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preparing for peak: what do you need to consider this year?



The customer shopping experience is always evolving. Usually, the pace of this change is slower as trends emerge, develop and eventually take hold. 2020 has brought with it what feels like a decade worth of change in just a few months, giving consumer shopping behaviour a big shake up.

Results of a recent trends report highlighted the need for eCommerce merchants to “speed up their online efforts ahead of the festive eCommerce frenzy”. Everybody knows that preparation is key, but this sentiment has never rung truer than now. This year’s peak period is likely to be unlike anything we’ve experienced before.


It’s time to get your peak PPC campaigns prepared – your Q4 success begins now.

why is preparing for peak even more important this year?


Back in March, the UK saw the sudden closure of retail businesses which inevitably forced consumers away from bricks-and-mortar stores and online to meet their shopping needs. This has accelerated the growth of online shopping at a rate never seen before.


Not only did nearly 65 percent of UK consumers rely more on eCommerce stores for their shopping needs, 31 percent of UK consumers shopped online with brands they hadn’t before prior to coronavirus, and many people took the plunge and tried online shopping for the first time. This presents huge opportunities for brands to engage with a new online audience during this peak season.


Increased demand also means other businesses will be more aggressive in their techniques than ever before. In fact, compared to last year, 55 percent of retailers plan to invest more in their eCommerce websites and strategies. Now is your window to succeed and you need to be prepared if you want a shot at getting ahead of the competition. So, what do you need to consider?


speak to your paid media team


The digital world is has been navigating these challenging waters as brands look to flex and adapt to what their audience needs. Whether you’ve been working with a paid media partner for some time or you’re currently looking for an agency to support you, it’s important to lean on the experts.


A good agency will advise you to put preparations in place sooner rather than later. Speak to them about what channels would be best suited to your business, alongside your budget and goals. Whether it’s paid social, Google Shopping, PPC, display or an optimal blend, your strategy and the assets needed to support it will require some time to create.


analyse last year’s performance


To build a solid peak period strategy, it’s worthwhile analysing your performance from 2019 to give a steer on this year’s decisions. Take a look at which products sold well, which web pages were visited the most, which channels resonated best with your audience and expected traffic influx. It’s important to base decisions on data and insight rather than assumptions.


For example, you will often find that your homepage is not your most visited page but instead, your highest traffic driver may be a specific service or product category. Always driven by the data, we recommend diving into your Google Analytics account, analysing last year’s peak period to understand which your most popular landing pages are so these can be effectively optimised. This analysis can also be used to optimise your paid media campaigns and ad spend to increase sales potential.


It’s important to consider how last year’s data could have changed in line with the events of 2020 too. Your agency should be able to offer relevant industry insights around data and trends to help you in making beneficial decisions for your online store and peak campaigns.

what are your promotions?


It’s expected that shoppers will each spend approximately £512 on Christmas gifts this year, however, the vast majority will be looking out for online deals with 87 percent considering their finances more carefully due to COVID-19.


This change in shopping behaviour only strengthens the need to consider your promotions ahead of peak to ensure you strategy is as competitive as possible without impacting your profitability. Once you know what promotions you want to offer, you can begin considering how this will translate in other areas of your digital marketing such as your onsite messaging, ad copy, imagery and social media calendar to ensure a holistic approach is taken.


build your customer data

Now is the time to capitalise on the influx of website traffic by capturing data for future use. Why not encourage visitors to subscribe through a 10 percent discount? Using incentives to encourage conversions is a win-win for your brand. Not only can you enjoy increased conversions ahead of peak, but you can also use this data to build your email marketing list.


Target these people with relevant emails based on product interests on the lead up to peak. When the optimum time comes to set up remarketing campaigns, this data will be a valuable asset to implement high performing ads.

get a remarketing strategy in place


Buying behaviour tends to fluctuate even more on the build up to peak events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas. As a result, you will likely see a spike in your website traffic in the weeks leading up to them. These are the shoppers who are in ‘research phase’ or as we like to call them, ‘window shoppers’, who may be spending their time on the build up to peak researching what products they want to purchase from which brands. With these shoppers spending increased time online, more and more people will browse a website but may not be ready to make a purchase at that moment.

Remarketing ads can be used to target previous website visitors, encouraging them to return and convert with you. Subscribers and past visitors - particularly those who have previously converted or abandoned their basket - can be targeted through remarketing lists while bids can be increased for the most valuable customers to maximise conversions. Why not include an aggressive modifier too such as an exclusive promotion to help capture and reengage them?


Remarketing is usually cost-effective as you will already have a list of leads available to use. Targeting these individuals, purchase intent is often higher, and, with a lower CPC, your brand messaging can be directed to the right users at the right time when they are further down the conversion funnel.


don’t overlook your digital storefront


While driving traffic to your website is key, it’s equally as important to prepare your website for increased users, ensuring it can cope with the extra demand your paid media activity may create.


This heightened influx not only puts a strain on your website, slowing down your server, but it can also damage the user experience if not properly prepared for. We’ve collated some top considerations to get your website prepared for peak:

  • provide secure payment processes: With many new customers joining us in the online world this year, it’s even more important to instil trust with your online shoppers. Customers expect a recognised payment option such as PayPal or Klarna to ensure they feel confident making a purchase through your online store.

  • check your site speed: Faster sites encourage people to stay on site longer which often leads to more purchases. In research conducted by Google, it was found that decreasing mobile site load times by just one tenth of a second resulted in notable performance improvements. In particular, conversion rates went up by a whopping 8.4 percent for retail showing the power behind site speed. If your site is not able to handle the influx of traffic, you are at a much higher risk of users abandoning your website early in their purchase journey.

  • watch out for fraudulent behaviour: Understand the signs of a genuine customers and let them through your checkout. With more people than ever before shopping online, this year’s peak period could encounter increased fraudulent activity making it critical to protect your business and your customers. Monitoring and reacting to fraudulent issues such as multiple high value transactions going to the same address or 3D Secure not being filled in will help keep yourself protected from eCommerce fraud throughout the busy shopping period.


Considering and implementing these factors in advance not only ensures a better shopping experience for your users helping to increase long-term brand loyalty, but also ups the chances of increasing your revenue. These pointers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimising your website ahead of peak. If you think your online store would benefit from a helping hand on the run up to peak period, speak to our connected agencies Pinpoint and Statement.


We say it every year, but your peak success really does begin now. Leaving these considerations and preparations any longer will cause you to miss out on getting the most from what could be our busiest online peak period yet. Start speaking to your paid media agency, lean on the support of digital experts and understand what needs to be put in place.

We’ve collated a paid media peak checklist including all the factors you need to consider to help you maximise your eCommerce sales this peak period. We have experience implementing bespoke paid media strategies to boost online sales and ROI. To find out more about what we offer, visit our website or get in touch with one of our paid media experts.

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