The door is always open online, making it a little more challenging this year for small businesses to plan and execute search strategies during the holiday season. Google published a set of guidelines Thursday to help small businesses successfully tackle online search advertisements during the holiday season. Changes in shopping behavior prompted the Mountain View, Calif. company to release the best practices, based on the idea that "shopping never sleeps."
Sebastien Missoffe, director of SMB sales at Google, said consumers now spend more time researching potential purchases online at all hours of the day. "We've gone from midnight snacking to midnight shopping," he said. "One-third of searches that lead to purchases happen between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Consumers are taking time to get to know the different offers and products."
One troubling issue in online sales involves the number of returns a small business might get, especially around the holidays. Missoffe said many brands now realize that returns are part of the trend toward purchasing products online. He suggests highlighting free and easy purchase returns as part of the "value proposition" in the advertisements.
Missoffe also said the complexity of today's purchase funnel, as consumers move from one screen to another, requires even the smallest business to use analytics.
Making simple tweaks to online AdWords strategies to accommodate sleepless shoppers and further capitalize during the holiday season can prove successful. A list of five tips aims to help small business navigate the holiday season.
Google Trends can help businesses become more aware of the types of product shoppers gravitate toward. It provides popular searches by region to help identify searches that are just beginning to take off. Understanding the trends can help focus on campaigns.
Knowing the audience means having the ability to target consumers with specific messages. Peloton Cycle sells stationery bicycles and streams live cycling classes into customers' homes. They know shoppers will look for health and fitness solutions this holiday, so they use broad match modifier keywords, which allows the ads to serve up in searches including a keyword and controlled variations like "+buy" and "+holiday" to reach users who are most likely to make a purchase. This, along with other targeting methods, allows them to lower cost per clicks by 30% and increase click rate by 474%.
A blog post from Google explains the rest.