3 Christmas marketing tips you still have time to action

Well folks now that Halloween is over all thoughts are now firmly with the approaching Christmas sales season. Most retailers are now heading into their busiest time of year whether that is pre-Christmas gift buying or post-Christmas sales.

 

 

We always recommend that the Christmas marketing wheels start turning in July but for those retailers who have left it late (I hope not many of you!!) there are still things you can action now to maximise Christmas sales over the coming weeks.

Here are our 3 top tips that can be easily implemented now.

1.Christmas gift curation

If you sell products that are suitable as a gift then tell your customers about it! Create a separate category on your site labelled Christmas and put in it a selection of products you think are most likely to sell at Christmas or you want to particularly push. Use your paid search and clear links on the home page to drive customers to it that may be looking for gifts. In our time pressured society many consumers want you to make recommendations of great gifts to buy and why, so make it easy for them. Create sub categories “gifts for him” “gifts for her” “gifts under £20” etc. and include in your product descriptions why those products make great gifts and how quickly you can deliver them.

2.Talk to your customers about giving your products as gifts

I know it sounds obvious but you have a whole load of customers who have bought from you before that may not be thinking of you when it comes to buying presents for others. Make sure as part of your ongoing email marketing program that you are sending emails with content related specifically to Christmas gifting, not just Christmas offers (hopefully linking through to the Christmas section on your site).

3.Don’t forget key seasonal dates

Yes of course everyone knows about Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc. but just make sure you have your ducks in a row on what you are going to offer and when. Amazon have moved the goal posts again only this week by announcing 52 days of Black Friday sales with discounts galore up until 22nd Dec. They have even created a Black Friday section of the site. Whatever your take on promotional activity around these dates make sure you know what you are offering, for how long and how you are going to promote that activity across all of your channels. One tip is make sure you up weight your paid budgets for key sellers and key discounted products as well as brand around those key events to make sure you don’t miss out on traffic.

This post is short and sharp but is probably all you have time to digest in this busy season. Combine these quick tips with those from Lucy and Gwen in our previous Christmas marketing posts and you should be in a much stronger position this festive season not only to gain new customers but maximise their value into 2017.

Boost your festive ROI
Using the Christmas rush to build 2017 sales

Boost your Festive ROI – Five top tips to maximise Christmas sales

With £24 billion spent online in the UK in the 8 weeks running up to Christmas in 2015 and a further 11% rise predicted for 2016, how prepared are you to take advantage of this years bumper sales season? In this post I am going to explore five top tips to turn up the dial up on the activity you are doing already to boost ROI.

 

Dedicated Landing Page / Onsite Content

Your onsite strategy must include bespoke landing pages dedicated to Christmas, ideally getting pages live in October so they have time to bed in and become well established in time for the busy period.

Make sure your customer is at the heart of your content, consider how they might be searching, who are they buying for, what budget will they spend? Creating relevant onsite content that is useful, engaging and that has a clear call to action will be key to driving conversion.

Curate your best edit into a Christmas Gift guide, price band filtering to easily aid customers who have a specific budget in mind, along with ‘Gifts for him’, ‘Gifts for her’, ‘Gifts for kids’ to direct users to the most relevant content.

Getting your onsite content nailed then allows you to integrate your offsite strategy and funnel people to the most relevant content. Creating a consistent message on and off site, increasing awareness, engagement and ultimately conversion through a targeted approach.

Make sure messaging, offers and promotions in your offsite activity are clearly detailed on the landing page you are directing customers to, there’s nothing more frustrating than landing on a page without the relevant information on the offer, promotion or product you’ve seen.

Brand Paid Search

Brand Paid Search can be used cheaply and effectively to promote onsite messages and promotions. Creating consistent messaging across touch points.

“But no one is bidding on my brand term” I hear you cry “why would I pay for traffic I am getting organically?!” A very valid question…

Not all retailers run brand Paid Search year round, if you have no competition on your brand terms why would you? Competition or not, tactical use of Brand and Brand + Product Paid Search gives you seasonal and time sensitive flexibility in your message, that your well optimised but generic Natural Search listing can’t. Using site links to drive traffic to your Christmas content, gift guides and dedicated landing pages, plus call out extensions to highlight key messages such as delivery, price matching, returns etc.

If you haven’t already completed your trademark authorisation with Google, this allows you to associate your Adwords account as the trademark owner, create a list of authorised resellers if appropriate. We’ve seen clients brand CPCs drop after they have claimed and managed their Trademark authorisation.

Personalisation of offers

Use your data wisely, tap into your customer segments and personalise your message across touch points. Offering your customers relevant and timely offers that will drive them back to the site to buy.

Not all site visitors are made equal, use your remarketing lists and customer segments to create a more personalised message depending on the visitors site behaviour.

Abandon baskets being the Holy Grail and those primed to buy. Often retailers are all too quick to go straight in with a discount, when people can be tempted back without taking a big hit on your margin. We have seen great success with a tiered offering, for example:

No purchase within 24 hours – Free Next Day Delivery
No purchase within 1 week – Gift with purchase / free gift wrapping
No purchase within 2 weeks – X% discount

New vs returning – Depending on your strategy whether that be acquisition, retention or both! Use your remarketing list for search ads to show new and returning visitors different, relevant and personalised messages e.g. introductory offer to new customers, returning visitor promotional code. Also optimise bids based on behaviour so perhaps a 25% bid increase for returning customers.

RLSAs will also allow you to target terms you wouldn’t normally target, it opens up keywords that perhaps would be too expensive and perhaps broad, just for visitors who have been to the site or who have converted before.

Create sense of urgency

Black Friday was the busiest trading week last year with estimated sales of £4.3 billion last year, up 62% on 2014. In just two years the shift from Black Friday being a Bricks and Mortar event on a single day to a week of online offers.

Why have we all gone so crazy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Creating that sense of urgency with time sensitive offers is a brilliant conversion tactic to push people to purchase, however don’t over use it or people will learn to ignore it.

  • Some examples on how to do this:
  • Flash sale / promotions for a limited time period
  • AdWords dynamic countdown ads are a great, they have proven to significantly increase CTR and drive more traffic to the site
  • Sneak previews for your VIPs – let them have access to say the Christmas edit, Sale or similar 24 hours before it’s unveiled to the general public
  • Shipping offers for a limited period
  • Last order dates to get in time for Christmas
  • Stock levels for products with limited availability

Social commerce

So you’ve spent 2016 gaining followers, driving engagement, so how can you monetise social further in the busy period?

Optimise your calls to action, for example on Facebook:

  • Shop Now – direct fans to your website if sales are the primary objective
  • Send Message – Allows fans to send a private message directly to your Facebook account, where you could start the order process
  • Call Now – you get the idea right!

Facebook Shop:

Most ecommerce platforms now have an app or plugin to pull your site inventory into Facebook. We saw sales increase 50% after launching a Facebook Shop and promoting through Paid Social ads. With the rise of mobile commerce people are far more comfortable buying direct from their phone and through social commerce.

Content Optimisation:

Ensure that content is optimised for each channel. This will ensure a high quality appearance, better visibility within users’ timelines and increased engagement. One size does not fit all!

Promoted Content:

Organic reach has declined dramatically on all platforms, particularly Facebook. Boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter with small amounts of budget can drastically increase reach and engagement, as well as driving fan acquisition.

Ultimately these tips are designed to help you squeeze the ROI out of activity you are already doing, maximising visibility and efficiency of budget and time invested over the next 10 weeks.

Making Christmas 2016 your best ever

We regret to inform you that we can no longer go ahead with the event scheduled on 19th October due to the RMT rail strikes. We hope to host another event soon, so please watch this space. Instead we shall be creating a series of blog posts aimed at giving top tips to independent retailers on how they can boost the festive trading period and make 2016 the best year ever!

 

The Leapfrogg team are continuing our crusade to help boutique and independent retailers learn the lessons of larger retailers and compete successfully online.

Christmas is an extremely important time of the year for all retailers so we are launching the first in a series of events for independent retailers to help you maximise your online results this festive season.

A three hour event to inspire, motivate and give you the tools to make this Christmas trading period – your best ever
19th October 2016
4.30 – 8.00pm The Froggbox, Central Brighton

The first part of the event will be an interactive workshop covering the following:

  • Learn from retailers who have been there and done it at Christmas. What worked, what didn’t. What they will be doing this year.
  • Delivering immediate, quick revenue wins. Turning the dial up on the activity you are doing already to boost ROI.
  • Increasing sales throughout the Christmas trading period. Promotional tips, navigating the big sales days, delivering the right customer experience.
  • Using the Christmas rush to build a database for customer engagement into 2017. Use a successful period of customer acquisition to boost sales for the rest of the year.
  • Networking with retailers facing the same challenges as you

After our interactive workshop on how to make the most of your Christmas sales, enjoy a glass of pre-festive bubbles while meeting the most influential bloggers in the South East who are keen to promote your products this season.

Our blogger showcase enables you to display either incoming Christmas stock, or existing ranges in an informal, relaxed setting with local, high profile bloggers looking for seasonal, gift guides and product review content.

£49.50 + VAT per retailer for workshop and blogger showcase space
The fee admits 2 attendees from each retailer

Go to www.leapfroggchristmasevent.eventbrite.co.uk to book your place now!

The rise of personalisation in online marketing

For several years now, personalisation has been heralded as the next big thing for marketers. A report from Forrester predicted that companies who fully invest in modern personalisation will outsell their competitors by 20%. But most brands are still working out how to get there – and it’s a complex journey. Effective personalisation requires a thorough approach to data, from collection to implementation, to create a complete picture of the customer, and knowing how to use that to provide them with real value – without freaking them out.

So what exactly is personalisation? Gone are the days when you could simply rely on placeholder text to do the job for you – “Dear [NAME]” at the start of an email will no longer cut it. Personalisation, at its heart, means a thorough understanding of a customer’s individual needs and behaviours, and meeting those needs in a way that suits them. It’s the content they need, at the time they need it, delivered where and how they want it.

There appears to be something of a disconnect in this area: 91% of marketers say they’re prioritising personalisation, but only 31% of consumers see a consistent personalised experience from brands. What’s going wrong? For starters, marketers are falling into the trap of segmenting consumers into broad categories using basic demographics. This can backfire pretty badly – I had an email a few years ago from Fluid London with the subject header claiming it was for “Men Only” because it was about sport. I tweeted them to query it and they told me I couldn’t take a joke. Needless to say, I unsubscribed immediately and haven’t been back to their website since – and I still remember it, and am still telling people about my negative experience. If they had been analysing my preferences properly, they would have seen I was a huge rugby fan and avoided the whole sorry mess. I’m not alone in being upset by this kind of behaviour – 81% of consumers say a negative personalisation experience impacts their perception of the brand.

Throw out your old notion of demographics – they won’t help you. We’ve always known not all women were the same, and that not all 30 year-olds were the same, but for a long time we had no choice but to play the numbers and make big assumptions: more men like watching sport than women, we’ll target our sports issue at men. Now, though, we have access to so much more data about our customers that we can segment our audience by psychographics – their interests and behaviours, the things that really matter to them; things that can unite a 60-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy. (Like my mother-in-law and my nephew uniting over their shared love of Bruce Springsteen. No, I can’t explain it either.)

The second issue holding marketers back is not having the right strategy in place for their data – not knowing what to collect, and not knowing what to do with it once they’ve got it. Gathering data can sometimes be too easy; if you didn’t begin with clear objectives, you might end up with so much information it will be hard to work out what you actually need, never mind start to use it. Knowing things about your customers is all very well, but it isn’t useful without real intelligence about the customer’s needs.

We also need to be careful about how we use the information we gather to avoid making customers feel uncomfortable. 77% of UK consumers say it’s really important for them to be in control of their personal data. Demonstrating too deep an understanding of a customer can be concerning – not to mention creepy. No one wants a Minority Report situation where the billboards call out to them by name.

There are certainly hurdles to be overcome, but the rewards are worth the effort. 35% of UK consumers are willing to spend more (up to 20% more, in fact) for personalised products and services. 59% of shoppers who have experienced personalised marketing say it has had a noticeable influence on their purchasing. Taking the time to learn about who your customer is, what they care about and what they need is a vital investment for your business. Furthermore, if you have a full understanding of your customer as an individual, you can tailor their experience with your brand, on any channel, to suit them. And then, you’ve nailed it.

 

Leapfrogg’s MD, Rosie Freshwater, will be speaking about how to deliver a perfect personalised customer experience using data and insight in this years’ SheerB2B Ecommerce Conference.

Which health & beauty brands are delivering a personalised experience?

It’s clear the modern shopper is increasingly seeking a personalised experience from brands and retailers. As consumers, we have come to expect retailers to fully understand what we want, when we want it and how we want to buy it and to use this information to engage and interact with us in a seamless and unobtrusive way.

According to Drapers 2016 Personalisation Report, 92% of retail executives say consumers are increasingly demanding a personalised approach to shopping online and in-store and a recent survey to our Premium Panel back this up further and found that 53% of consumers feel it is important that brands offer them a personalised shopping experience.

With personalisation so key, we wanted to investigate levels of personalisation retailers deliver during and after purchase across relevant digital touchpoints.

We’ve started by analysing the health & beauty sector which offers ample opportunities for personalisation given every customer will be interested in different products based on their age, skin type and concerns, hair type and brand preference. In addition, a Google Digital Beauty Study found that 43% of online shoppers go to five or more beauty websites before making a decision, and ultimately, one in four beauty shoppers make purchases online. Therefore, providing an exceptional experience is vital to these beauty brands.

We analysed 10 of the UK’s leading online health & beauty retailers over the period of one month and looked at the data they collected about their customers and how they used it to offer a personalised experience across all digital touchpoints. We analysed the following retailers:

  1. Feel Unique
  2. SpaceNK
  3. Look Fantastic
  4. Cult Beauty
  5. Beauty Bay
  6. Escentual
  7. Blow Ltd
  8. Beauty Expert
  9. Urban Retreat Beautique
  10. Bath & Unwind

Two studies were carried out concurrently by two researchers. One researcher made a purchase for each site at the beginning of the study and one followed exactly the same path through the site but did not make the final purchase.

Each researcher then followed a pre-agreed set of interactions with the retailers over the following 4 weeks and recorded all communications and visuals.

We looked at the following elements of personalisation:

1. Personal data collected pre-purchase (name, gender, age, skin type etc)
2. Personal data collected during purchase
3. Personal data collected post-purchase
4. Personalisation of online communication
5. Personalised packaging communication
6. Trigger emails based on onsite behaviour
7. Personalised retargeting or display ads based on products viewed or purchased
8. Personalised offers during period
9. Personalised content by site behaviour

The results showed that there is currently a real lack of personalisation across the retailers that we analysed. Minimal data and preferences were being collected and we saw little evidence of tailored content or offers with most retailers taking a general approach to communication across multiple channels.

Here are some insights from our analysis:

  • Only 30% of retailers studied collected the gender of their customers when signing up to emails
  • 30% collected hair, skin and beauty preferences from its customers
  • 30% addressed email communications by their first name
  • 20% personalised email communications by purchase
  • 20% sent trigger emails by on-site behaviour
  • 40% showed users personalised retargeting or display ads based on products viewed or purchased
  • 50% gave the user personalised content on site by showing recently viewed or recommended products

The retailers that provided the most personalised experience were Beauty Expert and Look Fantastic. Both websites are owned by The Hut Group who are renowned for their data-driven approach to ecommerce.

Despite not collecting any personal information, bar email addresses, both websites sent emails that were related to the products viewed or purchased and suitable for sensitive skin and also sent special offers related to products viewed.

beauty expert

An example of an email we received from Beauty Expert based on products viewed.

lookfantastic

Look Fantastic ran remarketing ads on Facebook related to the product and brand viewed.

Escentual, Feel Unique and SpaceNK were the only retailers who collected the gender of the user as well as email address when they signed up for emails. The emails which were consequently sent through were all very female-focused. Collecting the gender and age of your customers is a great way to start personalising their experience as men will most probably have very different needs to women.

Gender email

Escentual collected their customers’ gender when signing up for emails.

cult beauty

Beauty preferences were collected by Cult Beauty but we couldn’t see any indication of how this data was being used.

From our study, we were surprised to see how little data the retailers were collecting from their customers and potential customers. We recommend these retailers try and collect at least gender and date of birth as well as email addresses as a starting point to help them communicate more effectively with their customers. The main elements of personalisation we spotted were very product focused and we would have liked to have seen evidence of more personalised content relating to customer preferences.

Our MD, Rosie Freshwater, says “With such a wide scope for personalising the customer experience in the health and beauty sector, whether that be by product, age, gender, or skin type, it is disappointing how little seems to be happening even amongst the larger players.

Retailers are missing out on the potential for upsell and repeat business by failing to show through content how much they recognise and understand their customers.”

The Insight Edit: Email habits of the modern consumer part 2

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of over 1000 retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

Mobile has grown significantly in recent years, and with that, the reliance on email has become a significant driver of revenue. For that reason, this month we wanted to ask our Premium Panel how they view and engage with email marketing from brands and retailers.

In last week’s Insight Edit we looked at what devices and time of day our Premium Panel prefer to receive emails from retailers. Following on from this, we wanted to understand how often our panel would like to receive emails from their favourite brands.

First, we asked our panel to select the frequencies they would prefer to receive an email from their favourite retailers.

The most popular frequency for email was once a week with 33% of respondents selecting this option. However, 17% of consumers expressed that they wanted to receive emails more than once a week.

These figures show that across age and gender there is no specific pattern to preferred frequency. This means that retailers should decide on the frequency of their emails based on the engaging content and offers they can provide, the seasonality and turnover of the product range and, of course, asking those who sign up for emails what their preferences are.

Then, of course, retailers must constantly test, learn and refine based on how their customers are engaging with and responding to the emails they are sent.

Insight Edit: How do premium consumers want to shop in 2016?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of over 1000 retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

Digital retail trends

There are now an increasing number of new technologies available to consumers which aim to enhance their shopping experience. While industry experts are predicting the next wave of digital development, we wanted to understand what our panel thought about the emerging technologies from last year and whether they felt they would be utilising them in 2016.

We asked our panel which of the following digital trends they would be most likely to use if they were available from their favourite retailers in 2016:

  • Virtual changing rooms
  • Mobile payments
  • In-store Wi-Fi
  • The ability to buy direct from social media
  • Wearable digital wallets
  • Personalised content on the websites you visit

Findings

Overall we were surprised by how low the figures were.

The development our panel was most excited about was in-store Wi-Fi. 39% of our panel stated that they would use it this year and this isn’t surprising, given that this technology has been around the longest.

It does show, however, that a large proportion of consumers would feel the benefit from being able to use free Wi-Fi and their mobile devices in-store as part of the shopping experience. This is something that all retailers should now be seriously considering providing to their customers.

 

Premium Panel opinion on personalisation

27.5% of our panel also stated that they would like to receive personalised content on the websites they visit. Although this figure is lower than we expected, it still highlights that people appreciate a personalised shopping experience. There is no reason for retailers to not start doing this as there are plenty of low-cost tools available to retailers that can use customer data to personalise elements of their website experience.

19% of our panel stated they would use virtual changing rooms if they were available. Currently, this can be a complicated process to set up and work effectively, but as the technology develops we expect to see this become more popular with consumers.

Pretty Green virtual fitting room

An an example of Pretty Green’s virtual changing rooms.

 

As we highlighted in a previous Insight Edit, our Panel’s opinion on mobile payments is still lagging behind the technology. We are yet to see the majority overcome their fear of fraud and security for it to become mainstream. Consequently, only 18% of our respondents felt they would use mobile payments in 2016.

This is further underlined by wearable digital wallets being of least interest to our panel. This is still a very new trend and it is unlikely to reach mass interest for a while yet.

Conclusion

All in all, none of the digital technologies gained more than 50% interest from our panel and we feel there is still a long way to go before the modern consumer is fully immersed in digital retail. As these technologies become more widespread, we’re sure their usage will become wider and interest will increase. Of course, by then there will be a wave of brand new technology pushing the boundaries of the retail experience.

 

What did we learn from Black Friday 2015?

Just over a week ago, the shopping phenomenon which is Black Friday hit the UK. A couple of years ago, this event was only confined to America as a post-Thanksgiving sale event, but it has quickly gained momentum in the UK and become a key date in the retailers calendar. In fact, on Black Friday this year, online sales broke through the £1bn barrier for the first time and over the entirety of Cyber Weekend, a staggering £3.3bn was spent by UK consumers.

With the dust finally settled, we thought we’d look at some of the overall trends we spotted across our clients and the retail sector in general.

Industry insights

Consumers spent more

According to The IBM Watson Trend Hub, this year consumers in the UK spent 50% more online than in 2014. The average basket was a full £7.50 higher at just over £82, making it one of the highest ever posted. If you compare this to an average Friday which is £71, then it’s clear to see the impact of Black Friday and how it has gained traction in the UK.

Shoppers prefer their smartphones

This year, nearly half of all online sales came from mobile devices on Black Friday.  Adobe says that 21% of sales were made via tablet computers, and £242m was spent on mobile devices, up from £217m last year.

This data shows that retailers’ investment in mobile commerce is definitely paying off as consumers are becoming increasingly happy to research and make purchases on their mobile phones. We imagine that many consumers would have done their research prior to Black Friday, and are ready to make purchases on their mobiles first thing or during their commute to work.

Black Friday is an online event

According to figures from the IMRG, online sales broke through the £1bn barrier for a single day for the first time on Black Friday, but high streets and shopping centres failed to entice shoppers despite their heavy promotions.

Black Friday footfall was significantly down on last year, despite more awareness of the event and retailers communicating their discounts well in advance. It appears that horror stories from previous years had an effect on shoppers and the average Brit opted to stay inside, avoid the crowds and shop online.

Consumers still shop in-store for various reasons; namely being the convenience and the experience of shopping as a leisure activity. If this is compromised, then shoppers may well choose to shop online instead. Bricks and mortar stores need to think beyond discounts and focus on the experience they are providing their customers – what can they offer in-store shoppers that you can’t get online?  Being more creative about the shopping experience will help motivate people to leave their screens and head in-store.

Retailers are still unprepared

As shoppers surged online, we saw more website casualties this year. Our friends at Ampersand created a live dashboard to track retailers’ websites and reported that a fifth of ecommerce websites had experienced some downtime by 9am and singled out Boots, Argos and Game as retailers that had experienced disruption.

Argos were forced to give customers a countdown as long as nine minutes before transactions could be completed and their customers took to social media in their droves to voice their complaints. This was highly unfortunate for the retailer since they had been creating hype around their discounts for a week before the event.

Argos website Black Friday

Downtime can cause huge problems for retailers. It stops those all-important sales and can cause long term damage on a brands reputation from customers who expect sites to be fast and reliable at all times. If they are not, they will most certainly head off to a competitor and probably won’t come back. Retailers need to look at their data from this year and ensure that they have the right technology in place for 2016.

As well as their website, retailers need to also ensure they can always deliver on their delivery promises with the increase in sales that Black Friday brings.

You don’t have to discount

This year we saw retailers such as Oasis, Next, Reiss and Asda chose opt out of Black Friday. Over in the U.S, outdoor retailer REI even decided to close their stores on Black Friday and encourage shoppers to enjoy the outdoors as part of a huge campaign to boycott the day. Here in the UK premium fashion retailer Jigsaw didn’t discount to tie in with their pricing manifesto and ended up having their highest ever week at full price. Based on the chaos of previous years, Asda also decided to focus on offering great value products throughout the whole Christmas period rather than focus on one day of discounting to improve the experience for their customers.

Jigsaw's pricing manifesto

Jigsaw’s pricing manifesto

Retailers are divided over whether Black Friday is a good thing seeing as it forces them to lose margin at the most important time of the year. They need to make a commercial decision about whether Black Friday will be a beneficial promotion for their business.

If retailers did discount, their challenge is now to encourage those customers to keep shopping with them at full price throughout 2016.

What have we learnt?

Rosie Freshwater – Managing Director

“Don’t put all of your promotional eggs in one basket. Instead of focusing on high discounts on Black Friday, run seasonal offers from late October and ensure consistent stock levels and efficient delivery throughout the entire season. Use Christmas to acquire new customers with future profit potential, rather than discount shoppers who will only buy once.”

Monika Varzinskaite – Paid Search Consultant

“Prepare your promotions well in advance. Create landing pages, use special site-link extensions (this year Google offered extensions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday only) and set aside a budget specifically for cyber weekend as cost-per-clicks go up, meaning that you would see an increased media spend compared other weekends.”

Alex Oxborough – Social Media and Content Manager

“I share a similar view to Rosie, Black Friday has arrived on the UK retail scene, but it needn’t be just about discounting. The negative press around the day is an opportunity to gain positive publicity for your brand. By stating that you are not taking part in Black Friday and making the reason why about the quality of your customer experience, you can build your brand and win customer loyalty.”

Five simple tips to get your site in shape for Christmas

Last year, our Website Optimisation Manager, Suze, gave some great conversion rate optimisation tips for maximising online sales at Christmas time. To follow on from her recommendations, I have provided a few more tips to ensure you ride the sleigh of success straight to the North Pole this holiday season.

 

 

Give your page titles and meta descriptions the attention they deserve

Your page titles and meta descriptions are essentially your organic ad copy and are often neglected.  As the volume of searches ramps up towards Christmas, a fraction of an improvement on your click-through rate could mean additional sales or enquiries to help hit those vital targets.

Ensure your listings stand out in the crowded SERPs with well written and thought out page titles and enticing meta descriptions. You can take this a step further by adding mark-up to your page content to add rich snippets such as product stock level, star ratings and price to your results. You can do this using schema.org or to some extent Google Search Console’s Data Highlighter.

Check for ‘page not found’ errors in Google’s Search Console

A link to a ‘page not found’ is a lost link. It can also mean a search engine drops your page from its index and offers visitors a poor user experience. Google Search Console kindly shares ‘page not found’ errors as it finds them. Work to get these cleared up before the Christmas rush.

'Page not found' errors

Page load speed

Spend some time checking how fast your most important pages load. How do they compare to the site average, are they slow? Do they load slowly on mobile devices? Is there anything you can do to speed them up?

All of this information can be found by taking a look in Google Analytics to see how long it is actually taking your pages to load for site visitors.

Page load speed in Google Analytics

Use Google’s Page Insights tool to identify what you can do to speed up your pages. One of the most common issues that slows page load is having large images. Lossless compression of your images is also probably the easiest (if time consuming) thing to work on.

Check mobile usability

Again Google’s Search Console can help you out here; it will point you in the direction of pages with mobile usability issues and provide some detail how to resolve the issue.

Mobile usability

Have a dig around analytics for any other potential site issues

Look at what happened last year. What pages performed well? Which ones didn’t?

Take a look at what pages had high exit and bounce rates last year. Was there a reason for that? Is there anything
you can do to improve these pages, for example, can you help your users better navigate your site with improved signposting on these pages? Is the information the searcher is looking for immediately obvious?

It doesn’t look good to Google if there is a large proportion of searches bouncing straight back to the SERPs from your pages.

Potential site issues

Optimise your images for search

Finally optimise your images, give them friendly names, and set the alt attribute to something that describes the image. People use Google Image search to look for products so you need to make sure yours are there.

 

As you can see, there are a couple of quick wins you can make to your website to ensure that you are maximising your online sales this Christmas.  With only 41 days to go, don’t delay in making these changes. Good luck!

Image via Kaboompics.com.

 

Insight Edit: When are your customers doing their Christmas shopping?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of over 1000 retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

Every year, Christmas messaging, promotions and products seem to appear earlier and earlier and the big stores have been releasing their all important Christmas adverts in early November. Retailers must carefully manage the experience they give their customers throughout the Christmas period to ensure they have the right stock and promotions in place.

We wanted to find out when our panel members were intending to start their Christmas shopping this year to ensure our clients planned their activity accordingly.

Not surprisingly, it turns out that the big stores have released their adverts at exactly the right time with 80% of our consumers having started their shopping before or during November.

Premium Panel survey results

Therefore, retailers need to ensure their Christmas stock and seasonal offers are up and running by early November at the latest. With 40% starting before late September, it could even be prudent to have maximum stock and early offers on the go from early October.

This all may seem like a given, but we have seen the odd retailer leaving their Christmas messaging far too late in the season potentially missing the boat on maximising return during this key period.

Happy shopping / selling!