How can you make the most of the upcoming shopping frenzy? Liam Patterson, CEO and founder at Bidnamic, has some useful steps you can take…
When the shopping phenomenon that is Black Friday first infiltrated the UK in 2010, it was high-street retailers that were rubbing their hands in anticipation. Hard-copy catalogues were the order of the day – consumers would rifle through the Argos pages as though their lives depended on it, frantically searching for deals and discounts that were too good to be true,
Fast-forward more than a decade, and the landscape looks very different. Argos catalogues have been replaced by smartphones and Google searches. In 2020, e-commerce sales reached a share of 32.5 percent of all retail sales in the UK – up from just 19 percent in the year before – as the pandemic supercharged the pace of change.
Research shows that UK consumers are ready to spend £200billion on Black Friday and Christmas this year. But to capture this commerce, retailers need to understand how consumers search and shop online, and then optimise their campaigns accordingly.
Make the most of high intent searches
High intent searches are queries that indicate a higher chance of a customer taking an action on your ad, such as a purchase. Shoppers using high intent search queries are often further down the purchase funnel and know what they want, so targeting them is crucial in your PPC campaigns.
With the average CTR [Click Through Rate] of high-intent search queries resting at 1.17 percent in November 2020, compared to 0.73 percent of low-intent queries, the benefits of bidding on these are clear-cut. Whilst the initial expenses are higher, there is a distinct improvement in the interactions that you have with prospective customers.
If you’re bidding on broad terms like ‘Black Friday’ on Google Shopping, then you’re entering a hugely competitive space and your ads are likely to be lost in the crowd. Queries like this will also often cost more, damaging your ROAS [Return On Ad Spend].
Manually identifying and bidding on high intent searches is a hugely time-consuming task. Machine-learning algorithms can be used to automate the process, helping you stay on top of incoming search traffic and compete successfully, with minimal intervention.
Be reactive to changes in the market
During busy search periods such as around Black Friday it’s important to stay on the pulse and react to search trends as they occur. Bidding on search queries related to these trending topics will help you get your ads in front of the most interested shoppers.
The best way to do this is to use an automated AI platform that can identify trends and then adjust bids for individual SKUs in real time. Doing this manually is a large undertaking and isn’t realistically possible. Automated platforms can also run 24/7, reacting to spikes in search traffic as they happen without human intervention.
Organise your promotions with custom labels
By using custom labels, retailers can see more performance insights on discounted items, allowing for a better understanding of PPC campaigns.
With information like impressions and clicks for these on-sale product listings, you can adjust your promotions accordingly to fully maximise your campaigns.
Coupled with this, Google is enhancing the results of searches that include such phrases as ‘deals’ and ‘Black Friday', giving retailers a golden opportunity to capture traffic from audiences searching for a bargain.
Other preparation tips
In terms of what you, as a retailer, can do to optimise your chances of success, you are spoiled for choice. Here’s a checklist for the months ahead:
- Inventory decisions
Determine as early as possible which products you want to promote, to give you sufficient time to check that your suppliers have plenty of stock. Cross-reference with the Black Friday sales record from last year, and assess which were considered the best-sellers.
- Website testing
Is your website capable of handling a spike in user traffic? If your site fails you, it will be significantly more difficult trying to meet your sales quota. To remove the element of doubt, use site speed tools such as k6 cloud to make absolutely sure you are prepared.
- Mobile optimisation
Without a website that is fully optimised for mobile usage, you will find sales hard to come by. With Alibaba reporting that 90 percent of 2019’s Single’s Day sales were made by mobile users, it is clear that this is an audience that needs to be catered for. Your checkout process must also be taken into consideration; Google Pay could be the saving grace in this department.
- Previous customers
With the help of CRM software, you can easily target some of your existing and previous customers. Email marketing campaigns can reach individuals that are already subscribed; this also means they are likely to be more intrigued by the promotions you are running.
The future is bright
With predictions forecasting that e-commerce retail sales are going to climb to more than $4trillion – a 16.8 percent growth from 2020 – there is plenty of incentive to improve your online presence. The era of the Argos catalogue has come to an end, replaced by the dominance of Google Shopping and e-commerce. With machine learning on hand to guide you, there is no reason that this peak selling season can’t be your most successful yet.
Your problem does not lie in unearthing a receptive audience – instead, the issue is determining how to connect with them in an effective manner.