Strategy

Intentional Demand Channels

Consumers with intentional demand are in the store and ready to make a purchase. Intentional demand channels reach consumers who have made a decision, or will be making one in the very near future, and are ready to buy. During this critical stage, these types of shoppers may be more receptive to advertising and products being placed in front of them. So it's critical that you're being seen at the point of sale.

Just as major brands fight for premium shelf space in retail stores, online retailers have to strategically position their products to be seen by shoppers actively seeking to make a purchase online. And in the increasingly crowded online shopping space, choosing the correct mix of intentional demand channels has never been so critical to the success of a company. There's no better time for your products to be front and center to shoppers than when they're about to press the "buy now" button.
 

Paid Search

Text ads, which were introduced around the turn of the millennium, were Google's first attempt at paid search advertising. Over the years, these ads have been through several format changes, but their basic functionality remains the same. Paid search text ads allow retailers to bid on various keywords to ensure that their ads are seen by users searching for specific brands, products and services.

Paid search is all about relevancy. Everything from the position of your ad to the price you pay for someone to click is based on how relevant your keywords, ads and product pages are to what the user types into the search bar. And the first step you should take to ensure relevancy is to choose the right set of keywords - that match the ones people are using to search for products you sell. Think like a customer. Make sure you include a good mix of keyword types:

  • Head terms: These search terms are more general in nature and tend to be used by customers in the early phases of the purchase cycle. Head terms let you cast a wide net. For instance, a term like "shoes" would obviously result in a lot of traffic. But because of this broader approach, these keywords tend to be more expensive and less likely to convert.
     
  • Torso terms: These keywords are slightly more specific than head terms and therefore tend to be better at converting. The phrase "men's running shoes," for example, would generate less traffic than the broader "shoes," but it should be more appealing to a shopper performing a more specific search query.
     
  • Long tail keywords: This type of keyword phrase is highly specific and, as a result, will have much less search volume. The phrase "RunSport blue men's running shoe size 11" will be searched for less than "men's running shoes." But when this query is finally made, this type of keyword will be more relevant and more likely to convert.
     
  • Negative keywords: Negative keywords are used to prevent your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. For instance, you may not want to display your ad to someone searching for "donating shoes." Negative keywords can be helpful in reducing wasteful clicks and increasing your ROI.
     
  • Brand terms: In addition to creating exposure for your products and driving revenue, paid search can be a cost-effective way to keep the brand name of your company present throughout the search process.

Just as it's important to experiment with keyword types, you should also continually test your ad copy to see what resonates with shoppers. What you may think is a strong call to action may not actually matter to your customers. Variations of the same ad should help you determine what works best.

It's also important to note that a product feed isn't required for traditional keyword advertising. If maintaining an active feed is a current challenge for you, but you still want to be seen on Google, paid search would be an ideal starting point.
 

Product Listing Ads 

In recent years, the introduction of product listing ads (PLAs) has completely transformed the way retailers use the search engine results page to reach shoppers. Since these ads include a dynamic image, price, retailer name and other promotional information, shoppers can see all the information they need to be swayed to purchase your product.

With more and more online merchants using PLAs, you should promote products with competitive prices to set yourself apart from other retailers. Other important factors:

  • Feed management: Because PLAs are feed based and don't rely on keywords like text ads, your product inventory feed is critical to the success of your campaign. Make sure your feed is complete, accurate and refreshed daily.
     
  • Campaign structure: Set up your campaigns so that they reflect how your customers find products on your website or in your store. For instance, if customers typically search for your products by brand name, start your campaign hierarchy at the brand level and then move to product category type.
     
  • Efficient bidding: Take advantage of your segmented campaigns by testing bid amounts at different product group levels to determine which achieves the best ROI.
     
  • Quality images: It's the product image that will first grab the shopper's attention, so make sure you're using hte highest resolution possible. Also, consider using different angles to stand out from the competition. Don't use images that include watermarks or multiple products. 
     

Comparison Shopping Engines

 
Looking to reach bargain hunters? Comparison shopping engines (CSEs) are feed-based programs that allow customers to compare prices from multiple merchants, and they've been popular with deal seekers for years. Although the introduction of PLAs has led to changes in the CSE landscape, it's still a valuable space for retailers. Some of the major CSEs to consider:
  • Connexity Network: Connexity, which operates sites like Shopzilla, Pronto and Bizrate, allows shoppers to search, compare and purchase over 150 million products from thousands of retailers.
     
  • PriceGrabber: PriceGrabber gives shoppers the ability to view and compare products, prices and services from thousands of merchants, enabling users to find the right product from the right merchant at the best price.
     
  • EBay Commerce Network: Part of eBay Inc., the eBay Commerce Network, formerly known as Shopping.com, is a commerce advertising platform that offers merchants direct response and targeted advertising solutions across a network of premier publishers.
     
  • Nextag: Nextag provides side-by-side comparison of latest prices, including tax and shipping, from a wide variety of sellers and stores. Nextag also provides helpful review and rating information on sellers to help online shoppers during the purchase process.
     
  • Amazon Product Ads: Amazon Product Ads launched in 2007 to provide a highly targeted advertising channel for products on Amazon.com. Once shoppers click your ad, they're directed to your website to complete the purchase. These ads are great for listing products that require customization in the order process, are subject to manufacturer restrictions or have special shipping requirements.
Similar to PLAs, CSEs are another channel where promoting price-competitive products is beneficial.
 
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