Fashion is one of the most difficult areas of retail to operate efficiently online. CPCs (Costs Per Click) are expensive, price points are competitive and shoppers’ buying habits involve a vast hybrid of channels, devices and offline experiences. However the rewards are substantial, with opportunities ever-increasing as the search landscape grows. According to the IMRG Fashion Report 2015, growth in fashion from January to December (2014) was 70%. According to Google, in 2013, the womenswear market was £24.9bn, having grown 19% over the previous 5 years.
So, here are a few ideas to help you drive effective PPC traffic for fashion retailers:
Budget phasing and ad scheduling tips
Fashion queries are on the up. If we take a product category like dresses as an example, search volume is up 14% YOY and CPCs 8% YOY. To combat the rising cost of driving traffic to site, and to capitalise on the increased volumes available, you should be phasing your budget to support times of increased conversion.
Additionally, don’t forget to utilise the incremental traffic that bidding on Bing can bring. Although fashion retailers often spend a much smaller fraction of their budget on Bing than on Google, conversion rates can be higher and CPCs less aggressive on the former.
Make sure your delivery options support demand; otherwise you will be driving expensive traffic that can’t convert. People won’t forget if their purchases don’t arrive in time. If your delivery options are comprehensive enough to support last minute shoppers, make sure you shout about it in your ad copy, as it will set you apart from your competitors.
Also take into account local shopping hours with your ad scheduling. For instance in the UK you will see an uplift in traffic on a Sunday, as stores’ opening hours are limited to 10-4 or similar.
This leads us nicely onto location bidding. Location bid modifiers allow you to change the positioning of your paid search ads based on the user’s location. They are useful to employ around your retail estate. Econsultancy tell us 79% of consumers have used C&C (click and collect) in the last year, making location bidding even more effective if this is something you offer, as C&C stores are likely to experience a higher conversion rate. A customer who walks past your store every day is much more likely to convert online knowing that they can easily return or exchange purchases in store.
Knowing your customers and what they expect from your brand will have a big influence on your paid search campaign. Consider that if you have a higher average basket value, the purchase time will be longer with more touch points because customers generally spend longer decision-making when it comes to more expensive items. This will then affect your device strategy. Mobile activity will be expensive due to its low conversion rate.
We have found that people want a larger screen to purchase higher ticket value items, but mobile is still an important traffic driver. If cross-device browsing and purchasing is proving difficult to measure and is decreasing your return on investment, consider restricting mobile support to PLAs only.
Because of the very nature of PLAs, with both the image and price visible in the ad, most retailers find they experience a higher conversion rate with them rather than with traditional paid search. Shoppers are already aware of the product before they click, and so need less convincing to buy.
For many retailers (particularly in fashion), problems arise due to the necessity for the feed to be regularly updated and continually optimised. PLAs are becoming key traffic drivers, often proportioning 30-50% of a brand’s traffic and costs, however, so it is worth investing in a top-notch feed to determine the quality of this traffic.
The lessons from PLAs should also be applied to traditional paid search ads and not used in isolation. If displaying the price causes a higher conversion rate, there is no reason feed technology cannot be used in the same way to bring the same information into paid search ads. It does not have to stop there, with colour, size, print and other information also informing the shopper about what to expect before they click, and ultimately increasing efficiency.
Changemakers in retail
The tips and advice above have focused on how to make paid search operate efficiently online in fashion.
We know that nothing online is ever a one channel journey; shoppers continue to become more and more disloyal. Their shopping habits are disrupted by clever competitor marketing campaigns. Fashion retailers have to work harder to win customers, loyalty and repeat sales. And so, it is important to utilise everything from shopping to paid social and display advertising to make sure that your brand remains front of mind for the entire customer journey, both on and offline.
A good starting point is to put some of the above ideas into practice.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about how we can help you make more money online please contact us on [email protected].