As a digital agency specialising in providing brands with a return on their marketing investment, we pride ourselves on our ecommerce knowledge. That means being able to plan and prepare appropriately for seasonal sales peaks, spot trends in advance, and identify ways to grow your community.
Because online retail changes so rapidly, brands simply can’t afford to be complacent. Boxing Day 2012 saw record numbers of shoppers visit ecommerce sites; now that date has been surpassed by both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in terms of online sales. Fail to keep abreast of changing trends and consumer preferences, and your earnings will suffer.
Of course, as an agency, it’s also vital for us to be at the cutting edge of ecommerce. That’s why we attend events like Google’s recent Retail Excellence Day. Read on to find out some of the invaluable insights, trends and stats presented by the search engine giant’s experts…
The importance of planning
Think capitalising on the Christmas shopping market is all about launching a big campaign in November? That just won’t cut it.
A quarter of UK consumers now start their Christmas shopping before Halloween, and almost half have nearly finished by Cyber Monday. In response, an increasing number of retailers are starting their holiday campaigns earlier than ever.
Google has put together a handy workflow process for planning and launching a digital campaign in August. The key takeaway here is that if you haven’t finalised your budgets and Christmas strategy by the end of this month, you’re at serious risk of being left behind.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here to stay
Think we’ll have forgotten about them within a decade? Black Friday and Cyber Monday might have started in the US, but they’re just as relevant in the UK – and they’re not going anywhere.
Google’s research shows these two days are anything but a fleeting trend. Combined, Black Friday and Cyber Monday generated £3.3 billion of online sales in 2015, with spending over the two days clocking in at a staggering 259% higher than the average November day. Sales on the Friday were up 35% year on year, while Cyber Monday saw a 34% uplift.
Take a cursory glance at Google Trends data for the term “Black Friday”, and it’s immediately apparent that interest from the UK has rocketed over the past two years. As ever more consumers ditch the high street in favour of the convenience of online shopping, that’s only going to continue.
Timing is everything
Attracting online customers in a hugely competitive market is all about winning “micro-moments” in the buyer journey – moments that are driven by intent, such as “I want to know”, “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy”.
With every internet retailer looking for a slice of the action (particularly on days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday), it’s crucial to identify when your customers are online – and also understand the intent they’re displaying at that time.
According to Google, search terms peak at 12:04am on Black Friday as consumers rush to snap up the best discounts. From a campaign perspective, that means planning your paid media budgets accordingly to guarantee that you’re always on and not missing any opportunities.
For more on how to win those all-important micro-moments, take a look at our Content Campaign Manager Karen Clough’s blog “An Introduction to the Buyer Journey for e-Commerce”.
Don’t forget about your loyal customers
Everyone understands the importance of customer acquisition. Without bringing new customers to your site and encouraging them to purchase, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll see your business grow.
While it’s possible to build a small but successful ecommerce business off the back of virality by appealing to a niche audience and offering a distinctive product, those acquisition costs will climb exponentially as the business expands further. Sadly, you can’t simply rely on word of mouth to deliver that growth – you need channels of acquisition that are within your direct control.
That being said, obsessing over new customers can mean overlooking your previous buyers. This is a mistake given that loyal previous customers have a 30% higher transaction value. If your PPC and social ad campaigns are all heavily focused on generating a new audience and offering them generous discounts, don’t be surprised if your existing customers begin to look elsewhere.
Search is the start of the buyer journey
To be in with a chance of winning a customer, you’ve first got to be part of what Google describes as the “consideration set”. That means you need to be in a position to capture paid and organic search traffic at the earliest points of the buyer journey, then influence the eventual purchasing decision.
To do that, you need to understand consumer behaviour. Google reports that proximity searches (such as “clothes shops near me”) have doubled year on year, as shoppers are increasingly doing their research online before making a transaction in-store. Again, Google Trends demonstrates how consumer interest in these searches has rocketed over the past decade:
Likewise, the share of online purchases from mobile has climbed to 26%, illustrating that a growing number of consumers are prepared to buy while on the move (or otherwise away from their desktop). Google Shopping is playing a major part in this, with the number of Shopping ads reaching mobile shoppers climbing by 150% from 2014 to 2015.
With big retailers ploughing huge sums into their digital marketing and innovative start-ups looking to carve out a niche for themselves, competition in ecommerce has never been fiercer. But with the right planning in place and a strong understanding of the people you’re targeting (as well as the intent behind their searches), you’ll be in the best position to grow your ecommerce business and truly capitalise on the peak festive season.
Of course, if you need a little help with your peak planning, we’re here for you! Leave us a comment below, or get in touch with us here.