Reprise's Ian Hyde proposes three key ideas to prepare for the UK's busiest commercial season: Christmas.

We are in the business end of September now, meaning we can all bask in the glorious sunshine the UK has to bring. However, this also means that day by day, the nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping. Which for marketers means the Christmas season is just around the corner…

During Q4 2018, £6.4billion was spent on media in the UK alone. For retailers on average, Q4 accounts for nearly 70% of their annual media budget, but are you spending 70% of your time throughout the year getting ready for Q4?12

For some brands the answer may be yes, but more often than not, the answer is no.

When it comes to the peak Q4 period, if you have not spent the year getting yourself digital ready, those ever increasing Q4 targets are going to be nearly impossible to achieve.

However, it’s not too late to test, adapt and change your digital strategy so come October 1st, you can hit the ground running.

Luckily, we’ve compiled our top three ideas for you to get moving straight away:

1. Merry UXmas

User experience, or UX, is a vital component now of any well rounded digital campaign. However, it is still an aspect some marketers overlook, with so much emphasis placed on the traffic you are driving to your website, what users are doing when they get there is sometimes forgotten. It can also be difficult to fully understand what the correct thing to focus on is, and what you should and shouldn’t change.

Where to start: Map out your entire user journey on A3 paper, incorporating every possible path to conversion. Seeing it in front of you will really enhance your understanding of your site. Begin to understand where the barriers could be, especially on mobile, and use analytics to see if there is any correlation between certain pages and drop off points.

Tip for beginners: Use breadcrumbs to let users know exactly where they are in the website. This is especially important during the conversion process. Ideally, the path to conversion should be no longer than four steps.

Tip for Advanced Users: Don’t use carousels, around 1% of users click on these on site. Users instantly forget the previous slide; instead use labels that show what they will move to next.

So before you throw a panicked extra £10k at that partnership in mid-November that the media owner has assured you will work, why not invest it in improving your on site experience and feel the benefits all year round?

2. CRO’ing your way into the New Year

Conversion rate optimisation, or CRO, is the process of modifying elements of your site to ensure that users take action before they leave. Clearly very important when it comes to ecommerce, but often under invested in.

There are six key aspects you should be focussing on when it comes to CRO:

  1. Value – is there a compelling value proposition on a particular page?
  2. Relevance – Will this page provide the user with what they are looking for?
  3. Clarity – is the call to action clear?
  4. Urgency – is there a sense of urgency to get users to convert?
  5. Trust – Is there enough to ensure users are comfortable converting?
  6. Distraction – is anything diverting attention away from the conversion?

Where to start: Take a deep dive into your analytics package. Perhaps begin with your key conversion pages and begin to understand where users are dropping off in the journey, and start with some small scale testing, perhaps changing ‘sign-up’ to ‘subscribe’ for example.

Tip for beginners: Google Analytics allows you to annotate on particular dates when you make changes, to easily track the effect of your optimisation. Always remember to find the balance between impact and effort with CRO changes. Small changes can make a big difference. Use September to October to focus on split testing, if you see an uplift in those months, imagine what you could gain in the next two!

Tip for Advanced Users: So you have a number of high performing pages that are providing conversions, why not try a live chat function to increase conversion further. Particularly with high-ticket items, this can create a human interaction, which may be just what’s required to get them through to checkout. However, make sure you can respond. Nothing will lose trust quicker than an unanswered question.

3. Overfeeding in the festive season

Feed management is the most vital component to ecommerce selling across all channels, and enables you to be dynamic, personalised and reactive to the market. Your data feed is a subset of all your products and can be tailored to suit any of your key channels, and ensure that your products are getting in front of those searching for them in the most relevant way.

Where to start: Assuming you don’t yet have a data feed in place, it would be wise to first decide which are your priority channels you want to target. Google, Facebook & Amazon all require slightly different intricacies in order to have a successful feed solution. Therefore, when choosing your feed management supplier, make sure they can build you a feed that covers all basis. A supplier such as bgenuis enables you to use an Import Wizard, allowing you to easily create, edit and optimise feeds no matter what the platform.

Tip for beginners: Your product titles are key and most of your time should be spent here to ensure correct feed optimisation. You want to get as much information in there as possible without becoming detrimental to the understanding of the product. As a general rule, start with the brand + product and then highlight attributes such as colour, size etc. to ensure the user is finding exactly what they are searching for and therefore more likely to convert.

Tip for Advanced Users: Ensure you update your feed constantly during the key period, ensuring that inventory levels, prices and availability are all as they should be. With budgets being as tight as they are, you don’t want to be paying for clicks through to out of stock items when you could be channelling the budget elsewhere. Ideally, use a dynamic file that updates twice per day, this can then be uploaded to merchant centre on Google or any ecom interface to ensure that products are as up to date as possible.

If you are an ecommerce marketer heading into peak season and haven’t yet considered these things, don’t panic, there is still time. Remember, invest in these three things now and you will reap the benefits in Q4 and beyond!