Cyber Monday: Were You Ready?

Cyber Monday is undoubtedly one of the biggest growing trends for e-retailers and shoppers alike. According to InternetRetailer.com, nearly 90% of ecommerce shops had promotions planned for the Monday after Thanksgiving.

While throngs of early-bird Black Friday shoppers still flock to stores, the ecommerce arena has responded to satisfy this new group of savvy online deal-seekers. But diligently advertising your promotions and playing pricing wars with competitors won’t help you win the Cyber Monday battle.

Specifically during the holiday shopping craze, many retailers have an easy task of driving traffic to their site, with most people already in the shopping mood—nearly 37% of online shoppers say they’ll be shopping that day, according to a recent Pricegrabber survey. With so much noise in the marketplace (it seems everyone has a digital camera for $79.99!), you must create a more relevant, personal and fulfilling online shopping experience for your customers or risk losing revenue to your competitors.

Cyber Monday was projected to bring e-retailers one-day sales increases of 14% to 16%—no doubt a significant number—but the truth is, a smart sales and marketing strategy ensures brand loyalty build-up well before the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush. While “Deals of the Day” or extreme discounting can certainly lure in new customers, you risk losing your current ones to competitors who many undercut you. With consumers holding much less disposable income these days, maintaining brand loyalty and profitable prices is a serious challenge.

So how can you achieve your holy grail of positive profit margins, consumer loyalty and increased sales and site traffic? The key to a successful ecommerce store during Cyber Monday, or any point during the year, is optimization and website personalization. Prepare your site for your 2011 peak and off-peak selling seasons with a variety of proven tactics:

1. Employ Multivariate Testing: Most good ecommerce strategies start with (and continue with) the live testing of site visitors to discover the best structure, content and design to make sure they convert to a sale.

2. Don’t Be a Copycat: What works on your competitor’s site may not necessarily be successful for you—every visitor is different in their site interaction, from landing pages to check-out, even if you have the same product at the same price. So discover what your visitors expect from their experience with your site.

3. Plan to Personalize: Website personalization techniques help maintain consumer loyalty and improve revenues by providing a unique experience for each individual that crosses your brand. By effectively modeling the next best course of action your site should take in order to achieve your goals, whether it’s up-selling, cross-selling, more products per person or being their go-to retailers, you have provided a more relevant experience, regardless of prices or competitor promotions.

4. Channel the Results: Remember that your online store is only one slice of your marketing real estate. According to Shop.org, 62.7% of retailers will send customers Cyber Monday sale notices via email, most of which will likely feature a generic sales ad for their entire store. Multichannel integration technologies now exist to help you personalize and re-drive sales through multiple mediums including call centers, e-mail, direct mail, mobile, social media, etc.

Next year, be prepared. Use solutions to discover what makes individuals tick—and click. Then personalize the experience across all CRM avenues and turn your future Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays and every day in between, into a profitable and prosperous one.

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A career long evangelist in online, Mark Simpson is the founder of Maxymiser where he is focused on increasing conversions and Web site engagement for clients through all verticals including Asda, Santander, Virgin and Cancer Research. Prior to Maxymiser Mark headed up online marketing and business development for Travelport and focussed in particular on the acquisition of ebookers, Octopus Travel, Hotel Club and RatesToGo. Prior to Travelport Mark was part of the team taking Hitwise to market at on its start-up in the UK.