Gagliardi says a technique that's worked for his clients is creating and using custom landing pages for all promotional activity. "We see a tremendous uplift in having those custom pages when compared with driving customers to standard category and product pages," he says, adding that clients who use custom landing pages for holiday promotions tend to see improved click-through and conversion.
4. Promote Free Shipping on Your Website
Most experts agree that you should roll out free shipping for the holidays. If you can offer free shipping, be sure to prominently say so on your homepage and in ads, says Vendio CEO Mike Effle. "The words 'Free Shipping' can bring in more buyers, even if you [attach a] condition it on [such as] a minimum order amount," he says.
Michael Lee, director of global marketing for Alibaba.com, also recommends free shipping. However, he cautions you must be clear about the free shipping deadline when you promote it on your site. "This increases the sense of urgency, as well as better manages customer expectation to avoid a negative experience," he says.
5. Focus on Content and Merchandising Optimizations
At this stage of the year, any significant redesign of the experience or site optimization should be finished and now you can focus on site content and merchandising optimization. Don't guess what the customer wants, hybris software's Walker says. Instead, test different versions of content in short cycles and optimize quickly for the winner. "With traffic at peak, the click-through on content bake-offs are meaningful," he says. "Optimizing the marketing and merchandising will add real revenue and margin."
6. Make the Check-Out Process Easy
Alibaba.com 's Lee says payment processing during the holiday shopping season has to be as easy as possible. "Online shoppers need a way to pay for products and services online, and that's easy these days," he says. "You can accept credit card payments with either a PayPal account or an online merchant account."
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There's some debate about allowing guest checkouts this time of year. However, Digital River's Gagliardi says, you're able to provide a better shopping experience on future visits when you capture customer data during the first visit. To that end, he recommends using a streamlined, one-page checkout for repeat customers and breaking longer registration forms into separate pages so new customers aren't overwhelmed with the registration process.