Paid Search, Mobile Take Front Seat In Holiday Strategies

LawsonCoordinating paid-search campaigns and mobile strategies that drive consumers from online and into physical stores could become the top strategy for marketers this holiday season.

Don't give too much credit to the 52% uptick in the year-on year revenue growth in 2010, because numbers for the 2009 holiday season were low. But trends pointing to consumer behavior such as an increase in product searches on mobile, and pickups in early shopping momentum should become a guideline for marketers, according to Matt Lawson, Marin Software's VP of marketing.

"Keep local in mind by separating mobile from desktop campaigns, so the content includes location and mobile-specific content," he said. "Also, use local extensions to drive people into stores."

Increasing mobile response rates means marketers should tap into position-based bidding to ensure that ads serve up above the fold. Another benefit of having separate campaigns is that you can show location ex­tensions within the ad creative. Quickly pointing mobile shoppers to your nearest location can be the difference between buyers walking into your store instead of your competitor’s.

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The advice for mobile campaigns, along with key dates based on historic trends, will appear in a white paper that Marin Software plans to release Monday. To better understand key dates and consumption trends, the paper examines how conversion volumes change throughout the holiday season. Some of those trends point to early shopping.

In 2010, the top five days by conversion volume include Cyber Monday at 16%; Black Friday at 23%; Tuesday, Nov. 30, 17%; Sunday, No. 28, 17%; and Dec. 6, 17%.

Lawson also points out that out-out-of stock inventory or limited availability of certain styles can significantly impact paid-search conversion rates. If a retailer sells out of size 4 dresses for a particular style, but all others remain in stock, it can still influence overall conversion rates for that dress style. He suggests setting alerts to identify dramatic drops in conversion rates that would indicate customers are locating limited selections. Lowering bids or pausing keywords when the stock reaches low inventory or limited selections will ensure a reduction in costly clicks that don't convert.

Test attribution modeling, use YouTube videos to extend reach, amp the message with social media, and don't forget the promotions, suggests thewhite paperavailable Monday.

Not all the monetization work belongs to retailers. Some success relies on the ability of search engines to support search engine marketing through desktop and mobile. Advice means nothing unless search engines can support campaigns. This means Google, Bing and others must learn how to better monetize paid-search ads. Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst, explains in a research note that search remains the next multibillion-dollar business, especially for Google, but the company only monetizes between 40% and 45% of searches. These are the searches that accompany an ad, based on comScore data.

"While we believe it would be essentially impossible to ever monetize 100% of commercial query traffic as organic results will always carry significant value to users, we believe doubling the monetization rate in the long term (5 years +) could be achievable," he wrote. "Doubling the monetization rate in the U.S. would result in $11 billion in incremental revenue to Google assuming stable CPC [cost per click] rates."

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