache every week to ensure a quick website.

Prepare Your Ad Campaigns

Ad campaigns this time of the year need to be different. If you’re marketing to consumers or businesses, people are buying more than looking. Even in a business to business environment, businesses often lost site of the fact that potential customers have to spend remaining budgets or lose the money for the next year.  So let’s shift the strategy of our campaigns to focus on conversion for the fourth quarter of the year.

  1. Find new traffic: Cost per impression and cost per click go up in the fourth quarter of the year because you have an increased amount of competition looking to make their year as well. Efficiency or return on investment of campaigns should still be very good though. Even though cost per impression and clicks should be up, buying potential is up as well. I recommend experimenting with new traffic this time of year though. Don’t shy away from what works, but do find new traffic sources. If your audience is typically under forty, run some mobile only campaigns with mobile optimized landing pages. Mobile traffic can be as cheap as 25% the cost as desktop.  Also for display, lets step up the initiative. Go directly to the sites you’d like to advertise and negotiate direct instead of using display networks and ad networks. It’s a bit more work, but you may find a special ad placement opportunity and a higher return on investment.
  2. Dial in Retargeting: If you are not using a retargeting service, get to it! Retargeting should increase your conversion rate for an ecommerce site up to .2 to .3 percent. I recommend using Adroll as a retargeting service. It’s a solid service that will do a lot for the conversion on your site for both ecommerce sales and lead generation.  Make sure you have enough ad variants for proper testing and pay attention to it throughout the holiday season.
  3. Design More Landing Pages: Once you optimize your traffic and ads, it’s important to have great landing pages. I recommend using Unbounce as a tool for landing pages. It provides great metrics on conversion and allows you to A/B test copy and design.

Prepare Your Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are the back end of the funnel that ensure you get the most out of your investment.  If you’re paying for ads and do not have an email nurture campaign in place, you’re missing revenue.

We recently posted an post about our top email campaigns, go ahead and check that post out here.

 

If you’d like some help optimizing your marketing efforts for the holiday season, fill out the form on the right.

 

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