Tis the Season…

By Felicia Gardner, Paid Search Supervisor, Advertising Solutions

Coming from the offline marketing world where my responsibility was to develop and implement marketing strategies for some of the Midwest’s leading shopping centers, it was a bit difficult entering SEM. I left an offline world where Q4 is king and months of planning and sales forecasting are finally put to the Holiday test. I would no longer see retail lines out the door at the cash registers as shoppers rushed for the early morning specials and see customers dragging their overstuffed shopping bags through the mall, instantly revealing what store and products were that year’s hot sellers.

Every year I worked to maintain the Holiday feel throughout the shopping center, offering customers consistent tradition. I ensured comfortable shop and stay amenities were readily available, such as family restrooms, holiday rest stations and children’s play areas. My holiday marketing plans consisted of multiple initiatives including exclusive center savings, giveaways, eye catching banners and a winter wonderland complete with Santa and elves. Just like online my main objective was to drive qualified traffic to the shopping center while creating a convenient shopping experience for my customers.

As the Holiday season ended and sales were calculated, I never truly got a sense of how of my offline consumers felt during their shopping experience and what drove them to the center. Sure we had people counters at every door, feedback cards and end of year sales numbers, but I still felt I left the busiest time of the year with important unanswered questions:

  • What drove my shoppers to come to the mall? (Location, ambience, etc.)

  • On average how many stores did a shopper visit?

  • How many people actually purchased an item?

  • What was the average sales amount?

  • What was the true center investment per shopper?

Working in SEM I now have more answers to these types of questions and are able to make use of the data as my basis for Holiday marketing decisions. I am able to see exactly what keywords and creatives are driving consumers to a site. This allows for more effective spend and optimizations around what has the greatest returns and meets the target goals of my clients. In offline retail there was less ability for me to retrieve strong data to analyze and optimize around. One of the biggest benefits of search is when a particular program is not performing typically budgets can be shifted to drive the most efficient returns for the account. However, in offline marketing or sponsorship budgets are secured before a program even begins and shifting dollars is nearly impossible. Search also offers strong analytic tools to really research user behavior through some key metrics as average time on site, average page views and shopping cart abandonment rates. This all contributes to a better understanding of what activities are taking place on the site to understand if they are meeting the account’s overall business goals.

Overall both online and offline retail offers its customers multiple benefits during the holidays, all with the goal to decrease competition and increase year over year performance. With an increased amount of consumers coming to the web for their holiday selection, search has become an important source for retailers. All the research and data resources available in SEM have offered a strong basis for managing programs and quantifying marketing efforts.


dgould said...

Cool analogy to the offline world. Great way to make "non-digitals" begin to see the light.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! It is important to me for people to understand the exciting ever changing world we work in! -Felicia Gardner

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