For retail brands, the stakes for getting digital experiences and personalization right have never been higher than this year’s holiday shopping season. With economic pressure and a looming recession, companies are scrutinizing their marketing and digital spending while consumers are tightening their wallets, making for a high-stakes environment.
To better understand what consumers’ preferences and points of frustration are during a unique holiday shopping season, Optimizely surveyed 1,000 consumers across the U.S. The data revealed five areas of opportunity for improving CX this holiday season to drive both sales and brand loyalty.
1. When you can’t compete on price, you must compete on CX
With inflation and uncertain financial outlooks dictating price increases, consumers unsurprisingly cited high costs as the main cause of holiday shopping fatigue (52%). But the impact of prices didn’t end there. 49% said advertisements that note cost savings or discounts are the most important type of holiday ads.
But due to economic pressures, some brands have had no choice but to raise prices to ensure they don’t find themselves in the red come year end. To set themselves up for success, brands must compete on CX when major discounts aren’t in the cards. This is because a positive shopping experience can help win over new consumers and retain existing ones despite increased prices. On top of that, a better CX includes amazing personalization, which in the end could cause a customer to be willing to pay a higher price because they found the perfect product. Implementing a digital experience platform that includes functions focused on content, commerce and experimentation will be the winning CX solution.
2. Navigate supply issues with transparent communication + recommendations
As supply chain disruptions continue, brands need to be transparent as 84% of consumers said clear communication on product stock, shipping times and expectations were important. Coming across out-of-stock notices is a major frustration for shoppers when shopping on a brands’ website (60%) and on a mobile app (48%). For retailers, the need to communicate delays or product availability clearly in order to avoid surprises on the customers’ end provides another key opportunity to get CX right this year.
While depleting stock levels cannot always be avoided (and can sometimes be a good problem to have), brands need a platform that gives them control over their inventory and provides a holistic understanding of performance so the brands can best determine what customers want as well as what to promote and when. By leveraging analytics, retailers can better predict how the shopping season will unfold to address supply issues, act on customer demand as well as provide product recommendations and alternatives to improve CX and avoid losing interested buyers./p>
3. Perfect your campaigns – Timing and personalization (or the lack of it) won’t go unnoticed
Supply issues have also impacted marketing campaign execution and its success. Most retailers began their holiday campaigns extra early to reduce the chances of major out-of-stock issues spoiling shoppers’ experiences. While we will have to wait and see how this bet paid off financially, it may have hurt brand sentiment as many shoppers weren’t ready for an early start to the season. Respondents cited holiday advertisements (46%) and holiday decorations (40%) starting too early as their biggest pet peeves, followed by recurring targeted ads, irrelevant advertisements and too many communications from a brand (38%). To make matters worse, 1 in 3 shoppers say they have received irrelevant advertisements a few times a week this holiday season.
While capturing consumer dollars is key for many brands survival this holiday season, a “spray and pray” approach will only lead to negative experiences. It is so important to know your customer and their expectations because if you mismanage an interaction, it can have a long-lasting impact. Segmenting buyers accurately and personalizing messaging to these targets is the only way to perfect CX and create customers for life. This segmentation must be driven by data and customer behaviors to ensure customer messaging is timely and comes across as helpful instead of pushy or irrelevant
4. Content strategy remains important – Implement the right tools
When it comes to the holiday shopping experience, 76% cited content or images pertaining to cost were an important factor in purchasing decisions. Additionally, 49% of respondents said advertisements, images and content focused on cost savings were most important to them overall – compared to product quality (23%) and holiday imagery (18%). Beyond the intense focus on cost-focused content, 80% of consumers also noted that well-written content on a brands’ website was important.
This indicates that a comprehensive content strategy focused on attracting and engaging target audiences may be the factor between a successful holiday season for retailers and a lousy one. To do this right, marketers need a tool to manage the content cycle all in one place so they can easily collaborate to plan, create, publish and deliver exceptional digital experiences. By removing friction points and speeding up time-to-market, marketers can more easily produce content that addresses customers wants, needs and concerns.
5. Ensure seamless digital experiences across all channels
Today, customers have higher expectations for brands – not just about content or marketing imagery, but also about the tangible experience of shopping on websites and mobile apps. It’s important, then, for brands to ensure seamless digital experiences from the time consumers first visit a website or app, to the time they check out.
The survey found:
When shopping on mobile apps, 32% said poor search functions and 31% said malfunctions were their biggest frustrations. For brands’ websites, poor search functions (31%) and website malfunctions/discount codes not working (30%) were the biggest pain points.
84% said user-friendly website layout and search functions were important to their overall shopping experience.
Companies must test and optimize all aspects of their website and mobile app experiences to ensure the customer experience is easy and intuitive for all shoppers. By taking the time to experiment and learn, brands can reduce pain points and increase positive touchpoints to drive more sales.
Ultimately, the holiday shopping experience provides a unique opportunity for brands to test their customer experience. If retailers struggle when the stakes are high, they may have to wait a whole nother year to get things right with a customer – if they are lucky. That is why it’s imperative for brands to get CX right by creating content that resonates with the right audiences, running experiments at scale, and providing a digital brand experience customers will love.
Learn more about creating seamless digital experiences for customers with Optimizely DXP.
These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.
Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.
Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.
Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.
Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.
Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.
Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.
Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.
To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:
1. List your business on Bing Places
Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.
2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools
While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.
3. Match keywords in your content
Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.
4. Keep your social media profiles up to date
Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.
5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content
Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.
While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.
Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.
While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:
1. Focus on tags over internal site structure
According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.
2. Consider search intent to rank
Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.
3. Eliminate toxic links
Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.
While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.
Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.
1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately
As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.
2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page
Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.
3. Obtain a verification level and get certified
By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.
Top alternative search engines by data privacy
While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.
Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.
Here’s how to optimize for it:
1. Sharpen Your User Experience
UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.
2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks
As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.
3. Rethink Local SEO
Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.
Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.
And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.
So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.
There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.
This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.
SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.
What do they all have in common?
In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.
But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.
Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.
And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.
For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, businesses worldwide face lots of uncertainty.
One thing will remain constant throughout this period — customers expect excellent experiences when interacting with a brand. According to Acquia’s latest CX Report, businesses plan to prioritize customer retention over the next 12 months: 56% plan to improve customer experience, and 58% will focus more on customer service.
This should be a common goal. To weather a potential storm, businesses must keep customers by meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.