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Get ready for the festive shopping season




It might be premature OR belated to be wishing. But there are teams across the country and across categories keeping their eye on the clock ticking for the festive season. Hence, it migt be pertinent to come up with some steps and pointers to help brands shape up their online presence for the coming season.

Many consumer brands spend their entire year of marketing and operations planning for the festive season – be it Diwali, Dussehra, Eid, Onam, Durga Puja etc. If they are national brands with a pan India presence, then the marketing teams are busy preparing the ammunition for each of the above festive seasons – largely because they have a disproportionately large share of their business volumes driven by this ‘festive season”.
Getting your online plans ready for the festive season is equally important – lest you should miss the proverbial festival bus.
Most of these pointers also apply to B2B brands and their sites. Although they needn’t implement them immediately, B2B designers might want to work on them when business is slow and they have more time on their hands.
A website is like a corporate office with a million front doors: clients and customers can enter anywhere. The homepage is typically the main point of entry , so you should definitely check to ensure that the homepage design matches upto the customer expectations with respect to its easy usability and content. But care has too be taken to not overlook the other entry points of your site.
Organic landing pages on sites often are often not attended to..these are the pages where users to the site land when they arrive at the site from links placed from other websites or reach the site through organic search listings (as opposed to paid or sponsored search advertisements). Due to the lack of attention to these organic landing pages, the visitors are often disgruntled and lead to having high bounce rates
(“bounce rate” is the percentage of users who exit after reaching only the one page where they entered the site).
To improve performance on the organic landing pages, the following simple steps are useful:
• Analyse the website logs – identify the top search/query terms that drive SE visitors to the site.
• Study the pages that serve as entry points for these visitors.
• Analyze the search phrased and terms to determine users’ intended goals.
• Mend the pages suitably to address visitors’ intended goals with better content.
• Put calls to action and links in prominent locations where the visitors normally seek (rather than having them on the generic navigation areas).
• Watch bounce rates decline. (If they don’t — try another fix; you may have to conduct user behavior mapping to identify how people interact on pages that are particularly promising, but perform poorly even after many fixes.)
As many of the tools for server log analysis identify entry pages, it is tempting to use these tools to simply work on those pages that serve as the most popular starting points. The above detailed approach is advisable as it studies the reasons for the visitors to the site and their search queries etc.
Moreover, the visitors through the engines are more serious than those through content sites. The former are more action -oriented than the latter.

It is important to reduce the Bounce rates for the Search Traffic than for the Content Site Traffic.
2. Paid Search Advertising
• The sponsored search ads are growing leaps and bounds. More brands are seeing the potential of having a presence on this ‘channel’ than ever before. Although search ads are highly compressed into small boxes, performance can be improved by tweaking the textwords creatively – and this simple step can significantly improve the CTR for the campaign as well as the conversion rates.
• The cost per click is most likely to increase during the key season – with brands bidding with each other for those select keywords and terms. It would be useful to experiment with alternative wordings during the offseason while you can still bid for the clicks at a lower cost than during the season.
• The cost per click can imcrease by as much as 8% -20% during the peak to non-peak season.
• Expect competitors to increase their bids for the most lucrative keywords once the shopping season gets underway. Hence, plan ahead as to how much you can afford to bid and retain the desired ROI.
• Prospects might end up waiting for 2-3 weeks or more between an initial visit and an actual purchase from the site. To allocate ROI fairly, cookie your search engine users when they arrive on the site and then track your sales back to the keyword that initially brought each buying customer to your site.
• Avoid the tendency of driving visitors from your search ads to your homepage unless it is intended. Instead, drive the traffic to pages that are relevant to the search ad placed. Typically, you can at least double your conversion by directing hits to pages targeted to users’ interests.
3. Improve the Confirmation Emails
Online Shoppers need to be comforted and be told that they have succeeded in completing their purchase online. This is part of the user experience and a means to improve customer delight. They need to be hand held so as to allay any fears that they clicked the Buy button in vain, or that their purchases are not going to be delivered on time. And people are never more anxious to be informed than during the festive season when they’re typically shopping at the last moment, having purchases sent to different addresses, and will be seriously embarrassed if the gifts to their near and dear ones don’t arrive on time.
Improving the usability of the confirmation email messages will both improve customer satisfaction and keep people from calling customer service to ask about their order’s status. The cost of fixing these messages will be recovered many times over in reduced call center costs and also in retaining the customer in the future.
4. Make your site relevant for the season
It’s often a nice touch to deck up the website to match the mood and occasion – such as Onam or Dussehra or Diwali or Eid. Small but important steps that help strike an emotional chord with your visitors.

These are not earth shattering requirements – nor do you need big marketing budgets to work on the above pointers. These steps are as important if not more than just monitoring the GRPs and CPRPs of your campaign this season.



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