5 Mistakes that Cost Digital Marketers this Holiday Season
Another season of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has passed, and online retailers begin the process of reviewing their early results and considering how various promotions worked. It’s a good time to consider a few simple ways to drive more revenue from your e-commerce website.
Based on our experience working with clients, we’ve identified five common mistakes e-commerce companies make that limit their revenue potential during this key sales period. Let’s review these along with some practical advice on how to use technology to boost your sales during next year’s holiday season.
1. You don’t test (or test only a few ideas per quarter). Changing your mobile and desktop website without testing the impact on sales and engagement is like driving blindfolded. It’s a risky proposition. Testing allows you to understand the experiences that resonate with visitors to your site.
Your ability to learn and drive more revenue is constrained by how many ideas you can test. The more hypotheses you test, the more you learn about your prospects and the kinds of messaging and experiences they respond to, which in turn helps you drive better results.
2. Your site is one-size-fits-all. If you are A/B testing new concepts and then deploying the “best-performing” page for all visitors to your site, you are missing out on sales. What’s right for one segment of your prospects is not the ideal experience for another segment of prospects.
Personalizing your site to deliver the best-performing version for different visitors outperforms one-size-fits-all approaches that show the same version to all visitors. For example, online fashion brand Stella & Dot was able to drive a 52 percent increase in conversion rate by personalizing its shopping cart page. One of the ways they personalized their checkout page was by showing visitors different purchase-reinforcing headlines.
3. You treat customers and repeat visitors the same as first time visitors. Treating customers and shoppers that return to your site the same as first-time visitors misses an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with them. This is a common and avoidable mistake. Delight your customers by remembering the products they’ve viewed and/or purchased and their preferences. Present them content and experiences that show you appreciate their loyalty.
4. Your website isn’t aligned with your paid media. You are likely spending a significant amount of money on paid media campaigns to drive traffic to your site. Updating targeting parameters, creative, and seasonal offers can make aligning your website to your paid campaigns challenging. New campaigns often change the makeup of your audience and their interests, making it important to adjust your landing pages. Personalization tools that automatically adapt to your campaigns can help make sure your landing pages remain aligned with your audience, creative assets, and messaging.
5. You assume your customers’ behavior will remain the same over time. Once you’ve tested an idea and found that A is better than B, there is no need to test again, right? Wrong. Your audience and their behavior changes based on your promotions, changes in the market, changes to your website, and other factors such as seasonality. It’s safe to assume that visitors during high traffic periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday behave differently than during other periods.
It’s not practical to continuously retest ideas via A/B testing approaches. However, machine learning-based predictive personalization systems are making it possible to automatically adjust the page shown to each visitor as their preferences change.
For example, our machine learning system discovered that visitors to a client’s website responded to different messaging in the evening versus other parts of the day. The system was able to drive a 30 percent lift in conversions by changing their home page headline for visitors between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Using Predictive Personalization to Test and Personalize at Scale
Predictive personalization systems use machine learning to test many versions of your mobile and desktop websites at the same time and deliver the best performing version to each unique visitor. These systems automatically discover audience segments and continuously adjust which version of your website is shown to drive the best performance for each segment. This approach allows retailers to test more ideas and begin optimizing sooner.
Case in point: Our average customer was able to test 127 different ideas and 94 million versions of their websites last year.
Regardless of the approach you use, it’s important to keep in mind that visitors to your site have different needs and preferences—and those preferences continually change over time. The holiday shopping season offers good opportunities to drive more profits thanks to a surge of inbound traffic. Make the most of it by testing new ideas, personalizing what is shown to each visitor, and ensuring your website is set up with the right tools to make the most of every single lead, so you can drive more revenue, faster, and with less work.
Guy Yalif is the cofounder and CEO of Intellimize. Prior to Intellimize, Yalif held a number of senior marketing positions at major media and technology companies, including vice president of global marketing at BrightRoll and head of global product and vertical marketing at Twitter, as well as leadership roles at Yahoo, Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group, and Tradeweave.