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how to increase your eCommerce peak sales with paid media

Once a one-day shopping event, Black Friday has now evolved into a fortnight-long occasion with sales reported to ramp up a week before the official event date. Our resident Shopping and PPC expert, Matt Patterson, has collated his top tips for maximising your paid media efforts during the build-up to this year’s peak season. To make preparation for peak eCommerce easier for you, we’ve created a handy downloadable checklist.

budgets and bids

increase your budget

Search volume significantly increases during the festive season. Technology today enables shoppers to research around the clock and, with retailers sharing Black Friday deals earlier and earlier, users are inevitably beginning their research earlier too. According to Think with Google, mobile searches containing ‘Black Friday’ has increased by 80% over the past two years, while non-branded searches around Black Friday begin to increase in early November.

These include phrases such as ‘Black Friday furniture sale’ and ‘Black Friday technology deals’. As search volumes increase, eCommerce businesses are presented with massive opportunity. Increasing your budget ensures you can capitalise on heightened user intent. However, you shouldn’t just throw money at your campaigns. Instead, make sure your budget is high enough to accommodate the influx in traffic but not unrealistically high to avoid wasted budget. We recommend reviewing how much budget was spent in previous holiday seasons and how much you are spending now to calculate this year’s budget. When your budget has been decided, don’t waste it on bidding on generic terms such as ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Cyber Monday’, focus your bids on more profitable keywords. Additionally, set up campaign alerts to avoid missing opportunities that could arise due to your budget constraints. These alerts will notify you of any issues so you can act swiftly.

maximise your ad campaigns for mobile bids

During the 2018 peak season, mobile devices generated 68 percent of retail site traffic, highlighting the importance of optimising your campaigns for mobile users. Remember, mobile screens are considerably smaller than desktop so CTAs must be effectively and efficiently communicated through engaging visuals and impressionable words.

review your data

Data is important at any time of year, but it holds even higher value during the busy peak shopping season. Review and utilise your demographic and location data, this can be fed into automated bidding to successfully maximise your efforts. For example, if many of your conversions are based in London, the holiday season presents a worthwhile opportunity to drive your ad campaigns to this location.

use smart bidding

If you are looking to focus your ad strategy on target CPA or return on ad spend, the move should be made from manual bidding to smart bidding campaigns. It’s important to remember that smart bidding campaigns need to through the learning mode before they gain momentum. As they take a little time, we recommend setting them up well in advance of Black Friday.

Timing is also key to campaign success. Setting up automated rules to activate and pause your ads at specific times of the day ensures your budget is being spent effectively, while helping to increase conversions.

ad copy and imagery

consider your design and copy

Your campaign design and copy should ideally be created and approved in late October. This gives you time to set up campaigns in advance of their launch, with room to make amends and improvements if necessary. When creating the design and copy, it’s essential to align with your website or landing page as not to risk confusing the user journey. We also recommend running a split test, factoring a countdown into one of your designs, to build a sense of urgency and encourage conversions.

use promotional extensions

Promotional extensions can be implemented to highlight special offers within your ads. These extensions make your offers stand out and make great deals easier to spot. Make sure phrases such as ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ are mentioned. Both of these events are classed amongst the ‘occasions’ you can run promotion extensions for, meaning they won’t cut into your valuable word count.

boost your credibility

According to Google, ratings can increase CTR by an average of 17 percent, highlighting the importance of ensuring your reviews and seller ratings at this peak time. Extensions and feedback plug-ins such as Trust Pilot and Feefo should be reviewed and integrated across your website landing pages to boost user trust. The Independent reported that 55 percent of Brits are likely to spend more money on an online store which has ‘excellent’ reviews or star ratings.

know your audience

gain insights on your audience

When it comes to optimising your ads, knowledge is power. The more you know about your audience, the better equipped you’ll be to target them effectively. In 2018, over 54 percent of Brits were reported to take part in Black Friday, highlighting the mass of data this event creates. Use Google Trends and their keyword planner to target your audience. By really getting to know who your audience is, you can prepare your store, offers, campaigns and shipping processes to maximise potential.

use remarketing

Retarget past visitors and customers through remarketing lists, focusing efforts on basket abandoners and previous converters who are more likely to have high purchase intent. Historical data can also help maximise this. Reviewing your customers, you can see who purchased high value products during Black Friday last year, giving them the opportunity to access the sale earlier or offer exclusive discounts to entice them. This not only rewards their loyalty creating a more memorable experience with your brand, but it also increases the likeliness of them converting with you.

shopping and feed management

optimise your shopping feed

Businesses don’t always recognise the importance of supporting their advertising efforts with feed optimisation, often underestimating the amount of work involved in ensuring it’s accurate. Failure to consider this can prevent campaigns reaching their full potential, resulting in missed opportunities. There’s no better time to optimise your shopping feed than in the build up to peak.

Give yourself plenty of time to troubleshoot issues to Google, this will avoid delays in your campaigns running. Additionally, ensure you have as many products available as possible by fixing outstanding disapprovals and eliminate the risk of any new disapprovals being added to your shopping feed. This can be done by following Google’s best practice. For example, your product titles shouldn’t include promotions such as ‘Buy our handbag and you will receive a free gift’ and your images should be clean with no overlays.

improve your product descriptions

Increasing the detail in your product descriptions could significantly help boost your campaign’s performance. To do this effectively, you should focus on the density of relevant keywords within the brand, category and style categories while also ensuring each product has a unique description which fully represents its attributes.

implement google ads smart shopping campaigns

Running Google Ads smart shopping campaigns alongside your regular shopping campaigns can increase your conversion value, on average, by 30% (Google Data, Jan 2018 - May 2019). However, it’s important to remember that for the same products or group of products ad campaigns, Google will always prioritise Smart Shopping Ads over standard Shopping and display remarketing campaigns.

set up merchant promotions

Merchant promotions should be created well in advance of your campaigns going live as Google can be slow at approving these, particularly during the peak season when demand increases. It’s also important to note that a request will need to be submitted to Google to be whitelisted before you can begin setting these up. These promotion IDs are a vital part of the holiday season, easily showing shoppers your product promotions alongside your Shopping Ads.

optimise your webpage experience

ensure your tracking is working

In advance of launching your campaigns, ensure your website tracking is set up and working correctly. This allows you to measure and monitor the success of your campaigns with no hiccups along the way. Additionally, don’t forget to test your transaction code tracking before your campaign is launched. Ensure it is set up for both macro (transaction) and micro (form sign-ups) goals.

ensure your digital storefront is prepared

As you’re aware, it’s important to ensure your paid search campaigns are optimised for peak. However, it’s equally as important that you don’t overlook your digital storefront to ensure your website can accommodate the surge in traffic.

This influx not only puts a strain on how your website performs, slowing down your server and generating bottlenecks, but it can also damage your sales too. Preparing your website for peak involves a range of considerations including site speed, optimising for mobile, providing secure payment processes and monitoring fraudulent activity to name a handful. If your eCommerce store would benefit from a helping hand on the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reach out to our connected Magento agency, Pinpoint.

don’t overcomplicate the user journey

During the peak period, shoppers can be overwhelmed and distracted by the sheer number of offers available. You should make the effort to minimise the number of touch points to arrive at your product pages within as few clicks as possible. The ease of checkout should also be considered.

Did you know, the global average rate of cart abandonment is 76 percent? Making this stage of the buying journey as streamlined and simple as possible encourages conversions, preventing shoppers from becoming frustrated with their online experience.

monitor, analyse and optimise

The peak shopping period doesn’t end when your preparation is complete. It’s crucial to continuously monitor, analyse and optimise your campaign efforts in order to see the best results. Gather insights from Google Analytics and any other real-time tracking tools your business uses. If you are using smart bidding, remember to exclude the learning period when evaluating performance and results.

Always be prepared to make last-minute changes. If there are any unexpected increases or decreases in performance for a specific product or campaign, you need to be able to act quickly and adjust accordingly. Our Shopping expert, Matt, reinforced the importance of setting up your campaigns effectively and giving them time to start performing:

"A key piece of advice: once everything has been set up and your campaign has launched… don’t panic. Even if it looks like your campaign isn’t working, you may just need to give it some more time. These optimisation tips will work, but you need to give the campaign chance before you start to see results and reap the rewards." - Matt Patterson, Senior Technical Account Manager (Shopping), equation

The peak period can be the most rewarding and stressful time of the year for businesses. As consumers have a high incentive to purchase during these much-anticipated shopping events, it’s important to capitalise upon the intent. Prepare as early as possible to ensure your eCommerce store can cope with increased demand.

Download our paid media checklist to make sure your eCommerce business is ready for this peak period. Reach out to our team of Shopping and PPC experts at equation, we can help you effectively prepare your paid media activity for peak.