Preparing your eCommerce site for Cyber Monday.

Update: In addition to the ideas discussed here, we’ve put together a full post explaining why low latency CDN is so important for web retailers here: Why low latency CDN is important for eCommerce stores.

Build ‘gift guide’ landing pages.
Make it easy for shoppers to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Who knows what to get their nieces or nephews? Siblings off at college – it’s a complete mystery as to what appeals to them. As the expert, build landing pages with the best gifts for specific audiences, such as “Best gifts for a sibling at college” or “Grandpa’s favorites on the golf course.

Create holiday specific navigation for your site
Much like how grocery stores stick the impromptu purchases at the check-out lines, optimize your store for the holiday season. Put your holiday specific ‘hot gifts’ in an easy to use navigation menu, that allows new visitors unfamiliar with your site a way to quickly find what they’re looking for. Pro tip: Link to your landing pages suggested above!

Code freeze!
If you know your site works, lets keep it that way for the biggest shopping season of the year! Prevent site upgrades, until after the New Year, when bug fixing can be prioritized, and potential income loss from downtime is minimized.

Beef up the customer support.
Now is the season when your customers need you most. You’ll have shoppers who have (surprisingly!) never bought goods online before, and will require help finishing their purchase. You’ll also have others asking for a second opinion, ensuring they’re getting the right gift for a loved one. We suggest using Olark for live chat – it’s easy to implement with WordPress, Magento & Drupal, and is just a quick code insertion for custom developed sites.

Automate everything, everywhere.
Seriously, automate everything you can. Setup your social media promotions well in advance. HootSuite allows you do this easily with their scheduled post option. Trust us – the last thing you want to be doing is a manual tweet, when you could be packing new shipments or answering customer questions. Also setup email response templates for gift or shipping related questions so you can quickly, and easily answer customer questions.

New Marketing Promotions
There are a lot of really great marketing promotions you can use to maximize your customer life time value, and encourage repeat shopping. Both are critical towards a healthy holiday shopping season. We’ve put together a few ideas.

  • Hello Bar: Hello Bar is a powerful tool to help you direct your visitors to your most important content. We use it at CDN.net to promote new plans, or locations that we’ve added. You can use it as a top ‘hello message’ or a complete page takeover, to collect email address or to promote new products.
  • Check out Coupons: There’s no better way to encourage repeat business, than by giving your (new) clients a coupon after they purchase a gift from you. After they finish checking out, notify them of a new coupon they can use. If you want to be really fancy, automatically apply it to their account, and add to the “stickiness” by emailing them the coupon information.
  • Mailing list: Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing channels out there. Offer your visitors a small percentage off in exchange for sharing their email address. You’ll make the money lost by the coupon in no time, with a strong email marketing campaign. We really like the Opt In Cat plugin for WordPress, combined with MailChimp.
  • Guest Blogs: Build SEO and attract new visitors by posting guest blogs on similar consumer facing web sites. Put together gift guides, coupon saving tips… anything that will help out potential customers – they’ll pay back your kindness by shopping at your site.
  • Retargeting: You can use a tool like AdRoll.com to show ads to users who have visited your site, but not purchased anything. You can even use their dynamic ads to advertise the specific product they viewed in the past. Retargeting is commonly used now to bring back visitors who have abandoned their shopping cart.

Security audit immediately!
If you haven’t reviewed your security, you are already behind the game. It’s time to make sure your store is safe and secure – not only from just defacements, but that you’re practicing safe security measures for keeping your customer’s information safe. If you’re running WordPress, WordFence is a great tool at protecting you from future attacks. If you suspect you have been a victim of a previous breach, Rack911 is our recommended vendor for clean up — in fact, we’d recommend them for proactive maintenance!

We hope these tips help you keep your site online during the holiday season, and long afterwards. As always, you should be using a low latency CDN from CDN.net for the best performance for your site. More than 60 global PoPs ensuring sub-50ms latency worldwide.

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