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!