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Cyber Monday - did you make the most of it?

The busiest online sales day of the year has been and gone. But what have we learnt, and how can you prepare for next year?

This year's Cyber Monday saw record breaking online sales. So it's not surprising that you might be thinking about how to make the most of Cyber Monday next year. If so, keep reading as we'll be looking at Cyber Monday 2012 and the infrastructure you can start to put in place now for 2013.

What is Cyber Monday?

"Cyber Monday" is a trend we’ve borrowed from across the pond. It’s typically the day most people shop for Christmas presents online - usually it happens just after pay day, with e-retailers temporarily cutting their prices to drive sales.

This year's Cyber Monday (26 November) saw another massive boost in online shopping, with sales up 26% on last year.

How to prepare for Cyber Monday 2013

1.  Put a mobile strategy in place

Businesses need to have a mobile strategy to compete and cash-in on higher online sales demand. Need proof?

  • According to IBM, online traffic on Cyber Monday from mobile devices was up by 70% from the year before
  • PayPal said on their blog that Cyber Monday was their biggest mobile shopping day of the year with a 190% increase in global mobile payment volume
  • And Professor Manuel Castells (a former advisor to Barack Obama) has predicted that more people will surf the web on a mobile device by 2014 than a desktop computer

With mobile becoming more popular with shoppers, it's important to ask yourself - is your website geared up for someone looking at it on a small screen? If not, you could risk missing out on those all-important sales. There are two main ways you can make your website mobile-friendly and appeal to more shoppers:

  1. Create a separate, streamlined mobile website with only the most important bits.
  2. Use responsive design, so that the browser picks the right version of your website for the device being used at the time.

2.  Help drive the right eyeballs to your website

Build it (your website) and they (shoppers) will come? Unfortunately, just having a website won't be enough to increase sales if you're not drawing people to it.

So you might want to consider running a few targeted ads on Google or social networking websites and investing in optimising your website for search engines to bring in traffic. You don’t have to be a website programmer to understand basic search engine optimisation (SEO) though. Here are a few things anyone can do:

  • Start a blog — search engines love them and they can help you showcase your experience and engage with your customers
  • Aim to update your website with new content (news, offers, products) a few times a week
  • Be wary of duplicating content across your site
  • Research keywords for your industry and optimise your website for those keywords
  • Be active on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus  — search engines pay attention to how popular you are on social media

Having a content management system you can use easily means you’ll be confident enough to make all of these changes yourself. But if you’d prefer to leave it to us, we’ll give you an online marketing consultant to look at all the ways you can improve your rankings.

3.  Drive interest through social media

There was a huge amount of Cyber Monday-related buzz on Twitter and Facebook - as people took to social media to brag about bargains, share tips and get advice on potential purchases.

Promoting your special offers through social media channels is an easy way to drive people to your site, so make sure you’re active and are engaging in a conversation with your customers. You also might want to make plans to monitor your social media channels more closely in the run up to Christmas next year, so you can respond to any customer queries or complaints super-quickly, winning praise from them rather than criticism.

4.  Check your website is up to scratch

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your website to properly prepare for Cyber Monday 2013, but there are some things you can’t ignore:

  • Data protection laws: are you compliant with the EU’s latest legislation on cookies at the Data Protection Act? If not, it could cost you up to £500,000
  • Make sure your website has secure shopping facilities to protect your customers’ privacy and make them feel comfortable about shopping with you
  • Don’t fall foul of the Advertising Standard Authority’s laws relating to false advertising by exaggerating discounts
  • Make sure your website complies with the OFT's Distance Trading Regulations too by clearly stating your returns policy and listing addresses customers can use to get in touch with you. It also helps to flag up extra charges - like delivery or VAT - early in the sales process
  • A clean, well-designed site with an easy check-out process and e-commerce features like product comparison is key to getting visitors to stick around and flash their cash. BT Web Hosting comes with an easy-to-use ‘website creator’, allowing you to create a beautiful website using hundreds of templates without hiring a designer.

5. Make sure you can handle a sudden surge in orders

There’s no point in getting people to your website if your staff can’t fulfil the orders once they come in. If you’re an e-commerce business, having fast internet speeds to help staff process orders is hugely important.

You don’t want your website to crash on you on your busiest day because it can’t handle the traffic either. Protect yourself by choosing a web hosting platform you can trust which gives you enough space and support on hand, should you need it.

The bottom line

Your customers aren’t just shopping on the high street. They are demanding you have a well-designed web and mobile presence. If you don’t, they have plenty of other places they can shop online. Having the right digital infrastructure is critical to making the most of this golden opportunity.

Is Cyber Monday a bid deal to you? Please let us know if you’ve seen any spike in sales this year by leaving a comment below.


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