It’s amaz­ing to reflect on how quickly this year has passed!  ‘Tis the sea­son for dig­i­tal mar­keters to remove their “fun in the sun” and “back to school” hats, and dust off their hol­i­day attire in prepa­ra­tion for the hol­i­day shop­ping rush.  It’s only a few short months away, but there’s still time for mar­keters to imple­ment very impact­ful short term strate­gies that can test  value incen­tives, shop­ping pro­mo­tions, and checkout/shipping processes to opti­mize their hol­i­day shop­ping chan­nels and strengthen cus­tomers’ con­fi­dence and sat­is­fac­tion in the pur­chas­ing and deliv­ery options avail­able to them.

In review­ing the past cus­tomer behav­ior and trends from hol­i­day sea­son 2011, retail shop­ping over­all grew only min­i­mally, while dig­i­tal shop­ping grew by a whop­ping 15%. With 10 online shop­ping days exceed­ing the $1 bil­lion mark, we also wit­nessed the emer­gence of the ’couch shop­per,’ or the tablet user who demon­strated trends towards higher con­sump­tion and aver­age order value, while also more typ­i­cally being an evening and night­time pur­chaser.  This is amaz­ing when you con­sider that the tablet had only been intro­duced to the mar­ket 18 months prior to the 2011 Hol­i­day sea­son!  Cus­tomers were quick to adopt and to feel con­fi­dent using this chan­nel to pur­chase their gifts.  Sur­pris­ingly, with all of these indi­ca­tors towards an upswing in mobile shop­ping, com­pa­nies have only begun to adapt their web­sites to more mobile-friendly ver­sions, due to a lengthy plan­ning process and lim­ited resources.  A slightly larger per­cent­age have cre­ated mobile appli­ca­tions to address the grow­ing tablet trend, but only a frac­tion of these apps have a com­merce func­tion, reduc­ing their usage to glo­ri­fied prod­uct cat­a­logs that users may not want to down­load to their desktop.

Adobe Test&Target can be a very valu­able asset in prepar­ing and opti­miz­ing your full web­site, as well as your mobile offer­ings for the upcom­ing hol­i­day sea­son.  One of its great strengths is the abil­ity to test dif­fer­ent ver­sions of lay­outs, designs, con­tent, mes­sag­ing, imag­ing and busi­ness rules wher­ever you are able to place con­tent.  This helps mar­keters to bridge the mes­sag­ing of off­site dis­play and mobile ads, social media cam­paigns, emails and mobile appli­ca­tions to a con­tin­u­ing per­son­al­ized dia­logue with a cus­tomer once they click through to the site, increas­ing the like­li­hood of con­ver­sion.  This flex­i­bil­ity and abil­ity to run many con­cur­rent multi-page tests gives mar­keters rapid action­able results in terms of their cus­tomer seg­ments, and the abil­ity to quickly iden­tify their seg­ments’ pref­er­ences and build robust highly pre­dic­tive user pro­files over time.  And one of the crit­i­cal vari­ables to opti­miz­ing a site for new mobile and tablet vis­i­tors is envi­ron­men­tal vari­ables that can be col­lected by Adobe Test&Target, even when a vis­i­tor arrives anony­mously to your site.  You can imme­di­ately detect device type, oper­at­ing sys­tem, screen res­o­lu­tion and other vari­ables that can trig­ger Test&Target to deliver your opti­mized con­tent for each of these chan­nels.  In terms of the “couch shop­per,” or tablet user, fac­tors like page scal­ing, nav­i­ga­tion, menus, selec­tion and page slid­ing should all be tested and opti­mized based upon the fin­ger swipe and touch nav­i­ga­tion nec­es­sary to oper­ate tablets.

We recently recorded a webi­nar titled “Hol­i­day 2012: Get Ready for the Tablet-Based Shop­ping Rev­o­lu­tion” that is avail­able to down­load via this link. Scott Cohn from Bak­ers Direct of Baker Footwear Group joined us on the webi­nar to share his tips, recent suc­cesses and impres­sive lifts in con­ver­sion from adapt­ing the Bak­ers Shoes web­site to mobile and tablet traf­fic, as well as their process for devel­op­ing fully opti­mized smart­phone and tablet ver­sions of their site. We also gained valu­able mar­ket­ing exper­tise from Adobe Solu­tions Spe­cial­ist Rich Page, who recently authored the book “Web­site Opti­miza­tion: An Hour A day”.  Feel free to down­load the webi­nar, and share with your col­leagues and asso­ciates.  And to cel­e­brate the hol­i­days early, and to get mar­keters in the mood for hol­i­day opti­miza­tion, we’re offer­ing Rich Page’s book as a free gift to five lucky blog read­ers who post a com­ment that shares a recent suc­cess­ful hol­i­day opti­miza­tion tip, strat­egy or cam­paign that the greater online mar­ket­ing com­mu­nity can ben­e­fit from. We’ll ran­domly select win­ners on Sep­tem­ber 15, 2012 from our com­menters so that every­one has a fair shot.  Look­ing for­ward to the dis­course, and wish­ing you all a very happy (and not so early) hol­i­day season!