Kim Ann King

Cyber Monday is a little more than a month away, and now is the time to make sure you've clearly defined your online sales goals, strategies and tactics.

According to comScore, Cyber Monday 2012 sales grew by 17 percent compared to the previous year. Cyber Monday spending reached $1.465 billion, representing the heaviest online spending day in history, and the second day last holiday season (Black Friday being the other) to surpass $1 billion in sales. IBM Smarter Commerce, which tracks web sales at 500 top online retailers, said that Cyber Monday sales were up 30 percent over the same day in 2011. Slice it any way you like, Cyber Monday has given Black Friday a run for its money.

There's actually a very good reason why the most successful online retailers do better than others during the holidays: they're continually optimizing their sites to maximize revenue year-round. So where should you start?

There are two common sense strategies that every digital marketer should employ well before Cyber Monday: 1) maximize conversion drivers and 2) minimize conversion barriers.

First, let's take a look at how to maximize conversions:

  • Ensure that your value proposition is clearly explained and illustrated. Why should visitors buy from you and not some other site? What are the tangible and intangible benefits and costs of doing business with you? Not sure what will work best? Test it!
  • Make sure your site experience is consistent with the expectations of the visitor and relevant to them. For example, your ads should feature the same images and copy they'll find when they click through to your website. Featuring something else creates cognitive dissonance and makes the visitor take a step back, psychologically.
  • Ensure that your site is clearly organized, with easy-to-follow navigation, lots of white space and copy that's to the point. Make sure your product images are large and clear.
  • Create a sense of urgency to purchase with incentives, scarcity (e.g., limited time, limited access, limited edition, limited quantity) and emotional appeals.

In terms of minimizing barriers to conversion, be sure to do the following:

  • Reduce any distractions or friction such as too many form fields, too many steps or cluttered pages with too much information. The No. 1 source of friction is the cost of shipping; it's why 50 percent of major online retailers offer some kind of free shipping. Another source of friction is site speed. Slow sites hinder conversion.
  • Address customer anxiety that might stop a visitor from entering information by providing reassurances that your site is secure, their information is private and you adhere to ethical business practices.

One of the best ways to drive revenues is by using the sheer volume of online data that's generated by consumers’ online browsing behavior. Site optimization is all about converting that information into insights that benefit your customers and, in turn, help you to meet your e-commerce goals and drive sales all year long.

Tags: Best Practices