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Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
But how well is it paying off? To find out, search intelligence platform Adthena has analyzed the paid search landscape in the run-up to Black Friday 2017, indexing more than 15,000 ads and 214 million impressions across 161 sellers of consumer electronics.
The study, shared exclusively with Search Engine Watch, was conducted between November 1st and 13th 2017, and sheds some light on the kinds of PPC ad subjects and messaging that are getting the best response from consumers ahead of the holidays.
iPhone dominates mobile… on mobile
In a not-so-surprising discovery, product ads containing the term “iPhone” out-performed other types of consumer goods – particularly on mobile. Paid search ads with “iPhone” pulled in 8.88% of all impressions on desktop, and gained a hefty 14.89% of all impressions on mobile.
“Phone” was the second-best-performing product ad keyword, with 4.61% of impressions on desktop and 11.55% on mobile, followed by “TV”, which pulled in 3.54% of desktop impressions and 4.22% of mobile impressions.
When it came to the messaging that performed best in Black Friday PPC ads, deal-related ad copy featuring the word “save” was the clear winner, driving close to a fifth (18.79%) of impressions on desktop, and more than a quarter (27.47%) on mobile.
“% off” was the next-best-performing deal messaging on desktop, with 10.03% of impressions, while on mobile, “discount” came in second place at 9.03%. “Sale” took 5.6% of impressions on desktop, while “% off” won third place on mobile with 3.91%.
Ashley Fletcher, Director of Product Marketing at Adthena, says that these differences in the data prove just how vital the language used in ad copy is to the overall success of a paid search ad.
“We can see in the analyzed data that phrase ‘Save’ delivered huge impression share on both desktop and mobile, in comparison to ‘Discount’ or ‘% off’,” he said. “Making this single change in an advertiser’s ad text copy can make all the difference in having a winning search strategy for this fiercely competitive time of year.
“The devil is in the detail, and marginal gains mean success.”
If you’re wondering what kind of discount is the most effective at attracting consumer attention, well, surprise surprise, it’s a big one. Offers for “70% off” gathered the most impressions PPC ad on both desktop (6.89%) and mobile (1.31%).
“30% off” was the next-most-popular discount, though it attracted less than 1% of overall impressions on both desktop (0.84%) and mobile (0.35%). In third place was “40% off”, with 0.58% of impressions on desktop, and 0.23% on mobile.
Black Friday outpaces Cyber Monday, Amazon pushes Amazon
In spite of the juggernaut rise of online shopping, Black Friday still carries more weight than its newer, online-focused sibling, Cyber Monday – even in the electronics industry. According to the data from Adthena, “Black Friday” pulled in 2.99% of all PPC ad impressions on desktop (with 2.41% on mobile), while “Cyber Monday” managed only a paltry 0.12% of all impressions on desktop (0.09% on mobile).
Meanwhile, Amazon is taking advantage of one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year to push its Prime memberships. Across 71,414 Amazon ads with a total of 78,097,823 impressions, the top two-performing phrases by an overwhelming margin were “Amazon”, which took 98.32% of impressions on desktop and 99.79% on mobile, and “Prime”, which attracted 84.71% of impressions on desktop and 97.64% on mobile.
This was bad news for ads with more generic terms like “Shop” or “Low prices”, which attracted just 10.27% of impressions on desktop and 1.79% on mobile (“Shop”) and 8.37% of impressions on desktop and 0.44% on mobile (“Low prices”), respectively.
What do the figures from the study tell us about the types of product searches and purchases that people are carrying out on desktop versus on mobile?
Although there is some variation in the messaging that seems to resonate with users on desktop compared to mobile – mobile users are keen to “Save” but evidently don’t want to “Shop” for “Low prices” – the same leaders tend to emerge across devices, which Fletcher believes demonstrates that shopper behavior is generally device-agnostic, with consumers carrying out their product searches across multiple channels.
“In many instances, mobile is driving higher impression share than desktop, such as with the top performing product ads,” he says. “This tells us that many shoppers are doing their gift browsing on mobile, but desktop still perhaps remains a key part of the path to conversion.”
What can marketers take away from these findings that will help them get the best possible visibility for their PPC ads in the run-up to Black Friday? Fletcher says that actionable insights from data are the key to success in a rapidly shifting landscape.
“Marketers must understand how campaigns are performing and adjust accordingly as quickly as possible,” he says. “Being able to monitor what their competition is doing and changing on a daily basis will have a great impact on their PPC campaigns.
“Today’s marketer wants daily insights into an auction that’s changing rapidly. If a marketer sees that a competitor is pushing 70% discounts and garnering a majority of market share, they can quickly adjust their own strategy in order to continue to remain competitive and capture the audience.”
Black Friday kicks off a shopping season that lasts through Christmas each year, with online retailers vying for the profitable attention of consumers. With spending expected to rise by 47% this year, competition will be fierce.
The holiday season begins in earnest for ecommerce companies with the Black Friday weekend, bookended by Black Friday (November 24) and Cyber Monday (November 27).
Black Friday (the day retailers traditionally go ‘into the black’ due to the bumper sales) follows Thanksgiving in the US and kicks off a spending spree that typically continues through the Christmas period. The digital revolution has facilitated huge growth in spending worldwide, even spawning the online-focused Cyber Monday counterpart to satiate consumers’ desire to pick up a bargain.
Although dwarfed by China’s equivalent, known as ‘Singles Day’, which recently posted $12 billion in sales on Alibaba alone within just 2 hours, Black Friday holds particular significance for retailers in the US and beyond.
For context, the following statistics should paint a clear picture of the importance of this period for online stores:
- 2017 spending is predicted to rise by 47% over the same period in 2016
- Shoppers in the US spent $3.39 billion on Cyber Monday last year and $3.34 billion on Black Friday
- The Black Friday week brought sales of £6.5 billion in the UK in 2016
- The average American consumer will spend $745 over the Black Friday weekend
- Target sold 3,200 TVs per minute during the first hour of Black Friday last year.
Brands have been planning for the holidays for a long time already, so the focus will now turn to any last-minute changes that can help tempt consumers to their site and provide a seamless transaction experience when they get there.
SEO is quite rightly considered a long-term investment and strategies take time to come into effect, but some fine-tuning can still reap dividends in the immediate short term.
The tips below are intended to give ecommerce sites an SEO performance boost – just in time for the holiday period.
Focus on keyword groups with a high ROI
All brands are aiming to maximize revenues over the holidays, which leads to an increase in activity as their marketing strategies kick into action.
Search demand patterns change too, as consumers seek inspiration across a range of digital media.
This opens opens up new opportunities; search results are affected by these forces and they change in response to the surrounding stimuli. Intelligent targeting of the right queries at the right moments can see brands move into top positions and capitalize on demand peaks.
Historical data from Google Trends or Keyword Planner can highlight the types of queries that tend to increase around this time of year. Typically, modifiers including ‘best’, ‘gift’, ‘deals’, or ‘cheap’ will be popular with shoppers on the lookout for the right present.
Our guide to advanced keyword research is a great place to start this process, as it helps marketers to isolate short-term opportunities and strategize accordingly.
Use existing landing pages for high-volume terms
It helps if you are using an authoritative page to target profitable queries at the most competitive time of year. With only a couple of weeks until Black Friday, it would be a pretty tall order to launch a brand new page and rank in positions 1-3 for the most important terms,
And yet, many brands do exactly this every year. Rather than having one static Black Friday page and another for Cyber Monday that can be updated every year, they launch a new page every time the holidays roll round.
After all, the trend is predictable; we know searches for [black friday] are about to take off:
The retailers that make the most of this will have had a Black Friday page in place for years already, which benefits from the backlinks that have been sent to the site every year. Small updates, such as adding the year 2017 into the copy and title tag, will help the page gain relevance for this year’s searches.
Once the holidays pass, update the content to move shoppers to more relevant deals and allow the page to accrue SEO value until next year.
Add new content to cover new SEO opportunities
There are less obvious trends to make use of, too.
Recent analysis of BrightEdge data by Eugene Feygin revealed a very significant increase in the number of rich snippets returned for ecommerce queries over the past year. In fact, the research found that there has been an increase in the number of rich snippets of over 26% within the last five months.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon has benefited to a greater degree than most:
But the same opportunity exists for all retailers.
Given the prominence that is afforded the these quick answers, in what has come to be known as ‘position zero’, it seems too great a prize to ignore.
The question, then, is how to format content to increase its likelihood of being pulled programmatically as a rich snippet.
There are no black-and-white rules to this, but there are steps we can take to help our chances. For example, using Schema.org mark-up to provide Google with structured data about product features or prices will help greatly, and tools like Moz Keyword Explorer can help identify popular questions.
Repurpose old content to create gift guides
According to Google’s trend report from 2016, more than 70 percent of digital shoppers started their holiday shopping without something particular in mind that they wanted to buy.
The search journey doesn’t end when someone clicks through to a website, of course. With user engagement factors continuing to play a pivotal role in SEO successes, we need to understand the consumer’s intent and match that up to the experience they receive when they land on the site.
Walmart provides a good example of how this can be achieved. They have a range of gift guides, which are categorized by the type of gift the consumer is thinking of, and also for whom they are planning to buy.
It is possible to go further still, through segmentation of content by the consumer’s level of certainty about the product they want to buy. The site can ask these questions to use as prompts to personalize the experience, with live chatbots playing an ever greater role in this area.
This must be complemented by an oft-overlooked aspect of ecommerce SEO: optimization of internal search. A report by Visualsoft found that 17% of UK retailers do not pay attention to the effectiveness of their internal search engine, but this should be taken into account by all ecommerce sites. To do so means making use of autocomplete searches, product recommendations based on search history, and personalized results.
These points require the refinement and adaptation of existing assets for most brands, so they can still be considered quick win activities for the holidays.
Optimize for speed
Back in 2012, Amazon calculated that just one second of slowdown in page load speed costs them $1.6 billion in lost sales, a number that can only have grown in the intervening years.
The aforementioned report from Visualsoft made blunt a point of which we are all aware: when providing a great ecommerce experience, speed matters. It also highlighted how far a lot of online retailers are from meeting the benchmarks expected of them by their customers:
In addition, new research from BrightEdge (full report here) has highlighted the peak traffic days across devices:
This data shows that while mobile traffic peaks on Thanksgiving, it is desktop that takes the lion’s share of visits on Cyber Monday. Moreover, BrightEdge’s research found that desktop takes 67% of overall conversions in the holiday season, as its traffic converts at a significantly higher rate than mobile visits.
Marketers need to be in prime position to move these consumers through to their intended transaction, as they research on one device and come back to convert on another.
Therefore, if there is only one area of on-site experience that SEOs can contribute towards, it should be page load speed. Improved speed can help rankings directly, but it is also a proven way to improve conversion rates on mobile, desktop, and tablet.
The road to achieving this will depend on the website in question, but some best practices would be:
- Minimize the number of HTTP requests required to load the page
- Reduce the number of redirects needed to arrive at the final URL
- Compress or re-size images.
Optimize mixed media assets
It stands to reason that with so many shoppers seeking inspiration, images and videos are essential components of an SEO strategy for the holidays.
At the last minute, brands are likely to have their media strategies set in stone, but SEO can always help to attract more traffic to these assets.
That said, Google’s universal results provide an excellent opportunity to draw more traffic if images and videos are optimized for the right queries.
Therefore, SEO research for the holiday season should aim to identify the keyword categories and types for which images and videos are returned in the SERPs. Keyword tools like BrightEdge and SEMrush provide a way to do this at scale, helping marketers to evaluate the best areas to apply their efforts.
Take lessons from other digital marketing channels
With such limited time left to test SEO changes, retailers should look to paid media channels to find quick, substantial lessons to apply to organic search. PPC ad copy can be a goldmine for these insights, as is reveals the triggers most likely to appeal to consumers when they are searching. Take the best-performing ad copy variations from paid search and incorporate these into SEO messaging to draw a higher click-through rate.
Recent research into social media ad performance also found that informal, conversational language works best. People tend to be in a different mindset when on social media compared to search, which is driven by their underlying intent and the different natures of the platforms. However, this tone of voice could still be worth testing within PPC ads to see if it helps brands stand out and connect.
That said, we need to bear in mind that consumers don’t think in terms of SEO, PPC, or social media when they are shopping for gifts. They move between these channels and expect a consistent tone in their interactions with a brand.
SEOs should look to broader consumer surveys to understand the role their channel can play to ensure that this consistency is achieved.
One such study from Astound Commerce asked, “Which of the following will most likely prompt you to visit a retailer online this holiday season?”
Consumers, who were prompted to select all of the responses that applied to them, revealed just how many factors can potentially come into play:
This is a complex set of interconnected communications, but there are a few clear takeaways for SEO. For example, promotions are a key driver of traffic, so we should add any relevant deals into on-page copy and meta tags.
Make sure your servers are ready
The SEO team at any retailer has important responsibilities on the technical side of things over the holidays.
If all goes to plan, there should be a significant surge in the number of visitors to the site over a short period of time, which can play havoc with servers. Downtime is particularly disastrous at this time of year, so take steps to prepare.
It is worth visiting the site’s error logs to see if there is anything you can fix in advance of the traffic increase, and make sure you have a dedicated point of contact on stand-by if any issues should arise over the holiday season.
Learn 10 SEO strategies to augment your holiday marketing campaign and boost your Black Friday sales.
The post 10 Big SEO Tips to Get More Sales on Black Friday by @krisjonescom appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
But according to?The NPD Group, many retailers could struggle to make the entire holiday shopping season a successful one compared to 2015. The firm, which collects and analyzes sales from?leading retailers that provide it with weekly point-of-sale data, says that the fifth week of the holiday shopping season “brought the customary post-Black Friday lull, along with deeper discounts and more abundant week-long deals than in the past.”
As NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen, explained, “Bigger discounts mean deeper holes to climb out of to match last year’s sales numbers.”
The NPD Group says that total dollar sales were down 5% this year in?fifth week of the holiday shopping season, which includes Cyber Monday. Only one merchandise category, athletic footwear, registered a gain compared to 2015, with dollar sales rising a modest 2%.
All told, total dollar sales are down 3% this year through the first five weeks of the season. That would seem to mirror data from the?U.S. Commerce Department, which says?retail sales disappointed in November.
The digital divide
The record-breaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales figures are evidence of the fact that?more and more of consumer purchasing activity is taking place through digital channels. But it’s important to remember that despite the growing importance of their websites and mobile apps,?many retailers still operate as?multi-channel businesses, so the online sales figures only tell part of the holiday shopping story.
Put simply, online retail is accounting for more of the pie, but the pie isn’t really growing.
While it looks questionable as to whether retailers will be able to turn the 2016 holiday shopping season into a true success, as CNBC has noted,?”six of the 10 busiest days still lie ahead” according to retail analytics firm ShopperTrak.
Some analysts predict that this year’s Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, has the potential to?produce more sales than Black Friday, and with cold weather blanketing much of the country, it would not be surprising if many of those sales take place?online instead of offline.
That might help online retail set yet another sales record this year, but even if it does, hefty discounting could still make it hard for retailers to catch up no matter where their sales take place.
Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the world of search marketing and beyond.
This week, we’ve got a special on stories about advertising and mobile, with a look at mobile ad viewability from our regular mobile columnist Andy Favell, and the news that Snapchat video ads are generating less than three seconds’ viewing time on average. Over on our sister site ClickZ, Tereza Litsa took a look at how neuroscience can activate brains in a mobile world.
And speaking of advertising, take our 10-minute survey to tell us how the events of 2016 affected your advertising spend, and you could win an iPad mini in time for Christmas!
What is mobile ad viewability, and why does it matter?
When advertisers pay for ads, they understandably want to make sure that the advertising will be seen by someone. So if an ad fails to display, is visible for barely any time or is triggered by a bot instead of a real person, the advertiser shouldn’t be charged for that impression.
Mobile expert Andy Favell delved into why this is even more of a headache on mobile than on desktop, and why mobile viewability is an issue on so many levels.
Snapchat video ads generate less than 3 seconds of view time on average
Snapchat has been a hot property in the marketing world for some time now, with brands racing to snap up (haha) the young and highly engaged audience that Snapchat gives them access to. Only, it turns out that this audience might not be engaging with ads much at all.
Al Roberts reported for Search Engine Watch this week on the news that Snapchat’s video ads are generating an average of less than three seconds’ view time. Can video ads, even ones which take up the entire screen and play with sound by default, generate any useful leads in under three seconds? As Al Roberts wrote:
If they ultimately don’t see lift and can’t trace action back to these ads, Snapchat, which is reportedly preparing to go public in 2017 at a valuation of $25 to $35 billion, could find that advertiser interest in its platform is as fleeting as the snaps that its users send.
2017 will be the year of machine learning, intelligent content and experience
Last week, we looked at the eight most important content marketing trends that marketers will need to pay attention to in 2017. This week, Jim Yu wrote for our sister site ClickZ about why 2017 will be the year of machine learning, intelligent content and experiences.
Jim took a close look at the role of machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence in understanding data, the importance of automation, and how we can balance machine learning and human capital in the digital ecosystem.
Why Black Friday won’t be going anywhere for a while
Every year, a debate springs up in the world of ecommerce and retail as to whether Black Friday is really worth it. Is the hype bigger than the revenue it brings in?
Well, Black Friday supporters can rejoice, because Robyn Croll reported for ClickZ this week on why Black Friday won’t be going anywhere for a while. Figures from the National Retail Federation have shown that Black Friday 2016 set a record for mobile sales – a total of $1.2 billion, up by 33% from last year. 154 million consumers shopped over the long holiday weekend, an increase of 3 million from last year. Overall spending was up, and Cyber Monday set a record for the biggest day in US ecommerce sales with a massive $3.45 billion in transactions.
In her article for ClickZ, Robyn Croll looked into what retailers learned from last year’s Black Friday shopping extravaganza, and how retailers and brands can still tweak their strategies in the run-up to Christmas.
How neuroscience can activate brains in a mobile world
ClickZ and Search Engine Watch contributor Tereza Litsa was at Integrated Live this week, and listened to Heather Andrew of Neuro-Insight explain how neuroscience can help increase engagement with mobile users. She wrote,
“It’s not easy to be effective with the ever-increasing mobile audience, but emotion along with memory can contribute to a more meaningful relationship between a brand and a target user.
As people become more attached to their smartphones, marketing needs to be adjusted to build trust between a brand and a consumer – and neuroscience can be helpful in this journey.”
Tereza broke down Andrew’s speech into five key takeaways, including how to make messages personalised and relevant to users; the importance of delivering emotional intensity; and why driving physical interaction with branded messages is useful.
Google has revealed the latest data on the impact of mobile shopping searches during Black Friday.
The post Mobile Shopping Searches Continue to Surge During Black Friday [DATA] by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.