4 Tips for Maximizing Engagement & ROI on 2019 Holiday Gift Guides

Wondering how best to set up your digital gift guides in time for the holidays? Follow these four tips to make sure your website is making the most out of its “featured gift” products, and is helping users navigate through the 2019 holiday season chaos with much-needed ease.

1. Avoid using content blocks that take up the entire length of a screen.

Steer clear of what we in UI call the “false bottom” — the illusion that a page has ended when it hasn’t. This UX misstep could stop your visitors from scrolling further down the page, and may restrict their exposure to content. Instead, let your visitors know there is more to see — the more categories they see, the more likely they are to find the one that is relevant to them.

Check which categories have the highest purchase conversion or conversion rate per click and prioritize these. It is possible that some categories drive higher engagement, but record lower conversions. This points to frustration and confusion, intel you can use to optimize a particular site element. 

2. Be specific with gift guide categories.

Your gift guide categories should be as specific as possible. It is harder for users to narrow down a large product catalog on a product landing page (PLP), than to click into a category that already has a narrower scope. 

It should be clear before users choose a gift guide that they will find on the gift guide list page. Is the category based on price, interests, demographic information..? Find out what’s most important to your visitors, and wherever you can, personalize suggestions based on these needs. 

Also keep in mind that in gift guides, users are likely to be shopping for somebody else, so recommending repeat purchases based on past sales isn’t always relevant.

3. Ensure that your filter and sort function on your gift guide PLPs are optimized and easy to use.

The more difficult your filter and sort function are to use, the more frustrated users will become when trying to find the most appropriate product on a gift guide list page. Avoid adding frustration to the already overwhelming task of sifting through hundreds or thousands of products. 

4. Provide a seamless way to access various categories from the gift list page.

Displaying shortcuts to other gift categories on the list page can help reduce navigation friction. Visitors shouldn’t have to go back to the homepage, main gift guide page, or use the global navigation to quickly access other gift options.


Examples of Online Gift Guides with Great UX

Here are some great examples of online gift guides:

J.Crew

On the homepage, the gift guide category features an eye-catching GIF that plays automatically. On the gift guide list page, there is a category dropdown that helps users jump to different gift categories. Users can also easily narrow down listings using categorization buttons like “Best Selling” and “Gifts under $25 

Madewell

In this example, at least 3 categories are visible on the homepage without the need for scrolling. Once the user clicks to the gift guide list page, they can also use a category dropdown to jump to more specific gift guide categories.

Macy’s 

Gift guide categories are specific and speak to users’ personalities. Above these categories, there are also categories based on price.

 

Hero Image via Adobe Slack, by Nnudoo

How The North Face Optimized Its Gift Guide By Leveraging Customer Experience Intelligence

Although we’re slightly past mid-summer and have got quite a way to go before the mercury significantly drops, it’s never too early to start thinking about the holiday shopping season. Aside from which products you want to highlight and which promotions to push for the season of gift-giving, you’re keenly going to need to fine-tune your digital strategy. Otherwise, a UX left unoptimized for the holidays won’t reap the sweet bump in holiday conversions.

Optimizing the customer experience (CX) for the holiday shopping season begins with… you guessed it, your customers. There is much you can learn from the data on your visitors’ behaviors during the holiday shopping season — make sure these insights don’t go to waste! Our case study with one of our top clients, The North Face, shows that the proof is indeed in the pudding, as our granular insights informed key CX changes for the 2018 holiday shopping season.

The North Face & Its Primary Holiday Shopping Challenge: The Gift Guide

The North Face is a top-name brand that offers outdoor gear, particularly activewear and equipment to athletes, the athletically-inclined and anyone who wants to go on adventures and look stylish doing so.

Originating as a San Franciscan storefront, the brand has been investing heavily in its online customer experience to better serve the digital community of North Face aficionados. We worked with the gear company to help the team optimize a key digital asset for its 2018 holiday shopping season: its online holiday gift guide.

This gift guide is an annual online experience that helps customers find the right gifts through a wide index of products designated for the holidays. This content serves a critical purpose in aiding Q4 sales and maximizing the mighty potential of the season.

The gift guide was strategically set to go live in October, right before the high tide in holiday traffic, which granted the digital team ample time to analyze the digital engagement of early-bird shoppers. Through a granular analysis of digital interactions, The North Face was able to continue its strategic approach to its holiday shopping campaign, as it directed its UX findings to adjust the experience prior to initiating its gifting-centered marketing campaign.

The North Face is well-known for its outdoor and sporting gear.


Putting UX Analytics to Use

As part of its analysis of the Gift Guide, the digital team surveyed customer interactions on a per-page basis, to reel in a comprehensive understanding of the guide’s performance. The team specifically was on the lookout for frustration and friction points in the customer journey

The team looked at exposure rate, which takes into account how far down a page a user is scrolling and considers a zone seen when over half of it was viewed by a user. 

The North Face continued the UX analysis by studying the click recurrence (which measures engagement and frustration), the click-through rate (calculation of pageviews and clicks) and attractiveness rate (attractiveness of an element, dealing with clicks after exposure). What they found allowed them to make UX decisions rooted in data, which lead to several improvements.

The digital team at The North Face used heat maps and a variety of unique metrics for measuring the user experience of its Gift Guide.


Findings & Actions Taken to Yield an Improved User Experience

The digital team at The North Face analyzed the exposure rate of various elements of the guide, which sets forth how far down a user scrolls. It also dictates that a zone is seen once over half of it was viewed by a user. 

This analysis displayed a low exposure rate of the category CTAs, pointing to a need of adjusting the CTAs above the fold to improve their exposure. This UX change proved to be an improvement, as it brought the exposure rate of the CTAs up by 50%. This resulted in an increased visibility of each gifting category.

Heeding the click recurrence, the team unearthed a frustration stemming from multiple clicks on the hero image. This pointed to the fact that the hero wasn’t entirely clickable, so the team made it so, not just the product. This brought down the click recurrence of the hero to a satisfactory rate, with far fewer clicks since all of it was clickable.

The click recurrence metric also informed the team that there were multiple clicks on links to head to the Women’s Gift Guide page — even though users were already there. Through this insight, the team placed a header title to the page to make visitors aware of their presence on this destination within the site. Consequently, this action also reduced the click recurrence. 

As far as merchandising optimizations go, the digital team observed the click-through rate and attractiveness rate of each gift category. Through these, they were able to discern which categories were the most popular, as well as the importance of the position of these categories on the page. As such, the team moved the most popular ones further above the page to access the most popular items quicker.

The gift guide left users unbeknown that they were already on the Women’s Gift Guide page, unlike this clear-cut section on the website.


Optimizing Holiday Shopping Campaigns

Holiday shopping campaigns, much like many other retail campaigns, require a keen understanding of customer intent and engagement. Customer journeys are never stagnant, so you’ll notice that they alter — even among some common trends from season to season. That’s why you have to constantly monitor them, otherwise, you’re not getting the full picture of how customers and potential customers navigate your website, their frustrations and conversion opportunities.

Looking to granular analytics, the kind that can provide on-page behavior and interactions per element is a cure to the UX ignorance of your site. That’s because this kind of digital analysis doesn’t only show, it tells, particularly the correct implementations to your digital experience. This will assure you don’t remain in the dark on your UX during for the holiday shopping season for 2019, which is fast approaching.