We’ve got quite a few tips on getting ready for a marketing push, but our number one tip is don’t wait to prepare! Too often, online retailers sacrifice best practices because they don’t have enough time before their big push. Have the required materials queued up a month prior to the event. This includes landing pages, ads, and email content. Once you have everything together, prepare your team for blackout dates (code freezes) and communicate with your developers to ensure that no deployments will conflict with the event. If someone else from your team, or an agency, runs A/B testing on your site, make sure they are aware of what you’re planning, as the spike in traffic could skew their results.
Prepare for peak traffic
If all goes well, you’re going to experience a spike in traffic. This is great as long as your site can handle it. While you get your marketing materials together, review your past performance and your forecast to ensure your site can handle the peaks in additional traffic. You can also review your SLA and performance expectations to ensure they can handle your peak load. And as a normal part of your business, conduct stress and load testing. That way, you can stay ahead of the curve by ordering hardware or software changes/upgrades as they become necessary.
Check Your Site Speed
As you probably know, site speed has a huge impact on metrics like conversion, abandonment, and bounce rates. With a heavy increase in traffic, you’re going to see even slower page load times than you see right now. Use this speed test tool from Pingdom to see how your site is performing currently, and compare it to this infographic on load times to see if you are within your desired timeframe. If you find your site runs slower than desired, know there are a number of ways to increase load times, but optimizing images is by far the easiest way to make improvements.
Lastly, before your campaign, set up monitoring tools (like New Relic) so you can be alerted of any revenue-impacting performance issues as they happen.
Take Care of SEO
Creating your campaign is going to take a lot of work. Applying SEO best practices requires just a few small steps that may help your bottom line. First, start with something easy and double check that all new images are SEO-friendly, with alt tags and specific file names. Second, if you are you adding new products or categories, double check that you have updated your sitemap, that your content is not duplicated, and that you set up navigational links correctly. Taking these steps will help ensure that you aren’t affecting ranking and page indexing.
Optimize Your Landing Pages for Mobile
If you checked out the infographic on load times, you probably saw that while most people are a little more patient on their mobile devices, they still expect mobile load times to be comparable to desktop devices. Make sure that mobile page load times take less than ten seconds (preferably less than six). Second, and perhaps more important, take steps to optimize the user experience is optimized for mobile devices. Give especially high consideration to landing pages, as many of your customers will be receiving your email on a mobile device and clicking through to your site.
Speed Things Up with Coupon Code Best Practices
If you use Magento’s native coupon code engine for unique coupon code creation, keep in mind that you should limit your unique coupons usage. Generally, a hundred thousand unique coupon will begin to affect performance during heavy traffic sales or marketing campaigns. If you need more than that, you can look into third-party options for coupon codes, but it will require expensive customization. Remember that, even though you have the ability to generate as many coupon codes as you want, using too many slows down web performance by affecting “lookup times.” To save yourself trouble before an important campaign, regularly archive coupon codes that aren’t being used. One quick tip: it’s going to be a lot harder to purge if you’ve created multiple use coupon codes.
Consider Using Price Rules
Instead of relying on coupon codes to generate sales, consider using category/shopping cart price rules to create sales based on conditions. Doing so is a lot simpler than it sounds. You just set up an IF condition, and an action. For example, IF the cart contains more than $50 in items, THEN you provide free shipping. No coupon code, lookup time, or purging necessary. Just remember to test thoroughly so you don’t accidentally give away half your inventory for free!
Segment Your Emails and Pay Attention to URLs
If you are running an email campaign, do not send emails to your entire customer base at once. Instead, segment your list and stagger your emails sends in batches to avoid having your site crippled by too much concurrent traffic. Second, pay attention to URLs. Sure, you want to be able to track your campaign, but having unique URLs in every single email will require a new cache for each visitor. Talk about an unnecessary performance headache!
Consider A/B Testing
A marketing event is an optimum time to use A/B Testing. Increased traffic means that you may reach statistical significance quickly. Your learnings will allow you to make changes to prepare you for future events. Even if you don’t reach statistical significance, the results can reveal new segments and insights about your customer base.
Leverage Customer Segmentation
Lastly, remember that events are a great time to revisit or leverage customer segmentation. By segmenting your traffic, you’ll get more from your event by providing compelling content to your customers. You should already be breaking up your email list to improve performance, so why not do it intelligently and provide a better experience for your customers? They’ll thank you with increased purchases.