Moderated by Kevin Ryan, the conference’s organizer. He welcomes people and provides a brief introduction to the topic. He discusses that search is great since you do not have to have the campaign “in the can” months in advance. He cites the Aquadots story and how they are being recalled, and that many ads on Black Friday still featured the product in their creative since they could not remove it in time.
First up will be Matt Naeger from Impaqt. What did you learn from last year? It is important to understand this and is a good starting point for holiday planning. He feels you should actually be looking at last year every day. You should know exactly what percentage of your online sales occurred in December. He suggests following traffic and revenue by hour and day not week and month. Think “Cyber Everyday” – the biggest thing he has learned from Cyber Monday is that it is a starting point to the season. Typically there are 5 or 6 higher volume days than Cyber Monday (he did not mention which). He recommends that you learn from your competition, since they are smart too. Also, you should manage to your market, not your budget. Don’t worry about the budget, instead understand where the market is and react accordingly.
Pay attention! Keep your search in step with other marketing vehicles. Be persistent with your creative…don’t put it up today and take it down tomorrow. Many people get nervous too quickly. Don’t forget about organic – you will see these results sometimes change on a daily basis, and should react accordingly with paid search tactics. Build supporting messages and be prepared to launch at any time. Submit creative pieces early to get them approved, and then store them in the campaign ready to go right away. Test creative by time of day, especially with high volume terms. Differ the creative based on the audience that is likely more prominent during the particular time of the day, such as the “happy home makers,” for example.
Ongoing campaign refinement is important – don’t buy what you can’t sell and don’t sell what you can’t deliver. He suggests promoting delivery times by product. Use creative that states the typical delivery times, not just “last ship date.” Focus on products based on volume and margin. He recommends buying generic keywords on low position – he has seen a lot of benefits from a lower position for terms such as “gift for…” Lastly, learn from your customer – start looking at the actual full phrases that the customers search for instead of relying only on the broad match keyword.
Next up is Kevin Lee from Did It, and also a member of and past Chairman of the SEMPO Board of Directors. There has been significant growth in online holiday shopping year over year. Are you getting your fair share? Consider asking for some additional “slush fund” money to let you take advantage of opportunities. Conversion rates change sometimes on a fairly large basis during the holidays, so consider this in your planning. Don’t make decisions based on old inaccurate data. Monitor shopping cart sizes, lag times (reductions may be occurring) and the offline purchase behavior. Perhaps you have a ton of data which will support your request for additional budget.
He also feels it is better to pre-load campaign creative to be able to turn it on when you want, but that you should also create new campaigns and ads during the high opportunity seasons. He suggests using a cloned campaign instead of the main campaign for this. Offer shipping deals, promotional couponing, etc. Are you monitoring buzz indicators? Use Google Trends, Yahoo Buzz index, and your own top seller information. Knowing what is hot sooner lets you follow the trends more closely, and take advantage of the opportunity to make changes. Watch your competition spending – are your competitors or suppliers spending heavily both online and off? can you piggy back off their spending? There may be a halo effect around particular buzz. Search is often not spontaneous – people don’t typically wake up and say I need a new cell phone,” for example.
Some tactics to consider include home page takeovers, viral marketing, TV, and bug banner buys. It is never too late to execute new tricks for the holidays. Kevin also stressed the importance of using “free shipping” type verbiage, but recommends even using “free FedEx” in order to take the ambiguity away from some people that will wonder if they still have enough time to get it delivered.
Bill Tancer from Hitwise was supposed to be here, but got caught at the airport due to weather. Bill sent data to Kevin Ryan including the research that shows a 37% growth since last year. He suggests being culturally sensitive as well. There is a big timeline difference between Hanukah and Christmas, for example. People “go nuts” for gift cards, so he recommends keeping active in promoting these even after Christmas. Remember to take ads down after the holidays – this may seem obvious, but it happens often. Kwanza ads during June? This is a waste of time and money.
***Note this is “live” unedited blog coverage of SES Chicago 2007. Some typos, grammatical errors, or incomplete thoughts may exist.