2020 has been a year of many changes and one of the biggest shifts has been seen in shopper behavior – and the way business owners have adapted to meet the new demands of these new COVID-conscious customers.
So, as the holiday season begins, we want to share some insights on new shopper behaviors and what merchants can do to succeed. Also, some tips and tricks for our reseller/agency clients managing several ad accounts at scale via our proprietary platform adVantage.
New Shopping Behaviors
- Digital First – Even though stay-at-home guidelines have been eased in most places, shoppers continue to favor online shopping over in-store purchases. According to Google,
- 69% of US shoppers, including first time online buyers, plan to shop online for the holidays – a number much higher than it has been in years past.
- 73% of US holiday shoppers have told us they plan to shop online more for the holidays during COVID-19.
- 77% of US holiday shoppers say they intend to browse for gift ideas online, not in-store.
- Local Conscious – The pandemic has been especially hard on small and local business owners who first had to shutter their shops to comply with the stay-at-home orders and now are modifying their services to offer a more COVID-friendly shopping experience. However, these struggles and efforts have not gone unnoticed by local customers – Google found that 66% of US holiday shoppers want to shop more at local small businesses.
- The Joy Of New – US shoppers have utilized their time indoors to discover new brands and connect with them – Over 30% of US shoppers have purchased from new merchants during the course of this pandemic. And 70% said they are open to purchasing from new stores.
How Merchants Can Prepare For Success
- Seamless Online Experience – As per Google’s Retail Holiday Guide, search trends reveal a big shift in how customers expect to interact with brick-and-mortar stores. More and more purchase decisions are being made online, so much so that by the time customers interact with a storefront, they have already decided what they are going to buy. So, Local retailers should first and foremost focus on making sure they have a robust online presence and it is easy, for both seasoned online shoppers and those new to the online shopping landscape, to purchase the business’ products and services online.
- Mobile Optimized – There has been an increase in the number of customers who prefer to shop via their mobile devices. So, make sure your website is mobile optimized and easy to find – online ads targeted towards a mobile audience can help increase your business’ visibility. Also, utilize the surge in shopper spend via social channels by advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
- New Customer Friendly – The biggest benefit of increased online shopping interactions is the introduction of new customers to your business. Make sure that your website clearly explains all your offerings – the goal is to make new customers feel like they can trust your business. Use ad extensions to give new customers greater insight into your products and services even before they visit your website.
- Get Local – With the online shopping movement shifting more towards supporting local, it is important to show shoppers how your business is a part of the local community and why they should support you over big box retailers. Don’t forget to use location specific keywords and ad copy to draw in local customers.
- Be Easy to Find – If you have a brick & mortar storefront, be sure to utilize services such as Google My Business and Yelp to keep your existing and new customers updated on any changes in store hours, locations, etc. And list all the COVID-19 measures being taken by your business. Yelp ads can prove useful in putting your business at the top of the list for customers looking for products and services like yours.
- Be Flexible – To help customers deal with the holiday rush, while shopping online, offer services such as special store hours for at-risk groups and more delivery & pickup options.
- Offer Promotions & Offer Them Now – The reason most people wait for the holiday season to make big purchases is the promise of big discounts. So, be sure to plan promotions and start them ahead of time. Thus, giving new & return customers a reason to choose your business over the rest.
How Resellers & Agencies Can Help Their Advertisers Succeed
Here are our top tips and tricks for resellers and agencies managing their advertisers’ Search, Display, Remarking & Social campaigns via adVantage.
- Competitive Budgets – To make your advertisers stand out among a sea of merchants offering holiday promotions, it is important to set competitive budgets for their ad campaigns. Use our Estimator Tool to discuss the estimated ranges of expected clicks, based on sets of keywords, geo-targets & budgets, with your local merchants to show them the importance of aggressive budget allocations to online advertising during the holiday season.
- Use Ad Extensions – Leverage ad extensions such as structured snippets, sitelinks and callouts to promote holiday focussed products and services on your advertisers’ websites. Using ad extensions will also ensure the entrance of more qualified leads to your merchants’ webpages, thus increasing their conversion rates.
- Mobile First – To take advantage of the increase in mobile shopping, set higher bids for mobile devices using adVantage’s Device Bid Adjustment feature.
- A/B Test – Use adVantage’s Automated Responsive Search Ads feature to provision up to 43,680 different (Google) ad variations at once to test what messaging works best with the targeted customer base and then refine the ad copy accordingly.
- Relevant Ad Copy – Searches for “available near me” have grown over 100% globally year-over-year and for “curbside pickup” have grown over 3,000% globally year-over-year. So, it is important to ensure that your advertisers’ ad campaigns are relevant to the current times. You can do so by utilizing the ready-to-use COVID-19 specific ad copies and keywords from our taxonomy, adVisor.
- Location Location – Target customers looking to shop local by promoting in-stock items to people searching for similar products and services “near me”. Use Geomodifiers and advanced location targeting, in adVantage, to display your advertiser’s ads to only those people who are physically located in the specified area or have indicated an interest in that area.
- The Magic of Automation – Let our platform do what it does best, help you efficiently manage your advertisers’ ad campaigns at scale. Use our sophisticated bid & budget management algorithms to optimally manage ad spend and our agnostic bidding to automatically spend on ad networks (Google, Bing, Facebook) that offer the most bang for buck to your local merchants.
It is safe to say that during this holiday season, more purchase decisions will be made online, regardless of how they will be delivered – home delivery, BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store) or curbside pickup. Now more than ever advertisers cannot risk ignoring the need for an online presence and the power of online advertising.