Each year the ever-increasing prevalence of online purchases, voice search and evolution of omnichannel behaviours – particularly during the festive season – forces brands and advertisers to make sure they’re well ahead of their competition to win out in this key retail period.

However, while retail turnover peaks in December (to the tune of $3.4bn in 2017), many consumers are in fact primed to spend for Christmas from early November onwards – namely on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In 2017, Black Friday searches started as early as September and at their peak were 43% higher than the previous year. 2018 has so far met expectations, with growth of up to 33% in total sales in some categories, with a similar front-weighting in consumer spending.

As the final Christmas/New Year rush closes in, brands and advertisers will need to be on their toes if they want to stay ahead of the competition. Here are some of the main areas to focus on:

 

Keep it local

Location-related retail searches peak in December. In Australia in 2017 they grew a further 2% year on year and were 29% higher in December than on average.

Make sure your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business location and profile information is accurate and up to date. This will help your customers find your store locations whether searching or using maps or a digital assistant.

Use location extensions in search to augment your existing activity with details of your closest retail locations. Or if you manufacture the products that retailers sell, then use affiliate location extensions on Google to drive sales of your products at retailer stores. And don’t forget to report upon and optimise offline and omnichannel behaviours such as store visits.

Use inventory ads to show whether a specific item is in stock locally. Scorch iProspect research has found that for every online purchase, local inventory ads drive a further 5 people in store.

 

Get in on the conversation

In July came the announcement of the first smart home device with a screen featuring Google Assistant: the Lenovo Smart Display. The adoption of smart home digital assistants is driving a rise in voice search and with it emerging opportunities for brands and advertisers.

Christmas has traditionally marked an increase in smartphone adoption, and in 2018 as in 2017 we can expect an increase in both smartphone adoption and digital assistant ownership as a result of gifting and Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases.

The mobile phone remains the primary device from which people engage in using voice to search, just as in the case of screen-enabled smart home digital assistants, “voice in” doesn’t only mean “audio out”, but rather the opportunity for both audio and visual output.

Optimise your site content to increase the chances of being the audible answer to your consumers’ questions.

Answer the how, what, where, and why your consumers are asking by creating conversational content that answers interrogative queries; use paid search to ensure you’re on the screen, even for a voice query.

Deliver utility with skills and actions on smart home digital assistants to engage your consumers, build loyalty, and drive conversion.

 

Close the brand and ecommerce gap

Online purchases increased in number by 19.7% in 2017 to a value of $21.3bn, equivalent to 8% of all traditional retail sales. For all advertisers there is significant value to be realised by considering how existing media investments can more symbiotically deliver for the brand and drive online sales.

Use Facebook Product Ads and Dynamic Ads to put your products in front of new audiences and reengage visitors who have previously visited your app or website. Facebook product ads can effectively drive both brand awareness and product sales and amongst your target audience, especially when used in conjunction with other complementary platforms and tactics.

Already running YouTube? Use YouTube TrueView for Action & TrueView for Shopping. With TrueView for Action you can drive incremental value from your YouTube investment by adding a call to action, for example to drive leads, or to invite consumers to learn more about your product.

TrueView for Shopping works with your existing YouTube TrueView campaigns to enable viewers to interact with up to 6 of your products directly from the video, creating a new opportunity to drive consideration and purchase.

Increase online sales with Google & Bing Shopping. Searches on Google Shopping steadily increase from the beginning of November to their peak in the week prior to Christmas. Shopping searches in the run-up to Christmas in 2017 increased 6% in comparison to 2016 and are on trend to increase further in 2018. Make sure you’re using Shopping to promote your full product portfolio and ensure your strategy capitalises on the momentum built from consumers’ early-November purchase behaviour.

 

Sources:
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Retail Trade 2017
Australia Post, Inside Australian Online Shopping: 2018 eCommerce
Google Trends

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Scott Abbott

Scott is Head of Digital at Scorch | iProspect. With extensive experience in building and leading successful large teams and working with complex multi-market brands, Scott specialises in delivering innovative, integrated and effective cross-channel digital strategies and paid media execution across both B2C and B2B in multiple verticals.