Whether you opened your doors this year or have been in business for over a decade, preparing for the upcoming holiday season is a task that nobody should overlook. For many online retailers, the holiday season can account for 40% or more of yearly revenue. You owe it to yourself and your customers to ensure that your site is ready for the onslaught of Cyber Monday and beyond. Take a few moments to review some key areas with us.
Features & Usability
When your customers come to your site, do you provide them the tools necessary to find and use your site to its maximum potential? With the plethora of other sites out there, your site needs to connect your customers to what they are looking for quickly, allow them to easily navigate your site, bring them up to speed on what you offer, and get them through the checkout efficiently. Below is a short list of things you should ask yourself and make plans to get ready for your site.
- Are my customers utilizing the search box on my site? Is it leading them to the products that they are adding to their cart?
- Do my products have good images and thorough product descriptions?
- Do my customers utilize reviews to provide feedback on products?
- Are there features my site should implement to make my customers happier (e.g. Live chat)?
Performance & Growth
It is very common for people to address growth when things get bad. Comments like “hey, our site is slow” are common reasons for people to look at making their site faster. You would be very lucky if your customers were nice enough to tell you about that problem. Most of them will simply get frustrated and go somewhere else. Your site may have been hosted properly 18 months ago, but with more traffic, your current services package may be strained with the growth you’ve experienced. A solid review of your existing site growth and performance is highly recommended. Double-check the following items.
- Am I expecting a surge in traffic on Cyber Monday (November 26, 2012)? Is my infrastructure ready to handle this traffic?
- Does my managed services provider have a plan to mitigate problems during the busiest time of the year?
- Have I taken into consideration the growth of my site (number of products, customers, visitors, and transactions) and ensured that it is still sized appropriately?
- Is my site fast? Are the pages loading fast enough? (Use this tool to check it.)
“If you build it they will come,” the line from the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner may sound too good to be true… because it is. You should be investing in getting existing customers to come back and in new customers to make their first purchases. While it is not feasible to review all the possibilities you could be thinking about, a good way to start is with these basic questions. Take some time to flesh this stuff out now so that you can start planning to implement as soon as possible.
- What am I doing to encourage and incentivize new and existing customers to come back?
- How am I communicating those opportunities to my customers? Can I measure how well it works?
- Is sufficient data being gathered on where my customers are coming from and going to on the site?
Having accurate information about how people come to your site, where they go while they are there, and what they do while they are there is absolutely essential. In a time where the available marketing options are numerous, the only to know what is working (and what is not) is to have good data. If you are not using analytics, you need to start today. A “no” to any of these questions means you should really take steps today to start capturing data today.
- Am I able to know where my customers are leaving? If they drop out during checkout, can I pinpoint the step at which they are dropping out?
- Are my AdWords (or any other PPC system) conversions being properly captured?
- Do my marketing campaigns (social, email, and other) integrate with my analytics platform?
Managed Services & Support
When it comes time to deliver, is your managed services provider / hosting company going to be able to deliver? Like a high-performance car, all of the glitz, features, and thrill can be quickly extinguished if you don’t put the right kind of fuel in the car. Don’t make the same mistake with your website. Make sure your managed services provider is top-notch and ready to take on what will be thrown at them and at you.
- Is my service provider available 24/7? Are they ready for Cyber Monday?
- When was the last time I reviewed my existing provider’s Service Level Agreement?
- Do I know who to contact when a problem arises?
We are Here to Help
If you can’t answer any of these questions adequately, and you need support, don’t wait until it becomes a problem. Save yourself the money lost, the frustration, and the extra cost of an emergency. Contact us today.