Conversion rates -- or the likelihood that someone clicking on a search ad either will buy or download something -- continue to rise, according to data that Marin Software plans to release Monday. The insights into the 2010 holiday season published in "The Search Marketer's Guide for the Holidays: 10 Tips for a Successful 2010" consider findings from online sales the search company managed during last year's holiday season.
Since conversion rates between Thanksgiving and Christmas increase about 25% to 50% depending on the week, search marketers should anticipate the shift in consumer behavior and increase bids to advance the campaign, according to Matt Lawson, director of marketing at Marin, which manages about $1.3 billion in search ad budgets annually. "Be proactive, rather than reactive," he says.
Reviewing 2009 data, Marin identified more searches, clicks and conversions last holiday season that marketers should consider incorporating into this year's campaign plans. For example, the company walks through creating a boost schedule to accommodate the increase in online purchases during the holidays.
A boost schedule, or roadmap, helps determine when and how much to increase bids to take advantage of higher conversion rates during the holidays. It is based on the conversion rate for the simple reason that as your conversion rate increases, so does the value that you receive for each click, according to the white paper.
Create a boost schedule based on a company's 2009 conversion rates and then fine-tune estimates by watching conversion rate changes on a daily basis. Remove boosts after cutting off ground shipping dates.
Pay attention to negative keywords. With search volumes rising during the holiday season, it's important to filter out unwanted impressions to maximize CTRs. This reduces the number of unprofitable clicks, improves Quality Scores and reduces CPCs. Marin suggests making a list of negative keywords for each SKU in the product catalog, and periodically checks raw search queries to identify new negative keywords.
Don't forget about coupons and special promotions. Citing Google, Marin points to the 38% uptick during the 2009 holiday season for average monthly searches on coupons. To reach budget shoppers, try to highlight discounts, coupons or low prices directly in ads or promotions. Conduct A/B testing to compare and fine-tune creative and try to create a sense of urgency by introducing time-sensitive offers for discounts and free shipping.
Although actual conversion dates and values will vary from year to year, marketers will likely see a similar pattern during the 2010 holiday season as in 2009. Dates to consider include Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Sunday Effect, Peak Week (known as the first full week in December), Ground Shipping Cutoffs, and Last Minute Shoppers.