November 22, 2016

Site Crash or Sales Opportunity? You Decide.

summit-error-offer.pngHoliday traffic can overwhelm retail websites, causing site delays, 500 errors, lost sales and annoyed customers. We support a clever fix that can turn any slowdown into a sales opportunity.

Deloitte predicts 50% of holiday purchases will be made online this year, up 5% from 2015. And with 86% of shoppers researching online before purchase, they warn retailers to expect "record-breaking web traffic" this holiday season. With such extreme YoY growth, many retail websites simply can't handle the volume. 

Like many of their peers, one of Persio's clients struggles with traffic surges and resulting errors and delays. So they worked with Persio to turn this potential negative into a positive experience for their customers with this simple workaround: once a volume-related error occurs on their site, a temporary redirect is triggered. Instead of receiving an error message, visitors from select sources would instead see a landing page like the one displayed in this post. This allowed them to alleviate pressure on the site while retaining - even pleasing - holiday shoppers. When the surge ends, the customer will be funneled back to the main website.

When we tested this solution at 2 a.m. on the Tuesday before Black Friday, our client diverted traffic for two minutes—and saw 300 signups. 

Sidestep Site Shame with these Simple Steps

  1. Prioritize Traffic. Look at your channels, including social, email SMS, or direct traffic. Does one channel drive higher-value customers than another? Establish a hierarchy that makes the most sense for your business, and prioritize traffic to your landing page accordingly. 
  2. Monitor and Redirect. Assign a part of the web team to monitor traffic levels—as it nears levels where it's overwhelmed servers in the past, start redirecting vistiors to your landing page. A simple page like the example shown here will temporarily replace the standard homepage (or error message) for visitors to the lowest-priority channel. 
  3. Be Nice...Offer a Reward. Keep messaging light—"Santa's elves are a little too busy right now!"—and short, with a call to action and an offer—"Text GIFTME to 40679 and get 10% off, in store or online, while you wait." Use a unique code to track how many customers are affected by the outages. 
  4. Keep it Simple. Skip double opt-in for SMS, forget upselling, or getting the customer to sign up for ongoing update. You're already delaying your customer so keep the reply to an apology and a unique code sent directly to a customer's phone:"Here's 10% off your next purchase with code X3GF23J. One-time use. Thank you for your patience." 
  5. Make It Easy to Contact Customer Service. An offer may not be enough to placate an unhappy customer, so make sure there's a link to your contact for or chatbox, if your brand offers it. 

This strategy can work beyond the holidays; consider replacing your standard error message with a similar landing page that can be updated seasonally or it can be put in place during scheduled downtime. 

Neither a retailer nor a customer wants to be in this situation, but giving an unhappy customer a future discount can take a fraught situation and turn it into something a customer appreciates. 

"No one wants to experience a website outage, especially a customer trying to finish holiday shopping," our client's director of mobile and social told Persio. "And while we hope that our website avoids any downtime this holiday season, we want to be prepared and keep our customers engaged and happy while they wait. Using inbound SMS with a landing page and an offer lets us turn a negative into a positive."

Want More SMS Strategy?

If your brand is interested in implementing a strategy like this or discussing how SMS can drive revenue and help your brand create more intelligent promotions, contact us! Fill out this form or text GIFTME to 40679, and one of our friendly account executives will reach out to you within one business day.