ecommerce

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Listening To Its Users

If you are becoming increasingly wary of voice activated in-home devices, then you aren’t alone. The uncertainty around how much the speakers are hearing and where that information goes has become a major privacy concern. Speaker listening when not prompted in light of the recent leak of confidential data security policies has many wondering what is being recorded, saved and heard by real people. 

Google’s product manager for search did in fact confirm these suspicions were rooted in truth but not for reasons many feared. However, the explanation for such practices was positioned as a way to help the user experience. Google insists conversations are reviewed by language experts in order to advance search query technology and advance product capabilities and speech recognition. The audio snippets used for these purposes are not associated with a user account and conversations not directed at Google should not be transcribed.

However, the concern that the devices could be “listening” to conversations when not being directly prompted or engaged in what Google calls a “false accept,” increases questions around the company’s practices These can be heard without any action from the users but still may be reviewed as part of the desire for product and voice recognition advancement.

While Google claims just 0.2 percent of all audio snippets are being accessed by language reviewers, there’s no way to confirm the validity nor if there are any user actions being inadvertently taken to prompt the recording.

As the industry continues to face mounting privacy and data monetization concerns, the confirmation that voice data is not being used strictly for AI but can be accessible to a live human may increase the wariness. Questions remain about that data then being leaked or used for malicious purposes with little to no trail leading back to the culprits.

Technological advances are creating increasing conveniences but at what cost remains unknown. Companies are recognizing the mounting dissent and are faced with trying to find ways to increase user’s trust. Confidence in a brand’s integrity is becoming paramount.

https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/google-is-absolutely-listening-to-your-conversations-it-just-confirms-why-people-dont-trust-big-tech.html

Prime Week for Retail

The 2019 Amazon Prime Day sales figures are still uncertain but are predicted to have surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. With shoppers eager to snatch up deals at discount prices, the effect of the sale on retail as a whole is becoming apparent. No longer are the low prices exclusive Amazon. Instead, companies are embracing the hype for their own sales in an attempt to ride the momentum. According to Adobe Analytics, retailers with over $1 billion in annual revenue saw their own spike in sales on day one of Amazon Prime Day of up to 64%, compared to an average Monday. Proving the Amazon effect extends much further than the platform itself.

As the online event continues to gain popularity as a staple for summer shopping, other companies are leveraging the sale to promote exclusive savings of their own. Many of their offers extend longer than just two days in an effort to capture those eager buyers throughout the remainder of the week. Overall, visits to online retailers as a whole accounted for a 66% lift in revenue so far this week. With RetailMeNot reporting 35% of competing brands using clever marketing to play off Amazon’s messaging such as “Prime Savings” or “Prime Deals,” the impact of the strategy seems to be benefiting retailers across the board.

While competition continues to increase for what is now one of the biggest sales of the year, it appears Amazon’s reach combined with two day shipping continue to lift the company above the rest. However, as brands continue to refine their approach, it will be interesting to see who gives Amazon the best run for their money.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/heres-how-the-first-24-hours-of-prime-day-shook-out/

Facebook Guides Advertisers Through The Holidays

Media companies are increasing their arsenal of planning tools to help advertisers strategize and reach consumers more effectively. With the biggest shopping time of the year quickly approaching, this week Facebook released several tools that highlights trends, past insights, and tricks for gaining an edge on the holiday market.

The announcement included the release of an insights tool which is a compilation of previous year’s finding on how people shop and types of ads that drove purchases. The tool is an incredibly helpful aid for planning holiday marketing strategies. While it’s only July, marketers should already be reviewing their plans and budgets for the holiday season. Leveraging this data can assist in creating a campaign structure that is both impactful and cost effective for ad dollars.

In addition, a 2019 Holiday Marketing Guide was also unveiled. The guide walks through the consumer journey and how shoppers can be nurtured along the way to complete a purchase. Facebook also highlights its reach and influence throughout the process. The 63 page marketing planning tool covers through everything from important dates, in-depth analysis about how people shop, and step-by-step instructions on how and when to strategize as well as what’s needed at each phase. 

The goal of providing such resources is to help marketers which in turn, helps Facebook’s bottom line. Many other big tech platforms realize distributing this information comes with huge benefits for everyone. While Facebook did a similar guide in previous years, Snapchat released their own guide which walks advertisers through key events, including holidays on a much higher level as an assistance to marketers. The insights are incredibly valuable and are sure to help brands across platforms.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-launches-new-holiday-season-insights-guide-to-assist-in-campaign-p/558982/

5 Must-Know Marketing Tips for Advertising on Amazon

The "Amazon effect" sums up Amazon's massive success and disruption of the ecommerce industry. As of 2018, the online giant amassed around 50 percent of the total e-commerce sales in the country and earned a 250 percent increase in third-quarter advertising revenue. But there's still good news for companies concerned with remaining competitive: You can utilize the Amazon site to market your products and gain brand recognition.

In the past few years, brands have moved toward advertising on Amazon. Recent studies suggest more than half of the brands surveyed plan to increase their Amazon ad spend while shifting their ad budgets away from Google and Facebook. Here are five essential tips for marketers who want to stand out from competitors while leveraging "the Amazon effect" for their businesses.

Choose the Right Advertising Format

There are several formats you can choose. To be successful, select the one that best meets your marketing goals. If you're unsure, experiment to find the best format. Options include:

 ●       Amazon Sponsored: Best for promoting a specific item and sending traffic to a product page for fast results, these ads are typically displayed at the top, middle, or bottom of search results and on individual product pages.

●       Sponsored Brands: These pay-per-click ads are best for increasing customer loyalty and brand recognition. They appear in the headline banner on the search results page to direct consumers to your preferred landing page.

●       Amazon Product Display: Effective in increasing product visibility during the last step of a consumer's buying process, these ads are interest- or product-targeted to help consumers choose between similar products offered by multiple sellers.

●       Video Ads: Best for reaching a large audience and building brand recognition, video ads appear on various sites and devices owned by Amazon, including the website, Fire TV, and IMDb.

 Create Clear, Succinct, Persuasive Product Pages

The purpose of your Amazon ads is to get consumers to visit your product pages. Those pages are what move people down the funnel, transforming browsers into customers. Choose your most popular products and those that are competitively priced and in stock. Make sure you have accurate, descriptive titles that contain your keywords whenever possible and include useful product information and high-quality images to entice buyers.

Use the Right Mix of Keywords

Most of Amazon's PPC advertising formats use keywords to help with targeting. Use match types to create a combination of broad, exact, and phrase keywords to extend your reach and get your ads in front of buyers most likely to make a purchase.

●       Broad keywords cast a wide net. For example, if your keyword is "handbag," your ads could appear in a variety of searches, including "leather handbag," "black handbag," and "formal handbag."

●       Keyword phrases can change the context of consumer searches. For example, "copper salad bowl" indicates you sell salad bowls. "Salad copper bowl" indicates you sell copper bowls, not just copper salad bowls.

●       Exact keywords are restrictive and require consumers to search for that exact keyword, with no words before or after.

Tip: Use automatic keyword targeting so the system targets the most relevant keywords for your ads. Also, use the reporting tool to keep an eye on ad performance.

Flag Keywords That Aren't Producing Results

Much like how marketers could block negative keywords with Google's AdWords, you can also flag keywords that don't lead to conversions as well as negative keywords that prevent your ads from showing up in front of the wrong people. For example, if you sell handbags but not luggage, you could add "luggage" as a negative keyword so only users looking for handbags will see your ads.

You can download search term reports to find out which keyword searches led to consumers seeing your ads. That also gives you valuable information about the keywords that aren't working, allowing you to flag them and move on with optimized keywords.

Get Familiar with Amazon's A9

Amazon uses complex algorithms to decide when and where products show up in search results. A9 is the powerhouse behind the search box. It decides the product recommendations to make, based on data from previous queries made by shoppers. A9 looks at everything from product titles and descriptions to listing conversion rates to seller feedback. Around 70 percent of shoppers never move beyond the first page of results, which is why you need to understand how it works to optimize accordingly.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Big Tech Could Be Required To Reveal Your Data 

With ongoing scrutiny of how big tech handles user’s data, specifically Google and Facebook, new legislation was introduced this week which could require companies to face more transparency than ever. The task? To reveal specifically what personal data is collected from users, how it’s used and what it’s worth as it pertains to advertising.

The proposed Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, would require companies with over 100 million monthly active users to file an annual report assigning value with user data collected. The act would also require full disclosure with third party partnerships who benefited from this information for financial gain. As part of the pending regulations, the SEC would be responsible for developing the methodology for calculating value to data obtained that all companies would have to adhere. 

While people around the globe access free services like Facebook and Google around the clock, most fail to realize that these companies cannot operate for free and use advertising to make a profit. While this may seem obvious, what they don’t understand is how these companies then leverage profile and behavioral data to help marketers narrow in on their target audience. The Dashboard Act also proposes users would receive their own report, potentially impacting online behavior and willingness to supply personal information.

As users are becoming increasingly aware of lack of privacy online, the bill would be an additional step to protect their personal information while increasing the bar for some of the largest data based advertising companies.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/new-united-states-legislation-would-require-internet-giants-to-disclose-the-value-of-user-data

Amazon Prime the Target of Competing Sales

With Amazon Prime Day quickly approaching, what started out as Amazon’s day to shine, has quickly become one of the most competitive shopping times of the year among e-tailers. Due to the overwhelming success of the annual event, over 250+ online retailers are expected to offer comparable sales July 15th and 16th in direct competition. According to a recently released study by RetailMeNot, Amazon Prime Day sales are the official kick-off for fall shopping, including purchases for back-to-school making it a critical time for retailers to capitalize on the excitement. The desire to get a piece of the action is well warranted based on last year’s sale beating out both Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

Target, in particular, has taken direct aim at the retail giant in its promotional push to encourage shopping during “Target Deal Days.” The event is being promoted for the same days as the Amazon Prime sale, in hopes of cashing in on the massive audience. The press release announcing the event goes so far as to address its sale has “no membership required” to shop and save on thousands of products, a not so subtle reference at Amazon’s membership requirement to receive the extended discounts. In addition, Target is offering the additional 5% discount offered to Target Redcard carriers along with multiple delivery and pick-up options, including same-day delivery.

There’s no doubt the playing field has changed for retailers in July. With over $4 billion dollars in revenue at stake based on Amazon’s sales in 2018, the competition is sure to heat up. In order to be part of the game, marketers need to be proactive, strategic and creative. The good news for shoppers, retailers are clamoring for your dollars which could result in record savings.

https://www.retaildive.com/news/target-aims-at-amazon-as-it-preps-for-another-prime-day-melee/557686/

Instagram Moving To A Shift In Focus

This week, Instagram publicly addressed the negative effects of the platform’s likes and how it hopes to implement changes to the experience. In what has been an ongoing conversation since April, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, acknowledged the company is considering various changes including removing public access to the likes a post receives. The brand has not solidified a solution, but they are experimenting with ideas.The goal is to remove aspects that contribute to online bullying and narcissism, both of which can be detrimental to mental health and create a larger focus on community.

Instagram is also looking at other ways to make the site more focused on people connecting rather than competing. Another suggested idea is the implementation of warning notifications on comments deemed harmful or offensive. The alert would not restrict the comment from being sent, but would instead be an additional layer to remind users to be more mindful of what they are posting.

While nothing has officially been decided, the company is very aware of the impact the social platform has offline for users. Acknowledging the problem and working to create a solution, despite  the possible initial impact to the bottom line, could in the end, increase platform usage and engagement in a more positive and less competitive space.

https://www.cnet.com/news/instagram-boss-adam-mosseri-says-likes-might-go-private/














Preparing Your Brand For Amazon Prime Day

The details of this year’s Amazon Prime Day still remain a mystery but one thing is for certain, it’s never too early for brands to start preparing for one of the biggest shopping days of the year.  With 75% of Americans relying on Amazon for product and brand discovery, and nearly 60% of shoppers spending time weekly to browse product availability, exposure during this sale can boost revenue and create lasting customer loyalty.  

Many businesses are already selling on Amazon, but being ill prepared for this event can have negative long-term effects. The following steps will help set your brand up for prime success in the countdown for this year’s Amazon Prime Day.

Optimize Your Strategy

The Amazon shopping experience is centered around search. Ranking high in the results will allow more customers to find your products, increasing sales.  Amazon’s search algorithm has more condensed ranking signals than found on Google or Bing. It’s important to understand the differences and refine your campaign structure in advance, including formatting keywords and creating copy that converts.  While this is always true on Amazon, it’s essential on Prime Day when users are searching for the best products and deals in a hurry.

Prepare bid adjustment strategies in advance.  As with the holiday shopping season, the influx in search traffic will influence bid costs. Increase click and daily budgets to offset higher costs ahead of time. Being at the top of the results will result in increased visibility and drive sales.

Focus on all the details of your products. Take time to review product information pages from imagery to copy. Shoppers are visual and rely heavily on photos for decision making. Make sure the main image follows Amazon’s guidelines but also utilize the additional image options to highlight product features and show real life use scenarios. Description copy should be accurate, concise and easily digestible. Consumers want the information readily accessible so they can review and make their purchasing decisions quickly.

While all this sounds good, some brand product catalogs are too large to examine every page and this can seem like a daunting task. In this case, it’s important to make smart decisions to best utilize your time and effort. Focus on best selling and highest revenue products first and work from there. Users are likely leveraging the sale to get those coveted items at a discount. Capitalize on this information and use this as your starting point.

Promote Your Presence

The tight time frame for consumers to find and purchase items makes it paramount your promotional strategies are prepared and tested in advance. Test copy leading up to the sale for the best results and conversion drivers. There isn’t time during the sale to make adjustments. It must be clear, concise and appealing.

Utilize additional coupon options that can be applied at checkout. The additional discount can be the decision maker for shoppers looking for the best deal. This also fosters a better customer experience, which encourages customers to shop your store again.

Don’t limit yourself only to Amazon. Market your presence for Prime Day at all opportunities. In the weeks leading up to the event, engage with loyal customers and new prospects to increase anticipation of sales opportunities and tease discounted products. You should focus your efforts on appealing to your social channel following, emailing your  customer base, and leveraging programmatic ads across platforms.

Prepare Your Operations For Increased Orders

Increased Prime Day sales are great, but if your back-end operations aren’t prepared, it could be a logistical nightmare.  Stock your inventory in preparation for higher than average sales, particularly best selling items. If your business utilizes Fulfillment by Amazon, it’s important to check their stock as well.  With over 100 million products projected to be purchased during the event, you don’t want to be unprepared.

Make sure all systems are ready for order processing and payment at high levels. Delayed orders or inaccessible customer service could impact the shopping experience, leaving a lasting effect and impacting customer loyalty. Double check these areas in advance, so that there are no surprises.

Continue The Message

Once you’ve survived Amazon Prime Day 2019, maximize the increased exposure. Continue the momentum from the sale to nurture shopper’s customer loyalty and brand awareness.  Follow up with shoppers on their experience while also encouraging them to register for additional communication, including sales and promotion emails, product releases or reminders for next year’s sale. This information can then be used to create ongoing personalized messaging and customer profiling.

Use the sales event data to your advantage. You now have a wealth of information about which products are most popular. Continue your marketing efforts, highlighting these items and those that are complementary to boost checkout revenue. If you overstocked for the event, use this information to sell off the additional inventory.

Finally, analyze the results to prepare for next year. Review your approach against the results and adjust accordingly. This will help not only your next Prime Day experience, but also how you go-to-market for the holidays and other big sales events.

As online shoppers continue to gravitate toward Amazon for their retail shopping needs, brand marketers must meet them on their journey. Taking extra steps to prepare your business for Amazon Prime Day can benefit your business all year.  

Insta-Game Changer

Today Instagram announced the long awaited confirmation of the beta rollout of Checkout on Instagram. There’s been rumbling in the industry for months about Instagram’s desire to push in-app ecommerce sales and it’s finally becoming a reality.  A select list of top brand partners will now allow users to shop right in the app. This tactic is a win for everyone involved and has been much sought after.  Providing in-app checkout is a great way for brands to encourage shopping with the ability to customize content based on user profiles. It also allows Instagram users to keep scrolling longer, eliminating the need to leave the platform for additional product information or purchases.  But most importantly, it provides a more personalized experience for the users while simplifying the shopping experience.

So how does it work?  The new checkout option will be an extension of the existing shopping tags already in place and will now include a “Checkout on Instagram” button in the post,  allowing for purchase completion within the platform. User information will be securely stored on Instagram to make future purchases for any participating brands that much easier.  Although this is only being extended to select brands while in beta, it’s definitely a play to become more competitive in the ecommerce space while leveraging the growing audience already in place.

The continued push for social ecommerce has the potential to be a big revenue driver for both Instagram and businesses.  With Instagram users expected to reach 113.3 million US users in 2019, according to eMarketer, it only makes sense to provide in-app conveniences to users which keep them engaged.  Since Instagram is personalized according to your interests, retailers have access to detailed user data that gives them significant advantages in what products or services they promote and to which audiences turning casual viewers into loyal brand shoppers.

Integrating social and ecommerce is the match we’ve been longing for.  In a market where consumers expect personalization at every interaction and have been conditioned for immediate gratification in their online experience, this pairing is sure to resonate with users.  

How to Use Instagram to Grow Ecommerce Sales

Instagram sees engagement from over one billion active users every month, offering brands a unique opportunity to interact with potential customers right where they are. Instagram's visual-heavy platform can be harnessed to boost ecommerce sales driven by social engagement. These five methods can help your business develop an Instagram strategy that increases conversions, drives sales and creates loyal customers. 

Create a Business Account

If your business is still relying on a personal Instagram account to drive ecommerce, it's your first priority to make the switch to a business account. Instagram's business accounts have access to advanced features such as Instagram Insights, promoted posts, and the ability to include contact information.

To switch, log in to your Instagram account and go to settings. Tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Here, Instagram will prompt you to connect to your business Facebook page, choose a category for your business, and fill in your contact details. You'll be able to start running ads and obtaining audience insights immediately.

Curate Your Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium, and it's important that each image or video shared is artfully crafted individually and displays a cohesive visual theme for your business account.

Drive ecommerce sales by portraying your products in their best light, in ways that appeal to your customers. Curate an artistic vision for your brand by including posts and images that aren't quite so promotional as well. An aspirational photo or conversational post can encourage customer engagement with the brand.

Tag Products Within the Instagram Post

The ability to tag products within an Instagram post is a major benefit of converting to a business account. With product tagging enabled, your customers have a direct path to purchasing the featured product on your own website or via Facebook's Catalog.

 To use Instagram Shopping, you must first connect your business profile to a Facebook Catalog. Products that have been added to the Catalog can then be tagged in an Instagram post, up to five per single image or video.

 Research and Target Hashtags

 Similar to keyword targeting for search engine optimization, Instagram hashtags allow your content to appear in searches by potential customers on the platform. Researching these keywords takes a familiar path towards identifying the topics your customers are searching for and targeting trending social media hashtags.

Utilize Instagram Advertising

Instagram offers its business accounts a number of ways to advertise to potential customers. Within the Ads Manager, your business profile can set up, run, and track campaigns using the same targeting tools offered on Facebook.

Instagram ads appear directly in user feeds, either as an Instagram Story, a photo, or a video up to 60 seconds in length. A highly integrated Collection Ad can combine video and images to allow potential customers to browse your product catalog from within their Instagram feeds.

Whether your business invests in Instagram advertising or takes an organic approach to driving traffic, it's clear consumers enjoy being inspired by brands within their Instagram feeds. You can help your customers complete their purchases by using Instagram's business account tools for driving ecommerce sales.

3 Ways to Promote Your Business Using the New Year's Holiday

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During the holidays, consumers have the spending spirit. Americans' holiday spending in November and December (excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants) has risen between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent in 2017, for a total change of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. The forecast, according to the National Retail Federation, compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the past 5 years.

To capitalize on the expected spending frenzy this holiday season, you should consider these three ways to promote your business during New Year's: 

1. Position products as "resolution solutions."

A new year means a fresh start. As a result, many Americans make resolutions as a way to improve their lives or reach new goals.

While up to 40 percent of Americans make resolutions, just 8 percent actually keep them, according to the Huffington Post. Why not help more people achieve their goals this year? Market your product as a tool that helps people keep their resolutions.

Your product or service might help people lose weight, improve time management, or limit stress. Think of ways your company can sell ''resolution solutions'' during the new year. 

2. Have a "fresh start" sale.

 As a new year rolls in, many people have an ''out with the old, in with the new'' mentality. You can capitalize on this concept by hosting a ''fresh start'' sale. Maybe you're looking to bring in new products and need to clear out some of your old inventory. New Year's is the perfect time to do it.

Promote your sale on social media, hang in-store banners, and create postcards you can add to shopping bags as a reminder.

3. Create content that helps people start new habits.

Since consumers are looking to learn something new or focus on improving certain habits, you can create content surrounding that idea while subtly promoting your product or service. 

Content marketing is big right now. It costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates three times more leads.

A company selling cookware, for example, might offer online cooking classes to help people learn something new. An investment company might create an eBook that offers wise investment tips for the coming year.

By using these three promotional ideas, you'll start your new year strong. Even hosting an impromptu New Year's sale or an online flash sale promoted via email can give your company a financial boost heading into 2019. 

Here's How to Get Your Digital Marketing Holiday Ready

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Holiday season is upon us, and in digital marketing circles, it’s seen as the busiest and most competitive time of the year for marketers.  Now is the time to make sure all your planning and implementation strategies for holiday marketing are in sync and locked down.  

Here are some of the ways to make sure you're fully prepared for the 2018 holiday marketing season.   

Are You Using the 45-Day Rule Strategy?

If you've got content marketing as a key driver, then you need to know about the 45-day rule. Essentially, this rule states that an online business must look ahead and intentionally plan its web and social content 45 days ahead of important activities and promotions to drive user activity and search traffic. If you get your content posted later, it can hurt your overall search traffic. Adding your content two weeks before a significant event might result in only 25 to 50 percent of the traffic needed on your site. Think more long-term to 45 days, and you might achieve up to 90 percent of your intended traffic.  

Determine the Right Channels for Your Focus  

Choosing the right marketing channels for your product or service is something you've likely been thinking about for a while – make sure that you have determined the right course of action by reviewing and analyzing past performance and incorporating into your overall strategy. It starts with your product, its uses, its benefits, and how it impacts your target audience. Are you selling to consumers or businesses? How do you reach this target audience? On which channels are they receptive to your product?  

Create a Detailed Schedule of Campaign Activities

By now, your marketing team will have put together the range of your planned activities, including the timeline/schedule of promotions, in-store rollouts, online advertising campaigns, and other activities. This schedule must be detailed and exact. Your public relations team must be in sync with your product team, your customer success team, and other entities in the organization.

 

Developing Holiday-Specific Landing Pages

Your web development team should be offering frames for landing pages by early November. It should have already noted which year-round landing pages achieve high ROI so you can use that information as a jumping off point for your holiday landing pages. Some tips include:

●      Make sure your landing pages are optimized for mobile.

●      Make sure your page loading speed is high.

●      Use graphics to tell your story; make them high impact.

●      Use a strong, clear CTA; offer a premium to gain more attention.

●      Measure the journey of page visitors and follow up with retargeting efforts.  

Start to Build a Larger Retargeting Pool for November/December

The holiday season brings marketers a great opportunity to broaden reach and audience targets with retargeting. Your brand might be targeting a certain audience most of the year, but now you can retarget to others with a gift option. For instance, if you market golf clubs to mostly dedicated golfers for most of the year, you might be able to expand that with retargeted ad efforts to a broader audience that may include non-golfers who are comparison shopping for the golfer in their life.

Even though your company is putting its efforts into holiday season selling, remember that customers will look to your product or service during the following year too. So make that important first impression count.

Don't be afraid to increase your frequency of emails or social posts about special holiday sales during these weeks. By now, most customers are more engaged with your promotions and might actually be looking for your promotions.  

Lastly, track your results, define your success measurements, and keep a log of how your efforts are working for this year in order to replicate the same for next year or switch the offerings.

Leverage Google Shopping to Drive Holiday Results

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Ask anyone how Google Shopping has performed in 2018, and you're likely to hear how it is dominating the retail search marketing arena. Combining Google shopping with your current digital strategy can only enhance performance in sales. With consumers spending over $19.6 billion online during the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2017, now is the time to prepare your campaign strategy for this year’s shopping season. 

How can you leverage Google Shopping? Check out a few tips to increase efficiency, gain user engagement, and boost conversions on your Google Shopping holiday campaigns.

Set Your Budget and Key Performance Indicators Early

Before doing anything else, Google recommends reviewing historic holiday campaigns and evaluating campaign performance and necessary budget adjustments. Note any days where your click share decreased but retail query volume increased, and budget more for those days to avoid missing potential customers. Flexibility in budgeting can help your campaign survive the fluctuations in holiday shopping.

Prep Your Feed

It also helps to take some time before heading into the holiday shopping season to make sure your product feeds are looking good. Get those product photos on point, upload promotions, and fill out product attributes with as much information as possible to minimize disapprovals from the outset. Also, enable Content API, automated item updates, and automated feed deliver to keep your product pricing and availability fresh.

Plan Promotions

Holiday shoppers love getting good deals, and many shoppers are swayed to make purchases based on the promotions available. Make use of merchant promotions to highlight your special offers and to schedule price changes ahead of time. Giving shoppers plenty of special deals during the holidays can boost the amount of clicks you get and ultimately drive your conversion rate.

Don't Overlook the Omnichannel Approach

Mobile remains king when it comes to retail at any time of year. In fact, Google tells its users to "double down on mobile shopping" because of the importance of maintaining visibility on mobile devices. We think it's critical to create a seamless experience over multiple platforms. After all, omnichannel marketing using innovative tools such Adtaxi's Quantum is essential for giving consumers the experience they expect and maximizing performance during the holiday shopping season and beyond.

6 Ways Advertisers Can Prepare for the 2018 Holiday Season

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The winter holidays will be here before you know it. That means it's not too early for advertisers to get their holiday campaign planning started.

1. Perfect Your Holiday Strategy

Developing a campaign strategy means determining the best way to promote your brand through the holiday season. Much of the focus is usually on the big holiday shopping days that fall just after Thanksgiving in late November: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's Eve can also be vital to advertising success, as each holiday has its own competitive advantage. Once you determine which holiday(s) are ideal for your advertising campaign, it's easier to put your plan into motion.

2. Create Holiday-themed Promotions

Talking to others gets your creative juices flowing so you can prepare holiday-themed promotions that can be implemented when the time comes.

One effective promotion may be offers centered around your campaign theme, such as discounts on some of your bestselling items. Offers can also come in the form of content specifically created for holiday use. For example, gift guides give shoppers inspiration. A few ideas include:

●      $15 holiday treats for coffee enthusiasts

●      5 gifts Mom/Dad will love for $50 or less

●      3 must-have gifts for kids for $25 or less

3. Look at Other Sales Opportunities

Not every holiday campaign is exclusive to Christmas. There are other shopping days tied to the holidays that deserve promotional attention, too.

Small Business Saturday is the day after Black Friday and two days after Thanksgiving. On this day, people are encouraged to show support for local businesses in their area. This is a prime opportunity for advertisers to offer shoppers big deals. According to a survey from American Express, which promotes Small Business Saturday, and the National Federation of Independent Business, 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion on Small Business Saturday in November 2017.

Another promotional opportunity for online retailers is Green Monday, which falls on the second Monday of December.  Back in 2007, eBay noticed that was one of its best days for online sales, so a "holiday" was born.

Finally, there's Free Shipping Day, an annual one-day event held in mid-December and targeted towards procrastinating shoppers who have to get their presents shipped quickly. This promotional holiday provides consumers with a way to buy a lot and save big on shipping charges, with a guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

4. Prepare a Marketing Calendar

With every marketing plan comes countless hours of research, refinement of tactics, creating a message, and cost analysis. What's next? A marketing calendar. A blueprint for the campaign launch process, a marketing calendar guides each stage, from initial planning to the precise time to increase online ad spending.

One thing you can do in advance is run organic campaigns on a platform such as Facebook Ads. Starting now gives you a head start to evaluate your audience to see what's trending, the content they're responding to, and the offers you think might be of interest to them.

When it comes to Facebook Ads, monitor ad performance regularly and make sure to follow Facebook's troubleshooting guide if there are problems. If your ads aren't getting results from consumers, you'll want to have time to rebound. But remember, according to a 2016 survey, 40 percent of U.S. consumers start their holiday shopping by Halloween.

5. Deploy a Social Media Strategy

Once you have your plan in place, it's time to get active on social media to get in front of the right audience before the winter holidays. Your marketing calendar comes back into play here. Think about what types of content you need to produce during the holiday season. Should you provide blog posts? eBooks? Be selective in your focus, because overwhelming your audience with holiday-related advertising to get them in the shopping mood doesn't cut it.

Your audience is likely to gravitate towards content that makes a difference in how they live or helps them narrow their holiday wish list. Engage with your audience and find out what it wants.

Get people talking, sharing, liking, and eventually buying. Have some fun. Ask your audience to share memorable moments with photos and the stories that go along with them. Branded hashtags for use on Instagram or Twitter keeps the conversation going.

Choose content guaranteed to solicit positive responses and then schedule publications for November through December. Don't forget to monitor all social media accounts, as performance is paramount to campaign success. Also, social monitoring helps track keywords to better respond to those commonly used during the holidays.

6. Review Previous Performances

Analyze which campaigns worked well in past years and determine what made them work. Like life itself, marketing trends change. You may have to dig through archives of data to find out which campaigns worked, which didn't, and which platforms affected visibility and reach.

Review past reports and use social media marketing tools and analytics to make prudent budgeting decisions. This will help to determine where your resources are best used for the upcoming holiday season.

Successful holiday campaigns are all about preparation. Be clear about what you want to offer and use the right approach to draw shoppers online and into your stores.

Ask and Receive: 5 Ways Smart Speakers Are Shifting Shopping Experiences

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Smart speakers — those voice-activated digital assistants in your home or office — are changing the way people interact with news and information and how they buy goods and services. Launched within the past few years, these devices from Amazon, Apple, and Google have outgrown their early "fad' status, and have made a dramatic impact on consumers' lives.

Gone are the days of writing date reminders on your kitchen calendar or jotting down reminders on Post-It notes affixed to your computer screen. Now, notes Google, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of smart speaker owners make their digital assistants part of their daily routine. Last year, users directed their voice devices to check weather and commuting routes, sports scores, and news updates while streaming music and radio. Now, increasing numbers of people are using voice devices to make online purchases with their Amazon, Google, or Apple-connected accounts.

Transforming Consumer Shopping Habits

A recent study from shopping analytics firm Narvar found that 42 percent of voice device owners use voice devices to make purchases — that's a big jump from the 29 percent of smart speaker owners from six months ago. The increase is due to more routine usage and familiarity of the voice-activated devices. As a way of comparison, do you remember when consumers were skittish to place shopping orders online over the internet? As usage increased and security measures got better, online shopping took off in numbers and sales. Expect the same here.  

You can now plug in a Google Home device, click over to Walmart Voice Shopping and make purchases directly using voice commands. If you use Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to update your grocery shopping list as you remember needed items.

More consumers are using voice-activated devices, and more marketers are creating new opportunities on the platform. It's time to see what early impact is forming around shopping patterns via voice devices.

Let's look at five ways voice-activated assistants are shifting our shopping experiences.

People are spending more time with voice-activated shopping experiences. A March 2018 study by OC&C Strategy Consultants found smart speaker devices have become more common in family homes, and usage is more prevalent. Accordingly, purchases made through voice-activated devices will rise sharply, and may hit $40 billion in sales by 2022. This increased time by consumers using voice-activated shopping will likely result in less time engaging with our mobile phones and the web via desktop, tablets, and laptops.

More people are creating lists to do their voice shopping. Amazon Echo users can now create lists for anything. "Alexa, create a list" is all it takes to create lists for such things as important family dates, school project tasks, grocery shopping lists, holiday shopping lists, or similar lists. Using voice devices to create shopping lists can also help later for certain product discovery.

There's no visual branding with voice shopping. It's an audio play. Shoppers have far fewer opportunities to interact with visual branding when shopping by voice. In fact, the visual aspect is almost completely missing from the voice shopping experience. Will this harm sales that rely on visual allure? Can it help generic items that are well known by name?

There is less product variety offered via voice shopping. A recent Google Home survey showed that more than half (52 percent) of voice-activated speaker owners say they'd like to get information from brands on promotions, sales, and deals about products and services. As the opportunities build for brands and marketers to pitch their goods directly to smart speaker owners, it could be only a matter of time before device owners are ordering from "suggested' items" rather than a wide selection of goods in a certain product category. Could this create a shopping environment where the major category players win out over the lesser known brands? At least some seem to find it possible.

More automated returns will be processed using voice shopping. The returns process for consumers may become more automated and streamlined over time. Voice shoppers will get speaker reminders about product deliveries and returns. If you're dissatisfied with an item bought via your voice-activated device, you'll be able to return it with return labels already sent to your email address.

6 Ways Amazon Has Changed Buying Behaviors

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Consumers love to shop online because it's easy, comfortable, and often comes with a significant price savings. It hasn't always been this way, but over the last 20 years Amazon has successfully changed the way people shop all over the world.

The world's largest online retailer has grown from its humble bookselling beginnings to influence nearly every aspect of the consumer buying experience, from browsing to ordering to returning. Here's a look at the top six ways Amazon has changed buying behaviors:

1. Checking Amazon First and Last

Running low on printer ink? You might reach for your phone to check Amazon's replacement price before considering another retailer. Have those ink prices made you consider buying a new printer? A bigger purchase might prompt you to consider "showrooming," or getting a feel for the printer at a brick-and-mortar store before ordering it online for a lower price.

2. Shopping by Voice

With the introduction of Amazon's Alexa, the company has become a major player in making it possible for people to shop by voice. Now there's no need to even lift your phone to order that replacement printer ink. Just tell Alexa and it will show up at your door.

3. Buying Groceries Online

The convenience of shopping online has disrupted weekly trips to the grocery store with Amazon Prime, Prime Now, and the Whole Foods merger. Consumers are increasingly ordering both perishable and non-perishable groceries online for quick pick-up or home delivery.

4. Buying Clothes Online

Prime Wardrobe makes it easy for people to purchase clothing online by decreasing the time spent finding the right item and returning any wrong items. Consumers are growing increasingly likely to purchase higher quantities of clothing at a time due to the ease of returns.

5. Ease of Returns

Whether it's clothing, furniture, or a simple book, Amazon has streamlined the return experience to ensure a return is almost as simple to make as a purchase. By simplifying a return to just a few clicks, buyers are more likely to make a purchase with which they'll be satisfied.

6. Endless, Searchable Aisles

Brick-and-mortar stores are physically limited to the number of different products they have available for purchase. Through their extensive network of warehouses and other drop-shipping practices, Amazon offers a seemingly unlimited selection of items that is searchable with a single click, rather than hunting through a crowded store.

While many of these changes may feel sudden, Amazon has been influencing consumer buying behaviors since 1994, allowing the company to affect an entire generation of purchasing decisions. Traditional retailers today are challenged to build a response to Amazon's disruptions by listening to the needs of their customers, whether it's through an exceptional in-store experience, a desirable loyalty program, or a curated product selection that can't be replicated.

What's New: Online Shopping and Technology Trends

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A few weeks ago we released the results of its 2018 Online Shopping and Technology Trends Survey. An inaugural initiative, the survey examined Americans’ online shopping habits, behaviors and preferences—covering topics from voice assistants to augmented reality to privacy concerns to mobile apps and beyond. Let's take a close look at a few of those stats here in this infographic.

See How Bing's Shopping Campaigns Are Changing

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In April 2018, Bing unveiled some new features for its Bing Shopping campaigns that could make them more effective. These new features don’t just bring extra value for advertisers; some experts suggest they are poised to give competitors a run for their money. Let’s look at some of the changes and how you could benefit. 

Why It Matters

Shopping ads are big news in 2018. Experts estimate they account for around 60 percent of the clicks on Google and about 33 percent of the clicks on Bing – stats that clearly demonstrate the domination of Shopping campaigns in retailers’ paid search click volume arena.  But it’s even more interesting when you factor in a little background on Bing’s reach.

An estimated one in five people rely on Bing for their online searches. Not only that, Bing's audience spends an average of 32 percent more time shopping online from their desktop computers than other internet searchers and their average click-through rate is roughly 50 percent higher than AdWords. Factor in some positive new changes and we’re talking about a golden opportunity for brands and advertisers to reach more people and even potentially see a boost in conversions.

New Feature 1: Multiple Images

Now you can spice things up with up to 10 images in the product feed. This gives you a great opportunity to show products from different angles, giving shoppers a comprehensive view. This is important because we all know that great photos are at the heart of successful shopping campaigns.

New Feature 2: Product Status Reporting

Bing added four new columns to its Product Groups reporting grid to help advertisers better understand exactly what’s happening in their campaigns. You can easily see the data across multiple accounts or shopping campaigns using the Product Match Count Report. This gives you a detailed overview of the matched products at several levels: campaign, ad group and product group – information you can use to optimize your campaigns. These new additions include:

●      Products Submitted: Displays the number of products you upload to the Merchant Center.

●      Products Ready to Serve: Displays the number of products free from processing errors and ready for people to bid on

●      Products Targeted: Displays the number of products people are bidding on

●      % Products Targeted: Displays the percentage of products you've submitted that are being bid on in the group

Universal Event Tracking

Universal Event Tracking (UET) is a convenient tool available through Bing Ads. It allows businesses to verify their domains as they set up their merchant center account and create their online store. This speeds up the process so sellers can get down to business faster while buyers still have peace of mind. Bing rejects merchants who lack a privacy policy on their website, try to claim unverified domains or lack valid SSL certificates.

Product Rejection Notifications

No product left behind! That might as well be the rallying cry behind this new feature. Bing's targeted product insights are all designed to help you keep all your products active in your shopping campaigns. Product status is important. Now, marketers can sign up for product rejection statuses that allow them to stay on top of any issues and fix them quickly.

In the end, successful marketing campaigns – whether they’re for Bing Shopping or not – are all about having the right insight, innovation and optimization tools at the ready. Adtaxi partners with the best in the industry, including Bing, to deliver the performance our clients need to succeed. Visit Adtaxi.com to learn more.

 

2018 Online Shopping and Technology Trends Survey

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Study: 10% of Online Shoppers Have Already Tried Augmented Reality—With 67% of Them Ready to Shop Exclusively Online 

–‘Online Shopping and Technology Trends’ Report Released by Adtaxi–


DENVER (May 31, 2018)Adtaxi, one of the country’s fastest-growing digital marketing agencies, today released the results of its 2018 Online Shopping and Technology Trends Survey. An inaugural initiative, the survey examined Americans’ online shopping habits, behaviors and preferences—covering topics from voice assistants to augmented reality to privacy concerns to mobile apps and beyond.

“There is no question that the ecommerce market is exploding, and that consumers are increasingly making purchases online,” said Evan Tennant, National Director of Ecommerce at Adtaxi. “To meet the increasing demand, the technological landscape is quickly advancing with consumer preferences, and our survey captures a snapshot of the exciting evolution currently reshaping the shopper experience.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • Online Shopping vs. In-Store Shopping: 66% of respondents make an online purchase at least once a month. Over half (52%) of ecommerce shoppers spend as much, or more, of their dollars online than in-store.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): 10% have used an AR app for online shopping (e.g. virtually “trying on” clothing or viewing how furniture would look in a home), 67% of whom would never again shop in-store for clothes if AR made it possible to do so.
  • Voice Assistants: 27% own a voice-activated smart device, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home; 24% have used one to make a purchase.
  • Privacy Concerns: 64% of respondents are concerned about a voice-activated smart device threatening their privacy; 46% of them would not let this concern stop them from purchasing one.
  • Purchase Behavior: 63% have made an online purchased prompted by seeing a digital ad; most (60%) of those prompted to make an online purchase saw the ad on social media.
  • Mobile and Text: 65% have used a mobile app for online shopping, the most popular reason being that mobile apps are easy to use (51%) and save time (19%). Meanwhile, 82% of consumers would not consider receiving texts from brands, even if the ad was personally relevant.

“We now live in an on-demand world, where customers are beginning to favor innovations that make purchases faster, more efficient and pain-free,” Tennant said. “As this survey indicates, technologies like voice-activated devices and AR have gained traction and are on the fringe of becoming mainstream in the next few years—which we anticipate will cause a shift toward consumers shopping more heavily online.”

Methodology
The study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. One thousand participants were polled, spanning across the United States. The demographics of those polled represented a broad range of household income, geographic location, age, and gender.

What Are Consumers Buying Online? New Survey Says: EVERYTHING!

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DENVER (November 7, 2017)Adtaxi, one of the nation’s fastest growing digital marketing agencies, released the results of its inaugural State of Ecommerce in America survey, an in-depth look at ecommerce trends and consumer preferences nationwide. From small inexpensive household items to mega, high-priced purchases such as automobiles, the scope and willingness of consumers to make purchases online has proven to be powerfully pervasive.

The survey reveals just how often consumers are making purchases online, what they are purchasing and the method in which they are purchasing them.

Key Highlights: 

  • A majority of consumers (55%) would be happy to purchase everything online
  • Convenience was the number one reason (50%) people shop online
  • Seventy-two percent of consumers purchase something online at least once a month
  • A third of consumers (32%) would purchase a car online
  • Three out of five (59%) consumers purchase clothing online in a typical month
  • When shopping for a product online, the most common (46%) first step of the process is visiting an online retailer like Amazon or eBay, whereas only 16% visit the actual brand’s site
  • Running out of necessities most commonly (33%) prompts consumers’ online purchases
  • Older consumers (60+) are much more concerned with sharing info (27%) than shipping time (4%), whereas the opposite (9% and 22% respectively) is true for younger consumers (18-29)
  • Shipping costs are consumers’ least favorite (40%) aspect of shopping online

“These findings show a clear and growing interest from consumers to move away from traditional brick-and-mortar retail models and more toward ecommerce,” said Evan Tennant, National Director of Ecommerce at Adtaxi. “With the digital evolution of retail, consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the convenience of shopping from their couch, on the go, or virtually anytime they need things most—and all at the most competitive price—something that was never possible before.”

Webrooming vs. Showrooming


The survey also found that a large majority of consumers factor online shopping into their purchasing decisions—regardless of whether actually making the purchase in store or online.

  • Nine out of ten (89%) consumers have gone to a retail store first and then looked for better prices online
  • Conversely, nine out of ten (91%) consumers have also done shopping research online before going to a retail store
  • A majority (54%) of consumers who do research online first ask the retailer to match the online price

“For marketers and retailers, these findings are extremely noteworthy, demonstrating the dominant role ecommerce plays in the consumer purchase journey – regardless of where they end up completing the purchase,” said Chris Loretto, Executive Vice President of Adtaxi. “This is definitely important for the retailer to consider when they are targeting consumers.”

Methodology

The study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. One thousand participants were polled, spanning across the United States. The demographic of those polled represented a broad range in household income, geographic location, age and gender