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Top 5 lessons from Cyber Monday to apply to your holiday marketing strategy

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4 minute read

With Christmas right around the corner, the busiest shopping time of the year is already upon us. Online sales have already reached $9.4B USD during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But the way consumers are shopping is ever-changing, and this year is no exception, with mobile transactions reaching $3.1B – their highest year-over-year growth recorded to date. That’s why, even amid all the craziness, having a strong ecommerce plan is critical, and there are a lot of teachable moments we’ve seen in 2019 already from Black Friday and Cyber Monday trends. 

Lesson #1: Mobile-first is the biggest opportunity for growth

Ecommerce experts have been beating the mobile-first drum for years as smartphone ownership has been growing at breakneck pace and is already at 81% of the US population. As more and more people do their shopping exclusively online via the computer or from a mobile device, Cyber Monday is expanding into more of a “Cyber Weekend”. The reason being nearly everyone can purchase anything from anywhere at anytime.

Even though most ecommerce operators know that mobile compatibility is crucial to their overall sales, often they neglect to consider and test the implications of the mobile user experience and promotions that are going out. Remember that the mobile shopping experience can be quite different from browsing on a desktop. Therefore, every time you or your team tests a significant change to your site, you should also make sure you pick up your phone and test the same thing on mobile devices. And don’t forget to check both iPhone and Android, as the experiences can be very different. If you don’t have an extra phone or colleague with an alternative device to help you test, you can use tools like browserstack.com to test all the platforms that you need. And the same goes for testing email campaigns; emailonacid.com is an excellent tool for quickly seeing how a wide range of email clients display your emails.

Lesson #2: Clearly communicating shipping times means more informed visitors

Particularly as Christmas Day grows closer and last-minute shoppers work through their lists; your visitors want to know whether they’re going to get the item by Christmas or even a few days earlier if they have to travel for the holidays. If there’s any ambiguity or uncertainty with the delivery date, they’ll be much less likely to checkout. Putting verbiage on your product pages or checkout like “get it by [X date]” works well to assure customers when they can expect to see that item on their doorstep.

Lesson #3: You need a fast site or you’re missing out

At the height of the Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, consumers were spending an average of $12 million USD per minute. That’s a lot of money exchanging across the internet, and the speed of your site drastically affects how much of that money share you’ll be able to capture. In a 2016 study, Walmart found that for every 1-second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%, a 4-second delay in page response resulted in a 25% increase in abandonment rate, and a 10-second delay in page response resulted in most customers leaving the site altogether. 

As an example of a significant optimization, Kylie Cosmetics had a 1.2MB animated gif on their mobile homepage during Cyber Monday that had they converted into a more optimal format like an mp4, could have saved an average of 6 seconds in mobile page load time. A useful tool for guiding you to these kinds of optimizations is thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/testmysite/. They benchmark your site against other sites, a calculator to evaluate the potential revenue increase of improving your site speed and specific recommendations on how to improve your site speed.

Lesson #4: Holiday shopping is an opportunity to make your ecommerce site global

According to Shopify’s Cyber Monday statistics, 19% of all checkouts during Cyber Monday were from one country to another. Toronto was the top international city for sales, closely followed by London. So, don’t neglect to consider shipping options for international audiences. Even though these shoppers may pay significantly more for shipping, they’re often used to buying internationally anyway, and they have a higher tolerance to those higher shipping rates and potential customs fees. If possible, also feature multiple options for currency on your site to let international visitors know exactly how much your products will be when it’s converted.

Lesson #5: Take advantage of third-party payment methods to meet shoppers where they are

Particularly on mobile traffic, offering payment methods other than the standard credit card entry is crucial for checkout conversion. No one wants to get out their credit card and excruciatingly type the number, expiration and CCV with their thumbs. That’s why payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal are vital to capturing mobile revenue. The simpler and quicker it is for people to checkout, the less likely they’ll get distracted or change their minds.  

Also increasing in popularity these days, especially for higher ticket items, are instant approval payment plans on the checkout like Affirm, Klarna or AfterPay. These services allow your customers that might not be able to stomach the expense immediately to spread it out between monthly installments, often for little to no interest. Particularly around the holidays, when people are already doing so much spending and might be tapped out on their budget, this can be essential for capturing a potential sale.

The best part of implementing these kinds of improvements is that they have a compounding effect because they build upon one another to improve the customer experience and buying process. This time of year, all these things are going to be top of the mind for ecommerce retailers because the effects of implementing them matter that much more when the sales volume is at its seasonal peak. However, most of these recommendations are also very applicable throughout the entire year and can help shape your action plan and scope out your website improvements for the coming year.

Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis
Mark has worked in the ecommerce industry for over a decade and is the founder and CTO of Netalico Commerce.
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