Adjusting Your Search Strategy to Increase Holiday Sales

Holiday Sales via Search

Image from: Online Shopping / Shutterstock

As the holiday season begins, many brands are preparing for the launch of their holiday marketing blitzes—that is, if they haven’t already. To help you understand the holiday shopper, we have completed a study in concert with Google which takes a look at the differences between consumers who do and don’t use search in their paths to purchase.

Holiday Shoppers Conversion Stat

Click to Tweet!

One of the overarching takeaways from this study is that consumers using search convert better than consumers who are not. How much better? During the holiday season, searchers convert at an overall rate of 13.3%. This is 37% better than non-searchers, who convert at an overall rate of 9.7% (Tweet Stat!). When you compare the conversion rates between holiday and non-holiday shoppers, the difference is even greater. For searchers, holiday shoppers convert at a 142% higher rate than consumers who are shopping outside of the holiday season. The margin is slightly lower for non-searchers, where holiday shoppers only convert at a rate that is 111% higher than non-holiday shoppers.

Conversion Rates of Digital Shoppers

The study also found that conversion rates fluctuate quite wildly throughout the season. One surprising finding is that “Cyber Week,” commonly known to have the highest online sales of the season, does not contribute the highest conversion rate (Tweet Stat!). From that we may be able to assume that since the volume of shoppers is a lot higher during the “Cyber Week” period, many consumers are window shopping and checking to see if any deals are particularly attractive.

Searcher vs Non-Searcher Conversion Rate

Judging from the lower conversion rate during “Green Week” and the peak conversion rates during the “Late Shopper” period, it is likely that many consumers are using these periods to research potential gift ideas and then making the decision as late as possible (while still getting good rates on shipping). Another factor that may be contributing to the fact that the “Late Shopper” period has the highest conversion rate is that consumers who are browsing retailer sites are less picky with the deadline looming closer and closer. Either that or consumers, aware that brands become a lot more aggressive with promotions and price cuts toward the end of the season, are waiting for the best deal possible.

One glaring realization is that no matter what period we look at, the conversion rate of the searcher is higher than the conversion rate of the non-searcher—and by a fairly wide margin. This is yet another argument in support of having a strong focus on search during the holiday season. This goes for both paid and organic.

What you can do to increase your holiday sales using search

During the holiday season, 31% of searches will be category searches, or search terms that represent a general category of items like “best tablet” or “popular video games.” This provides a large opportunity to capture top of funnel consumers in the research/discovery stage by creating informative content that performs well organically. If you provide valuable content, not only will you have a positive brand sentiment, but you will greatly improve your chances at completing the sale. Undecided shoppers who search using category terms are three times more likely to convert (Tweet Stat!).

Supplementing your organic content strategy with a highly segmented paid search campaign on both branded and non-branded category search terms will help you capture consumers no matter how far down the funnel they are. Increasing your budget and bids during times when consumers convert at the highest rate, the “Cyber Week” and “Late Shopper” periods, will also help you increase efficiency by increasing your reach at times when the searcher is most likely to convert. Additionally, you may want to strengthen your efforts and increase the likelihood of searchers clicking on your ads or performing a branded keyword search by launching a holiday remarketing campaign focused on consumers higher in the funnel.

Analyzing conversion data is one of the best ways to improve the bottom line of your ecommerce efforts. If you think that you could benefit from an analysis of your competitors’ conversion data, please contact us about our Online Conversion Insights. Additionally, if you are engaged in paid search this holiday season and are interested in gaining insights into how you can improve your campaigns’ ROI, contact us about Ascend.

About Zach Eberhart:
As a senior at Northeastern University, Zach Eberhart is thrilled to join the Compete team as the new Social Media / Marketing Co-op. Majoring in marketing and management information systems, Zach loves everything marketing and technology and has experience in both the agency and startup world. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+ or LinkedIn.