As many search marketers in the U.S. retail sector will know, the holiday season simultaneously represents the biggest opportunity and threat to career success. Sales figures from the final months of the calendar year can literally "make or break" a company's annual performance.
Kenshoo has created a barometer for examining online holiday shopping trends based on their search marketing software which is used by five of the top ten U.S. retailers and manages over $1 billion in annual advertising spend.
Top-line findings from the report indicate a strong start to the holiday shopping season:
- 31% increase in year-over-year search advertising budgets.
- 83% more online sales transactions.
- 60% lift in total online sales revenue.
The key trends identified through the Kenshoo 2010 Online Holiday Shopping Report are:
1. The Holiday Shopping Season is Starting Earlier
Advertisers are increasing their budgets earlier in the season to drive awareness of their products and offers.
2. Online Shoppers are More Responsive to Paid Search Advertising
Significant performance improvements in click through rates suggest shoppers are more willing and confident about shopping online.
3. Consumers are Buying More Often But Spending Less Per Order
Echoing the point above, lower average order volumes, but higher total turnover and 83% online transactions than a year before seems to indicate that confidence in online shopping is booming, with shoppers buying from a variety of different channels instead of choosing single destination sites to make all their purchases.
4. Paid Search Advertisers Have Increased Effectiveness
Significant drops in the average cost-per-click indicates that paid search campaigns are better managed and advertisers are targeting shoppers more effectively.
5. Shoppers Start Searching for Online Deals on Thanksgiving, 12 Hours Before Black Friday
A sustained peak in search activity during the evening of Thanksgiving and a recurring blip at 3am the night prior to black friday suggests that users are.
6. Competition for Retailers Peaks on Cyber Monday
With significant increases in cost-per-acquisition and cost-per-click Cyber Monday is becoming a grim battle for clicks.
After discussing the results with Aaron Goldman, CMO of Kenshoo, our advice for next year is:
- Plan ahead for online shoppers who have been researching purchases weeks ahead and are poised to grab bargains online ahead of Black Friday.
- Build trust factors into your site, such as secure seals and clear delivery options to reassure consumers that you are safe and effective to shop with.
- Build flexibility into your campaign, and be smart about attributing your keyword spend such that you are targeting smart shop-savvy users higher up the funnel ahead of time and ready for them to buy using long tail terms such as product names and model numbers immediately on Black Friday.
- Consider that shoppers on Thanksgiving may be bargain hunting online as part of family group activities. Could you cross sell products more effectively?
- Consider using search retargeting as a means to keep your brand front of mind over this weekend and reduce customer acquisition costs.
The full report from Kenshoo can be downloaded from here.