In a recent Google Partners hangout (originally aired on December 15th, 2016), the topic was “Investing In Your Evergreen eCommerce Strategy”. The last couple months of the year are a key time for retailers for the holiday season. However, there is work to be done throughout the year to prepare for this key time and there are different focus areas for each quarter of the year.
In the first quarter of the year, retailers should focus on remarketing to people who purchased at the end of the previous calendar year with the goal of turning them into a loyal customer. This is a good time to offer some incentives to get that repeat business and encourage them to not think of you only during the holidays. If email addresses were acquired from your buyers, use customer match to target those same users across ad types. Get them interested in other offerings from your business offers. For example, if a new customer bought a pair of running shoes, this is time to upsell to athletic clothes or cross-sell dress shoes to these customers.
In Q2, this is when you optimize, which may involve re-branding or a developing new website, because this can be a slower time for many retailers. Use data from last year for better decisions this year and plan early for that next busy season. Think about any upcoming development projects with your website, such as new landing pages and focus on mobile strategy, including mobile optimization and your mobile checkout process. Use some A/B testing to help determine where and when you may be losing traffic in your funnel so you can correct that before the holidays. If you don’t have great product images on your landing page, these need to be updated with quality photos. Customers view these pictures - especially those with a 360 view - to help them make a decision about their purchase. Your descriptions should also be thorough and include technical aspects of each product. It’s another way of optimizing to speak to your customers.
In Q3, you're now implementing this new structure and running new campaigns. You roll out your changes and build momentum leading up to the holidays. You collect data in your analytics and paid campaigns and continue optimizing based on that data. Although you have remarketing lists from the previous year, you may have made structural changes to your website or re-branded so you want to keep that in mind if you re-use old lists. Shopping cart abandonment is still a great segment to examine and utilize for new campaigns, especially if that’s something you’ve improved since the previous season.
And Q4 is when you scale to meet the demand. Increase your budget so you don’t risk missing potential customers with an increase in traffic. Definitely increase budget a couple weeks before you anticipate needing it so you can scale with the demand whenever it happens. Don’t wait for impressions to fall before increasing budget because that could mean missed sales. And start your holiday promotions earlier than you think you need them on AdWords so you can watch the trends with your visitors.
Throughout this process, you'll want to use tools such as the Keyword Planner. You can view search trends by seasonality and predicted volumes which will help with your planning for the upcoming holiday season. Keyword estimates may provide some ideas on areas where you can expand your targeting. And by viewing different bid and budget values, you can see the expected return in advance for clicks, CTR, and other valuable metrics which allows you to plan strategically.
Although the holidays are the key buying time, develop an ecommerce strategy that is best for your company and trends throughout the year. Plan website and mobile changes during the downtime. And use data received all year-round to drive your decisions and improve your return during the next holiday season.