#optichat Recap: Optimizing Black Friday & Cyber Monday

By Cara Harshman

The last weekend in November is the biggest shopping weekend of the year -hands down. The competition during this weekend is extremely high, and many retailers are unsure of how to optimize their customers’ experiences. We hosted a Twitter chat with online retail experts to discuss what retailers can do to capitalize on high traffic from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and what pitfalls they should avoid during the holiday shopping rush. Our guests included Linda Bustos, author of the new ecommerce blog, Ecommerce Illustrated and Get Elastic, the ecommerce blog operated by Elastic Path.

We asked six questions in our conversation focused on a few key areas: marketing tactics, on-site optimization, and tips for effective A/B testing. Follow the #optichat hashtag on Twitter to see the full conversation.

Q1: What are the most impactful marketing tactics to drive #BlackFriday sales?

This holiday shopping weekend is a time to pull out all the stops, from email, to retargeting, social, and promotions.

A1 The holiday season starts earlier and earlier, consider pre-#BlackFriday events #optichat

— Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A1 My fav. @REI shutting down stores and website on #BlackFriday #optoutside #balls #optichat — Matt Dion (@mattdion) November 5, 2015

A1 Black Friday & Cyber Mon should have separate marketing campaigns wt exclusive discounts, offers, etc. #optichat pic.twitter.com/zgHxrC4Vnn — Megan Sakakibara (@msakakibara) November 5, 2015

A1 Get retargeting in order, and don’t be afraid to leverage deals. It’s a distracted time for the consumer. #optichat — Brad Batesole (@bradbatesole) November 5, 2015

Q2: What is the biggest mistake you see online retailers making during holiday time?

The biggest mistake retailers can make is believing it’s okay for people to have to wait to get onto your site because of heavy traffic. As Matt Dion, the co-founder of Edgacent, said, “this ain’t no nightclub!”

A2 Believing it is ok for people to wait to get onto your site because of heavy traffic. Its not ok. This aint no nightclub! #optichat

— Matt Dion (@mattdion) November 5, 2015

A2 For bigger ticket purchases, make customer feel comfier by making reviews more prominent #optichat — Get Elastic (@getelastic) November 5, 2015

A2 Not planning for traffic spike, many many sites end up going down #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday #optichat

— Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A2 For service based businesses, be upfront about your schedule and under promise…if you’re swamped, you’re swamped. #optichat — Brad Batesole (@bradbatesole) November 5, 2015

Q3: What’s the number one thing retailers can do to improve their site today?

Improve performance. Bottom line is: if the site doesn’t load, nothing else matters.

A3 @optimizely Test Test Test! Make sure you are optimizing UX so customers can find what they are looking for when they want it! #Optichat — Elka Looks (@E_LooksLikes) November 5, 2015

A3 Set up symmetric messaging between ad campaigns, email, social, and the web experience for promotional offers #optichat — Shana Rusonis (@srusonis) November 5, 2015

A3 The worst site is the one you can’t get on. Test it now to make sure it is ready for the volume. #optichat — Matt Dion (@mattdion) November 5, 2015

A3 Optimize for page load speed esp.for mobile devices on wifi. Ditch heavy graphics like carousels, social scripts etc can help #optichat — Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

Q4: What are the special considerations for testing during #BlackFriday?

Visitor behavior is unique and unusual during this high traffic period. Test results from this time window may not apply to other times of the year. But since traffic is so high and you can actually get statistically significant results in a single day — or maybe even a couple hours — it’s a smart time to run A/B tests. Here’s what people had to say about A/B testing during this holiday weekend.

A4 Pause or end any current tests, & run specific #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday tests – behavior is very different #optichat

— Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A4 Check your tracking! You’ve got a lot of ad campaigns running, nothing is worse than realizing your UTM is wrong. #optichat — Brad Batesole (@bradbatesole) November 5, 2015

@JLavitt thanks for joining us for #optichat, Jeremy!

— Optimizely (@Optimizely) November 5, 2015

Q5: What do you think are the most impactful A/B tests retailers can run with this holiday traffic?

Experts say that A/B tests with the biggest impact for the holiday rush are the ones that dispel any fear, uncertainty or doubt a shopper might have. Types of tests to avoid during the holidays are any radical, structural changes that may break the site, slow performance, or cause distrust or confusion.

A5 Different banners, featured categories. I would not play with function, I would play with merchandising and onsite marketing. #optichat

— Jeremy Lavitt (@JLavitt) November 5, 2015

A5 Test value proposition and urgency messaging on #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday #optichat — Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A5 A/B test category webpages w/ interactive header images (one major retailer saw CTR spike to 12% vs 7% w/ just static image) #optichat

— Get Elastic (@getelastic) November 5, 2015

Q6. What’s the biggest takeaway from last year’s #blackfriday?

In one word: mobile. In all of your campaigns, think about the mobile component because it is key to the conversion journey. It’s common for shoppers to switch between mobile and desktop while making one purchase.

A6 Mobile was king last #BlackFriday, especially in line-ups of physical stores #optichat — Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A6: People start buying well before #BlackFriday. Capitalize on those micromoments on top of the big day. #optichat — Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC) November 5, 2015

A6: There were 100 million online shoppers for 2014 #BlackFriday and online sales were up over 20%. Takeaway: Optimize, optimize! #optichat

— roboboogie (@roboboogiePDX) November 5, 2015

A6. It’s not only about #BlackFriday, for global brands other sale days like #SinglesDay R moving up and should be taken seriously #optichat

— Megan Sakakibara (@msakakibara) November 5, 2015

Q7. When’s the last time an ecommerce experience delighted you? Why?

Online shopping experiences that delight us are personalized. They provide just the right amount of helpfulness and urgency without pressure. They might even make us laugh.

A7 When retailers personalize the experience and make it feel like they “get” me. That’s something everyone should be testing. #optichat — Brad Batesole (@bradbatesole) November 5, 2015

A7 More retailers should shop on their own site #optichat — Matt Dion (@mattdion) November 5, 2015

Q8: How do you keep sales momentum going after #CyberMonday?

Friday and Monday are not enough anymore. It’s a full shopping season extravaganza.

A8 Offer great service. Don’t try to compete on price, as those consumers aren’t loyal anyway #optichat

— Get Elastic (@getelastic) November 5, 2015

A8 Don’t forget Green Monday! (The Monday following CyberMonday) #optichat — Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A8 Don’t be afraid to send a LOT of email – you won’t be the only retailer doing so and tolerance is higher during holiday #optichat

— Linda Bustos (@edgacentlinda) November 5, 2015

A8. Agree, draw them in wt the #Cybermonday deals, and earn their loyalty with amazing online experiences #optichat https://t.co/vQkf3UhHCl

— Megan Sakakibara (@msakakibara) November 5, 2015

We are fast approaching the busiest shopping month of the year. If online retailers are prepared to stay nimble, test intelligently, and conduct lightweight experiments to optimize the customer experience, they will be primed to increase customer satisfaction – and revenues.

Via:: Optimizely eCommerce

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