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02 Nov 2011

What is Cyber Monday and How do I Prepare My Website for it?

what is cyber monday and how do I prepare my website for it

Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately following Black Friday and Thanksgiving, and is the biggest online shopping day of the year. Most online stores offer discounts and deals, and consumers have the luxury of shopping from home and avoiding the Black Friday in-store madness. Cyber Monday 2011 is quickly approaching and easily might be one of the best yet. With the economy in its current state, consumers are counting on great sales to get them through the holiday shopping. Since the term “Cyber Monday” was coined in 2005, it’s been the biggest day for online sales, with more and more shoppers choosing online shopping over the frenzy of Black Friday. Last year this day made history with the first ever billion dollar online shopping day, an increase of 16 percent from the previous year. For those of you with e-commerce websites, it’s time to prepare!

1. Update, update, update!

You need to ensure everything on your website is updated and working properly. Imagine walking into a department store and seeing outdated products, disorganization and broken cash registers? This is not how you want your customers to feel when they visit your site. People judge books by their front covers, and they’ll judge your site by its home/landing page just the same. You only have one opportunity to make a good impression, so take it. The look of your site should be visually appealing. The usability should be simple. Make sure your product images are up to date and of the highest quality. Make it easy for customers to navigate and easily find what they are looking for. Try to make a purchase yourself. Does the whole process, including the shopping cart work smoothly? When the customer checks out, do they breeze through it or are they turned off at the million steps you make them go through and therefore lead to shopping cart abandonment?

2. Call to action

Make sure you give your customers a clear direction once they land on your page. Examples would be large obvious text with sale phrases such as “Click here to buy this widget for 50% off” or “Free shipping on all purchases made on Cyber Monday”. If people visit your website and don’t see anything obvious about a sale, you might lose their interest. On the other hand, if they came to your website specifically for a sale they know you are doing, they’re going to want to find that sale easily. Make it easy for your customers, and give them directions!

3. If you build it…they won’t come.

Having a spectacular website and an amazing sale is great…unless nobody knows about it! Getting the word out about your sale should be one of your top priorities. First, submit your sale to sites like CyberMonday.com, and make sure to give them as much detail as possible. You’ll also want to utilize your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube to spread the word. You may even want to consider offering an even better deal to those in your network. For example, “use Facebook code FB123 when checking out to receive an additional 5% off our already amazingly low sale price when checking out”. But don’t limit your marketing to only the bigger networks. Seek out niche blogs, forums, Q&A sites, and be a valuable resource to consumer searching for the deals you are providing.

4. Optimize your content

Another way of driving traffic to your site is by creating awesome content, and optimizing it with Cyber Monday based keywords. The trick is to think long tail here, because everyone is trying to optimize for the keyword “cyber Monday” right now. For example, if you own an online store that sells cell phone covers, consider using a keyword such as “cyber Monday cell phone cover deals”. To come up with these kinds of keyword phrases, you must first think like your customer. Think about what they will type in when they go to Google. The competition will be lower and your conversion rates will surely be higher.

5. Lock it up!

Make sure your shopping cart is secure. Consumers are getting smarter and smarter when it comes to online shopping, and they are demanding your site have an SSL certificate. SSL certificates secure customer’s data so that purchases made online with credit cards or other account information are safe. Visitors of your site can tell if your site has one by checking to see if there is a padlock icon in their browser’s status bar. You can show them you have one by displaying an SSL certificate logo on your homepage. A lot of smart shoppers will pass your website by if it’s not secure, and you don’t want to lose out on these sales.

6. Follow up

A lot of people purchasing from your site will be first time customers. Create an opt in form for them to fill out at checkout. Make sure it’s simple, easy, and doesn’t ask for too much. The point of this is to collect their email, and possibly physical addresses, for future marketing opportunities. If you have a catalog, it’s also a great time to offer them one for free. With their contact information, it’s a great idea to send them a thank you for their purchase after a week or so goes by, and let them know about any other holiday deals you have coming up.

Now that your site is ready for the biggest online shopping day of the year, the final thing to do is to make sure you have enough products in stock to fulfill all of the orders. You don’t want to pull a Target!

Is your website ready for Cyber Monday 2011? Are there any tips to prepare that we missed?