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10 Scary Marketing Mistakes eCommerce Businesses Make in Q4

Amber Rhodes
Last Updated April 26, 2021


It’s spooky season and we’re snuggling up in our sweaters, wool socks, and grabbing our knives.

The Addams Family knives

To carve pumpkins, of course. 🎃

It also means we’re all gearing up for a busy Q4 selling season and taking stock of what’s really scary this time of year: costly marketing mistakes that affect the bottom line.

This post is part cautionary tale and part kick-in-the-gourd for eCommerce businesses still trying to hide from the holiday season just around the corner. Let’s break down some marketing mistakes many eCommerce businesses are making right now, and how you can escape their same fate.

😱 Waiting too long to prepare for Black Friday.

We've been talking about Black Friday 2020 since this August, and for good reason. It’s not only because we wanted to will the hot Summer days away, but because all projections estimate that holiday shopping will begin earlier than ever this year. If you haven’t nailed down your Cyber Month sales plan yet, there’s still time...but not much. Some big name stores are going to kick off their sales as soon as November 1 breaks.

😱 Not testing paid ads early enough.

You don’t want the paid ads you’re running for holiday sales to be test campaigns. They should be tested, re-tested, and optimized to reach tried and true status by the time the critical sales dates come around. Give yourself a few weeks to test creative, audiences, and retargeting strategies. By the time Black Friday comes around, your ads should be lean, mean, revenue-earning machines.

😱 Haven’t optimized their website for mobile.

In 2019, 39.6% of holiday season eCommerce spending can be attributed to smartphone and online shoppers. Shopify reported that a whopping 69% of sales over BFCM 2019 weekend were made on phones or tablets. That’s a big (and growing) share of eCommerce spending, and it’s not something you want to miss out on because your website just doesn’t work on a mobile device. Right? Right. 

😱 Confusing, inaccurate, or just plain crappy product descriptions.

Remove friction for shoppers by providing thorough, relevant information in product descriptions. This information should answer common questions, speak to your target audience, and maybe even bust a few objections from the get-go. 

😱 Not defining your target market.

Not only is targeting everyone, everywhere extremely expensive, it’s also ineffective. Before you can rake in the big sales, you need to understand your customers. Go beyond a one-size-fits all approach and deep dive into demographics, behavioral data, personalization, and testing to define and refine your target market.

😱 Slow page load speed.

How long do you think a visitor is going to sit around waiting for your site to load? Unfortunately, it’s about 3 seconds. In 2018, a Google study found that page load speeds between 1s to 3s saw the probability of bounce increase 32%. 1s to 5s load time bumps that number up to 90% bounce probability. The answer definitely varies by person and perhaps your chances are better if they are a return customer, but why take chances?

😱 Confusing checkout process.

So your customer has added an item (or 5, 10, 15, 20) to their cart and they initiate the purchase process. You’re this close 👌 to making a sale. Why would a customer exit now? It turns out, there’s a lot of reasons. Your checkout process should be easy to complete. Don’t force visitors to create an account, provide unnecessary information, or take them through needlessly long and confusing forms. Online shoppers can be fickle, and your conversions are only as good as sales completed.

😱 No email marketing plan.

Emails aren’t all about making sales in eCommerce. Since your customers don’t get a chance to interact with your store space, salespeople, or product in person, you need to think about how you can build a relationship with customers. Make sure you’re keeping your store at the top of their mind and getting them excited about upcoming sales.

😱 Surprise fees.

$12 shipping?! No, thank you. We’ve probably all added an item to our cart, initiated a checkout, and even entered our address only to find out that shipping is just...not worth it. Be up front with shipping costs or additional fees. Don’t catch customers by surprise with fees they didn’t anticipate. Include copy on your website that gives clear and concise information about shipping fees. Offer estimates if possible. And if you can swing it, offer free shipping to push shoppers over the edge from browser to purchaser.

😱 Not taking enough time to nurture customers.

There are definitely upsides and downsides to the long 2020 holiday shopping season. One upside is that people who would typically do their shopping in stores will be more likely to make eCommerce purchases, and they will be more deliberate about their purchases because they can’t interact with them ahead of time. That means you have more time to reach that customer with the right kind of ads, emails, social media, etc. that will push them to convert. Take advantage of the Cyber Month timeline to catch audiences, nurture your funnel, and make the sale...and invite them to make another purchase before the season ends.

Hiding under covers

Phew, that’s a lot of scary mistakes. The good news is you’ve still got time to prepare for huge Q4 sales and avoid these mishaps.

You’ve been warned! 

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