THE BLOG
10/16/2014 03:22 pm ET Updated Dec 14, 2014

5 Tips to Prepare Your E-Commerce Business For Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday last year was the largest online shopping day in history, up 18.2% compared to Cyber Monday in 2012 and reaching $2.29 billion, according to Adobe Systems. Cyber Monday 2014 is just around the corner -- is your business ready? Here are five tips to help your e-commerce business get ready for what should be another record breaking day for online sales.

1. Identify and establish your Cyber Monday specials

You should already have your 2014 Cyber Monday deals and savings already established. If not, you need to get on that immediately. Some mega retailers like Target are giving consumers a chance to receive email notification once their deals are announced, while others like Walmart have a dedicated page on their website that consumers are frantically refreshing awaiting the announcement of special savings that will be offered.

You don't have to announce your specials to your customers just yet, because doing so will cause consumers to hold off until then, completely crushing your online sales until Cyber Monday. You do need to know internally so you can prepare the marketing and coordinate inventory.

2. Get your Cyber Monday website skins & landing pages ready

Consumers love Cyber Monday and simply having your website design skinned with a Cyber Monday theme is going to help you increase your sales, even if your specials and deals are limited. When a consumer lands on a website that is heavily branded "Cyber Monday" they immediately associate it with savings.

If you are heavily promoting certain items and specials it is a good idea to create separate landing pages for each -- branded with a Cyber Monday theme of course. Sending your pay per click traffic to Cyber Monday-specific landing pages will greatly improve your conversion rates.

3. Make sure your website can handle the traffic load

There is nothing more frustrating from a consumer point of view, then when a website loads slowly or it is down. I distinctly remember two websites that I attempted to make a purchase from last Cyber Monday being down, and not only did they miss out on my business that day, but I haven't returned since.

You need to make sure that your website hosting can handle the surge in traffic without lagging or going offline. Many small businesses use shared hosting because it is much cheaper, but that small savings can equal a tremendous amount of lost revenue on a day like Cyber Monday in the event that the website does down. A dedicated server or even some of the more reputable cloud solutions are a much better option. If you have any doubt, contact your hosting provider to discuss your current hosting along with solutions to ensure you will be prepared for the increased traffic.

4. Build anticipation (but not too soon)

It is important to build up the anticipation early without disrupting your regular online sales. Instead of announcing your specials too far in advance, offer an "early release" deal to those that register for your email list. A simple "Be the first to hear about our Cyber Monday specials" call-to-action is a great way to build anticipation that won't derail regular daily purchases on your website. Another way to help build up the excitement is to have a count down timer on your website in a prominent location, ideally next to your call-to-action for the early notification.

5. Leverage increased traffic on Cyber Monday to build your email marketing list

Your website is likely to see a massive spike in traffic on Cyber Monday. Use this as an opportunity to build your email marketing list. Make sure your checkout has an option for the consumer to sign up for your list -- entice them with a special offer. You can also use exit intent technology to present offers to those visitors that are leaving your website without making a purchase. They are in deal mode so an offer for "Post Cyber Monday deals" is likely to entice them enough at exit to give you their email address. Not all of your Cyber Monday traffic is going to convert into sales that day -- but that isn't to say they can't be converted into sales at a later date.

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