Tag Archives: Retailers

Search Marketing for Retailers: Media Levers

Nobody wants to be marketed to. In fact, society is developing workarounds to avoid unwanted marketing interruptions almost as quickly as markets are finding new ways to interrupt consumers. However, unlike television commercials, street teams of guerilla marketers or even radio advertising discretely delivered by your favorite on-air personalities, search marketing is designed to reach consumers who actually want to be reached.

The challenge for retailers is to deliver the right message to the right consumers at the right time. In order to meet these objectives, retailers must start thinking like the consumer.

IgnitionOne works with many high profile retail clients whose primary KPI is to increase ROI. While our algorithmic optimization team can quickly deliver a lift in performance using our Proprietary Portfolio Optimization strategy, there are many levers you can pull on the media side to amplify this effect.

1. Audit Your Account & Ensure Quality Keyword Coverage

Bigger is almost never better. While building out long-tail & obscure keyword coverage may provide incremental value, it is important to pause or remove keywords with a negative ROI over the long term. If your keyword set alone cannot spend your budget, consider expanding your account with new tactics, such as mobile or remarketing for search, which will increase your spend and potentially your profit margin too.

2. Restructure Your Account To Match The Granularity Of Your Website

For retail clients, your search structure must match the granularity of your website. This will allow you to deliver very targeted ads and landing pages at the ad group level. When the site structure changes or the client is running a product-specific promotion, both landing pages and promo ads can easily be updated.

3. Dominate the page

I cannot express how valuable real estate is on the search engine results page. You should strive to maximize your brand’s presence using some or all of the following tactics:

  • Start a Google + page.
  • Run sitelinks (enhanced sitelinks are even better).
  • Manage your Google Places account.
  • Enable location or call extensions when applicable (particularly on mobile channels).
  • If you manage two complimentary brands, consider bidding the primary brand into first position and the secondary brand into second position. You will only pay once for the click but will garner free impression share for the secondary brand.
  • Consider running Paid Listing Ads (make sure they are semantically optimized; consumers do not want to read through product SKUs).
  • Try Remarketing for Search on non-brand terms only. These ads will target users who have already visited your site, which means they have a high propensity to convert.

4. Go Mobile

Consider the searches you conduct on your mobile device and your desired results. Most often, you are looking for quick answers with the intent of taking immediate action.

  • Differentiate your ad copy. With the rollout of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns, you can set mobile-preferred ad copy and landing pages. Use this to your advantage and deliver text ads specifically targeted to mobile users with location and/or call extensions enabled. If you do not have a mobile optimized site, consider opting into the “Phone Only” option.
  • Keep in mind that mobile ads only make sense in top positions. Mobile users rarely scroll to the second page, so be sure to review device-specific analytics to ensure mobile is profitable for you.

Now that you have fully optimized your search account, start Googling! You heard me right. Though it may sting a little to pay for your own click, online marketers need to experience their ads from the consumers’ point of view, and the best way to do that is to get out from behind your database and follow your own carefully crafted path to conversion.

What Retailers Can Expect With New Sales Tax Implementation across the US

With many states facing large deficits and less monetary support from the Federal Government, they are now turning to the next frontier of income growth: e-commerce sales tax.  This has been a long debated topic, so it is not a huge surprise that the state and retailers have come to terms with this. So with these changes, what can we expect to happen in the e-commerce industry?

There has been trepidation that e-retailers could see a drop in conversions due to charging consumers sales tax, however, according to research there is no reason to expect a change in consumer behavior. A study by comScore shows the value of shopping online:

  • Comparison shopping- without ever having to leave the room, consumers are able to hit multiple retailers to find the best price on the same product or supplementary products.
  • Daily specials- More and more consumers are subscribing to emails of their favorite brands to “shop” the specials. Even recently we have seen e-retailers make a business model out of the daily special.
  • Mobile Advantages- Exclusive apps that provide value through the convenience of shopping any time of day from (almost) anywhere in the world

Nowhere is there mention of not paying sales tax as a value of shopping online, inferring that sales tax has little to no influence on online shoppers.

How will sales tax affect comparison shopping?  No matter which e-retailer the consumer purchases from, there will always be a sales tax incurred (pending that they live in a state that mandates a sales tax).  Implications to comparison shopping are annulled as the actual price of the product will still dictate the e- consumer’s decision, not the sales tax.

In comScore’s “Online Shopping Customer Experience Survey,” the survey concludes the top reasons that people abandon their digital shopping cart:

  • They were not ready to purchase, but wanted to know the total cost.
  • They were not ready to purchase, but wanted to save the cart for later.
  • Shipping costs were more than expected.
  • Order value was not large enough to get free shipping.
  • Shipping and handling costs listed too late.

While during the time of the survey, taxes were not an issue, we do find that hidden costs can be a detriment to proceeding to purchase. However, one must think that most e-consumers are aware of their state’s sales tax mandate; so the effect of a surprise cost at the end of the purchase will be minimal, if it occurs at all.

This sales tax may cause higher fixed costs for the e-retailers in order to manage charging the consumers, however, in the short run, it is expected that this cost will not be filtered into the marginal cost of the products and should not drive up consumer price.  This sentiment in addition to the sales tax savings not mentioned as a reason why consumers shop online and the minimal surprise that the e- consumer will be charged the sales tax, will not have a large implication on the e-consumers shopping behavior.

In the long run, we may see prices of e-retailers increase if the cost of managing sales tax across states becomes onerous. If the e-retailer is also brick and mortar, we would expect the price of the goods in the B&M to rise to the same level as the e-commerce store, in order to stabilize prices between the two.  In this instance, we would not see a shift of e-consumers turning into B&M consumers.

E-retailers that are also B&M have incentive to filter more sales through the website as the amount of fixed costs of running the e-commerce store is much less than the B&M.  These types of retailers also have more incentive to keep e-commerce inventory prices equal as many people use online as a comparison shopping tool. In the event of any of these scenarios, it is unlikely that there will be a shift from e-commerce to B&M.

In light of the sales tax being mandated by more and more states, e-retailers should focus even more so on their core capabilities or value proposition. For example, if you’re an e-retailer that’s largest value is selling affordable work out gear, make sure that you are strongly conveying that message to all current and potential consumers.  This message should be apparent across all media touch points that a retailer has with their consumers. As long as consumers still feel the e-retailers value is greater than the marginal cost of the sales tax plus the purchase price, the consumer will not abandon their purchase based on having to pay a sales tax.