The Ultimate Shopping Set Up

In his latest presentation, Head of Performance Max Flajsner joined industry experts to discuss Google Shopping and CSS. Following discussions of Max’s presentation looked at how you can take your Shopping campaigns to the next level, and how a CSS can help you along the way. 

Laying the Foundations

First things first, it’s important to get the basics right, as it’s not as easy to control Shopping or CSS as it is to control your PPC. With Shopping you’re not able to choose which keywords you’re bidding on, nor can you control what ad copy you show i.e. which product gets shown. As such you’re immensely reliant on the Google Shopping algorithm when it comes to which products are showing and on which terms. It’s important to note that Google values price in its algorithm, so how can you make sure your best seller is showing and not your old cheaper sale deadstock?

The solution here is twofold. First, ensure you’re getting granular with your bidding, and not bidding flat across a big product set. This gives you more control; allowing you to bid higher on those best-selling products to keep them front and centre while pulling back on sale items to maintain a higher ROI. Then, use negative keywords and campaign priority to create a tiering system to make sure you’re winning on your key terms. 

As we move into Q4, it’s even more crucial that you consistently review the splits of your data; which demographics, geographies and audiences are performing? If you’re using an automated bid strategy, does this account for seasonality? Max made reference to a presentation made earlier this year, where Alex Haynes highlighted the phenomenon of the “Pyjama Panic Buy”. Over Cyber Weekend, we tend to see ROAS peaking from 11 pm onwards each night, as users panic that deals won’t be available the next day and so purchase just in case they miss it. Ensuring that your bid strategy takes this into account will play a huge role in your success over this time period.  

Sharing Data

Businesses today have access to so much data, but its often housed in a number of different places. In order to truly drive optimum performance from Shopping campaigns, we need to connect those data sources. Search and Shopping campaigns output tonnes of useful search query data, which can then be pushed back into the feed to boost impression share. Plus, 99% of advertisers are wasting spend on low stock and low margin advertisers. All of this data should be available, so once again it’s a case of pushing it back into the shopping feed to guide your campaign decisions. 

This works both ways – once you’ve brought insights from other channels into your Shopping campaigns, you’ll need to use your Shopping data to fuel even wider decisions. Someone clicking through a Shopping ad for your best seller is worth more to us than the person clicking through your deadstock. With tools like SA360, you’re able to add dynamic parameters to every clickout based on how well the product performs. These audiences can then be used across all other channels. 

CSS can also give us lots of data on how products perform in a competitive environment. When you push that information back into the feed, it can help you to decide which creative to use on Display or Social. Finally, all those search queries driving performance in CSS should be shared with your other teams as well; for example, using the highest performing search queries to build custom intent audiences for Display.

Getting Creative

Sometimes, we as marketers can have an inflated sense of self-importance; believing it’s the little changes we made to a campaign that drove the big uplift in performance. In reality, this was likely caused by something that was completely out of our control. In short, we aren’t as in control of our campaign performance as we might like to think. 

There are ways to harness some of these outside forces though, which will help you to make the most of these unexpected uplifts. For example, sports brands would do well to incorporate Fantasy Football APIs and match schedules into their feeds and bidding strategies in order to make sure they’re pushing the right products at the right times. Garden Centres or plant stockists should factor in the seasonality of their products when deciding how to split the budget, while clothing retailers might want to consider the weather. 

There are lots of opportunities for retailers to make the most of CSS platforms, especially in time for the holiday season, but like any channel, you cannot run it in silo. The most successful strategies will incorporate not only information from other digital channels, but pull external data into the feed – The Ultimate Shopping Setup is one that is communicative, and creative. 

Navigating the Top Search Tips for Travel

The customer journey has always been a complicated beast, but none more so than the journey to booking a holiday. The early stages of the traveller’s journey are perhaps the most chaotic online, especially when it comes to their searches. “Cheapest flights”, “Should I go on holiday”, “What to do in Spain”, “holidays in Germany” – the variations in search terms alone are endless. Then consider that some consumers are spontaneous, while others are methodical with research often forming a much more integral part of their path to purchase (in the 45 days before booking, consumers visit an average of 38 travel sites). 

So, how can travel brands use search to ensure that they’re reaching all different types of travellers in a way which resonates with them?

Personalisation: More than just a Buzzword

As mentioned earlier, the way that people phrase travel-related search terms varies wildly. We cannot recommend enough that you ensure your ads are personalised to the queries that are being searched. Creating audience groups based on behaviour, rather than demographic information, will be far more successful for this industry. This will mean segmenting your price-conscious buyer from your spontaneous searcher, your curious adventure-seeker from the unsure user who’s just dipping their toe in the water. 

The personalisation efforts won’t stop there: each of these groups will require tailored content to make your brand relatable to these specific groups. Develop ad copy that suits their style – for example using up-to-date pricing information in your ads to your “price-conscious” demographic, or structuring your sitelinks to refer to the types of activity someone might be able to do while on holiday. Also consider the questions, thoughts and queries that might come up for each group and try to answer them within your copy. That kind of customer experience creates an impact.

Search ads including the cheapest flight prices on the sites

This particular tip comes with a caveat: only create as many audience groups as you have the capacity to manage. While having lots of highly granular audience groups naturally increases the likelihood of reaching the right person with the right messaging at the right time, it will be less effective if you cannot maintain it. 

Too Much Choice, Too Little Time

Travel brands would also be wise to take the not-uncommon phenomenon of choice paralysis into consideration. With the world literally at your fingertips, it isn’t surprising that many consumers get stuck when it comes to deciding the location of their next trip. 

Google Search Autocomplete for the term "Cheap Flights to"

Interestingly enough, in the early stages where choice paralysis is most likely to be a factor, it is the holiday experience on offer, rather than its price point, that is most likely to cement a decision. Calling out the particular experience a traveller might expect will help drive your conversion rates. Will they be living like a local? Is this the trip of a lifetime? Should they expect a relaxing week by the pool or 3 days of non-stop adrenaline? Adding these into your more general prospecting campaigns will allow you to reel in more engaged users; helping to boost your conversions and fuel your retargeting efforts. 

Where are the Searchers?

The importance of mobile, in general, cannot be overstated, but when it comes to travel plans there are several things to take into consideration. Trends have shown that while users are more than happy to conduct much of their (seemingly unending) research on mobile, they’re less comfortable converting on mobile. 

Blue passport and boarding pass

Holidays tend to be big-ticket items, and most, if not all, shoppers prefer to finish their purchase on desktop. Whether they just trust desktop more for their bank details or prefer the easy access to multiple tabs before they make their final decision, most consumers will complete their booking on a desktop.

With this information in mind, there’s a couple of things you can do to improve your conversion rates and drive sales. 

  1. First, you’ll want to bid up on research-related terms on mobile devices (like “best trips for couples”), and more certain, purchase-related searches on desktop (like “flights to Belfast International July”). This will help to reach searchers with the right message for their stage in the consumer journey.
  2. Secondly, ensure that there’s a seamless experience between mobile and desktop, allowing users to easily switch from their mobile research to their purchase on desktop and removing some of the friction in the path to purchase.

The Journey to Conversion

Customers have incredibly high expectations for their online experience, and this is no different when it comes to travel. We cannot stress enough the importance of understanding your customer, and the benefits this can bring.

By keeping these insights in mind, you’ll be able to develop a paid search strategy that makes you relatable to your audiences, and will drive more engaged users to your site. However, be mindful of your capabilities: don’t try and bite off more than you can chew – for fear of not being able to deliver on your goals.

NMPi Takes Home 5 Awards Including Grand Prix

It was another successful night for NMPi at the Effective Digital Marketing Awards, with the team taking home 5 awards for our work with Superdrug Online Doctor, Pets Best Insurance, and Liverpool FC.

Recognised across a range of disciplines and verticles, we took home the Most Effective Search Marketing Campaign for our work with Superdrug Online Doctor, and Pets Best Insurance was crowned the Most Effective Performance Marketing Campaign

The big winner of the night was our work with Liverpool FC, which won Most Effective Programmatic Campaign, Most Effective Retail & FMCG Campaign and the Grand Prix!

A huge thank you and congratulations goes out to the teams and our clients who have worked on these campaigns, and we look forward to bringing you even more good news in the coming weeks. 

Top Tips for Sleigh-in’ it this Christmas

With Cyber Weekend behind us and Christmas looming ever closer, these next few weeks are the most crucial for any advertiser. We asked the team at NMPi for their top tips to make the most of your campaigns and snap up those last minute sales.

 

“Use your audiences effectively! It might be easier to capture searches for “insert-brand Christmas sales”, it’s a tired approach that relies on consumers actively looking for you. While efficiently capturing searches for just “Christmas sales” is more difficult, it can often prove more profitable if done right. You’ll be able to pull wandering consumers back to your brand and drive additional revenue all the while.” – Josh B, Senior Account Executive.

 

“On social, there are a couple of things you can take advantage of. If your messaging is based on gifting, then make sure your creatives reflect this. For example, have your creatives feature people enjoying your products, rather than focusing on products themselves. Also, remember that some customers may only buy from you once a year – they might not be a part of your normal demographic but are buying a gift for someone who is. To be able to retarget them, you can leverage CRM lists to circumvent the 180 day limit on Facebook pixel audiences. This way, you can target people who might have fallen out of the normal targeting window or don’t match your interest-based targeting.” – Jack C, Performance Manager.

 

“Storytelling over this period, particularly on display, is always a winner. Plan your ad copy or creative so each user learns more about your brand each time they see your ad.” – Charlie K, Account Executive.

 

“Increase your Display spend at the beginning of the month to raise awareness of your offering early on. While it might be a little late for that now, you should also ensure that your last delivery date is called out in your messaging.” – Alice M, Senior Account Manager.

There’s not long left until the big day, but with these top tips you’ll be able to pick up some quick wins across the Yuletide seasons. If you want to get some external insights into how your campaigns are performing, take advantage of our Christmas gift this year: a full digital audit. Get in touch with the team to request yours today.

Best Practice: Product Launches

The launch of a  major product can often be a make or break moment for any company. Whether it’s the launch of an updated version of an existing product, or a brand new product or service altogether, launches can significantly alter a business’ competitive landscape.

Over the years, we have supported a number of brands with product launches, from new over-the-counter medicine, tickets to major new shows and releases of the latest high-end trainers and technology. In order to help you get the most out of your next launch, we have compiled our top tips for creating a successful paid search strategy.

Plan Ahead

Before your product is even on the shelves, you can hit the ground running with a “pre-order” campaign designed to raise awareness and help build up your audience lists. Send this early traffic to a dedicated pre-order landing page to find out more information.

For your launch campaign, keyword planning will be crucial in determining your success. Remember that users might not be searching for the exact product if it’s brand new, so you’ll want to think about other search terms that would be relevant. Generally, focus on brand match keywords for your initial launch to pick up new search terms.

In terms of audiences, be sure to leverage traffic from your pre-launch and early ads in order to engage them at a later date with more personalised messaging. Other audiences that are worth targeting are users who have visited pages related to similar products or those who have purchased a previous version in the past. Past purchasers are more likely to be brand loyal and will already be interested in the latest product.

Be mindful of any other above-the-line activity from the manufacturer or brand, as you can often sync this up with your digital advertising to great effect. For example, if a TV ad is running then you can set up scripts to sync your search activity with the TV times.

Understand the Competition

Competitors can be a great resource when planning your product launch. Review their ad copy and landing pages to see how you stack up. For example, if all of your competitors are offering the product at a particular price point, then where possible you should match this price.

As many will know, your work doesn’t stop once you’ve set your campaigns live. Competitor monitoring tools such as Google’s Auction Insights for search can be used to assess how the market has changed and who the largest players are in the market.

Be Reactive

If you’ve forecasted a large uplift in search volume before the launch, monitor your bids throughout the day to ensure that your ads remain in competitive positions. Search Ads 360 allows you to set up a bid strategy to maintain high positions for new keywords. Given that the majority of searches now take place on mobile and the screen size is a lot smaller, resulting in fewer ad placements, it’s even more important to ensure your bid multipliers will keep you in the top positions.

In the following weeks, you will need to continually monitor and optimise keyword bids and bid multipliers to ensure continued efficiency and stabilised performance. If you notice significant trends between devices or locations, it may be worth splitting out campaigns to have a greater control over your bids.

Find out how we ran a product launch that saw 49% of sales come from new customers in our Fitbit Blaze case study.  

NMPi Shortlisted in Marketing Week Masters Awards

Following the news of our award win at Effective Digital Marketing Awards last week, we’re very excited to be shortlisted in the Marketing Week Masters Awards! NMPi are up for Best Travel/Leisure/Transport for our East Midlands Trains campaign: “Winning Back The East Midlands From Trainline.com”.

Our work with East Midlands Trains has already picked up 3 awards so far this year. At the Drum Search Awards, we won Best Travel/Leisure/ Sports campaign, and we took home the gold for both Best Paid Search Campaign and Best Travel and Leisure Campaign at the Performance Marketing Awards.

Marketing Week Masters Awards are incredibly competitive and showcase the best of the best across different industry sectors and channels. It is an honour to have been shortlisted, and we look forward to the results on the 6th October.

#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!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Generating £1.1 Billion in Online Sales: Where Did We See the Real Performance?

Another year of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have hit Britain’s shores.  Amid speculation about a cooling towards the popular American shopping holiday, due to rowdy behaviour and chaos in retails stores, statistics seem to tell a different story. While shopping centre parking lots seemed to be empty on November 27th, the Internet was the real hero of the day seeing massive sales through the channel. Total online sales on Black Friday hit £1.1 billion up 3.6% from last year according to Experian.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to us that Black Friday has become heavily focused on online consumer purchases within the UK. Firstly, many consumers don’t want to deal with crowded shops, lack of parking and even risking the product not being in stock especially when many of the same deals are available online, and secondly unlike its American counterpart the UK’s Black Friday holiday falls on a normal working day.

NMPi takes a look at how our brands performed online over the Cyber Weekend, and where we really saw the spikes in performance.

Cyber Weekend

As expected, Black Friday generated the highest revenue throughout November, generating 370% more revenue than the month’s daily average.black-friday-cyber-monday-stats-revenue-2015

In spite of the increase in revenue on Black Friday, conversion rate actually peaked on Cyber Monday approximately 55% higher than November’s daily average. This was due to many retailers running promotions ending on Monday, increasing the pressure for the consumer to convert. However, we did see significantly higher traffic volumes and CTR on Black Friday.

black-friday-cyber-monday-conversion-rate-clicks-stats-2015

Overall, this made Cyber Monday the second highest revenue generating day in November with a 160% increase on the daily average. Followed closely behind by Sofa Sunday, the Sunday following Black Friday, which generated revenue 150% greater than the daily average in November.

Black Friday showed a significant year on year uplift – accounting for 12.5% of the total months revenue this year, compared to 9.5% last year. We can attribute this to greater awareness and more advertisers running Black Friday deals.

Mobile and Tablet

In November, mobile and tablet surged to account for 63% of online traffic and 50% of revenue over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.

cyber-weekend-2015-revenue by device stats

Mobile traffic on its own exceeded desktop traffic on Black Friday as well as every weekend throughout the month. This can be seen in the graph below:

november-online-traffic-by-device-2015

So, what do these stats mean for retailers?

  • If you haven’t already, optimise your website for mobile use. This can’t be said enough as according to a poll by Retail Systems Research only 26% of retailers worldwide had piloted or implemented a mobile responsive website though 43% say that they have budgeted or planned on implementing one. It can no longer be ignored as consumers take to their mobile devices to research and shop.
  • Have a full digital strategy in place that can track and attribute conversions across device and channel.
  • Make sure to use retargeting within your paid search, display and paid social activity. This allows advertisers to take full advantage of those who didn’t convert over the entire holiday period. It also gives them the opportunity to up-sell accessories for items they have purchased.
  • There are still several big shopping days left to the holiday season such as Green Monday. Take advantages of your digital learning from the Cyber Weekend, and make sure your campaigns are optimised accordingly. Check that your campaigns have enough budget and don’t forget to make bid adjustments.

The Top 6 PPC Developments of 2015

2015 has seen some incredibly useful advancements to paid search, and as we approach the end of the year we are going to countdown our top six developments in PPC advertising over the past eleven months.

6.) Cross-Device Measurement
While Google’s Estimated Cross Device Conversions have been available for some time in the Adwords interface, cross-device measurement as a topic in itself has become more and more prominent in the past few months because mobile’s increased share of traffic is rapidly closing in on desktop. We’ve seen more third party bid management platforms rolling this out to encourage advertisers to closely monitor the impact that their mobile activity is having in the lead up to Christmas and to ensure that are taking into account the uplift from users who are purely researching on their mobiles, but completing purchases on their desktop. The latter has not been sufficiently taken into account by advertisers who are still viewing conversion in silos, and on a last-click basis by device.

 

5.) Yahoo Gemini
Yahoo Gemini have released their latest display proposition, native advertising. It runs across Yahoo’s news and home page. This covert advertising format allows advertisers to embed their marketing message within surrounding content.

Mobile-Native-Ads-yahoo-gemini

This move has altered advertiser perceptions around Yahoo as Google has not yet capitalised on native advertising. In fact, Google hasn’t demonstrated an interest in native advertising making Yahoo ahead of the game. Unfortunately, the targeting capabilities currently aren’t very strong for this format of advertising, so direct response results are not expected to work well. However, it is a great way to expand reach and drive brand awareness. Keep an eye out for this format in 2016 as we expect it to grow in popularity and effectiveness as Yahoo increases its targeting capabilities and reach.

 

4.) BING Shopping

Google competitor, Bing, has introduced Bing Shopping Campaigns. It’s nearly identical to Google Shopping and works in much the same way, making it easy for advertisers to copy over Google campaigns to Bing.

Black-Dress-Bing-Shopping

This move could affect the number of people advertising using Bing, and it is likely to increase competition on the platform, if we see more advertisers rolling this out based on the strong performance currently on Google Shopping.

 

3.) Upgraded URLs
In July, Google rolled out Upgraded URLs, in order to create better usability of URL management. Previously, an advertiser’s destination URL would be made up of the landing page and the tracking appended to this. Therefore, any changes that needed to be made to tracking affected the whole URL. Post upgraded URLs, tracking information is now entered separately within Adwords and the landing page is now referred to as the final URL (the actual URL where your click traffic is taken to).

After the announcement of Google Upgraded URLs, Bing came out with their own solution announcing import updates to support Google. The new updates were an attempt to create a more “seamless and efficient” user experience for advertisers who import their campaigns from Google AdWords.

Upgraded URLs don’t have much of an impact on agencies using third party tracking/bid management platforms that automatically append tracking parameters, but can be extremely useful for those who don’t.

 

2.) Remarketing Lists for Paid Search
Continuing on the subject of audiences, Google also introduced Google Analytics Remarketing Lists for paid search. The lists can be used to determine user purchase behaviour, as well as previous browsing behaviour on site. Prior to this, remarketing lists were only available for display advertising on the Google Display Network. This advancement adds more depth to paid search remarketing initiatives by not limiting audience lists based purely on pages visited on a website. It enables audience building based on actions such as browsing behaviour, i.e., a customer who visited more than “X” number of pages on a site. We are now able to target these visitors with customised language relevant to their previous activity and position along the path to purchase.

 

1.) Customer Match
Adwords launched Customer Match this year, Google’s answer to custom audiences based on email targeting. Customer Match enables brands to layer email address targeting onto their campaigns. Agencies can now use client CRM databases (of more than 1,000 emails) to build bespoke lists, with information previously unavailable from standard remarketing lists, such as, what the customer bought, if they are a repeat customer, or if they are more likely to purchase during sale periods.

Google launched Customer Match - How it Works

In addition, Customer Match has a ‘similar audience’ functionality, which allows advertisers to reach potential prospects with similar profiles to their existing customer base in order to expand reach. Customer Match represents a fundamental change in the way Adwords allows us to reach the right audience.

 

These advancements in paid search are nothing to what we can expect to see in the upcoming year as  the industry continues to pursue  solutions to advertising and consumer challenges. 

paid search guide whitepaper free download

 

Bing Image Extensions Now Out of Beta

Example of Bing image extensionsBing’s image extensions are no longer in Beta and are available on its advertising platform for paid search across all markets. In 2013 Google attempted image extensions and decided to drop it at the Beta stage. Now Bing has picked up where Google left off to give its users the ability to show up to six images alongside their Paid Search ads, including other extensions.

Bing has made the process of adding image extensions easy by listing a step-by-step guide on their ad page:

  • Click Campaigns at the top of the page and click the Ad Extension tab. If not already selected, click Image Extensions.
  • Click Create ad extension and select the campaign you want to add the image extension to.
  • Click Create new image extension.
  • Enter the Name/Display Text, Description (optional), and Destination URL (optional) of the Image Extension.
  • To Select your images, you can Select an existing image or your brand logo or Upload new images. Click on the image(s) you want to appear in both Bing and MSN, and review the images in Selected images. You can also click on See how your images will look in an ad to get an idea of how your image may appear.
  • Click Save.

Edging Out the Competition
Image extensions set your ads apart from the competition by visually promoting your products and services. This helps increase brand awareness and customer engagement. They can also improve click through rates and make a great addition to a traditional text campaign. As an added bonus they allow merchants who don’t use shopping campaigns to use visual ads as Bing image extensions don’t require you to have a product feed.

Even if you do use shopping campaigns, we still recommend using these in addition to your regular campaigns for added visibility. For instance, if you don’t appear at the top page of your shopping campaigns, you run the risk of losing out on consumer engagement. Furthermore, by adding image extensions you have a greater chance of increasing your click through rate while displayed beside shopping campaigns.

Image extensions are a major benefit for industries that do not look to sell a specific retail product and wouldn’t benefit from shopping ads. For instance, if a user types in ‘trips to New York’, images can really help grab their attention. Industries such as travel, finance and services lacking tangible products, have the opportunity to display attention grabbing images similarly to shopping ads.

Definitely consider putting some test budget into image extensions. From our previous experience with Google’s image extensions in most cases CTR greatly increases however, make sure you keep an eye on your CPC value.