By Juha Koski, Founder and MD of Madbid.com.

With summer now officially over, it’s time to start planning for the bleak days of winter that lie ahead – and the lucrative chaos that accompanies the Festive Season. Last year UK shoppers spent £74.3bn – more than any other European country and a figure only surpassed in the US.

The overwhelming success of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday forced retailers to bring forward their marketing campaigns into November. And with consumers already using the Internet to research this year’s Christmas presents, now’s the time to give your e-commerce site a stress test to maximise your returns during the holiday season.

Getting the basics right

Start with getting the basics of your site right. Consumers want a website that’s easy to use – easy to navigate – and easy to place orders with.

Shoppers are increasingly embracing mobile phones as their go-to shopping tool. Last Christmas sales via mobile app sales increased by 40% - and over the next decade they’ll spend £53.6bn a year via their smartphones and tablets. To capitalise on this your site must be mobile friendly and work seamlessly across Android and iPhone platforms.

Offer your customers a variety of payment and delivery options – and once an order is placed, provide a stellar customer service. Automated communication – most commonly via email or text – will also save you time and money while calming customer nerves.

Measurement and ROI

Measurement and ROI are essential to e-commerce businesses. Analysis gives you the ability to improve your marketing funds and choose the most appropriate channels and messages for campaigns.

There are a range of measurement techniques that can be used depending on the nature of the campaign and its objectives.

Ultimately CPA (cost per acquisition) vs CLV (customer lifetime value) is all that matters when it comes to measuring marketing campaigns. By carefully monitoring and quickly reacting to each campaign, CPA will ensure your budget extends further. Always test, but avoid long “learning phases” that your agency or network may ask you to run. Perform cohort analysis with your buying customers to identify which of them drive the value in your business.

Gamification

Considering adding an element of gamification to increase customer loyalty and enjoyment. Properly utilised, gamification will allow you to engage with users for longer and build and maintain a relationship with them. Here are some techniques that could be incorporated into the design of a site:

  • Status enhancement: create an element that increases the user’s status and displays it to others on the site.
  • Setting and rewarding targets: incentivise the activity you wish to encourage on the site by creating simple clear goals (eg. “rescue the Princess”) and rewarding key goals along the way (eg. allowing a user to progress to the next level).
  • Transparency: a transparent scoreboard encourages use by allowing participants to see how everyone else is performing.
  • Awards: simple mechanics such as badges, gifts and discounts encourage interaction and are universally understood symbols that show off skills and accomplishments.
  • Add a pinch of humour: Humour makes an online experience more fun and engaging – and will increase your chances of winning a customer over.
  • Teams: Humans have an innate desire to be part of something bigger. By creating a way to get your audience to feel part of and work together as a team, you can drive an increase in performance.
Personalisation

The future of online shopping is moving towards a personalised future and an interactive customer experience. It could be in the form of an email tailored to each customer’s likes or a bespoke discount offer. Research by Webloyalty highlighted how personalisation had a major influence on purchases – among the key findings was that over half of UK consumers prefer using a site tailored to their individual likes.

There’s still time to get your e-commerce site match fit for Christmas – it’s an investment that if done correctly, will help you reap the rewards of this year’s Festive Season.