Is your online strategy ready for the shopping season?

Nov 27th, 2014

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Christmas, New Year… the season of big spending is upon us and it’s the most important time of year for online and offline retailers alike.

As such, refining your search marketing strategy during the festive season is important for encouraging your website visitors to buy from you, rather than your competitors. Follow these four steps to a fruitful search marketing strategy…

1. A mobile optimised website

To sidestep the hustle and bustle of the high street, many shoppers choose to flit between mobile devices, tablets, desktops and laptops to bag a bargain and box off their Christmas shopping during this time of year. In response, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimised for all mobile devices. 2013 was dubbed ‘the year of the mobile’ and December 2013 saw twice as much revenue generated through mobile devices compared to the same period in 2012. Statistics reveal that the rise in mobile-generated revenue isn’t limited to one sector; the IMRG Sales Index reports a consistent upsurge in online retail performance on mobile devices across most sectors, including a 17% increase within the clothing industry and a solid surge of 18% in the electrical goods sector.

Alongside the increase in sales from mobile devices, lies the increasing demand for a responsive website design. An e-commerce site that has been well-optimised for mobile technology will include a navigation bar that’s as clear and easy-to-use as it is on a computer screen; visible calls to action that demand to be clicked on; and text that fits the width of a mobile device’s display. Your website visitors should be able to view all content without the need to scroll around the page. Additionally, your website should have a responsive theme to maximise your traffic. A website that hasn’t been optimised for mobile devices won’t show up in mobile search engine results pages and, with such a large portion of traffic being driven from mobile devices, this could seriously hinder your website’s success during this busy shopping period.

2. Mobile optimised e-shots

Throughout the build-up to the most notable days in the retail calendar, build hype around your campaigns by sending targeted e-shots to your audience. With many of your prospects and customers reading emails on mobile devices, it’s as important to ensure you use mobile optimised email templates as it is to create a mobile optimised website.

In fact, participants in a Forrester survey state that on average, 28% of their brand’s emails are opened on a smartphone and a further 16% of emails are opened using tablet devices. This highlights the demand for email templates to be optimised for mobile devices, just as websites should be. Large businesses have identified the demand for mobile friendly email templates and are currently leading the way in optimising their templates. Indeed, Forrester’s study revealed that around 65% of large businesses already optimise their campaigns by device, while 64% of small to medium businesses tend to run the same   marketing campaigns across desktop, smartphone and tablet devices.

3. Cut ‘abandoned basket’ rates with retargeting ads

As shoppers flit between your website and your competitors’ sites to compare prices during the cash-splashing season, there’s an increased chance that they will abandon their baskets on your site. An abandoned basket refers to when a user adds an item to their virtual basket on your e-commerce site, but doesn’t go ahead and purchase the item within a specified time frame. So, how do you convert that website visitor into a customer?

A retargeting campaign allows you to ‘follow’ that website visitor across the web with targeted ads based upon the product(s) they’ve shown interest in, enticing them to click back onto your website and proceed to purchase. According to IMRG, retail companies lose around 58% of sales through baskets that have been forgotten about. However, the same report reveals that retargeting ads are likely to convert those abandoned baskets into sales. Set up a retargeting ad campaign for your website this shopping season to discourage your prospects from forgetting about your brand and purchasing from your competitors instead.

4. Get social

Social media plays a productive role in telling, developing and spreading your brand’s story to capture customers’ attention – and wallets – with the aim of growing sales both in-store and online. This is an effective strategy to continually build, but can be particularly effective during the festive period and Black Friday sales. If you have built a rapport with users and they can trust your brand, it’s likely they will be more interested in what you have to offer when they reach the buying phase of the sales funnel.

While the main social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn – are great for reaching out to your customers, don’t forget to build your online presence on image-centric networks such as Pinterest, too. These are great platforms for showcasing new or discounted products to your customers and prospects and encouraging shares.

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