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Tis’ the season for conversions! 3 E-commerce tips for the holidays.

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  • Tis’ the season for conversions! 3 E-commerce tips for the holidays.
Posted on by Mike Poserina in Online Marketing

Every year the online marketers use of Cyber Monday gets more in depth. This concept came about from a trend that was initially realized in 2005 when e-commerce company released a study showing that the Monday following Thanksgiving was subject to a substantial increase in conversions for online retailers. According to the study, 77% of retailers reported the increase in sales. Seven Years later, marketers have the chance to seize the opportunities related to this retail holiday and they are did a great job with it, online sales were up over 30% from last year. However we see opportunities missed with last minute shoppers, strategies to make sure your abandoned cart become a sale and lessons learned that can be put to use year round.

ecommerce holiday tips- shopping cartTrain your customers to buy on time with a correct “holiday sale” deadline:

Last minute shoppers didn”t get their name by shopping as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was finished. In fact they rarely get around to it in time for the item to be shipped causing massive headaches for call centers and shippers as well as creating bad pr from unhappy last minute holiday shoppers. This is a large market that often times goes untapped and by the time they decide to take action it is too late, either the sale is lost or the customer goes to the mall. It”s important to train the customer on the process of placing and receiving an order around the holidays. Especially if you deal in larger products that can take up to 2 weeks to ship. In order to increase your total sales this holiday month, create a sale with a deadline on the last day that you can promise your customer in time shipping. This can be found by asking your shipper for the last date of a guaranteed shipment to arrive the day before the holiday.  Make it known that after that date they will miss out on a gift arriving in time and offer incentive to order in time.

Remarket and Follow Up on abandonment:

It is easy to be distracted from your important shopping needs, little things like a job, family, and making holiday cards with ugly sweaters often get in the way. Just as there are many window shoppers in the mall, a huge percentage of online shoppers add products to the cart that never end up getting purchased. It”s vital that your marketing team is developing a strategy to get these customer”s back using a retargeting service like Steelhouse, Adroll or Google remarketing through Adwords, as well as a customer loyalty program utilizing your past customer email list. Getting  those abandoned carts completed requires reaching out and occasionally offering an additional bonus or reminder.  Do this by using dynamic retargeting display ads and personalized emails targeting past customers that have abandoned a purchase this year.  This is also a time to reconnect with your customer base. Stepping outside of the online world and sending a direct mail piece with a call tracking number will bring you one step closer to acquiring customer loyalty and tracking it correctly.  This is important even when you sell a product that is purchased once every five years. A loyal customer will pass the word along and word of mouth travels fast when families and friends get together over the holidays.

Use holiday strategies all year long:

We have done a test with some clients by using non shopping related holidays, with sales that bring products down to the lowest MAP.  This price is normally equal to that found at other retailers and may be the same price that is offered throughout the year. We used the perception of the sale price as well as the deadline for the perceived sale as a call to action, and the customers listened. However the conversions would not occur until the deadline approached and on the final day of the sales would spike, this was true even for a “Columbus day sale”. Any holiday or event can be used as a scheduled call to action. Doing this is a way to set your own merchandising holiday. By promoting it heavily in the sidebar, with an optimized landing page, by adding a banner area or with a real time offer on the product page and following up with retargeting and an email towards the deadline you can increase conversions incrementally through the month. Some of the best sales offers include, shipping upgrades, a free gift add on and price reductions, however you may be able to simply keep an item at the same price on an ongoing sale and continue to advertise.

For strategies specific to your business feel free to contact us for a personalized assessment.

The debut of the iPhone 4 has created quite a stir for consumers worldwide trying to get the best and latest Apple product. The craze has even left some people waiting hours in line just to get the newest smart phone. But whether you are involved in the craze or not, the iPhone 4 and smart phones like it have the capability to influence you more than you may know.

For example, from an industry standpoint you may be wondering how does this affect me?  Other than the fact that you might personally want one of these smart phones, mobile phone advertising is quite different from your basic PPC ad. Most would assume that they show up the same regardless of the platform, they are actually very different.

Being the industry leader, Google is currently the only major search engine that offers full mobile advertising. For Google Mobile there are some minor requirement changes that your mobile PPC ads must adhere to differently than normal:okay

Ad Format: Mobile Ads only allow three lines of text: the headline, one description line, and one url/number line that allows the advertiser to have a one url or phone number link for their customers to connect to.

Character Limit: Due to the smaller size of your mobile phone, the size of you PPC advertisement will also appear smaller. The character limits of your headline and description line are 18 characters each, with a total of 36 characters for the entire advertisement.

While the differences remain structural, the advantages that mobile ads have will eventually become a big factor for advertisers and customers alike. Advertisers will be able to attract customers with a new form of advertisement. And customers will be able to easily connect to products that they find appealing from the convenience of their phone.

Another tip comes from Bing! They introduce Bing Ads. Microsoft”s Ad Center, the management system for paid search across the Bing and Yahoo search network, has undergone major changes over the past few years.  Now another round of revisions make it easier to import, control and analyze your and your clients” accounts.  This all comes on the heels of Ad Centers” best month to date scoring 15.9% of all internet searches according to comScore.

Though many of the changes have occurred and been implemented over the past 6 months, they are now being brought to the forefront with the new”s of the re-branding.

Bing Ads is doing their best to make their offering both competitive and transparent while also looking to increase the ease of account creation or transition from Adwords.  Here are the factors that David Pann has mentioned with our own analysis on how this affects the user.

Account import directly from google Adwords:  This tool is currently in Beta and will allow advertisers to upload their entire adwords account into Bing Ads.  This is a great way to break down any barriers to the transition that may exist regarding campaign build out costs.  It is coupled with another tool that is called “Editorial Exceptions”.  This allows users to easily detect and resolve any editorial disapproval”s that Bing Ads may return. This is important since there are separate rules for trademarks, and bidding on competitor”s brand names for adwords and Bing ads.

Quality Score Analytics: A huge complaint with adwords is the veil of secrecy that surrounds the quality score of a keyword, campaign and account.  With a historical look into your Bing Ads quality score analytics, you can view the dates when the quality score changed, associate that with the changes made in the account or the landing page and determine the cause of improvement.  This will also help to pinpoint the issues that may be hindering a keyword from improving on its” quality score.

Negative Keyword list conflicts: This tool allows the advertisers to determine if any of their keywords are not showing due to negative keywords overlapping into targeted keywords.  This will help you to narrow your impressions to the most relevant search queries without mistakenly blocking intended impressions from occurring.

Share of voice: This is the same idea of impression share.  The metric will give you data regarding the percentage of impressions that your ad shows for in comparison to the total number of possible impressions for that keyword.  As your quality score and bid raises so will your share of voice.  This will allow you to consider any missed opportunities and the potential size of any particular niche.

Ad preview tool: This is a simple concept.  See what your ads will look like without out searching for them and incurring an impression.

Bing ads editor:  This is an external tool that will allow advertisers to edit campaigns while offline and upload bulk changes all at once.  This is a useful desktop tool that allows work to be done even in the rare event that the account manager is away from an internet connection.  It is also a more efficient way to make large account changes than through the online interface.

Bing Ads intelligence tool: This is a robust keyword research tool that offers great insight into the competitiveness, search volume, cpc, ctr and other marketing data for your niche.  It is a Microsoft excel plugin and gives much more insight than what is available in other free tools.  There is a quick Bing Ads intelligence tool video available on their website as well

David Pann also outlined a few reason”s to build out your campaigns into Bing Ads that we will elaborate on.

Increase your audience: Advertisers are missing 20% of the market if they are only in Google adwords. Expanding your impressions by 20% is no small amount and  the ability to increase sales by 1/5 of your current sales is significant.  If you don”t believe us, ask your client how they would like that!

Lower CPC:  Some sources say that the cost per click in Bing Ads can be as much as 20%-40 Lower CPC allows for higher ROI.  The actual amount is going to change depending on the industry and level of competition for the keyword, however there is a consensus that there is lower overall competition resulting in a lower cost per click.

Demographic differences of Bing and Yahoo Users: Without diving to deeply into the reason”s why, evidence suggests that the Yahoo and Bing network has an higher median user age and is somewhat skewed with more female searchers than the Google audience.  This allows advertisers who”s products line up with those demographics to gain impressions in a market that is made up of a higher percentage of their audience.

Increased rate of spending by users:  Bing Ads boasts a 5% higher rate of spending than google searchers.  When this is paired with a lower CPC and an increased audience, you can see that this alternative can be added to cast a broader net and also to improve the overall ROI on your campaign.

Reasons agencies have avoided Bing Ads:

  1. Limited budget: Many clients will have their budgets set and limit their own reach due to a predetermined cost of marketing. When they are starting off in Adwords, the limited budget doesn”t leave any room to test out smaller search audiences.  It is normally advised to select the most profitable keywords by testing them in the system that gains data the fastest.  At that point we can make the recommendation to move forward and expand the budget into Bing Ads.  Unfortunately without a higher budget or a proven and successful Adwords account, agencies rarely make the recommendation.  It may be worth it to consider starting out in Bing Ads for some clients to give them a better chance at success regardless of the length of time it can take to optimize the account.  This is highly dependent on their industry and the keywords that they are targeting.
  2. Increased cost of management:  In the case of a smaller budget for bing, increasing the time to manage a second account does not always correlate with the added management fee.  However, the increased opportunity to lower CPC should allow an agency to increase the management fee on a flat rate for the second account while still driving increased value.
  3. Increased time of reporting: Another cost associated with managing a second account is pulling data from a separate system to combine in a excel spreadsheet for client reporting.  This can be avoided by utilizing a service like Acquisio or a like Strategy Analyzer. There are costs associated with both of these solutions, however it does allow for increased efficiency, budget and higher client sales volume.
  4. Trust: There have been so many changes in Bing and Yahoo”s paid search solution that they sometimes get hard to keep up with.  We are hoping that this rebranding marks a new era.  Will the major changes be settled and will the system will be stable enough for agencies to be able to recommend it?  If so then many advertisers will take advantage and improve overall campaign performance with by adding it to their marketing mix.
  5. Cost of Migration: This issue has been mitigated with the Google adwords import tool.  We see this as the first step to lower transition costs and getting new users onto the platform.

TL;DR:  Microsoft ad center re-branding itself to Bing Ads is not a major change by itself, however it does mark a new era that calls attention to the changes that have been made over the past year.  The ability to transition accounts from Adwords has lowered to cost to get started and the robust new tools offer some advantages to Adwords as well.  While solutions are available to make management and reporting on multiple accounts more efficient more work will be involved and the increased market share will need to continue to grow for smaller clients to find value in the platform.  However with the changes trending towards a more stable PPC solution, the lower click costs, their best month to date for search volume, Bing Ads has a bright future with advertisers that are looking to expand their reach, increase their budgets and lower their CPA.