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An Analytics Primer to Target Last Minute Shoppers

Most retailers, if they use analytics at all, do so with the big picture in mind: are their social media or online ad campaigns working and by how much? Fewer companies are able to use this toolset to capture quickly-moving trends.

One example of the former is Blendtec, the high-end blender manufacturer, which relies heavily on its YouTube channel to get the word out about its products' features. The company, which has more than 440,000 subscribers on YouTube, 85,000 shoppers that have Liked its Facebook page and 7,300 people who follow its tips and recipes on Twitter, uses Google Analytics to track its traffic from social sites, Nate Hirst, BlendTec’s global marketing analyst, tells Internet Retailer.

A Minority of Retailers are Analytics Savvy

Analytics–even and especially in the advanced category–can be just as more even more valuable when used to target emerging trends and, at this time of year, last minute shoppers. While this may seem self-evident to some in the industry, in fact many retailers do not use analytics to this extent.

When asked to describe the level of digital knowledge within their organizations—a category that includes Web analytics/data, social media activity and content marketing–only a minority of respondents to an eConsultancy survey classified it as excellent (9%) or good (34%).

Many felt that it was average (41%), while 16% described it as poor (13%) or very poor (3%).

Those Procrastinating Shoppers

Now—three days before Christmas—would a good time to try more advanced strategies. Targeting last minute shoppers, both online and those willing to dash to a store to grab a must-have product, can identified via advanced analytics, Google says.

Google offers a quick guide how to target this group.

1. Research these last-minute shoppers from 2010. If you had goals or e-commerce tracking installed back then, shrink your date range from December 18th, 2010 to December 24th, 2010. Then, select the "Visits with Transactions" default advanced segment.

Look for the keywords buyers searching on–were there any good generic terms like "last minute gifts" or "gifts before christmas"? Or were there any long-tail terms that are still relevant this year? These are some of the terms you want to bid on.

If you don't have e-commerce tracking, Google suggests creating a custom advanced segment and then going to the organic keywords report by navigating to Traffic Sources > Search > Organic.

2. Determine whether there is any crossover between your online store and physical store. If you have a store locator for your physical stores (or that lists stores who sell your products), then create an advanced segment in which you shrink the date range to the past seven days.

Go to the Pages report (under Content > Site Content) to cross-list those products against any that are out of stock (one reason why they could be checking for stores). Then, call around to make sure the physical locations have the items that these visitors are searching for.

3. For online only operations, create similar advanced segments for people who visit the site's most popular holiday promotional pages. "Then, go to the Pages report to see what other products those visitors are viewing–and the transactions report to see what people are buying–and feature that content on the landing page."

4. Don't forget about your mobile shoppers. Check your AdWords report, and try out the new "non-mobile", "high-end mobile" and "tablet" default segments. "You might be surprised at how your paid traffic behaves differently," Google says.

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