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The last weekend in November is the biggest shopping weekend of the year -hands down. The competition during this weekend is extremely high, and many retailers are unsure of how to optimize their customers’ experiences. We hosted a Twitter chat with online retail experts to discuss what retailers can do to capitalize on high traffic from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and what pitfalls they should avoid during the holiday shopping rush. Our guests included Linda Bustos, author of the new ecommerce blog, Ecommerce Illustrated and Get Elastic, the ecommerce blog operated by Elastic Path.

We asked six questions in our conversation focused on a few key areas: marketing tactics, on-site optimization, and tips for effective A/B testing. Follow the #optichat hashtag on Twitter to see the full conversation.

Q1: What are the most impactful marketing tactics to drive #BlackFriday sales?

This holiday shopping weekend is a time to pull out all the stops, from email, to retargeting, social, and promotions.


Q2: What is the biggest mistake you see online retailers making during holiday time?

The biggest mistake retailers can make is believing it’s okay for people to have to wait to get onto your site because of heavy traffic. As Matt Dion, the co-founder of Edgacent, said, “this ain’t no nightclub!”

Q3: What’s the number one thing retailers can do to improve their site today?

Improve performance. Bottom line is: if the site doesn’t load, nothing else matters.


Q4: What are the special considerations for testing during #BlackFriday?

Visitor behavior is unique and unusual during this high traffic period. Test results from this time window may not apply to other times of the year. But since traffic is so high and you can actually get statistically significant results in a single day — or maybe even a couple hours — it’s a smart time to run A/B tests. Here’s what people had to say about A/B testing during this holiday weekend.

Q5: What do you think are the most impactful A/B tests retailers can run with this holiday traffic?

Experts say that A/B tests with the biggest impact for the holiday rush are the ones that dispel any fear, uncertainty or doubt a shopper might have. Types of tests to avoid during the holidays are any radical, structural changes that may break the site, slow performance, or cause distrust or confusion.

A5 Different banners, featured categories. I would not play with function, I would play with merchandising and onsite marketing. #optichat

— Jeremy Lavitt (@JLavitt) November 5, 2015

Q6. What’s the biggest takeaway from last year’s #blackfriday?

In one word: mobile. In all of your campaigns, think about the mobile component because it is key to the conversion journey. It’s common for shoppers to switch between mobile and desktop while making one purchase.


Q7. When’s the last time an ecommerce experience delighted you? Why?

Online shopping experiences that delight us are personalized. They provide just the right amount of helpfulness and urgency without pressure. They might even make us laugh.

  A7 More retailers should shop on their own site #optichat — Matt Dion (@mattdion) November 5, 2015

Q8: How do you keep sales momentum going after #CyberMonday?

Friday and Monday are not enough anymore. It’s a full shopping season extravaganza.

We are fast approaching the busiest shopping month of the year. If online retailers are prepared to stay nimble, test intelligently, and conduct lightweight experiments to optimize the customer experience, they will be primed to increase customer satisfaction – and revenues.