'Searching' For Gifts With Mobile: How Brands Can Win At Christmas

by: on 17 December 2015

By Ian O’Rourke, Founder and CEO of Adthena

"Mobile doesn’t necessarily mean your options are limited though. There is a huge amount that can be done to make sure your ads are targeted precisely at the right people. A whole range of features mean you can target people in specific locations, and at particular times."

It’s almost time - the advent calendar is half-empty, you’re already sick of supermarkets’ festive sandwiches, and you’ve heard Fairytale of New York one too many times. Yes, Christmas is nearly here, and if you’re a digital marketer working in the retail space, this is the time of year that really counts. After weathering all the storms of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which saw shoppers abandon the High Street in favour of online sales, Christmas is the final push. Consumers are keener than ever to track down bargains.

With huge volumes of sales and the potential for incredible profits over the festive season, the pressure on brands using paid search to get everything right is enormous. Every line of ad copy needs to be finely honed to draw in curious shoppers, every SERP needs to be carefully gamed and topped with your ads, and every landing page has to be designed with conversion in mind. But how can digital marketers best take advantage of the season?

Merry Mobiles

One of the big changes in paid search over the past few years has been the staggering growth of searches and shopping taking place on mobile devices. “Micro moments”, as they have been dubbed by Google, are at the forefront of a changing approach to shopping, as people look for immediate gratification. Window shopping has now become show-rooming, as people browse in bricks and mortar stores, while checking prices, and often buying, on their phones. It’s so common, that PayPal has even based its festive television adverts around the phenomenon.

Digital marketers must adapt to these trends, staying aware of the changing suite of options that Google AdWords offers to tailor ads for mobile. Marketers can also make sure their ads are already mobile-focused, using shorter headlines designed for the smaller space, and appealing to those micro moments of shopping impulse by using direct, immediate calls to action that take advantage of the now factor.

Mobile doesn’t necessarily mean your options are limited though. There is a huge amount that can be done to make sure your ads are targeted precisely at the right people. A whole range of features mean you can target people in specific locations, and at particular times. Add-ons mean you can show opening hours for stores or give numbers for people to place instant orders.

In addition, whilst the typical data consumption of mobile users rises each year, there is still the potential to use pictures to full effect, a key factor in helping push people to make instant purchases, especially in particular areas like fashion.

Christmas calculations

As well as preparing a comprehensive mobile strategy for paid search at Christmas, there are a number of other steps that need to be taken to ensure happy holidays.

Competitive intelligence data pulled from leading brands has shown the importance of bidding on important search terms not just in the few weeks in the run up to Christmas, when people are doing their last-minute gift buying, but in the months before as well. Research shows that key gains can be made by beginning your Christmas campaigns as early as possible - even kicking off in August, when cold weather and tinsel are far from your mind. People may complain about Christmas starting earlier and earlier each year, with supermarkets stocking crackers and mince pies before kids finish their summer holidays, but there’s a good reason for it - interest begins to scale up, and well-prepared brands can maximise on that involvement.

For instance, looking at data for major fragrance retailers in the run-up to Christmas 2014, we could see differing strategies from different businesses worked out. Fragrance Direct held the biggest share of voice on top perfume keywords throughout the year, presumably by consistently investing money in their bids each and every month. However, from October through the new year, The Fragrance Shop, which had previously been held only the third largest share of voice in the market, jumps up into contention, increasing its spend and targeting successful search terms. Meanwhile, the Perfume Shop, previously in second place, drops down to third, with a lack of spend and generic ad copy working against its success. With The Fragrance Shop choosing to invest at the time of year when the vast majority of fragrance sales happen, it’s an obvious recipe for a good return on investment, and they come up smelling of roses.

Tis the Sales Season

While Christmas preparation is paramount, don’t overlook the potential goldmine of the sales season afterwards. For example, when looking at competitive intelligence data around Christmas jumper terms, we saw ASOS as the dominant player in terms of share of voice, appearing most often for the search terms. However, rivals Next and New Look ramped up their own campaigns at the end of the year, beginning to capitalise on the uptick in popularity for the category. What is really interesting though is what happens after December - New Look’s share of voice leaps in January, as it pushes discounts and sales, taking advantage of a key part of the market that its competitors have clearly failed to take into account.

Christmas is a time of giving, and to succeed with paid search, brands need to give all their attention to how they build their campaigns. With long term strategies playing out over several months, a smart approach to optimising mobile, and not forgetting about sales season, they can capitalise on the shopping rush, and ensure they have a merry Christmas, and a happy new year.

By Ian O’Rourke, Founder and CEO of Adthena