Increase Your eCommerce Conversion Rate for Black Friday

Kimberley Maunder

Sep 14 . 6 min

Increase Your eCommerce Conversion Rate in the Lead up to Black Friday & Cyber Weekend

Can you feel that? It’s coming. The vague stampede of people filling their carts in anticipation for the most profitable day of the year for eCommerce brands: Cyber Weekend. That is if you get your user experience and conversion rate optimisation in order!

Look, we all want to be the one to put a smile on our manager’s face. But it simply isn’t going to happen if you wait until the last minute to prepare for Black Friday! Improving user experience and increasing conversion rates don’t happen overnight people! Marketing managers need to act now. What better way to do so than to get ahead of the curve and take some advice on the best ways to increase eCommerce sales? Now scroll.

Preparation and Tracking

Data: the bread and butter of our industry, it’s like having ones and zeros for breakfast. Just like breakfast, data collection and tracking is a priority to the beginning of successful projects aimed at increasing sales and conversion rates.

Want help streamlining your way to data analysis? Allow us to point a golden finger in the direction of fantastic platforms:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Full Story (more on this beautiful beast later)
  • HotJar
  • Crazy Egg
  • VWO
  • Optimizely

The truth of it all is to embrace your inner hoarder. You want every last morsel of data you can get to guarantee those Black Friday sales. Later we will draw insights from data which will give light to the allusive hypothesis. As for now: configuration.

To make the most of your analytics program of choice you’ll need to configure it to collect the necessary data. Prep the oven because we’re talking cookies. You’ll want to deposit those little choc-chip sugar bites everywhere. Track every instance of interaction as either a goal (for final conversions) and events (for other interactions that we still care about). If you have multiple tracking codes for a number of different platforms then you’ll want to use Google Tag Manager. GTM is like day-care for your little code kids. It’s a central place for managing all your tracking code rascals.

Don’t fall behind your competitors just because you didn’t prep your cookie batter correctly. The more data you’re able to collect the better position you will be in for data analysis in the lead up and during the fight for Cyber Weekend success.

Analyse Your Data

Now, we don’t mix our peas and mash potato but, for the sake of increasing conversion rates on eCommerce websites, we’re going to do it. We’re talking quantitative and qualitative data which despite their polar differences, are best used in conjunction with each other. Peas and mash. Why not take the opportunity to provide depth to your research just by including some qual?

Firstly, the thing we know and love(?): quantitative data. The recommended analytics platforms above are like chocolate and strawberries when it comes to data and data analysis. You should have collected data by now and there should be some ugly little data points beginning to rear their heads in the form of:

  • High bounce rates.
  • Underperforming landing pages.
  • High drop-offs on product funnels.
  • Site speeds and page speeds.
  • Differences between devices.

These, among other reasons, are clues you should be looking at and building together with other bricks of data to create a wall of shortfalls.
Yes, like the wall in Game of Thrones.
Yes, it is standing between you and Cyber Weekend success. Familiarise yourself with these data points. They will be important later in determining the best route to improving site traffic through healthy user experience and high conversion rates.

What about qualitative? You can gather this kind of data using anything from surveys to user testing. We’ve all experienced user surveys and the half-hearted sigh that comes with them “Must we tell you our preferred brand of car when we don’t own a car?”. So jazz it up, make it fun and relevant. You don’t need to know their grandma’s second cousin’s dog’s name. Some of our favourite ways of collecting qualitative data are as follows:

Relevant Surveys:

Hitting customers with an email after successful conversions will provide some depth to responses but, more importantly, you need to make sure each survey has a clear business goal. Make that goal crystal, make it transparent, make it so clear it’ll go viral on TikTok from someone running into it headfirst. This will keep your surveys on track for Black Friday success and achieving great user experience.

User Testing:

Our experience with user testing is like our experience with The Notebook: empathy inducing. There is no better way to run a mile in a user’s shoes. Users are walked through tasks (chosen by you) which you get to observe them perform like the creepy guy looking over your shoulder while you’re trying to order a large cappuccino with four sugars and soy milk (no judgement). User testing shows how usable functions are and how well your site flows from a user’s point of view.

Session Replays:

If you want to jump down this rabbit hole further an interesting visualisation of qualitative data is session replays. Can we have a nice round of applause to welcome back Full Story? Thank you. This company provides session replays which are a recreation of what customers did on your website. Session replays are like user testing without watching over their shoulder. It’s a passive form of observational research. The anonymous user doesn’t know their session is recreated (no over-shoulder peeping) and you get to observe what occurred during that session. It can highlight bottlenecks, frustration clicks, knots in the user’s experience, and show in-depth issues that can be more surprising than waking up with a hundred-dollar bill on your pillow.

Okay, we’ve combed our data and now we have a nice tangled pile of data hair. Let’s make some sense of this hot mess. At this point, you’ll be familiar with the data and there should be some key insights popping out like a rose in a field of daisies. You’re going to want to grab that rose with two hands and yank. This is the foundation of your hypothesis and ticket to some of the best ways to increase eCommerce sales. Some examples of data points that highlight issues with user experience are:

  • Are users leaving because the page is too cluttered?
  • Does the colour scheme minimise readability?
  • Are users clicking stuff that doesn’t link and are missing functions?
  • Are users leaving before they find what they are searching for?

Just to iterate (see what I did there?) qual and quant belong on a tandem bicycle. They move the cogs that generate exceptional user experience and, in turn, increase conversion rates. This is everything you desire for the lead up to Black Friday, because if you’re not utilising data before Black Friday then your data won’t help you on Black Friday. With the analysis done the real fun begins: split tests and new functionality.

Prepare your Split Tests or New Functionality

Time to bring out the guinea pigs for a healthy dose of split testing. Everyone has been a guinea pig at one stage, there’s no shame in squeakily helping to improve the user experience of a website… unless they’re your competitor (cue dramatic music). 

You’re at the point now where you probably have too many insights and ideas to know what to do with. Well, we know what to do with them: sprint plan! That’s right, all those cookies and mashed potatoes we’ve been having are about to be worked off.

Priority numero uno; attack the insights of most value first. That way your sprint plan is structured to benefit you with providing the highest return on value. You can use a rank sheet to calculate the weight of each task. This will give clear direction to your sprint plan allowing you to achieve your target of increasing eCommerce sales and conversion rates much quicker. Don’t be tempted by doing the easy jobs first! Not when you’ve had so many calorie-dense cookies, work those baby’s off! 

Before you hit the big green ‘GO’ button please note: the Marketing Manager needs to alert developers of the split tests during a daily scrum meeting or at the creation of the sprint plan (whichever comes first). Otherwise, a pesky Dev will go about their day, doing their job (how dare they!) and change one of the split test pages and BOOM that data is now redundant. Good job Gary (Gary: the collective noun for all of us who could have prevented this).

Split testing aside a real issue is the need for new functions and evaluation of current functions. To put you in the user’s shoes; remember those times you got up in the middle of the night and your hand fumbled around on the wall searching for the light switch and with each passing second you grew more and more frustrated? That’s poor user experience. And it begs for new functionality. Perhaps a clap light? Or to name a few which are more applicable to eCommerce:

  • Categorisation improvements
  • Menu optimisation
  • Category and filtering layout
  • Product offerings and USPs
  • CTAs & copywriting
  • Product page layouts
  • Home page structure
  • Exciting product descriptions (Mecca does this exceptionally well).

You can split test these new functions before you implement them because testing your hypothesis is probably better than you running in guns blazing like some sort of Mad Max hero. This doesn’t work. You’re not Mel Gibson. Guns don’t work on Cyber Weekend sales, improving user experience and implementing new functions do.

Launch & Track Your Tests

Congratulations! You’ve made it this far. Welcome to the merry-go-round of split testing sprint plans. Now, we check.

And check.

And check. 

We check the tests every day to ensure everything is fine and dandy and nothing is broken. Oh, the monotony… Or the excitement! Statistical significance is coming and it’s like Christmas day when it arrives. We just have to keep this merry-go-round going around and make sure it’s tracking the tests as planned. A great way to monitor this is through Hubspot’s reporting tool (more on this in two paragraphs). It’s like Google Analytics for your split tests.

Once you reach statistical significance you begin the job everyone loves: reporting. What’s that? You DON’T love reporting? Tsk tsk. Don’t worry, I’ve got the cure.

Many companies provide report add-ons or templates for you to use during this process. Hubspot has a handy dandy add-on reporting tool which turns your dreary data into an eye buffet. Sexy graphs, different delicious colours, data represented in a digestible way, ugh! Marry me. And impress your manager by putting this together in a report and leaving them with it for an intimate one-on-one. If you’re using a program like Google Optimize, VWO or Optimizley then they have built in reports for you to use as well, even easier!.

I know what you’re thinking and yes reporting and tracking tests ARE essential. With programs like Hubspot’s this task, once annoying, has been made so easy. It is straightforward and provides a huge payoff to staying on track for improving conversion rates. What do high conversion rates lead to? You guessed it! More conversions on Black Friday.

Review Data & Implementation

You’ve made it this far, quitting now is like going through university and getting HD’s on every subject only to flunk the last exam. Don’t be a flunker, come graduate at Casa De iterate. 

Right now you’ve got that fresh, sexy report and it’ll be telling you exactly which variation of tests to go for or new functions to implement. The results will be pretty decisive, even with the impact of the new functionality you implemented. If the report is giving you a big thumbs up, now’s the time to hit up Gary the Developer and permanently change the website to the winning design in time for Cyber Weekend. Why not wear your best outfit for the biggest event of the year? Dress to impress for your conversion rate to be the best!

The thing is, sometimes results can be inconclusive and it turns out the salmon colour has the same result at the hideous light green your co-worker rallied for. Don’t be sad, you didn’t flunk the exam, the exam flunked you. This is normal, sometimes there isn’t actionable statistical significance. What you do have going for you is definitive research and data guiding that smooth landing. And the plane will land, trust us. But if you don’t use research, that plane… well, it might just run out of fuel in the air and you’re much less likely to find conclusive results.

Be sure to put your best research forward and keep running tests. The more results you have to work off the more likely you’ll increase your conversion rate and improve user experience before Black Friday.

That's all folks!

Are you hungry yet? All that talk of cookies and creamy mashed potato. Well, you should be. You should be hungry to get out there and ensure you increase your conversion rates through data analysis and split testing! Start now and you’ll just about be ready for Black Friday / Cyber Weekend with the best darn user experience on the market. Take that competitors! All thanks to your ingenuity (I won’t tell anyone who gave you the idea) and impeccable conversion rate optimisation. 

Now go eat that extra piece of pie. You’ve earned it.

Kimberley Maunder

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