#12DaysofStrategy: Making the Most Out of the Gifting Season

Christmas is the most important time for many online retailers, and securing a slice of the gifting pie is essential to achieving targets. Therefore it is vital that advertisers do everything they can to plan their digital gifting campaigns to perfection. This article will help you make the most out of your Paid Search strategy.

Remarketing

Ensure you have all your remarketing campaigns set up whether for Paid Search, Paid Social, or Programmatic Display. Make sure you are using all the audience lists you have available to capture users who have already shown an interest in your brand (Check out our post on How to Maximise Audience Data). By simply overlaying remarketing lists and increasing bids for those who have visited gifting pages on-site, advertisers can boost conversion rates by up to 10%.

Split Campaigns by Gender

There are clear gifting trends in December based on gender. We see that females tend to make their purchases earlier in the month whilst there is a definite spike in men’s purchases just a few days before Christmas. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, this reflects the different approaches to gifting for men and women. This should be reflected in an advertiser’s strategy by splitting gifting campaigns by gender and weighting bids for female consumers earlier in the month and men’s closer to Christmas.

Customer Match

An exciting feature released earlier this year, for Paid Search campaigns, enables users to create and target (or exclude) user lists by uploading customer email addresses. It is ideal for a successful gifting campaign as it creates the opportunity to show different promotions to loyalty card members or use CRM data to cross-sell gifting products. For example, if gender is included in your CRM you can target males that purchased female gifts (watches for example) last year and retarget them with offers for other products (e.g. jewellery) as they browse for what to buy their loved ones this year. This strategy can also be used across Paid Social campaigns.

Don’t Get Caught Out by Stock Availability

The best products sell out quickly and can leave a considerable cost for advertisers who are unprepared. You may notice a product that had been converting well has altogether stopped selling. You go in and check and see that it is out of stock and you pause the campaign. By this stage it is too late, you have already cost yourself money and time. Therefore, it is essential, (especially around Christmas) that you have an “out of stock” script running hourly across your product campaigns. You can set it up to check pages where products are no longer available and alert or even directly pause the keyword in question. This will help use budget efficiently so that you can pause activity on any sold out products, and prevent wasted spend.

Countdowns

Not everyone plans ahead and takes care of gifts for loved ones early so it’s important to highlight in ad copy the countdown to next or same day delivery, which can capture the last minute purchasers as well as creating an urgency to buy. Countdowns can improve CTR by 11% and are a given for a successful gifting campaign.

Ad Customizers

Multiple gifts for family and friends mean that bargains are essential for the majority of consumers. As such it is important you are conveying your best deals to customers. However, it can be difficult to keep on top of the ever-changing offers-not to mention the suffering quality scores for every ad copy change. What is the solution? Ad customizers!

With promotions laid out with start dates and end dates in the business data section in AdWords, add a simple dynamic reference in your chosen ad copy and you have ads that will change as (and when) your promotions do. You can even add countdowns into the end date to increase the urgency! The ad copy never needs to be altered, only the reference sheet and as such, your quality score is maintained even when the ad shown to users changes.  Show the best deals to the potential customer, install some urgency in them with a countdown and save yourself money by lowering those all-important CPCs.

Taking these insights into account should help put your gifting strategies in the best position to ensure maximum activity, and secure a portion of the festive feast on offer.

If you found these tips useful, check out our other posts including, How to Maximise Audience Data or check in on Thursday for our next post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How Social Media Strategies are Effected by Christmas.” We will be covering more topics throughout the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

#12DaysofStrategy: How to Maximise Audience Data

Maximising the value advertisers leverage from their audience data is one of the fundamental digital marketing principles marketers need to get right. However, this is often something that advertisers struggle with, but there are several types of audience data that advertisers have access to and can easily collect. Often referred to as first-party data, the data that advertisers own in relation to their own audience can be leveraged within digital marketing in a number of powerful ways, all of which can all ultimately contribute positively to a brand’s bottom line, throughout the Christmas shopping season, and beyond.

First-party data, data that advertisers own in relation to their own audience, can be leveraged in a number of powerful ways, all of which can all ultimately contribute positively to a brand’s bottom line, throughout the Christmas shopping season, and beyond.

First-Party Data Sources

  • Cookie Data – The most common audience data that advertisers can leverage within digital marketing is first-party cookie data. This can range from numeric data, indicating that a user has visited a certain page on your website right through to more detailed alpha-numeric data such as the Order ID of their purchase, and the value of their purchase. Advertisers can maximise this data by segmenting their audience into lists based on commonalities such as the pages they visited, or the value of their previous purchase. Tailored advertising messaging relevant to customer’s actions and behaviour on the website can then be served to deliver relevant advertising and an efficient customer experience.
  • Website Data – Other audience data that comes from a brand’s website, such as Google Analytics 360 data, can be used in combination with audience lists to further segment. By making ads more tailored and targeted advertisers will see a higher return on investment. For example, fusing bounce rates and site dwell time into the optimisation process when retargeting can often sift out poor converting traffic from first-party data.
  • CRM Data – Advertisers are increasingly taking advantage of their own CRM data. Often used in conjunction with cookie data, CRM on-boarders facilitate the fusing of these two data sources. The benefit here is that CRM data, such as e-mail addresses, can be used as an alternative to cookie data. Additionally, it can be used to cross reference against cookies, essentially cleansing the cookie data and making it more robust for prospecting new customers and retargeting existing customers. Furthermore, it allows advertisers to target specific customer segments such as repeat customers, loyal customers, or even lapsed customers.
  • Search Data – Search data from PPC campaigns is another valuable audience data source. Advertisers can use this data to understand the products a customer is searching for or to assess the level of purchase intent they have. It can be then be used to infer banner creative messaging and to create additional targeting segments for display.

If you found these tips useful check out other posts including, The Impact Christmas has on the Travel Industry or check in on Wednesday for our fifth post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How are Social Media Metrics Affected by Christmas.” We will be covering more topics throughout the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

#12DaysofStrategy: The Impact Christmas has on the Travel Industry

Most online retailers will be running sales from now until the end of New Year to make the most of the influx of consumer shopping and trying to hit year-end targets.

But what about the travel industry?

Air Travel search interest drops in October, November and December by 11%, 18% and 14% respectively compared to the yearly average. This lull is driven by the consumers’ shift in focus towards Christmas. For many consumers, it is not the time to be thinking about travelling when there are so many things to do and money is tight.

Thus, whilst most of the eCommerce world are running wild over the festive period, the air travel industry bides its time for a rush of their own. In January consumers begin looking for the next big event, namely the summer holidays. It is at this point right the way through to March where we see peaks in interest and ticket sales for international travel, particularly air travel.

However, this is only half the story!

Does domestic travel industry undergo the same post-Christmas metamorphosis?

According to Google, the search interest for train related keywords only differentiates by at most 18% above and below the yearly average compared to the 45% seen in airplanes, indicating that trains are far less seasonal than their winged cousins. Trains also don’t see a dramatic dip in the last quarter of the year as planes do.

From our internal data we are able to analyse the spikes of a specific train company. They see an onsite conversion rate of 5% in October and 7% in November above the average. Total site visitors were 8% higher during the final quarter compared to the average. Customer site visits to the website peak in the final quarter, with conversion rates correlating in October and November, but diverging in December.

Highlighting how site visits and conversion rate varies over the year compared to the average for one major train company.

There are two questions to pull from this:

Firstly, why do conversion rates peak in October and November for train travel?

The first thing to note is that train tickets can be bought online 12 Weeks prior to travel, which means that tickets for Christmas Eve become available on the 2nd of October. Anyone looking to plan their journey to see loved ones over the festive period is likely to carry out their booking in the two months before December when prices are increased.

Secondly, why is there a drop off in onsite conversion rate in December despite user numbers remaining elevated?

Booking within three weeks of your journey online does not give you the same monetary benefits as it does for those of us who are more frugal and book earlier. Thus, people tend to research online for train times but have less incentive to go through the online checkout process. According to the train company, this results in higher traffic but a drop off in conversions as more people purchase on the day at the stations.

What can we learn from these trends to help us optimise digital marketing for travel clients?

For those in the international travel market, the time to act is from January to March immediately after the holiday period. Push messages relating to getting away for the summer. Increasing digital ad spend during this time of year will be necessary if you want to stay competitive.

However, in the domestic travel market, consider focusing advertising spend in the months leading up to December when people are looking to plan their holiday trips back home. Christmas related messaging, and more aggressive bidding would enable you to take advantage of the pre-festive period.

Whilst the travel industry is affected in a wholly different way than much of the retail industry, it is certainly impacted dramatically. Digital advertisers need to understand the influence of Christmas on consumers’ mindsets towards different industries and act accordingly.

If you found these tips useful check out other posts including, Effective Messaging Timelines in the Run Up to Christmas or check in on Tuesday for our fourth post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How to Maximise Audience Use.” We will be covering more topics throughout the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

#12DaysofStrategy: Effective Messaging Timelines in the Run Up to Christmas

Now that the Black Friday week is over ad copy messaging is more relevant than ever, with the run up to Christmas being a key trading period for most retailers.

Ensuring messaging runs across all digital channels, such as Display and Paid Social, as well as offline such as print and storefronts, is crucial. It delivers a consistent message to consumers and reinforces brand recognition, especially when tied with a strong Christmas tagline.

Updating messaging as we move closer to Christmas helps to capture consumers at different stages of the buying cycle, from those still browsing in early December to the last-minute shoppers purchasing a few days before the holidays.

Early December

To show ads are current and relevant to the consumers shopping needs, include seasonal words in ad copy, such as Christmas or Boxing Day.

Bing’s 2015 Christmas analysis showed that including endorsements such as ‘As Seen on TV’ and ‘Recommended’ can have a strong impact. In addition, consider including payment options such as ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ or ‘Free Credit,’ if these options are available for big ticket items.

Alter messaging according to the keyword group or theme. For more generic gift keywords the call-to-action should be more focused on browsing the range of products available, as consumers searching using these terms may not have decided what they would like to buy. Emotional based ad copy is effective here and should be tailored towards the recipient.

Example: ‘Find The Perfect Gift For Mum This Christmas.’

Manufacturer or product keywords require a stronger call to action such as ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Buy Today.’ Those consumers search for a specific product are more likely to have done their planning and now know what they would like to buy.

Bid multipliers now allow advertisers to split campaigns out by device. This makes it possible to tailor messaging for those exclusively searching on mobile. For consumers on the move use messaging to encourage store visits such as ‘Come Into Your Nearest Store Today.’ Additionally, including the price of products in headlines (if price-competitive) will allow consumers to make easy price comparisons and ultimately decisions.

The Week Before Christmas

In the final week before Christmas, use ad copy to highlight the urgency of making a purchase. This will capture those last-minute shoppers.

Messaging should include the last guaranteed delivery dates, and considering creating a countdown script to automate the process. After the last delivery dates have passed, alter the messaging to ‘Click & Collect’ if this option is available and the date is later than for last delivery.

Use device-specific campaigns to target mobile consumers with messages such as, ‘Still Available in Store,’ after delivery dates have closed. This will help to drive those final sales.

If you found these tips useful check out our first post What to do After Black Friday or check in on Monday for our third post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How to Maximise Audience Use.” We will be covering more topics over the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

12 Days of Christmas Strategy: What to do After Black Friday

Black Friday may be over but it’s just the beginning of the holiday shopping season. For many online retailers, we are now at the peak of trading, which can make or break your year.

This blog kicks off our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ series. For the next 12 [business] days we will be providing some of our top digital tips, and answering some of the frequent questions we received from brands.

To get you started, we have outlined 3 things you need to think about in the run-up to Christmas now that we’re through Black Friday.

  • Don’t Treat Black Friday as an Exception

There is a lot of work and custom analysis that happens purely for Black Friday, such as, when should you push mobile, when’s the best time to push bids, and which audiences to use. This analysis should apply to all your peaks over the next 2 months, not just for Black Friday!

  • Expect to See Your Sales Phase Change

Consumers may not be using the cyber weekend to purchase additional goods but rather redistributing sales from the Christmas period. Don’t isolate your performance by month, look at the period as a whole to deem it a success otherwise, December could be severely under index.

  • Keep Your Customers Engaged

The Christmas shopping period is getting longer and longer, and consumers are now saturated with marketing messages starting in October, so you need to be different. Change your messaging to prevent creative fatigue and keep consumers engaged with your brand through the whole period.

These 3 tips just scratch the surface when it comes to assessing performance and your approach to the festive period. We will be covering more topics over our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

Black Friday Online Sales Performance 2016

There was a lot of talk before Black Friday suggesting that this season would not see nearly the same growth as it had in previous years. In fact, advertisers anticipated that in-store sales would take a massive hit as most people turned to the internet for the majority of their shopping. Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, we can accurately determine what success the massive shopping day actually received.

According to Sky News, “Black Friday failed to deliver a double-digit surge in online sales growth while high street shopping visits unexpectedly rose, according to industry figures.”

“Online purchases climbed by 6.7% compared to last year but this well short of a forecast for 25%, and was a big slowdown compared with a rise of 31% in 2015.

Footfall – a measure of shopper visits – was up by 2%, with high street growth at 2.8% beating retail park and shopping centre growth. Footfall was expected to decline by 5%.

We’ve taken a look at a sample base of our client activity and determined our own stats from the holiday.

Black Friday Performance

From the data collected, we found that (on average) Black Friday revenue was up by 13% year on year (YoY), with an 8% YoY increase for Cyber Monday.

black-friday-year-on-year-stats

  • Black Friday increased its dominance over Cyber Monday in terms of traffic, conversion rate and revenue:
    • Black Friday saw 251% more traffic, 384% more revenue, and a 152% higher conversion rate compared to the November average.
    • Cyber Monday only saw 172% more traffic, 190% more revenue, and a 114% higher conversion rate compared to the November average.

black-friday-vs-cyber-monday-performance

 

Breakdown By Device

black-friday-2016-device-breakdown

  • 55% of traffic on Black Friday was generated on mobile devices. This is up from 46% last year.
  • 38% of Black Friday Revenue was driven from mobile devices which is up from 31% last year.
  • Not surprisingly based on last year’s trends, revenue from desktop and tablet dropped by 4%  YoY.
  • Mobile and tablet traffic increased over the Saturday and Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

black-friday-2016-stats-by-day-and-device

Time of Day Performance by Device

Black Friday continues to show a daytime dominated trend with desktop and mobile revenue peaking before midday. Tablet, however, continues to perform best during the evening.

black-friday-revenue-by-time-of-dayblack-friday-time-of-day-performance

 

Performance by Country

  • Looking at the performance uplift in markets outside of the UK, US, and Canada which have traditionally performed well on Black Friday:
    • France saw the biggest uplift in traffic generating nearly 2.5x the November daily average.
    • Germany, Ireland, and the Nordic markets also saw significant uplifts in traffic.
    • Spain saw the highest uplift in revenue on Black Friday, generating nearly 7x the November daily average.

black-friday-performance-by-country

 

With Black Friday gone, Christmas is fast approaching. If you want to make sure your sales continue during the holiday period check out our “12 Day of Christmas Strategy” blog series for all the latest inside tips to achieve the best performance possible.

NMPi #1 Elite Media Agency!

We are thrilled to announce that NMPi has topped the Elite Media Agencies poll in this years Drum Digital Census.

The census evaluates agencies based on their achievements across financial performance and client satisfaction. We are honoured to be recognised not only for our growth over the past year, but more importantly by our clients who have supported us and believe in the work we deliver.

This couldn’t have been achieved without our clients as well as our talented staff, so thank you to everyone who has been a part of this great success.

Pouring the champaign and #celebrating.

A video posted by NMPi (@nmpi_digital) on

Managing Director, Luke Judge, expressed his excitement at the news, “This is a real testament to the excellent work done by the NMPi team. Over the next year we are going to continue to grow and push the limits in digital innovation. We will be better than ever, and will continue to maximise performance for our clients.”

What to Track this Holiday Season

Many retailers have already begun their Black Friday Sales, and more will join in the lead up to this Friday. But sales are not the only valuable thing that brands should be looking at during the largest sales period of the year.

Advertisers risk losing out on something almost as valuable as sales, customer data. It can be difficult to reach relevant shoppers during gifting periods, so tracking this holiday season’s information can be incredibly important to future holiday sales promotions. This data can be re-examined and re-used in next year’s campaigns. Here are a few easy ways to collect, and use your data wisely.

  1. Appropriate Tag Set Up – Tags are crucial to gathering consumer data and helping segment audiences (see next point). Focus tags on specific pages such as, the home page, product page, and basket page, to be able to reach consumers at the right stage of purchasing.  Bid higher for users on basket pages, as they are more likely to convert. Another tip is to create an onsite tag to collect customer information, as well as the addition of a field that reports if that page has a Black Friday deal.
  2. Building Audiences – Use data within your CRM to create an audience list of prior customers, with a focus on previous Black Friday shoppers. You can determine these users based on on-site tracking, and linking them to Black Friday keywords. A list like this will allow you to target users most likely to come to your site for Black Friday sales. Similarly, you can also build audiences from Facebook, and email lists. To make the most out of data, it can be applied to Programmatic Display retargeting campaigns.
  3. Google Analytics – Google Analytics gives advertisers the ability to capture in-depth consumer data. If you have not already done so, set up an account to track useful information such as time-of-day searches, trends, and site behaviours. You can then use this information to allocate next year’s budget.

If you keep these tips in mind, you can make your data work harder and build the foundation for a successful Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day season.

‘Miracle off Oxford Street’: The Shift from In-store to Online

Black Friday is kicking it up a notch with more shoppers than ever moving from out on the streets, to inside their homes, as online shopping is expected to skyrocket during the start of the holiday season.

The Brick-and-Mortar Decline

Retailer information specialist, Verdict, has predicted that retailers will see will see a sharp downturn in brick-and-mortar sales this Black Friday. This doesn’t seem to have many retailers sweating at the collar, even though it looks like the shop-shunning trend will continue this season.  Retailers will try and stem the loss of Christmas sales, and the mounting costs associated with Black Friday, such as additional staff, and an increase in operational requirements.

Even in the US, the birthplace of Black Friday, retailers such as Target have implemented a longer shopping period, rather than relying on a one-day frenzy. Target rolled out a 10-day shopping extravaganza entitled: “10 Days of Deals” that discounts certain product ranges over the course of the period.

UK retailers cited shopping fatigue, and administrative chaos as part of the reason some have turned their backs on Black Friday. They feel they have been forced to offer deep discounts for several weeks that practically give away items and cut into regular priced Christmas sales. Another point to consider is that while Americans have the day off after Thanksgiving, no such holiday exists in the UK, meaning in-store turn out is bound to be lower due to work.

The unmanageable influx of foot traffic, operational woes and skewing of traditional Christmas revenues have many UK retailers disillusioned with in-store Black Friday events. Sixty-one percent see the shopping day as an ‘unprofitable and unsustainable promotion.

The Online Shift

It sounds like doom and gloom, but for retailers who are still participating in the largest revenue generating day of the year, Black Friday will see growth in online shopping. This means retailers will really need to be on top of their online strategy.

For the reasons stated above, in addition to the increase in mobile and tablet purchases, we are expecting to see the majority of shopping happen online this holiday season. In order to maximise sales, retailers will need to prepare for a heavy influx of online traffic and have everything in place to avoid website crashes or slow loading times.

Consumers have shown a preference for online shopping; tired of battling the crowds for a limited number of products and returning home frustrated and empty handed. A few quick taps, and the product can be delivered or collected hassle free. Black Friday will continue this eCommerce trend and survive digitally in the UK, even if in-store sales slump. Retailers with a strong multi-channel strategy in place will reap the rewards of the growth in online shopping.

Black Friday: Last Minute Tech Tips

How do you prepare for Black Friday? What steps do you take to mitigate potential issues and prepare your clientele? At NMPi we’re ready to tackle the pending holiday madness with a few tech strategies to ensure a smooth, and successful holiday run.

Monitoring

Websites take a lot of strain on Black Friday so by monitoring heavy activity, it allows us to react in the unlikely event a client’s website is taken offline due to a large influx of traffic. If the client website goes down, all the campaigns are instantly paused, allowing the client not to lose any ad spend due to technical difficulties. We currently monitor site traffic every single minute, 24-7.

Google Analytics API

If you don’t have it already, we recommend getting access to, or asking your agency about, Google Analytics real-time API which allows us to get an accurate snapshot of the number of people on a client’s product page. At NMPi, our analysts are alerted if the number of visitors goes over a certain threshold allowing us to react during Black Friday to hot products and adjust bids accordingly.

Scripts

Script management is important during Black Friday and the following holiday shopping period. It enables campaigns to run more smoothly, automating activity where speed and accuracy are vital. We’re currently running several scripts that help keep us on top of activity during Black Friday- During this busy period, it’s a good idea to run scripts that detect 404 errors and broken links to ensure these pages are rectified before launching your Black Friday campaigns. Another good idea is to launch a script that monitors the landing page and watches for out-of-stock items so that you can pause your activity and conserve your client’s ad spend. Given the speed at which transactions occur on BlackFriday, we recommend running this script over the course of the entire day.

Black Friday is around the corner, with these tech adjustments, you can ensure a successful and smooth holiday campaign season.

Need help with your Black Friday and Holiday campaigns? Contact us