On May 24, 2016, Google hosted its fourth annual Performance Summit – a conference aimed at sharing the latest in its innovations for Google Analytics and Google AdWords customers.
In a continually evolving digital landscape, these events serve to address marketers, retailers and the general public about the latest developments to the search engine giant’s complex algorithms. More importantly, they discuss consumer trends and behaviour, and how we as retailers should react to the ever-changing needs of our customers.
Those who are new to the arena of digital marketing should take heed of the latest innovations from Google – in a world where we have unlimited access to information wherever we go, customers are changing their buying patterns and it has not gone unnoticed. As we recover from the economic crisis, consumers are becoming more aware of how they spend their income, which has given rise to comparison websites and in general, more careful purchasing behaviour.
In a broad sense, this represents a rapid shift for retailers – if your business does not have a digital presence, it will likely fail amongst today’s aggressive competitors. Specifically however, Google addressed the shift towards mobile purchases, which is important for two reasons. Firstly, the aforementioned savvy shopper is using his or her mobile to compare prices – 90 per cent of shoppers, for example, use a mobile while shopping in-store.
Secondly – and this is good news for high street retailers – shoppers are using their mobile to search for the best deal possible, in the closest location. The eggheads at Google call this a ‘micro moment’ as marketing expert Matt Lawson regales us with the tale of your average shopper who searches for a ‘hardware store’ and immediately locates one using his mobile’s GPS. Thanks to innovations with Google’s SERPs, said customer is also informed of the latest in-store offer and can reserve his or her desired item before walking in-store to collect it.
As such, whilst online sales grew by 14.9 per cent in 2016, this does not spell the end of the high-street retailer. It simply means that we have to evolve in line with what today’s customer wants. Today’s customer has little patience; he or she wants results, quickly, and is willing to shop around for the best deal, with tools such as Google Shopping at his or her disposal.
To compete, then, a core digital marketing strategy is key. This equates to a fully mobile optimised site (almost half of consumers with will leave a poorly loading website within three seconds), a thorough SEO strategy, a segmented email campaign, a well-maintained social media profile and, where possible, the use of paid media such as Google AdWords.
This has led to incredible increases in conversion rates – take, for example, land-based retailer Equine Essentials Direct. The tack shop launched a new website with digital marketing assistance from Agency51 in November 2015, which included Google Shopping, regular mailer campaigns to inform customers about online deals and spending with Facebook advertising. Within six months, revenue increased by more than 500 per cent, and site visitors increased by 97 per cent.
The core message to take from this case study, and Google’s latest developments, is customer engagement and understanding. By understanding our customers’ buying habits, we can use digital marketing tactics to increase conversions where traditional marketing techniques would usually fail. A customer who leaves a website without converting can be re-targeted with a personalised email, but how can we chase a customer out of a store?
By achieving a better understanding of our customers we can target them online and offline – making the most of mobile technology to provide them the best local offers, and bidding against our competitors in the aggressive, but effective, world of pay-per-click advertising.
High street retail is not dead – it simply needs to move with the needs of today’s ever more demanding customers. With a little help from mobile technology and a bespoke digital marketing strategy, today’s retailers can work to make every moment a ‘micro moment’ for their consumers.
Katie Thompson is an NCTJ trained journalist and digital account manager for York-based digital marketing agency, Agency51. She has written for a number of local and national publications including Yahoo! and today writes freelance contributions for blogs in her spare time whilst managing a variety of eCommerce digital marketing accounts.