eMarketer predicts online holiday sales will grow 12% YoY, and queries for “Black Friday” and “holiday shopping” have gained traction since July. We outline four key components to holiday search success.
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1. Ready Your Web Site
At this point in the year, any major changes to your site must be complete and you should have:
- Built new landing pages
- Optimized on-site content/tags
- Built incoming links for holiday terms
- Created a mobile version of your site (Research proves people are 51% more likely to purchase from retailers that have mobile-specific websites (Luth Research))
Three months out, there is still time to make impactful changes and the quickest win comes from proxy landing page optimization (LPO). Proxy technology can swiftly create, test and optimize landing pages without using internal IT resources. Boosting conversions even
a percentage point may help you meet – or exceed – holiday goals. Five steps to successful holiday LPO:
- Conduct research to garner insights that inform design
- Assess your site’s critical paths to conversion
- Hypothesize about page concepts that will boost conversions
- Test landing pages to uncover the most effective conversion paths
- Optimize based on iterative testing
Another quick-win is to include holiday themes within your site’s design and copy. This tactic makes your site more relevant to holiday queries, thus reducing bounce rates and improving quality scores.
2. Ready Your Paid Search Campaigns
When it comes to search campaigns, keep three tactics in mind:
- Leverage historical benchmarks to establish paid search holiday goals and budgets
- Create bid strategies per keyword by using competitor monitoring technology to understand the most competitive keywords
- Audit keyword lists and incorporate customer insights and search trends to build new, holiday-related keywords
The Trend: Mobile
- 33% of mobile users to start shopping pre-Thanksgiving (Google)
- Nov. and Dec. primed to be mobile search’s biggest months ever
- Google: 15% of all “Black Friday” searches to come from mobile devices
- Performics: 2011 mobile paid search clicks have already risen to 2011 holiday levels — 12.5% of all (desktop & mobile) clicks
3. Optimize Mobile Campaigns
Despite aggressive growth, mobile paid search is a bargain – clients’ mobile CPCs are about half that of desktop CPCs.
- Separate Desktop and Mobile Campaigns
Google reports that mobile-only campaigns perform on average 11.5% better than hybrid desktop/mobile campaigns. Use different holiday messaging for desktop vs. mobile to maximize relevance.
- Don’t Forget Tablets
Tablet campaigns should be separated as searchers use them differently than smartphones. For instance, tablet users are more likely to peruse search results; thus, bid strategies will differ.
- Drive In-Store Traffic, Calls and Offer Redemptions
Via sitelinks, provide mobile users easy access to store locations, hours, phone numbers and relevant offers. Google predicts 44% of all searches for last-minute gifts and store locations will come from mobile devices.
4. Solidify Paid Search Messaging
Fourth quarter is not the time to test copy – plan ahead for the holiday:
- Create a holiday calendar with promotional dates; align copy to those dates
- Analyze historical data
- Refresh content, mobile and search copy
- Use sitelinks and other relevant extensions
- Rotate promotions throughout the season
Remember, promotions and free shipping drive conversion! In fact, comScore found that 61% of shoppers are “at least somewhat likely” to abandon their shopping cart if they’re charged for shipping. In uncertain economic times, online shoppers are searching for the best offers. Consider opportunities to embed coupons in paid search and mobile search ads. Lastly, never ignore the word “free” – free shipping is a no longer a nice-to-have, it is a need-to-have to stay competitive.
Pay close attention to how macro search trends may impact keyword lists. Be careful—some Black Friday-related keywords are not Black Friday-related at all. For example, Rebecca Black’s viral “Friday” music video garnered massive 2011 search volume for “Rebecca Black Friday.” Use appropriate negative keywords to prevent Rebecca Black
from knocking your Black Friday campaigns off-tune.