Come this holiday season, retailers will be competing more than ever for their share of a far more limited buying pool. The winners will be the ones who shout the loudest about their products at precisely the time buyers need them. Here are eight tips for capturing your share of the market, while leaving your competitors silent and invisible:
1. Do your research. Tap into data-rich sources to get historical perspective on your industry and products. Your search engine marketing vendor most likely can analyze search engines to get an understanding of online costs for your category from the previous year. Or, web analytics vendors may show top industry category keywords and your competitors’ top site traffic keywords.
2. Know your online buying trends from October through January. This goes beyond Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Know which days are browsing days, too. It may be prudent to change your campaigns to accommodate browsing as opposed to buying.
3. Get realistic with goals. Not every retailer in the same category is competing with the same budget, so adjust accordingly. Also, budgets may change with expected cost-per-click inflation during the holiday season, so you may need to be more creative to compensate for less budget spending.
4. Consider all insight. Have you compared your organic rankings versus paid? Can organic or paid be used to help lift the other? What are your trends with site traffic? Where are your opportunities? There are many ways to more efficiently use SEM and cut down on wasteful spending, so think outside of your campaign.
5. It’s all in the timing. Matching your search execution to your promotional calendar is vital. But another simple piece of comparison homework to do is count the number of shopping days in the season this year versus last year. December 2008, for example, had four full weekends, while December 2007 had five. This helps you establish realistic expectations and to allocate budget appropriately. Consider shipping dates as well, which could differ for product type or category.
6. Give your customers a good landing. Always send customers to targeted landing pages. Also, in some cases of cross-selling, use a category landing page rather than a product-specific landing page, becasue category landing pages provide customers with more than just the item they originally desired.
7. Get technical. Data details are what make or break your SEM campaign. Paying attention to the granularity of your results and opportunities makes all the difference. Gain access to "share of voice" and "lost impression share" reports from search engine representatives. Analyze these reports, and make adjustments as you go.
8. Plan to spend quickly when opportunity knocks. They say opportunity doesn’t wait. And never does it unveil itself — and disappear — quicker than online. Set up your SEM to leverage timely opportunities by planning ahead on payments to search engines. This arrangement can help you quickly access more of a budget when you need to or jump on an opportunity that presents itself quickly. Credit limits and rules differ for each search engine; and plan ahead for each one.