E-commerce hacks: Holiday season tips and tricks

Here’s a stat marketers are just not ready for : Only around 2% of the people who land on your website go on to make a purchase and fulfill their transaction cycle. That’s a ridiculously low conversion whichever way you look at it, even if the absolute value of this 2% runs into millions depending on your actual traffic.
But that doesn’t mean you should be resigned to letting the rest of the 98% slip through your fingers, does it? Of course, there’s the logical argument that some of these are just casual drifters who have no idea why they even showed up there, and aren’t going to be charmed into a purchase no matter what. But for every guy like this, there are 10 more who are just looking for that little bit extra in order to be persuaded to carry on and make a purchase.
This is especially true of holiday season, with people flitting from one website to another in search of the best deal. It’s routine for people to spend a huge wad of cash with little cause during this time, and the numbers back that up. A whopping 56 billion dollars were spend during holiday season last year, and that’s just in the United States., and that’s counting just desktop e-commerce transactions. Mobile transactions added a further 13 billion to e commerce coffers, putting the total sum at a mind boggling 70 billion dollars.
Scaling it down to your own online retail store, imagine what you stand to gain for every percentage increase in the aforementioned low conversion rate. This is where a little effort from your side is going to make an exponential difference.
Unique Users
No two shoppers are ever the same, and this creates a big need for persona-specific category-specific marketing campaigns tailored around a particular user’s tastes, behavior and online shopping history. By tapping into insightful data from their activity, and using it to optimize your re targeting strategies, these numbers are definitely going to look better and your holiday sales are going to skyrocket. The best re targeting campaigns tend to be extremely user specific and hyper personal, and meets the user halfway on the communication channel of his preference, be it e-mail, push notifications or social media. These campaigns also take into account the stage at which the user finds himself on the shopping life cycle, and use that as another key criteria to fashion the notifications served to him.
Ultimately though, each notification you send out is an art in itself, and requires more thought put into it than simply following the rulebook. The exact scenario has to be carefully evaluated and accounted for, justifying the content and timing of the notification you’re sending out. This is especially true in the case of holiday season, when people are admittedly spoilt for choice with the wide range of options they have to choose from.

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New users
New users that show up suddenly on your website are the biggest challenges. These are day trippers that have probably made up their minds not to commit to a purchase before exploring tens of different websites, so your engagement messages have to be quick,precise and extremely value adding in order to convince him to go through with the purchase. Since these new users provide you little or no previous data to structure your push messages around, serve him rich media push notifications of your best selling and popular holiday products, deep linked to their product page and making it easier for him to complete the purchase. This is sure to grab his attention and persuade him to part with his cash.
User drop-offs
Users, new or old, that are served relevant notifications and convinced to start purchasing, but drop off halfway, are the largest demographic. Unfortunately, they are also the hardest to persuade. They’ve already left your site once, and they’ve done it midway through a transaction, which pretty much makes for grim reading. Entice them back by showing them display ads of your popular products. This should include other related products in the category they were browsing in, impressing upon them the variety you have. You can also send them rich media push notifications of these products, along with a festive discount offer or price drop alert in order to give them a sweetener than will make them come back and complete their purchase.
Touching on the subject of price drop alters, they are a great option to throw around, especially during holiday season. With the majority of the online drifters simply looking for the best price, sending them timely updates of your low prices is a great way to get them to pick your site for their holiday shopping. Use rich media push notifications to send this information for app users, and browser push notifications for the equivalent browser subscribers.
But what exactly are these browser push notifications? They are the latest engagement channel to capture the imaginations of marketers, who are quickly finding out about their huge untapped potential.
Browser push notifications
Browser push notifications are served from your website right to the subscriber’s browser, albeit with the prerequisite of him/her having to manually opt in before any notifications can be sent. This immediately presents two huge advantages
  • Removes the possibility of your users complaining about invasions of privacy, since the ball is pretty much in their court when it comes to giving websites permission to send them these notifications. They can pick and choose the ones that they think will add value, and come back to alter these settings and resubscribe/unsubscribe anytime they want.
  • Raises the bar on the quality of content that you, as a marketer, serve these users in the form of browser push notifications. With the unsubscribe process being quite simple and straightforward, the margin for error is really low. A couple of badly timed, irrelevant or intrusive messages and you’re off the subscribed list.
This makes it rather important to curate your content and come up with a strategy that encompasses the following aspects
  • Timing –  Set a ceiling on the number of push notifications sent to a particular user. This should be no more than one a day, so make sure it’s something well crafted and non generic. Too many notifications can ruin the user experience and make him unsubscribe with immediate effect. If the user has declined your opt-in invitation, wait a few days before you follow up with another request.
  • Personalization – This might seem an obvious point to make, but you’ll be surprised how many websites risk antagonizing users by sending stock, atypical browser push notifications that add little to no value to the users. In the age of data abundance and information overload, people are waking up the fact that sharing their information online makes for a more pleasant user-oriented browsing experience. This translates into an ideal opportunity to customize their experience and indulge in extensive data crunching and segmentation to provide extremely personalized push notifications to your users, making it a no brainer for them to stay subscribed to your website.
Browser push notifications offer a primary USP of catering to time sensitive scenarios, a primary requirement during holiday season. Target your customers within a short span of time of their leaving with an apt notification which impresses upon them the urgency of the festive offer you’re providing, for instance. This strategy manufactures a sense of immediacy and makes sure the customer gets involved in the purchase cycle quickly. This sort of urgency may not have been possible to generate using email or social media targeting, but the fact is browser push notifications provide a strong complementary, rather than alternative, option to other marketing channels like email.
These two channels are not only free, but also provide a potent combination in facilitating relevant, personal conversations with your users and keeping them active on your website.
Re-engaging your users
Users we discussed above, the ones that who drop off from your website, leave a trail of clues behind. They’re probably posting their holiday deals (or lack of it) on social media, or landing up on competitor websites looking for a festive offer.
Pick on his admittedly brief browsing activity and tailor your browser push notifications around this data. If he spends a couple of minutes checking out new holiday apparel on your online store but then leaves, hit him with a push message of a few of your most popular clothes with deep links that will shorten his purchase process should he decide to go ahead and buy it. Still no response? Wait for a couple of days before informing him via email or social media that you’re now offering discounts on some of the clothes he was checking out.
Getting users to come back to your site after a long hiatus is a similarly perplexing problem that can be solved using browser push notifications. Your initial push messages have to be tailored around the data gathered from the last time they interacted with your site, sending them festival discounts and product recommendations that will gradually entice them back to the website and get them to start purchasing again. Once you’ve successfully got them into the product cycle, it’s time to think about the next batch of useful browser push or email notifications, this time maybe promoting a loyalty bonus to keep them in the loop.
With the flexibility of being able to engage both your desktop and mobile audience, browser push notifications are a boon for retailers who are yet to launch their own app but still boast a significantly large audience on their site. Their real value though, lies in their ability to be used in tandem with email and social media retargeting to create a unique customer engagement experience.
Cross channel marketing is here to stay, and the onus is on the marketer to analyse each customer on a personal basis and determine a couple of powerful channels where the ads served to him/her are likely to spur him into action and persuade him to make a purchase.
By going cross channel to engage your users on a deeply personal level and target them with useful recommendations and value adding notifications, expect to see a sizable growth in your conversion rates and overall sales during this busy and hectic holiday season.
And before you get busy with the last minute tweaks to your holiday campaigns, here’s and eBook with 7 hacks that can help you grow sales during this holiday season. We’ve included some tried and true strategies that can place your brand in fron of the right audience when it matters most.

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