David J. Brown, CEO and co-founder of e-commerce conversion company Ve, discusses what online retailers should do ahead of Cyber Monday – and after.
Cyber Monday is traditionally seen as the make or break day for online retailers in the run up to Christmas. As a result, many retailers rightly bend over backwards to give their site the edge over their competitors. Increasing stock, investing in SEO, and distributing products via online marketplaces are all priorities for retailers from October onwards. However, often overlooked is the bread and butter of a website: how it engages with customers and encourages them to return.
One key measurement to consider is your website’s bounce rate, and just like a puppy, working on reducing your site’s bounce rate should not just be for Christmas.
The two biggest causes of a high bounce rate are either potential customers didn’t find what they needed, or they found the site difficult or irritating to use. Astonishingly, according to marketing analytics firm, KISSmetrics, 40% of shoppers abandon a site if it takes more than a mere three seconds to load. Imagine investing hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds on SEO and marketing to drive customers to your site, only to find that nearly half of them will not even look at your products because it takes the same amount of time to load as it does to sing the opening line of Jingle Bells!
Thankfully, reducing the load time of a website doesn’t take fancy technology or a lot of money. Reducing the number of images or optimising them by ensuring that the right image sizes are used, is a sure fire way to speed up a site. Similarly, if your site contains a lot of elements, like style sheets, scripts and flash, it will take much longer to load. If possible, strip them out. Not only will this speed up your site, it’ll make it cleaner and easier for consumers to navigate.
This brings me neatly to the next big influence on bounce rate: whether consumers can find what they are looking for. A busy landing page with no clear calls to action will naturally put shoppers off. Simplifying the layout of your site and making it clear how visitors can purchase, search or find important information, such as delivery options, will improve conversion. Similarly, if you have special offers for Cyber Monday, or new product lines in for Christmas, make them clear on your site. This may all sound very intuitive, but many online retailers – and even large global companies – are let down by a site that looks pretty but functions badly.
In a handful of circumstances, a higher bounce rate is to be expected. If a visitor leaves your site immediately after visiting your blog or ‘contact us’ page, it does not necessarily constitute a failure. On these pages, a better measure of how well content has been absorbed is the average time spent on the page. The higher the amount of time spent, the more meaningful the engagement.
In addition to optimising your site to reduce bounce, another quick win to help you make more from Cyber Monday is to consider whether ecommerce conversion technology is appropriate for your site.
A variety of options are available. For example, Ve has solutions that deliver personalised emails to consumers if they abandon their shopping cart encouraging them back to continue their purchase, and interruptive onsite remarketing messaging, which persuades customers to stay on your site before they abandon. We also recently launched a new app to help retailers further tackle bounce caused by poorly indexed product pages. It automatically indexes the retailer’s entire product range on your site and, if a customer leaves after arriving on a landing page from search, it instantly activates a layer on your site offering enhanced, alternative product options that better match their original search query.
Usually this type of technology charges on a results basis rather than subscription, which means that even the smallest online retailer can afford it.
One of the important things to remember about Cyber Monday is that it is only one day in the life of your business. The improvements in the delivery of products purchased online mean that consumers will continue their Christmas shopping right up until the last moment. Therefore, it is important to showcase your website in the best possible light so that when consumers do visit, even if they abandon your site, they will be encouraged to return. Employing marketing technology can help here too, such as digital display ad tech, which delivers adverts or special offers to visitors who leave your site without purchasing, helping your brand remain front of mind.
In short, to have a busy Cyber Monday and a merry Christmas, online retailers need a well-designed, simple website with clear calls to action, quick load times and, if possible, e-commerce conversion technology and remarketing to ensure engagement with visitors after they leave the website.