Tips and Tricks for Retail Advertisers

2/11/2011 10:27:00 AM

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(Cross-posted on the Small Business Blog)

Please enjoy the second post in the series of tips and tricks for advertising within your industry. This week: Retail! Up next is Travel.

There are countless varieties of products, services, and companies within the Retail industry, but one thing unites us all: seasonality. Whether you’re selling school supplies, MP3 Players, or sports gear, you probably have a ‘hot season’ and some semblance of a ‘down season.’ I think our biggest trap as Retail advertisers is to only focus our efforts on the hot season; whereas Retail marketing should really happen year-round.

You have a lot of options and resources -- both free and paid -- available for marketing your business throughout the year. Below I’ve outlined a few of my favorite tools and tips.

  • Figure out when your hot season actually starts. Many marketers assume they know when their hot season starts and ends or they base this year’s strategy on last year’s season. Use Insights for Search to better understand when customers begin to search for your products. If you look at search volume on ‘swimsuits,’ you’ll notice that queries actually begin to rise in January and maintain steady volume throughout July. Don’t fall into the trap of advertising swimsuits only in the summer!
  •  Use different types of campaigns at different times. Once you fully understand your seasonality, think critically about the different types of advertising you’ll do throughout the year. For AdWords customers, for example, I recommend exploring the Remarketing Tool to keep track of customers who may have visited your site during the down season. When hot season strikes again, you’ll be able to reach these customers when they are more actively pursuing your products. Remarketing is also a great way for AdWords customers with multiple seasons to reach people throughout the year. For example, if you sell flowers, you can set up a cookie to target people who purchased flowers from you on Valentine's Day, and then begin showing them ads for your Mother's Day specials in April.

  • Through it all, continue to optimize your account structure. Once you’ve established the initial structure of your account, be sure to track performance and optimize your keyword lists and ad texts, particularly during down seasons. I recommend using the ‘Search terms’ report on your broad match keywords or the Opportunities Tab to identify new keyword ideas as well as negative keywords. For your ad text, look at which ads converted best in the previous hot season, and see if any consistent themes jump out. You may notice that mentioning ‘Save 20% on Gifts’ worked better than ‘Save Big on Gifts’ and you can edit your text accordingly for the next hot season.
  • Take advantage of free offerings, particularly during the down season. For Retailers with physical locations, it’s imperative that you create a listing on Google Places. Particularly as consumers increasingly search while they are on the go, it’s important that people know when they are near your physical location!
Think of how much more time you have when you’re in the down season -- and use this time to optimize and grow your business in advance of the hot season. Our customers’ interests and behaviors change each year and yes, it can be difficult to keep up. Lucky for us, we have plenty of options to reach our customers at different phases of the conversion cycle and many tools to better understand our customers. Best of luck in 2011!

Posted by Tim Freeth, Team Lead, AdWords Retail