Five simple ways to boost online conversion this Christmas

As Christmas approaches fast and marketers make last minute improvements to the website to support peak trading, I thought I’d look at five proven ways for driving online conversion that are relatively simple to implement and will also provide long-term benefit.

1. Persuasion and scarcity

The psychology of persuasion is an important part of marketing, both offline and online. There are many ways to use persuasion but it is now well established as an online battleground for conversion.

Here are a few quick ways to make your website more persuasive over the holiday season (but that doesn’t mean stop doing it when it’s over!):

  • Social proof – feature content from other users to reinforce your credibility and reliability. This includes customer testimonials and social following
  • Add delivery countdowns for next day delivery – Naked Wines does this well, has that ‘hurry or you’ll miss out’ impact

  • Reinforce key value messages in the global header e.g. free delivery thresholds, free returns, free Buy & Collect in-store
  • Show overlays promoting how many people have bought a product in the last X hours/days – House of Fraser recently added similar messages to its product pages


Kickstarter has a nice touch on its campaign pages, showing you which of your social connections have also been checking out the campaign (see below). This only works if you’ve logged-in and connected your social profile.

JGXmas3 is arguably one of the best at using social following on its homepage to encourage trust in the brand:



Paul Rouke from PRWD wrote a nice blog on how uses persuasion online and I recommend checking out Natalie Nahai’s excellent slide deck, What is web psychology?

2. Ratings & reviews

This links well with persuasion. Ratings & reviews have been proven to uplift conversion, when the reviews are genuine and there is sufficient volume to make them credible and trustworthy.

If you don’t currently offer reviews, use a 3rd party tool like Trustpilot, Reevo or Feefo to give you the capability to scale customer reviews. Make sure that after every order, you send customers an email inviting them to review the products and then display the reviews and star rating on the product page. Some retailers exclude returned or out of stock items but think this through carefully; reviews on returned items can help other users and provide important feedback to your buying team. Below is an example email from House of Fraser:




If you do already have reviews, then put a plan in place to encourage more users to leave reviews and reward your most active reviewers. Simple techniques like badging ‘top reviewers’ can create social competition, as users want to be part of the select group of trusted reviewers. You can then add a product carousel to the homepage for ‘top rated products’, something I’ve seen drive click-through on retail sites (especially fashion).

You can also tie reviews in with your loyalty program, giving people points for reviews that are submitted and accepted.

Tripadvisor is a great example of a website focused on user reviews and promoting this content to help other users make decisions. Take a look at the homepage to see the use of a genuine user review as primary content. Scroll down the page to see lots of ratings, indicating the site is popular and active.



3. Promote product bundles

One way to drive revenue growth over Christmas is to increase order values. Bundles are one option, using your existing product range to create new offers with a price incentive to increase basket size. There are many ways to package bundles, including:

  • Multi-buys g. 3 for the price of 2 – this works well on regular purchase items like food and drinks
  • Gift sets g. Clarins facial treatment pack containing moisturiser, exfoliant and toner – great for brand loyalists who can be tempted to spend more because of a discount on the pack
  • Outfits g. get the look of shoes, jeans and top – don’t forget that Christmas isn’t just about gift buying, people do also treat themselves and outfits are a proven way to increase basket size by selling popular looks
  • Solution packs g. Christmas dinner entertainment pack of crackers, party poppers, napkins and streamers – combine products to create handy packs that solve everyday needs
  • Complimentary items g. batteries with toys – where accessories are logical buys, make sure it’s easy for the user to buy from one page (and also make sure you repeat the opportunity on the main basket page).

4. Make the Wishlist prominent

Firstly, make sure you have a wishlist option. I’ve seen several retail ecommerce sites increase customer spend through wishlists, so they do work if done well and they’re great for gift lists. The most important requirements are:

  • Let customers create, edit and delete lists across devices
  • Let customers share the list via email and social media
  • Let customers quickly add one or more items to the basket direct from the list + give them a one-click ‘add all’
  • Make sure customers can add an item to a wishlist from both product list and product details pages
  • Make the wishlist easily accessible from the main navigation.

Another trick is to surface the latest wishlist items on the basket page as an encouragement to purchase. Don’t interrupt the main basket journey but look to display them below with persuasive copy e.g. ‘Get your favourites now before stock runs out’.

Amazon is a good example of a website that uses the basket page to try different cross and up-sell recommendations to drive basket adds:


5. Use basket retargeting

This is the process of sending out reminder emails to users who have created but not converted baskets. This is standard online shopping behaviour and abandoned basket rates are as high as 70% on many ecommerce sites.

Doing this well requires proper planning and use of data; just because a user has abandoned a basket doesn’t mean they won’t come back. It might just be an interim stage in their buying cycle, so understanding intent is key. You don’t want to start offering discounts to coax people back if they were planning to anyway, that just erodes margin unnecessarily.

If you don’t have enough data, or the people to do the analysis to define a custom retargeting program, put the basics in place; for every abandoned customer whose email address you know, send a service orientated email. Add tracking to the links so you can measure the revenue impact.

Below is an example from Selfridges, using simple copy and a clear CTA:




Some retailers have tested showing an abandoned basket in an overlay when a customer returns to the site as a reminder to encourage basket completion. Don’t put this in place without testing as it could be disruptive to the user journey.

Thoughts and questions

I’d welcome your thoughts on these five topics and any insights you can share with other readers.

What simple changes would you make to your website to support conversion during peak trading?

Further Reading:

Peak trading preperation