Rev Up Your Web Site

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The holiday shopping season is a flurry of activity for consumers, who visit store after store in hopes of making a dent in their shopping lists. Naturally, online retailing also gets a boost during the season: According to Coremetrics, online ordering increased 15.59 percent from May 2007 to May 2008.

This is good news, but this year holiday sales are projected to be down anywhere from 2 to 7 percent across all retail categories. So you've got to put in a little extra work. Even if you think your Web site is performing as best as it can, minor tweaks and daily monitoring can help it perform even better. The following are some key tips from Coremetrics (www.coremetrics.com.)

Minimize "page-to-call" actions. People who shop during the holidays are less likely to browse online, as they often have a specific gift in mind. When potential customers are surfing your site, make it easier for them to find what they're looking for, check out, and move on. By eliminating distractions and getting to the point, you have a better chance for a sale. Here's how:

  • Your home page should lead to product pages or category pages, which in turn would lead to checkout pages or sub-category pages, respectively.
  • Every product page should have a prominent "add to cart" button.
  • After adding to cart, customers should be able to either check out or continue shopping. Both options should be front and center, where the customer can see them.
  • When customers complete a check out, they should be immediately led to a confirmation of sale page, as well as some related products they might be interested in (think of how Amazon.com does this part).

Make sure your search tool is working. If you don't have a search tool on your site, it is crucial that you get one during the holiday season. This will enable site visitors to type in any product name, click "go" and view a page with their results. Keep in mind that a search tool is inefficient if it returns zero results, too many, or comes up with irrelevant results. Check your search tool to make sure that it's working properly and take action if it's not.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WEB ANALYTICS

You might want to consider using a Web analytics program to help you track your visitors motions through your site. Web analytics will help you with minimizing "clicks-to-conversion," steps, which is another key in shuttling customers from home page to check out. With Web analytics, you can see what your visitors are clicking on, where they go from there and, most importantly, when and where in their clicking journey they decide leave your site or ditch the shopping cart. You can also see if your e-newsletters, ad or promotional campaigns are driving any traffic to your site.

You can cull conclusions from the data to decide whether or not your site design or marketing strategies are actually working. If you find that they're not, you can make some changes and expand on what actually does work for you. Once you make these changes, you can again view the Web analytics to monitor your progress.