Every year it can feel like the holidays sneak up on us. We assemble, we strategize, and we take the necessary precautions yet we frequently feel like we are scrambling. For ecommerce businesses, this time of year is crucial not only for generating revenue but for generating recurrent relationships with customers.

While your holiday preparations are most likely long underway, a last-minute checklist will help cover any overlooked ground and give you peace of mind. Following our webinar featuring Coalition Technologies Digital Strategists Brandon Clay and Kevin Kuhn (watch it on-demand here), here are some essential last minute checks for your online store.

Before you initiate these last-minute checks, however, it’s important to be realistic. You don’t have enough time to draw up a new site, reevaluate your strategy on SEO, or start any meaningful multivariate testing. Let’s talk about what you do have time for: PPC optimizations, conversion optimization, and strategies for ramping up product reviews.

Cyber Monday is Monday, November 26th. Let’s do this.

Reinvigorate Your Product Catalog

Your product feed is an Excel, .txt, or .xml file that contains all of your products information. This is sent to shopping channels like Google Shopping to communicate all the information your product listings will contain. An optimized product feed can equate to huge returns in revenue and a more favorable ROAS (return on ad spend).

Create a Product Catalog

You won’t be able to publish or distribute your feed without creating it first. Creating a product catalog in WordPress is fairly straightforward-just use a plugin!  The Woo Products Table plugin displays all products as a table or by shortcode. Post Tables Pro represents a more dynamic WordPress table plugin. Once you’ve done that, you can upload your catalog to Google Merchant Center, making it searchable via Google Shopping and other Google Services.

Manually Update the Feed

Most likely, your feed is not going to be auto-optimized from your product sources. There’s a couple ways to optimize your feed manually.  The Google Product Taxonomy is crucial for the product ads as it helps Google to identify quickly if the products in a given feed are a good match for a given shopper query. It’s also necessary to include the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) for each product in your product catalog. This process is tedious but can be done in a reasonable timeframe depending on the number of products you have.

Seek an Expert (if overwhelmed)

This process can be complex. Even with the best intentions, you can run into unexpected obstacles. Self-sufficiency is great but only if you’re not working efficiently with a manageable amount of confusion and frustration. Seek out an expert for consultancy if you’re overwhelmed. For additional help, the experts at Coalition Technologies offer PPC and feed management.

Reviewing and Restructuring Your PPC Campaigns (Mobile is Everything) 

We know you’ve heard it but we’ll say it again, mobile is important! There are more ecommerce searches on mobile devices than anything else. A recent study by WP Engine found that 3.47 seconds is the average load time on a mobile site but Akamai reported that 2 seconds is the threshold for ecommerce acceptability. Long load times are the equivalent of long times at the grocery store-infuriating!

Jump on your device and buy something from your own store. Take note of the pain points and send them to your developer. Specifically, notice any inconveniences in the purchase process and do what you can to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Three simple ways and straightforward ways to optimize for mobile:

  1. Mobile-friendly websites. Do your research, optimize, and test. The WordPress plugin directory is chock-full of plugins that will help you make your site mobile friendly. Remember that mobile optimization is pointless if performance isn’t top of mind. A simple migration to WP Engine can help you improve mobile performance.
  2. Mobile ad extensions. Google offers advertisers a variety of ad extensions to help increase ad rank and click-through rate. These are built-in features that can help extend your visibility so implementing and optimizing them is low-risk, high-reward.
  3. Mobile bid adjustments. Mobile bid adjustments allow you to adjust the what, when, and where of your mobile ads. Use bid adjustments to show ads only mobile devices.

Case Study: UglyChristmasSweater.com

UglyChristmasSweater.com has made big business out of selling Christmas sweaters that push the limits of taste and style. “I recommend setting a time, well ahead of your rush, where everyone will be on the backend making changes,” said Hiral Patel, Director of Web Strategy when asked what advice he’d give ecommerce sites planning for a big rush. Check out the full Q&A here.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

If you have new, hot, or seasonal items chances are you don’t have any reviews on them. This could be affecting your business. Trust of brands and corporations is a huge concern among consumers. This is particularly true of younger consumers; a study by WP Engine on Gen Z revealed that guaranteed authenticity is the top feature that Gen Z absolutely wants from a retail or shopping website. You can build this authenticity through reviews.

Other studies discover similar findings among older age groups. One study found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust businesses more. Millennials, in particular, trust user-generated content 50% more than other media.

  1. Follow-up with buyers. There are many WordPress plugins (we recommend Yotpo) that can help you follow up with people who have purchased your product.
  2. Reward those who review. Provide an incentive, like a 10% off coupon, to buyers willing to leave honest feedback.
  3. Outreach to negative feedback. Some reviews are not constructive, but addressing constructive negative feedback shows your committed to your customer’s happiness.

Don’t Ignore the FAQs Section

You put so much effort into the product and your website itself, who cares about the content in the FAQ section? Providing easily accessible support gives customers a good feeling, could save a sale, and saves your team valuable time by not having to answer support calls. It’s not something you want to overlook; FAQs and conversiopns are directly related!

  1. Categorize and group similar questions. Make it readable and simple for the user to get what to what they were looking for.
  2. Simplify the answer vs. excessive precision. Keep the important information and simplify the answer.
  3. Staff for more questions during the holidays. More questions are inevitable during peak times, be ready!

Happy holiday prep!