Constantly changing consumer behaviors and the demand for more personalized, meaningful experiences have retailers facing huge challenges this year.
Competition in the SERPs is stiff, but winning the click is still no guarantee that the consumer is invested in your shopping experience.
More than half of retailers (source: Soasta.com) have a bounce rate greater than 40%, and just one second in increased page load time can have a 50% impact on your mobile bounce rate. Today’s consumer has zero patience for a poor online experience and will pull the trigger instantly if your brand can’t deliver.
The holidays provide plenty of opportunities to create more personalized content and provide smart content and intelligent experiences both in-store and online. How can you best get in position this holiday season to not only be found, but to engage and delight consumers all the way through, from search to checkout?
Below, I share some tips to help marketers in the coming weeks to get their SEO and content in shape for the holidays (and beyond).
Smart holiday shopping
The holiday shopping season provides a great opportunity for marketers to get smarter about the way they develop and promote content. As SEO and content marketing disciplines converge, the need for smart content has become mission critical. Smart content is discoverable, optimized from the point of creation, and ready to be activated across channels and devices, making it both profitable and measurable.
New research (disclosure – carried out by my company, BrightEdge) shows that ecommerce behavior changes dramatically on major shopping days Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On these days, conversion spikes. Interestingly, online conversion rates increase across desktop, tablet and mobile increase from Thanksgiving to Black Friday and into Cyber Monday. Going into the holiday season, it is good to know that:
- On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, conversion is double what it normally is
- Cyber Monday conversion is higher than Black Friday conversion by 10%
- Desktop takes 67% of overall conversions during the holiday season, with desktop traffic converting at a significantly higher rate than mobile visits.
When it comes down to making that final decision, consumers still like to see what they’re buying, and all of the information surrounding it, on a larger screen.
It is important to note though that our data suggests an earlier holiday shopping season, too, and that consumers were making their big purchase on Thanksgiving and then using discounts to buy things they would have purchased already but with big discounts. Hence the higher conversion rates for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Read the full report (ungated) for more findings from our research.
As you get ready for the holiday shopping season, make sure that you:
- Create content that meets your customers’ needs at various points in their journey
- Develop SMART content and engage audiences with plenty of content about upcoming deals and specials, holiday wish list must-haves and similar content published on your website or blog
- Ensure that your mobile configuration is correct
- Add images, icons, buttons and specific (seasonal offerings) calls-to-action as part of the experience
- Set up your mobile analytics so it reports key metrics separately from desktop data
- Maintain rank for your high value keywords by creating helpful, consultative evergreen content
- Double-check your SEO strategy to make sure your content is optimized for organic discovery. Start with these 5 aspects of technical SEO you can’t neglect
- Ensure that optimize desktop, mobile and tablet strategies and connect them along the buyers journey – from discover and engagement through to final purchase.
Maximize your organic presence throughout the holiday season
Schema markup helps you structure your on-page data in a way that it can be better understood by search engines. As we all know, Google’s #1 goal is to provide searchers the best answers to their needs. Schema helps you show Google all of the ways in which your site content is the best answer for relevant queries.
Schema can help you win extra visibility in the SERPs, too, with expanded results and extra features like Google’s Quick Answers box. It can help you add compelling content like ratings and other rich information that convince searchers to convert to site visitors. At the very least, check these off your list in your pre-holidays marketing prep:
- Optimize key pages for Quick Answers and mark up accordingly
- Mark up events you’re hosting in-store and online for inclusion in the Google Events SERP feature
- Use structured data markup to define business attributes including your NAP (name, address, phone), business type, hours, latitude and longitude, and more
- Make sure your product pages are marked up so reviews show in the SERPs. This is critical, as 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and 63% of shoppers are more likely to buy if there are product reviews (iPerceptions)
- Put the most important ecommerce attributes to work for you. Add pricing and availability to your rich snippets, to help consumers make a decision quickly and avoid in-store or online store disappointment after the click
- Check for common schema errors like typos or incorrect capitalization, and use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure you’ve implemented your markup correctly.
Supplement your SEO strategy and deliver a relevant holiday shopping experience
Your PPC and SEO budgets shouldn’t be pitted against one another during holiday season, each fighting it out for their share of the pie. Organic search drives 51 percent of all visits to B2B and B2C websites, and it is important to use PPC to support your SEO efforts; to fill in the gaps in organic coverage and further your conversion opportunities for specific time sensitive promotions.
Ad extensions can give your ads greater functionality and more visibility, while targeting options like dayparting and device targeting reduce waste and get you in front of your ideal audiences when it matters most. And remember, when it comes to site visits, desktop dominates on Cyber Monday, mobile on Black Friday, and tablets on Thanksgiving Day.
These insights can help you tailor your ads and bids to the most receptive audiences on each major shopping day this season. How else can you improve your PPC game in time for the holidays?
- Accelerate conversions and sales with targeted campaigns aligned with your content strategy or featured products
- Focus your organic search efforts on aligning with consumer intent, and use PPC to tap into queries that indicate imminent purchase behavior
- Take advantage of the second holiday shopping rush by advertising post-holiday sales over the holiday week, when many people are off work and traveling
- Use social PPC (Facebook and Twitter Ads) to get your ads in front of super granular, targeted audiences in the moments that matter most
- Make best use of each of the Bing Ads and Google AdWords features available to you, including targeting options and various ad formats that can help you stand out in the SERPs
- Deliver an optimal experience after the click by following through on the promise of ads with a seamless shopping experience.
Optimize for experience to improve conversion
Your number one priority in conversion optimization this holiday season has to be mapping your content to the customer journey, then aligning this to the days that matter most for revenue. It’s not all about Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday; Thanksgiving Day might actually be your best day for revenue generation.
Run through this checklist in the holidays lead-up to turn more of your lookers into buyers:
- Test and analyze your shopping cart and checkout experience via a mobile device
- Use your category pages to guide users, who are often undecided about the exact product they’ll purchase, towards your product pages and ultimately, a decision
- Address user uncertainty on-page by answering frequently asked questions where it actually matters: on category and product pages. Consumers won’t go digging for information on shipping, return policies, etc.
- Provide social proof by way of embedded reviews on product pages. Consumers want to see what types of experiences others are having with your brand and products before they’ll commit to purchase
- Examine conversion rates by page speed, and optimize for a more efficient shopping experience. Load only your best converting image on page load and use interaction triggers to add other items as needed.
The holiday shopping season provides great opportunities to create more personalized content and provide intelligent experiences both at the store and online.
To maximize performance, marketers need to focus on understanding and creating smart content and shopping experiences to attract, engage and convert customers at the right time and on the right device.