Over the last couple of years we have seen a change in consumer behaviour during the Christmas period.
Across many of our retail clients, we have traditionally seen offer based ad copies that promote sales or savings perform well throughout the year. This rather predictable trend was however not always carried through to Christmas. Seasonal messaging that focused on ‘finding the perfect present’ or ‘sparkling this Christmas’ often outperformed offer based ad copies; in one instance by 43%.
Last Christmas we started to see this seasonal messaging trend shift for some of our retail clients. ‘Christmas savings’ messaging generated higher CTRs and conversion rates than the seasonal based messaging. This echoes the trend that Google called out this year in their Christmas webinar. This highlighted the significant growth in search volume for the terms ‘Christmas offers’ and ‘Christmas deals’ in the last 2 years as shown below;
Now, as we enter the most important 6 weeks of the retail calendar, we have started to see this consumer reliance towards offers and deals develop one step further. Owing to a declining conversion rate YoY on a client’s homepage in the first month of Q4, we utilised our learnings from our ad copy tests and conducted a landing page split test. We wanted to test the hypothesis that directing traffic from their brand terms to an offers page, which emphasised the best promotions, would result in a positive uplift in conversion rate. This approach diverted visitors away from the traditionally high converting homepage.
This resulted in a 28% increase in conversion rate for the brand term and has since been rolled out to other non-product specific keywords.
It is always a risk for clients to cater for bargain hunters owing to the detrimental impact on AOV and potentially the brand reputation. However, with consumers now having easy access to competitor prices and with sales and voucher codes becoming an increasingly regular occurrence online, sales are no longer only a way to clear surplus stock. They are instead becoming a response to how customers are searching and purchasing online.
In response to this emerging trend, we are adopting three new strategies in the approach to Christmas to take advantage of the changing consumer mind-set:
1. Landing page split tests – We no longer assume that the homepage continues to be the highest converting landing page for brand terms.
2. Expanding ‘savings’ related keyword coverage – This enables advertisers to maintain share of voice and capitalize on this ever-increasing traffic.
3. Test value added offers – Promote differentiating features such as ‘elf-styled gift wrapping’ or ‘free express delivery’ to stand out in the SERPs.
In conclusion, with consumer search patterns changing each Christmas, our paid search strategy has to continue to develop through messaging tests, landing page optimisation and coverage of trending keywords. However, with consumers’ ability to compare prices so quickly online, brands and advertisers must concentrate on their differentiating features in the lead up to Christmas.
Moving away from the monetary savings and towards the sparkle of a hassle free Christmas may be the message for Christmases to come.