Optimizing your paid search strategy with consumer insights

Paid search is still a useful customer acquisition channel, learn how you can optimize your strategy to get the biggest returns on investment.

The pandemic has brought in a new era of e-commerce and upended the consumer decision journey. Recent studies by Ketchum and McKinsey, highlighted that between 45% and 75% of shoppers were found to have altered their brand loyalties during the pandemic, as our priorities have shifted. 

The EY Future Consumer Index, identified five core priorities for customers during the ‘new normal’, and companies have and will need to adapt fast to future proof:

  • Affordability. More than half (58%) of respondents plan to be more aware and cautious of their spending in the longer term.
  • Health. 57% want to make healthier choices in their product purchases in the longer term.
  • Sustainability. 49% will prioritize the environment and climate change in the products they buy.
  • Social impact. 56% will be more likely to buy from companies that ensure what they do has a positive impact on society.
  • Experience. 37% are less inclined to take part in activities outside of the home due to health and safety concerns.

Online sales increased by a massive 42% between 2019 and 2021. If brands get their digital marketing strategies right, they can capitalize on this rapid growth to the ecommerce sector.

And, paid search still has a large role for retailers and brands in customer acquisition as our shopping habits become increasingly more digital. Here are some actionable tactics that can help improve your clickthrough rates:

Our shopping habits have gone digital, meaning brands are now increasingly reliant on a variety of data sources to see changes in user behavior, rather than solely sales and revenue data. Companies that are able to unify a smorgasbord of data sources and leverage the insights into relevant marketing decisions, and better customer experiences will be less susceptible to changing trends.

For example, when the 2021-2022 NBA season began on October 19, 2021, we can see a clear surge in search traffic, which has continued as the season has gone on.

NBA interest over time
NBA interest over time, source: Google Trends

By using the search data into ‘NBA’ as a base level, we can then explore additional consumer insights in a specialist platform, like peekd. We can see that one of the products closely associated with basketball – sneakers – saw a rise in purchases linked to the increased interest over the same time period. Using these insights, retailers and brands can see what products are selling, and adapt their paid search keywords accordingly. 

product pulse data
Data from peekd Product Pulse

In the example above, we can see that the top-selling shoe over the period between the build up to the NBA season and today had a median price for $225, this data can allow retailers to make real-time changes to their pricing strategies – whether to reduce or raise prices due to demand. 

The conventional methods of data analytics from the past will no longer help predict the future, but can be built upon. Companies need to utilize multiple insights and adapt accordingly in real time when consumers change their user behavior.

Don’t just focus on the big players

As e-commerce demand continues to grow, increasing online market share is growing more difficult, ultimately impacting digital marketing budgets.

cpc retail categories
Source: eMarketer

We can see above that a combination of our pandemic spending habits alongside increased ecommerce competition impacted the cost-per-click (CPC) across nearly all retail categories.

As a result, brands are facing rising paid search prices and reduced CPC rates. While big brands like Amazon and their ad pricing spend can be impossible to ignore, trying to improve your ranking on searches of popular products is expensive. There are also no guarantees that it will be effective in the long-term.

Here are some areas to consider to help you optimize your ad spend:

  • Identifying shifts in demand of not just products, but also colors and sizes. This will help inform what you promote and adjust pricing for.
  • Listen to your customers. Identify search queries and monitor social media to see which topics are trending and think strategically about what products might be purchased, as a result. Choose keywords that are relevant to your target audience, instead of on the most popular keywords.
  • Remain conscious of how real-world situations might affect demand. Whether it is the pandemic or key political decisions that might affect supply chains. Keep an eye out on news stories and how it might affect your business. For example, when gyms were forced to close in many countries – there was a huge surge in orders for indoor exercise equipment.

Reach consumers at the right time with relevant messaging

If we return to our Air Jordan and NBA example, timing is everything. The month before the NBA season started, search demand around the NBA remained consistent, as did shoe sales, but the day of the first match saw a huge surge in interest.

As the season has gone on with games on a weekly basis combined with Black Friday and the run up to Christmas – demand for basketball sneakers overtook every other type of shoe. But basketball shoes can have a high price point, particularly the best selling shoe of the period – the Air Jordan 11, which had a median price of $225. 

Consumers respond to brands that understand their needs, which is why it’s important to optimize campaigns at the right time with relevant messaging, offers and pricing.

With the amount of noise and information overload, consumers face on a daily basis – your messaging and customer experience need to stand out. Simplicity and relevance is key.

As seen in the example above, Dick’s Sporting Goods highlighted their best-selling basketball shoes in an image ad on Google, they then offered a ‘Flash Sale’ prompt when you click on the page. The goal is to convert a user into a customer and the brands that capture the moment and link it to something relevant, such as a sale will see a higher conversion rate.

As consumers have become more reactive, the change in user behavior has significantly impacted ecommerce development and strategies. Consumers want brands to anticipate their needs, offering a relevant experience to them.

By utilizing a combination of insights from search trends and social listening to e-commerce intelligence platforms, like peekd, brands can start anticipate the needs of their target audience. This will allow them to provide a more reactive and optimized paid search strategy.

The reward will be higher clickthrough and conversion rates.

Lucas is a content marketer at peekd. In his role, he develops, researches and writes content across different mediums. With nearly a decade of marketing experience, he has helped companies across a variety of industries to develop and create content that resonates with audiences.
Lucas is a content marketer at peekd. In his role, he develops, researches and writes content across different mediums. With nearly a decade of marketing experience, he has helped companies across a variety of industries to develop and create content that resonates with audiences.
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