Organic Search 8 min read

How to Achieve a Holistic Approach to Performance Marketing in Retail

By Megan Carney 12 August, 2021

At QueryClick, we love to share knowledge. Recently our Digital Strategy Director, Scott Donnelly, and Head of Paid Media, Malcolm Gibb, tag-teamed a talk on holistic performance marketing in retail with Masterclassing. Check out the highlights below.

Let’s start off by setting the scene.

What are the key trends in retail as we emerge from the pandemic?

It will come as no surprise to retailers that the pandemic was a significant driver in the growth of online shopping across all generations. In fact, 38% of UK consumers bought products they had never previously bought online. This was particularly true across the health, hygiene, home essential and food and beverage sectors.

Furthermore, 59% of customers said they would go out of their way to support brands that showed a social or charitable focus during Covid 19. While this behaviour will be a result of previous action – those brands who did convey these behaviours during the pandemic should expect to reap rewards from customers.

Not only did the pandemic affect people’s views towards e-commerce, it also changed the channels in which customers consume media. Tik Tok was the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic, achieving 2 billion downloads in 2020. While many will be using this for entertainment purposes, it does open up a larger audience for retailers to target.

What are the core challenges facing retailers post-pandemic?

Interestingly, 49% of consumers intend to continue shopping online post-pandemic, due to the convenience it affords and the belief that you can get cheaper prices online.

We’ve outlined three challenges below that retailers will face as we phase-out of the pandemic.

1. Creating a fast, seamless online experience

71% of UK consumers say they will not shop again with a retailer with whom they have a bad experience. While this extends to in-store experiences, with the increasing shift to online, your website is your storefront.

Three key areas of focus for retailers to improve customers online experience should be:

  • Improving page speed – ensuring that your site complies with best practices to load fast and perform smoothly for customers. A fast website and better conversion rates are tightly linked.
  • Upgrade your checkout experience – remove friction from the checkout process in order to increase conversions.
  • Automate promotions – auto-add promotions as users add products to their basket/checkout.

Improving the on-site experience is key to getting new customers to spend with your brand. The data tells us that returning visitors convert at a higher rate and tend to spend more than new customers, so increasing page speed will help us drive more sales and increase ATV.

2. Delivering incremental ROI from paid advertising

The second main challenge is how we can deliver ROI from paid advertising amidst rising costs and competitiveness. For Paid Search we are seeing rising click costs, and in some cases exact match CPCs rising by over 140% even on pure brand terms.

On top of this, with recent Google changes we are only able to see a fraction of actual user search terms. Google is moving away from broad match modified and recommending advertisers to use phrase match instead. This presents challenges in itself for advertisers to strike that balance between visibility and incremental performance.

Furthermore, platforms like Facebook present a major challenge for marketers, as they appear to drive incremental performance on the face of it – but how does this measure up in the full customer journey? Facebook grossly overvalues itself in-platform versus other reporting suites like GA.

3. Moving away from cookie-based attribution

Google announced that they will be removing 3rd party cookies from Chrome browsers by the end of 2023 and Apple’s iOS 14.5 update has made sharing this data opt-in only for every app use.

This means that a vast amount of the data that has been available to marketers up until this point will be less accessible.

Read more about achieving success in post-cookie marketing >

So, with these challenges in retail – how can we succeed?

With a holistic approach to search.

The SERPS have become a complex landscape, Organic and Paid lines are more blurred than ever and competition to own the space is constantly increasing. Enhancements to knowledge graphs, shopping ads and devices means that SERP real estate is at an all-time premium.

Search has historically been treated as a channel with two separate disciplines, operating in the same environment. We need to shift this mindset and start treating Search as a single channel, with two core disciplines (SEO & Paid) – developing integrated strategies to achieve maximum performance within Search – rather than a siloed “us vs them” mentality that too often exists today. This is the key to a holistic approach that can drive true incrementality.

Justifying spend on Paid Search and Organic expenditure can be difficult unless we start looking at it as being one bucket. So how do we begin to do this?

Use modelling attribution data to help maximise performance and decrease wastage

Relying on default attribution models in a walled garden like Facebook can result in over-reporting in-channel. Modelling the true value of impressions and clicks is key to understanding the role of paid social.

At QueryClick, we have developed a proprietary tool, Corvidae. Our approach to attribution uses predictive modelling technology to attribute a contribution value for every interaction. By truly understanding the role that each channel is playing, then we can help clients make educated decisions on where to allocate budget.

Take our work with Tesco Mobile for example, we identified that £1.1 million was being wasted on branded bidding. With Organic hoovering up the traffic and sales that would’ve gone to Paid Search, this meant the ~£1.1 million spent per year on brand exact bidding could be reallocated on other areas of paid media.

Without Paid Media cannibalising brand exact, Organic Search experienced a bump in traffic and sales that, before our testing programme, Tesco Mobile would have had to pay for unnecessarily.

Get in touch with our experts today and find out how Corvidae can help you achieve marketing success.

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