Here at Optimizely we have the opportunity to work with some of the top e-commerce companies in the world, including Sony, Microsoft, Asics, Trunk Club, and Spreadshirt. Over the years they have run hundreds of A/B tests on their sites to increase sales and conversions and they’ve shared many of their learnings & insights with us.

Today we’d like to share that with you in our Black Friday & Cyber Monday Ecommerce Optimization Guide. We hope you find these tips helpful in improving your conversions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and help you drive more sales during the rest of the holiday season.

1. Make Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals Prominent

Shoppers are looking for deals and discounts during Black Friday & Cyber Monday, so make sure that your deals are front and center during the holiday season. If it isn’t immediately clear what sales you’re offering, shoppers will bounce and search for deals elsewhere.

Amazon Black Friday

Amazon.com clearly makes Black Friday deals prominent, with the deals promoted 3-times at the top of the page in the header, hero banner, and additional banner.

Some practical ways for making your deals prominent include using a prominent hero image at the top of the page, including a banner or butter bar across above the header navigation, or creating a pop-up box that features your most prominent deals. Whatever method you choose to go with, it should be clear within a second or two what holiday sales you are offering.

2. Include a Countdown Timer to Create a Sense of Urgency

A countdown timer is a tried-and-true way to create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make a sale sooner, rather than later. A countdown timer helps encourage shoppers to make a purchase immediately rather than putting off the purchase and potentially end up on a competitor’s site.

FSA Countdown Timer

A countdown timer on FSA creates a sense of urgency

Countdown timers are also a great way to build anticipation and demand BEFORE Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consider putting up a timer a week or two before the holidays and also include a method of capturing e-mails. That way, you have a ready list of people to market to once your deals launch.

Black Friday Countdown Timer

Example of a pre-Black Friday timer from Guitar Center

3. Build Trust Immediately with Trust Seals, Phone Numbers, and Guarantees

Although many of your sales during the holidays will come from repeat customers, many of your site visitors will be people who are landing on your site for the first time. Lack of trust is one of the largest issues which prevents shoppers from making purchases online, so you want to immediately establish your trustworthiness.

Trust Seals
Some ways which you can use to quickly establish your credibility are items such as trust seals and money back guarantees which can help alleviate a customer’s lack of trust. Having a prominent phone number can also help make your site more credible, along with having a detailed “About Us” page with photos of your team, which helps show visitors that there are actual humans at the other side of the web page.

4. Make Your Value Propositions & Competitive Differentiators Clear

Online shoppers like to comparison shop A LOT, especially during the holiday season when they are hunting for deals. You can help keep visitors from leaving and make a purchase with you by clearly communicating your value propositions, i.e. what makes your store better than everyone else’s?

Examples of good value propositions include things like free shipping, money back guarantees, best-in-class prices, manufacturing processes, superior ingredients and materials, customer service, etc. Answer the question “Why should the customer shop at our site instead of competitor X?” and display that prominently on your site.

5. Personalize Your Offers & Target Different Messages to Different Segments

A key to keeping more visitors on your site and increasing your holiday conversions is by using personalization to deliver targeted experiences to website visitors based on their behavior and preferences. This is easier to do for returning customers than new visitors, but you can also use behavioral targeting to display different content to users based on how they interact with your site.

For example, if someone lands on your website from a PPC campaign for dog supplies, make sure to adjust your promotions to feature more dog products and not baby carriages. Or if someone is spending a lot of time browsing jackets, update your CTAs to highlight your promotions on jackets or even offer a special discount specifically for winter coats.

Optimizely Personalization

Optimizely Personalization allows you to customize the browsing experience based on demographics, behavioral data, and more.

By personalizing the browsing experience of your site for your visitor rather than using the same one-sites-fits-all messaging across your site, you can increase order sizes and conversions (learn more about Optimizely Personalization).

6. Incentivize Sharing Your Promotions to Spread the Reach of Your

In order to drive more sales during BF & CM, you need to drive more deal shoppers to your site. Besides investing more in paid ads, a great free way to drive more traffic to your site is to get shoppers to share your deals with their friends through social media.

Shopalize Social Sharing

Plug-ins such as Shopalize allow you to add advanced sharing functionality to your ecommerce store.

One way to do this is to incentivize shoppers to share your deals by offering a discount coupon for sharing. That way, every customer becomes a potential advocate for your brand that can help drive more traffic to your site through viral marketing. You can experiment with placing CTAs to share your deals for discounts on the product page, checkout page, or order confirmation page to see which drives the most social sharing.

7. Make Sure That Your Deals Look Great On Mobile

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are quickly overtaking laptops and desktop computers as the way that consumers browse and shop online. Make sure that all of the holiday promotions you are creating for your site look just as great on mobile devices as they do on the desktop.

Make shopping on mobile devices even easier by creating a simplified interface, using legible fonts, and having large CTAs that users can easily tap on. Site speed is paramount for mobile devices, so use tools such as YSlow to identify areas of your site that can be sped up so that they load quicker on mobile connections.

Bonus Tip: Start Early

Shopping season is starting earlier and earlier every year, many online retailers are starting their Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving, and a few are even beginning to release their deals the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. Consider starting your Black Friday deals earlier this year to get ahead of your competition and drive more sales this holiday season.