Last Minute Checklist For Holiday Cyber Sales

Today’s blog post comes to us from Gillian Muessig, Founding President of SEOmoz

Credit for this actionable, ecommerce-focused checklist goes to Casey of Slingshot SEO in Indianapolis. An SEOmoz recommended consultancy, Slingshot SEO was recently listed number 58 of the Inc 500 fastest growing companies. Woohoo! I love it when Mozzers do well! You can read the original post, complete with information on related primary research here. While it focuses on Cyber Monday, the tips apply to all cyber shopping days leading up to Christmas.

Today is Cyber Monday, but it isn’t the only Cyber Monday of the year.  Begun in 2005 as a one-time marketing effort, Cyber Monday has become a juggernaut phenomenon that continues to boost instant and long term business for e-commerce sites the world over.

Since the advent of Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping days have occurred on the Mondays leading up to Christmas, and Green Monday, the second Monday in December, will be here before we know it.

With $1.028 billion in online spending, Cyber Monday 2010 saw the heaviest online spending day in history. According to Comscore, Cyber Monday 2010, was the first to pass the billion dollar threshold with the online spend reaching a respectable $1.028 billion. Hey, a billion here, a billion there; soon you’re talking real money. Here’s how to get your share of it and more.

First, it’s important to note that while the peak in online purchases doesn’t occur until Cyber Monday, Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season.  And Cyber Monday doesn’t end the season by any means.

Things keep rolling at an increasing fever pitch as the days grow shorter and folks run out of time to shop in retail locations. Bad weather can make things that much better for you.

As SlingshotSEO so elegantly puts it, “This is an SEO Checklist even a Cabbage Patch Kid could follow, so make the most out of Cyber Monday and leave your competitors blinking like a Furby.”

10: Offer Promotions

Sadly, shoppers have been trained to buy during sales events. This is not time to try to retrain them. Price your items reasonably, so you have margin to spare and use sales when needed to move product. Sale dates should be limited; consider a rising price scale.

Think of Woot.com’s declining pricing model – you create the opposite. If people buy before a certain time or date, the price is lowest. After that, the price continues to rise until the last day you can ship and still have a package arrive by the appropriate holiday.

9. Optimize Your Meta Descriptions

There’s a stat ‘out there’ that says 55% of all Meta descriptions (the text you read that describes a website in the organic listings of search engine results) will convince us not to click through. That’s a huge waste of potential. Write – or quickly re-write your Meta description tags for your hottest pages to make them so mouth-wateringly delicious that shoppers cannot help but click through. They have to see what’s on that next page. If you can’t do it, this is an excellent place to put some marketing dollars.

The query below was for “last minute holiday gifts”. Most of the descriptions are pretty boring. You can do better. The listing with the image, even though it’s only a face, it likely to get more click-throughs than the top organic listing. Why? Stats indicate that listing with images get an average of 4x the click throughs of even the first position listing. Tip: use photos and video! Add video and image content to your pages and tag them appropriately.

8. Use “Deal Terms” On Your Landing Pages

Examples: sale, half off, free, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, one-day sale, gifts, presents, free shipping, etc. Based on tip #10, make sure shoppers know they’ve arrived at the right place when they click through to your landing pages. This is not the time to shoot for design awards. This is a time to be blunt and clear.

If you haven’t read ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ by Steve Krug, it’s time to get a copy. The short version of the message of this book is, if I have to think even for a fraction of a second about what you’re selling, what your message to me is right now, or whether I should check another website instead, you’re losing money. Lots of it. Best book on website design I’ve ever read… and I don’t get paid to say that.

7. I Don’t WANNA Log In!

Continuing Steve Krug’s message about not making consumers think about anything except getting their merchandise and getting out ‘the door’ now is not the time to start a customer loyalty program either. Don’t lengthen the e-commerce funnel even a fraction of a moment! Keep it short and simple. You want to capture as many Cyber Monday sales as possible.

That said, you can still get all the info you need to create a profile for every shopper during the checkout process. You’ll need their email address to email them about their shipment. You’ll need the name of the buyer, credit card info, a shipping address, and a billing address.

With this info, you can create a profile and happily present it like a gift to the buyer when the transaction is completed. You need only tell them, “If you need to check on your package, just log in with your email address and the last four digits of the credit card you used to make this purchase as your password. If you’d like to change your password, click here now or change it anytime once you’re logged in.”

How much more elegant is that than asking me to create all this stuff before I buy something from you? I have neither the time nor inclination to fill out forms to make purchases, especially at this time of year. I’ll just go shop at another website, where I’m already set up.

6. Get Listed On Cyber Sale Sites

There are a number of different sites that are listed specifically for Cyber Monday Green Monday, and other special sales. Get on those lists. If it’s too late, put a reminder in your calendar now to alert you to do this next year on November 1st.

5. Get Social Now!

Prepare Tweets and Facebook posts immediately for use throughout the month of December as well as on Cyber Mondays and special sale days. Take your cell phone out and make a quick instructional or humorous YouTube video about your favorite product. Video expands your social brand presence like nothing else. Be forward about asking people to RT (retweet) your messages. Videos can be made with cell phones propped on a couple of books while you perform the magic a few feet away. Don’t get wrapped up with professionalism; the most popular (read: viral) videos are often home-made, amusing little clips.

Don’t be stingy. Put your videos on Vimeo, YouTube, etc as well as your own site. The more ways you can share these little gems, the better. Tweet about them. Provide links on your Facebook page. Be sure to mention your website and if possible, add the website url somewhere in the video or image itself… just don’t be ‘noisy’ about it. The url must not interrupt the viewer; before, after, or somehow incorporated into the video or bottom of the image is fine.

DON’T OVER SELL ON TWITTER OR ON FACEBOOK!!  DO talk about the major uptick in sales on your site and which products are moving fast. Be humble, be joyful. “Wow! Natural bamboo walking sticks are selling like hotcakes today! Guess lots of folks will be hiking in 2012. [link to product] RT at will.” is a fine way to share news with your friends and colleagues that you’re having a good day. And you’ve asked folks to RT this tweet that includes a link so their friends see it as well. It’s amazing what folks will do when you ask them to.

4. Email Your Friends Now

Offer your existing customers an exclusive promotion. I hate it when new customers get something nice and existing customers get treated like dirt, don’t you? Make Raving Fans out of your existing customers and get them to spread the word about your site being the place they truly love to shop by offering special deals only for them.

Don’t underestimate the power of email at this time of year. Think of the subject line as your headline and Meta description – it has to be compelling. “Amazingly cool, low-cost tech toys for the geeks on your list. Free Shipping” is pretty compelling. Feel free to edit and steal that line for you own emails. Be sure the landing page you link to in your emails are direct to these cool tech toys. Don’t leave people blinking at your home page, wondering where the good stuff went.

It’s OK to ask your best customers to share something on Twitter or Facebook when they complete the purchase… “We’re really glad to have you as one of our most valued customers. If you love shopping here, we’d sure be grateful if you’d share something about us on Twitter or Facebook.” is pretty good. Even better would be to pre-fill the words for them to share and allow them to edit those words or send them as is. The less work – and the less they have to think the more likely you are to get tweets, shares, and posts. It’s even ok to offer them another ‘thank-you gift’ every time they hit that tweet or share button after a purchase. Keep them coming back with additional discounts or special offers.

3. Prepare For That Increase In Traffic

Make sure your servers don’t crash from more people. Target blew it earlier this year when an unexpected high demand for a fashion line brought their servers to a halt. Don’t miss those precious holiday sales by not being prepared. Contact your host provider now to be sure you have what you need to stay standing and strong throughout the season.

2. Bid Against Your Competitors

Use Spyfu.com to see what PPC terms your competitors are bidding on. Bid on similar terms and be sure to emphasize your lower costs, free shipping and/or any other clear advantages over your competition.

1. Optimize Your Mobile Site

And the #1 item on your hot checklist is to be sure folks can buy using their web enabled mobile phones. The web is becoming more and more mobile. Folks are buying things while commuting on mass transit, in taxis, airports, at lunch hour, and in their offices while they work. Mobile buyers tend to hit one or two websites only to make a purchase. They are focused, time crunched and financially capable. Make the most of it.

Check out how your website will look on different mobile platforms at MobileMoxie.com Cindy Krum, CEO of Mobile Moxie kindly gave us a promo code. Use the code MIVA to get 2 free months of MobileMoxie access There are lot more tools and a ton of great info to help you optimize mobile marketing at MobileMoxie; check them all out once you sign up for the free trial.

Be sure your company can be located on Google Maps, FourSquare, and other local sites. Include contact information on your mobile site (phone numbers, email, SMS info).

Here’s to another bumper nline holiday season. It’s an honor to chat with you each month and I hope to see many of you at the annual Miva Merchant Conference.

Till Next Month-

Gillian Muessig
Founding President SEOmoz
CEO Coach at WebmasterRadio.fm
@SEOmoz & @SEOmom