Along with our own Thanksgiving message (above), one of my favorite activities is to create Thanksgiving images for some of my other clients. Below are examples of some I created for this year’s festivities. This is part of my service I offer to the HOA websites I created and maintain, plus other clients who are on a yearly maintenance agreement.
These examples might give you an idea of something you can create for your business or organization. Or if you’re interested in having me create holiday images for you, please contact me for availability and pricing.
Tip one: Use personalization to identify high-value behaviors and target customers with deals tailored to their interests.
The last weekend in November is the biggest shopping weekend of the year –hands down. The competition during this weekend is extremely high, and many retailers are unsure of how to optimize their customers’ experiences. We hosted a Twitter chat with online retail experts to discuss what retailers can do to capitalize on high traffic from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and what pitfalls they should avoid during the holiday shopping rush. Our guests included Linda Bustos, author of the new ecommerce blog, Ecommerce Illustrated and Get Elastic, the ecommerce blog operated by Elastic Path.
We asked six questions in our conversation focused on a few key areas: marketing tactics, on-site optimization, and tips for effective A/B testing. Follow the #optichat hashtag on Twitter to see the full conversation.
Q: What are the most impactful marketing tactics to drive #BlackFriday sales?
This holiday shopping weekend is a time to pull out all the stops, from email, to retargeting, social, and promotions.
Answers from the experts:
Use personalization to identify high-value behaviors and target customers with deals tailored to their interests.
Keep tabs on when competitors’ stock runs dry and match their pricing with your own offer.
Use retargeting and treat holiday shoppers as their own audience, then craft your retargeting messages and display ads accordingly. Don’t be afraid to offer deals.
Create gift guides for different demographics or shopper behaviors to position your site as a one-stop-shopping experience. This also increases average order value.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see online retailers making during holiday time?
The biggest mistake retailers can make is believing it’s okay for people to have to wait to get onto your site because of heavy traffic. As Matt Dion, the co-founder of Edgacent, said, “this ain’t no nightclub!”
Answers from experts:
Not being upfront about your schedule and over-promising…if you’re swamped, you’re swamped.
Not optimizing for mobile. Around 24% of online shopping is done on a shopper’s phone! The entire customer experience from shopping to re-engaging after cart abandonment to retargeting, should be optimized for mobile.
Q: What’s the number one thing retailers can do to improve their site today?
Improve performance. Bottom line is: if the site doesn’t load, nothing else matters.
Optimize for page load speed especially for mobile devices on wifi. Ditching heavy graphics like carousels and social scripts can help.
Make it mobile-optimized. Mobile commerce accounted for over a fifth (21.9%) of online shopping on Cyber Monday 2014 up from 15.9% in 2013.
Personalize for different regions with localized prices and currencies. Retailers targeting prices based on ZIP code can offer the right product at the right price for the local market.
Q: What are the special considerations for testing during #BlackFriday?
Visitor behavior is unique and unusual during this high traffic period. Test results from this time window may not apply to other times of the year. But since traffic is so high and you can actually get statistically significant results in a single day — or maybe even a couple hours — it’s a smart time to run A/B tests. Here’s what people had to say about A/B testing during this holiday weekend.
Don’t rock the boat…now is not the time to launch a major cart overhaul, or an untested landing experience.
Check your tracking! If you have a lot of ad campaigns running, nothing is worse than realizing your UTM tracking is wrong.
Run A/B tests on pages that will receive enough traffic to drive valid results in a single day.
Be ready to quickly shift traffic to winning variations. Correlation is more important than causation during this limited time frame.
Q: What do you think are the most impactful A/B tests retailers can run with this holiday traffic?
Experts say that A/B tests with the biggest impact for the holiday rush are the ones that dispel any fear, uncertainty or doubt a shopper might have. Types of tests to avoid during the holidays are any radical, structural changes that may break the site, slow performance, or cause distrust or confusion.
Test value proposition and urgency messaging. Some ideas to create urgency: add a countdown timer to your site, have flash sales. Give people a reason to buy now.
Experiment with different banners and featured categories. Don’t play with function, but feel free to play with merchandising and onsite marketing.
Avoid testing radical redesigns during the holiday and focus on FUD (fears uncertainties and doubts)-busting.
Don’t forget about search! Take a look at what’s being searched on your site during that period and act accordingly.
Q: How do you keep sales momentum going after #CyberMonday?
Friday and Monday are not enough anymore. It’s a full shopping season extravaganza.
Don’t be afraid to send a LOT of email – you won’t be the only retailer doing so and tolerance is higher during the holidays .
Be unique & surprise your customer. A special gift after checkout, a follow up message from the founder or even a personalized shout-out on Twitter can go a long way.
Most importantly, continue to consistently deliver amazing experiences to your customers.
We are fast approaching the busiest shopping month of the year. If online retailers are prepared to stay nimble, test intelligently, and conduct lightweight experiments to optimize the customer experience, they will be primed to increase customer satisfaction – and revenues.
Optimizely provides personalization and A/B testing technology for online businesses.
By Cara HarshmanContent marketing manager, Optimizely
This is one of the most difficult things to do. As a creative, your mind is always running at full speed; not only does this scare people, but it can also discredit you.
When you’re miles ahead of the curve, people often think you’re faking it. Many Creatives arrive at a solution when others are still unaware that a problem even exists. The trick is to let people catch up. This accomplishes two things: 1) it gives people a chance to arrive at a different solution, which helps to encourage teamwork and co-operation; 2) it helps to lend credibility to your ideas when people can actually see the problem you’re trying to fix.
02. Prepare for disapproval
I don’t know about you, but for some reason, I’m always looking for validation. I suspect this has something to do with a lack of self-confidence. However, it’s important to recognize that some people ‘just don’t get it’. Even worse, some people think writers and artists don’t have real jobs. Real jobs? What does that even mean? Our job is no less real than theirs.
Pro-tip: Stop seeking approval from those who are not in a position to give it. While it’s okay to ask someone for their opinion, it’s not okay accept that opinion as fact.
03. Keep your emotions in check
Creatives are known to have mood swings. One minute we’re on top of the world; and the next, we’re ready to jump off this spinning planet we call Earth.
The problem is, we spend a good deal of our time overthinking things. Actually, we spend even more time overthinking our thoughts. Wrap your mind around that one!
This habit of always dissecting our thoughts tends to lead us to second-guessing ourselves. So, what seems like a good idea today, feels like a disaster waiting to happen later. Plus, creatives tend to be overcritical of themselves. This can cause our moods to shift – sometimes without warning. Try to keep this in mind: not every thought needs to be evaluated.
04. Stay focused
Ah, yes. The art of staying focused. This is one I’m still trying to work out. While it’s true multitasking can be useful, sometimes it does more harm than good.
My biggest problem is using the word, no. It’s not that I can’t turn people down. In fact, it has less to do with them, then with me. The true issue here is that I love being creative; I love doing things; I love working. But I also take on too much and often feel overwhelmed. This, in itself, causes my creativity to plummet as well as my mood (refer back to #03).
My suggestion is to get a firm grip on your schedule. Only take on what you can do. When you step out of your comfort zone – which I encourage you to do – be sure to keep one toe firmly on the ground, should you need to steady yourself.
05. Ditch the negative people in your life
Nothing sucks the creativity out of a person more than negativity. If you surround yourself with people who’d rather complain about a situation than change it – you run the risk of falling into that same trap.
I’ve had people in my life tell me I was crazy to even suggest certain ideas. I would have a spark of creativity, and they would immediately tell me everything that was wrong with my idea and why it would fail. Yeah, um… buh-bye! Imagine if Tesla listened to the naysayers in his life.
06. Help people
You don’t need to spend every waking moment of your day helping people, but it’s a good idea to help at least one person, per day. It doesn’t need to be a huge act of kindness. Heck, sometimes even a simple smile is enough.
Being creative is an energy vampire. One of the best ways to recharge your batteries is to be surrounded by Mother Nature. With very little effort, your creativity (and productivity) can increase simply by taking a walk. That’s right! There’s a whole world beyond your door.
So get outdoors, and enjoy the sunshine. Shut off the computer. Step away from the drawing pencils. And whatever you do, don’t check your email.
08. Go with the flow
Have you ever tried to paddle upstream? It’s difficult; it takes a lot more effort than sitting in the boat and going with the flow.
Life is no different. Sometimes, things are literally out of your control; the more you attempt to control these things, the worse you feel. This will drain you and your creativity – and your sanity.
Try pulling your oars out of the water and going with the flow. Without resistance, amazing things can happen.
09. Connect with other creatives
Yes, it’s true. You’re not alone. Find others like you. They’re out there. I promise. You just need to go look for them.
Being a shut-in isn’t good for anyone. But it’s especially important for creatives to get out and meet other creatives. Talk with people in your industry. Find out what they’re working on, what they’re up to. Discover new ideas, and toss yours into the ring. If nothing else, it’s a great way to network and – possibly – find new work.
10. Stay inspired
Find your inspiration. It can be inside a book, a movie, a song or even another person. Whatever it is, find it and use it to inspire your creativity. For me, it’s my children. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true. I watch my boys experience new things and can’t help to think how cool it would be to create something new, something no one has ever seen before. This is what drives me to create.
I also like to hear my kids laugh and see them smile. Again, knowing that I have it within my power to draw something funny or write a witty one-liner helps me to keep doing more of the same. So I encourage you to find what inspires you to help keep your creative spirit alive.