Cyber Monday Paid Search Strategies

One of the benefits of Paid Search Marketing is having the ability to quickly react or adjust strategy to take advantage of an ever changing competitive atmosphere.

Cyber Monday has become the biggest e-commerce shopping day of the year, as Black Friday is for brick-and-mortar. This year approximately 84% of online retailers planned promotions for Cyber Monday, up from 72% in 2007 (PCMag.com).

Combine the added competition with a struggling economy and lower than desirable spending forecasts and you’ll quickly understand how important PPC is to your Cyber Monday strategy if done correctly.

Below I’ve critiqued strategies used by some of the largest online retailers on December 1st, 2008.

Shopper Type #1: “The only thing I know I want is a good deal”

Cyber Monday is the kick-off to the online holiday shopping season. It’s natural that some shoppers aren’t sure of the specific product(s) they’d like to buy, but they obviously know about the discounts offered on Cyber Monday. A popular search term for this audience is “cyber monday deals”. This keyword turns out to be competitive in the Google Paid Search space. Here are some good and not so good examples of Cyber Monday PPC.

Sample Search Page: http://www.google.com/search?q=cyber+monday+deals

Example #1: Staples.com (Good)

Staples.com is doing a great job. They have a ad that matches the keyword searched. The ad copy gives a subtle yet compelling call to action. And finally, the landing page clearly presents Staples’ promotional items for Cyber Monday.

Example #2: CircuitCity.com (Good)

CircuitCity.com is also doing a great job for the same reasons as Staples.com. Most importantly, the ad sets an expectation that matches both the searchers’ intent as well as the landing page served. This should all equal a great experience for the user and a high conversion rate for the advertiser.

Example #3: Target.com (Not So Good)

Target’s ad is mediocre. The ad’s title certainly matches the keyword, but the call to action is ‘shop’, which I believe to be a bit redundant and overused. The landing page doesn’t speak to Cyber Monday at all. It talks about deals and low prices, but fails to communicate the urgency that’s at the heart of any one day promotion.

 

This type of targeting seems to be the most obvious for generating awareness to your holiday promotions. Below is a secondary market that seems to have been overlooked this year.

Shopper Type #2: “I know the item I’m looking for, but am not aware of Cyber Monday”

Since Cyber Monday is a term most often used by us e-marketers, there will be a significant proportion of shoppers who will not be searching using ‘cyber monday’ terms. These shoppers will be using keywords more similar to what we’re used to bidding on.

Make no mistake though, this does not mean that strategy should not be adjusted for this special day. Even if the user isn’t searching differently, it’s likely that your competition will be promoting their products differently. If competition is slow to adjust on Cyber Monday, you’ll now have the competitive edge on the SERPs. Take advantage of it before they catch on.

An example keyword that this type of shopper may use is “high definition tv”.

Example Search Page: http://www.google.com/search?q=high+definition+tvs

Example #4: BestBuy.com (Not So Good)

BestBuy.com’s title is highly relevant to the search query. The body is compelling, but the call to action is lacking a bit. The call to action is “Shop Now!”. Again, that’s a bit redundant and it’s also implied that the shopper is shopping. Furthermore, everyone knows who Best Buy is. There’s no need to let the shopper know that the TVs are for sale. Below is the SERP and landing page.

 

On any other day this landing page would be perfectly great for the keyword searched. The missed opportunity happens when you discover that BestBuy.com has a page featuring HDTVs that are discounted because of a Cyber Monday promotion.

Whoever is managing this campaign surely dropped the ball. I didn’t spend a lot of time searching keywords for BestBuy.com’s product lines trying to find an error in their Paid Search campaigns. This took me very little time to find, actually on my first search.

BestBuy.com isn’t alone. It gets much worse.

Example #5: CircuitCity.com (Not Good At All)

Yes, I did use CircuitCity.com as an example of what to do above, but the example I used about was a good example, this search result is atrocious. Ad copy that doesn’t stand out, but the worst part is the landing page. It doesn’t even have HDTVs on it. It’s just a site search page for the term “HD”. I’m not kidding.

I would expect better execution than this from some of the top online retailers. Furthermore, this proves that there is still opportunity available for the savvy e-commerce merchant whose online marketing is managed by a firm who’s equally as savvy.

I’m still in cyber-shock.