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How to make the most of Xmas with A/B testing

By Matthew Pezzimenti

Waking up on Monday, the 19th of December to your phone alarm vibrating and pulsing towards you will remind you this is the day you have been working toward for the past year. Your stomach sinks as every scenario runs through your head … Did the website slow down or crash during the weekend’s trading? Did the warehouse fail to send the last of Xmas orders? Did we hit our sales and revenue targets?

Hesitantly, you grab your phone and within a few taps, log onto Google Analytics to see how the business performed. The questions to answer are: Did we hit our revenue targets? Could have we done better? Did we maximise the glorious commerce opportunity that is the hectic Christmas period?

But that scenario is future you. It’s now only November and while there are many things that are out of your control when running online sales over Xmas, there are a number fundamentals and winning tactics you can employ right now, so you will be reaching for your phone with excitement and not hiding under the covers.

5 top fundamentals

While there are many areas of an online business to focus on, get any of the follow 5 wrong and you will be kicking yourself in your next management meeting.

1. Accessibility: 

With increased traffic levels, and people accessing your site from mobile devices, your site speed is imperative. If you are seeing average page load times over four seconds, talk to your IT department, hosting service or CDN provider.

2. Make it easy for users to find products:

Is your navigation intuitive? Is it optimised for mobile? How obvious is your onsite search and does it have smart logic to help people find their products? If users do not find what they are looking for within 4-6 clicks, chances are they will get frustrated, abandon and shop somewhere else.

3. Build value:

A sale is made when you can build an equal or higher perceived value of a product than what you are selling it for. Don’t miss opportunities by overlooking the quality of product imagery and persuasive copy.

4. Lower anxiety in cart: 

A massive drop off in online sales is caused by users adding product to their cart and then abandoning. Make sure you answer their most pertinent questions around delivery times, returns and other FAQ’s within the cart.

5. Create urgency

Communicate the exact time you can receive orders to guarantee delivery by Christmas, this will build both urgency and reassurance with your customers.

4 ways to push your sales even further

OK, so you have ticked all the fundamentals, but you know what? You don’t want to just have a good year, you want it to be great year – the biggest yet – and here are some insights that I’ve learned to help super charge the website.

1. Onsite promotion:

Christmas trading is competitive, so make your product is better then your competitor’s and harder to compare with additional offers: percentage off, free shipping, gift with purchase, or buy 2 get 1 discounted.

2. Additional revenue: 

Find additional ways to increase your average order value with complimentary services like gift wrapping or up-sells in the cart of products which are less than 5 per cent of the AOV.

3. Shipping offers: 

Let the user decide how they want you to deliver. Use different shipping options such as Free, Express, Courier; you may be surprised how much people are happy to pay for shipping to ensure timely arrival.

4. Retargeting:

Life sometimes gets in the way of a purchase. Don’t let users forget what product they were interested in by using retargeting. You can retarget once someone leaves a product page and abandons the cart through display, social and email touchpoints.

Secret sauce on crushing your sales targets

How are some companies just dominating the market place? The answer is that they are obsessed with creating the optimum experience for their customers. How do you create an experience user will love? Easy, test different ways to solve their problems. Get this right and you will be rocking commerce stardom and pushing your business to new heights this year and next.

Here are some profit generating tests you can set-up quickly:

Merchandising: Rank products from lowest to highest vs most popular vs promotional. Test this also for different traffic sources.

Internal search for mobile: Test different way to position site search for mobile users.

Slowing down or speeding up users’ sessions: Present your product catalogue as either a list vs 2 vs 3 vs 4 products per row.

Gate or not gate key information: Bring key product information such as available size, colours onto category pages.

Comparison: Help users make a decision by testing a cheaper and more expensive product suggestions on each product page.

Cart security: Reassure users that their payment is safe by presenting your online security badges and using certified payment providers.

While there a thousands of possible testing options, make sure you test solutions to identified problems. As Xmas is a fast paced time, have your tests developed, UAT’d and ready to go. It’s better to not run a test than to wonder if you could have done better.

Matthew Pezzimenti works for Australian conversion agency Conversion Kings as a senior conversion strategist and has over 2,000 A/B tests under his belt.

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