Digital marketers often have no breathing room in their online campaigns, often having to flit from one marketing season to another. Just when we’re feeling relieved that the days of frenzied marketing activities are over, we’re confronted with the fact that the bulk of our work has begun once again. It begins with Valentine’s Day. Then Graduation and after that, Mother’s Day. With all of these mini-holidays building up towards (gasp!) another holiday season, it’s no wonder we often have little time to step back and look at what we may be doing wrong in our campaigns. Or more importantly, how we’re affecting user experiences.
So even if this comes quite late (see what I mean about the hours in the day not being enough to us marketers?), I’m sharing some lessons from the most frustrating online encounters that my colleagues at SiteTuners and I had while doing our own holiday shopping on popular retailers’ websites. Hopefully these lessons would give you an idea on what you could do differently this year to minimize orphaned carts.
Lesson 1: Get your landing pages ready.
We’ve all come to associate the holidays with the deluge of promotional emails and banners. And there’s reason to believe that consumers actually anticipate these emails during the holidays. What they don’t expect, however, is being taken to a 404 error page when they click on your call-to-action. Case in point: Clicking on “shop now” on the BodyShop’s homepage banner took the visitor to this error page:
Although The BodyShop’s error page is intended to be funny and self-deprecating, we doubt harried visitors found it amusing. So before you send out your emails and other creative, make sure your landing pages are up and ready to welcome visitors.
Lesson 2: No nasty surprises, please.
Don’t you just hate it when websites spring surprises at you just when you’re primed and ready to buy? And yet there are still a lot of retailers who keep important information buried in terms and conditions or until the later stage of the check out process. Worse, some of them even fail to deliver on their promises, like Sears putting a prominent free shipping banner and slapping shoppers with shipping charges when they check out:
This disparity between messaging and actual experience on a website can only lead to annoyance and distrust. And that’s the fastest way to make sure you will be the last website a visitor will open when they think about online shopping. If you want to earn the trust of your potential customers, be transparent about your policies, guarantees, etc. and ensure you can actually fulfill your promises.
Lesson 3: Stop interrupting your visitors.
Believe it or not, we encountered quite a lot of websites with the nasty habit of delivering survey pop-ups while we were in the middle of our online shopping session. Which begs the question: Is the survey really that important that you’re willing to risk annoying potential customers? No wonder then that “Landing Page Optimization” author Tim Ash counts pop-ups and interstitial messaging among the six web design trends that should be shunned like a plague.
Surely there are better ways to encourage your customers into answering survey questions? For instance, you can ask visitors to participate in a survey when they’ve completed checkout. Or send a separate email to ask for feedback. Just please don’t have it fly in my face when I’m looking at your products.
It’s never too early to address usability problems on your website. Before you know it, it’ll be holiday season all over again. You’ll be glad you took care of these issues well ahead of the next shopping craze, not only to prevent your visitors from bailing out of their purchase but to save your own sanity.
Head over to our blog to learn how to get a head start on optimizing your website and campaigns for the next holidays.