6 Top Online Shopping Trends You Need To Know Of

I love movies, and one of my favorite’s Christmas comedies is Arnold’s Jingle All the Way (1996) where two parents are both desperately trying to purchase an action figure for their respective sons on a last-minute shopping spree on Christmas eve. The interesting part of this movie is that it was inspired by real-life seasonal toy sell-outs and Black Friday blowout sales. If that chaos was a common thing 25 years ago; now imagine what a pandemic economy, supply chain woes, labor shortages and limited inventory capacity will do to the holiday online shopping experience. 

Fortunately, Google search and social media makes our gift giving less chaotic because more brands and small businesses showcase their products and we, the consumer, can look for online shopping recommendations, inspiration and last-minute gifts without fighting Santa’s helpers to get our hands in the precious toy.

Jingle All the Way (1996)

Whether you are planning your gift giving list, you own a small business or are in charge of the marketing campaign, there are some interesting trends for this upcoming holiday season you should keep in mind.

Holiday Sales

According to Google, BigCommerce and eMarketer, holiday retail sales will grow 2.7% to $1,093 trillion and e-commerce will surpass the $10 billion mark in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales alone.

Deloitte, on the other hand, forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 11-15%, reaching between $210 billion and $218 billion this season. The interesting side of this trend is that restaurants and service providers will grow at a faster pace due to consumers feeling more comfortable being outdoors now that vaccines are available, while retail will continue to grow at a steady pace by 7-9%. 

40% of U.S. shoppers have already started their holiday shopping, according to new research from Google and Ipsos.

Shipping and Handling

Because of shipping delays and labor shortages, delivery companies face a “capacity crunch”, retailers most likely will turn to gig economy companies like DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates to deliver the merchandise. 

Large retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Banana Republic, PetSmart and Sam’s Club have already partnered with these delivery companies for this upcoming holiday season. Although small retailers can benefit by using delivery services, the returning process is still a concern due to S&H costs and software limitations.

Curbside pickup and BOPIS are here to stay. Although they prove to be useful during the pandemic; consumers want to keep this modality as it is convenient to research products online and then buy them in-store, buying them online skipping the line and picking them up at the location, attracting foot-traffic and increasing brick and mortar sales.

Social Media

92% of online shoppers will continue using social media in their decision-making process. Because consumers expect supply chain delays, shoppers are using Google Search, Bing and Instagram to help them find retailers that carry products they have in their gifting list.

E-commerce platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce will continue to integrate social media to list their catalogs. Although the most common platform is Instagram, Google Merchant Center is making its move offering free listing to retailers, SEM with optimized catalogs can see up to a 3.8% increase in website traffic. 

US retail sales through social media will rise by 34.8% in 2021, reaching $36.09 billion, according to eMarketer.

Small Businesses

60% of U.S. consumers say they will shop more at local small businesses to support job creation and the local economy. 

Because of the pandemic, local shops now have an online presence capturing consumer interest early on and offering a more personalized experience, securing foot traffic and sales. However, lack of IT infrastructure and a better understanding of e-commerce practices will continue to challenge small business owners operations and budget.

Mobile Online Shopping.

Approximately 61% of Google search results come from a mobile device and retail buying through mobile devices accounts for almost 54% of online orders, according to Statista. 

Mobile online shopping, or M-commerce, will rise in the coming years as e-commerce grows to become a larger portion of total U.S. retail sales. Shopify forecasts that this channel will likely grow 12.2% in 2021, beating traditional ecommerce and in-store shopping. 

Search engines are clocking onto this and penalizing sites that don’t deliver seamless mobile shopping experiences. Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing, for example, takes the mobile experience of a site into consideration when determining where each page should rank—even if the searcher loads it on a desktop.

Direct To Consumer Retail

BlueCart expects the DTC market to grow in 2021 to $20 billion worldwide. This is a 15% increase year-over-year and the trend will continue to grow at a steady pace. Artisan food with a subscription model dominates the DTC industry, followed by fashion technology and pets.

Social media trends (unboxing experience) boosted DTC sales while at the same time caused DTC companies to invest in custom branded packaging, a trend that will continue as new Instagram or TikTok challenges emerge.

Consumers expect delays for their holiday online shopping and, contrary to past experiences, are more open than ever to using social media to find new brands and shop locally to get what they want.

Key Points

  • Search engines and social media will continue to help shoppers find retailers that carry products they want.
  • Because of delivery and logistics crunches, BOPIS will continue to be preferred by consumers, attracting foot-traffic and increasing brick and mortar sales.
  • M-commerce will rise in the coming years as e-commerce grows to become a larger portion of total U.S. retail sales.
  • US retail sales through social media will continue to rise.
  • Personalized experience using automations and customer service will increase conversion rate for online shopping. 
  • For local small businesses, Google My Business and Google Merchant Center will continue to be the best option to list their products and attract foot-traffic to their shop.
  • For DTC and home-based businesses, advertising on social media channels and using search ads for M-commerce will most likely improve the conversion rate. 
  • Consumers will continue to shop from brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and product recommendations. 
  • Personalizing online experience can increase conversion rates by 5% according to McKinsey.

What are GR Notes?

I believe valuable content should be accessible, that is why we created GR Notes, a free resource with important information for marketers, businesses, and creative geniuses who want to keep ahead of the competition.

Every Friday I will be sharing highlights, key points, and foreseeable trends on digital marketing topics that matter to you. Think of GR Notes as flashcards, but way better.

I recommend bookmarking this page so you can go back anytime you need it or register your email and receive GR Notes right to your inbox, where you can save, share and keep them handy.

Down the rabbit hole

Better known as that extra just for the geek inside you 😉

Glossary
  • DTC Brands: Direct-to-consumer brands are known for selling directly to customers online, bypassing the “middlemen” of wholesalers and retailers. Associated with Millennial shoppers. Some examples include Casper, Harry’s, Rent the Runway, Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix
  • BOPIS: Buy Online, Pick up In-Store; it is also referred to as click and collect, curbside pickup, and ROPIS (reserve online, pick up in-store)
Resources

New Kid on The Block: Responsive Search Ads

Between Apple’s privacy settings and the forthcoming changes on Google; digital marketing agencies, social media managers, and businesses in general are having a hard time navigating the new digital norm.

Data shows, that social media ads and lead generation funnels will have a fluctuation in volume and engagement throughout Q2 and Q3. Basically because of the iOS 14.5 new privacy settings, Google’s sandbox and no third-party cookies that have a direct impact on reach and tracking.

Simply put, a good number of social media marketing agencies will need to go the extra mile and pivot to increase campaign performance.

Here, at Gabby Rendon, we focus on connecting our customers with the right audience, designing strategies based on context, content and intent. We’ve been preparing for this moment way before the digital marketing went on a diet.

Having a strategy offering creative and valuable content that converts is by far the best (and cost-effective) strategy for branding, growing your email list and most importantly, own your data.

If you are a businesses using tons of digital advertisement, let me tell you there’s a new kid on the block you really want to invite and play with!

Keep reading and learn about Google Responsive Search Ads, the default Google ad type this Summer.

GR Notes #2 Google’s Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)

Simply put, RSAs make ads more flexible and bringing better results to the user because they are based on search intent.

Key Points

  • Responsive Search Ads identify the best combination of headlines and descriptions delivering the right ad to the right person. In fact, we’ve seen advertisers that add responsive search ads in their ad groups achieve up to 10% more clicks and conversions.
How Does RSAs Work?
  • The creative process is the same: content, copy and keyword search. The difference would be on the effectiveness of the headline-description combination.
  • Use Ad strength, focusing on the effectiveness rate and specific action or item(s) you want the audience to react.
  • Customize the ads using location insertion, which could be a physical place, area of interest or your customer’s location.
  • Let your audience know about upcoming events and create a sense of urgency (countdown) for them to take action.
  • Trust Smart Bidding, it can optimize your cost based on data from all of your campaigns, so even new campaigns without data of their own may see increased performance. 
  • Include broad match keywords on the settings, this way you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work.
  • Google will continue expanding the use of AI to understand queries, rank relevant results and get higher quality results to user’s questions.
  • Privacy settings and no tracking options will only get stronger, Google encourages every business owner to maximize the value of their first-party data (a.k.a. web traffic, emails, DM, SMS).
  • Responsive Search Ads will be the norm for digital campaigns and will likely end up taking a larger share of the advertisement market, especially now that Facebook is reluctant to comply with some countries’ requirements.

What are GR Notes?

We believe valuable content should be accessible, that is why we created GR Notes, a free resource with important information for marketers, businesses, and creative geniuses who want to keep ahead of the competition.

Every week we will be sharing highlights, key points, and foreseeable trends on digital marketing topics that matter to you. Think of GR Notes as flashcards, but way better.

We recommend bookmarking this page so you can go back anytime you need it or register your email and receive GR Notes right to your inbox, where you can save, share and keep them handy.

Down the rabbit hole

Better known as that extra just for the geek inside you 😉

Glossary
  • Signals: Identifiable attributes about a person or their context at the time of a particular auction.
Resources

Digital Marketing on a Diet: Goodbye Third-Party Cookies

This week topic is about cookies, not the chocolate type though, but the tiny messages web servers pass to the web browser every time you visit a site. Cookies store any information you volunteered like location, interests and browsing history, which are used for digital advertising purposes.

GR Notes #1 Google’s Privacy Sandbox

Rising privacy concerns gave birth to many privacy laws (like GDPR, CCPA, LGPD, PDPA) that limit the use of third-party cookies, making it more difficult for data collection software, like Google Analytics, to function in the same way it was intended to; and now third-party cookies are about to come to an end. As a consequence, Google announced their “intention to phase out third-party cookies and replace them with new browser features that are fundamentally more private.”

Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to promote relevant advertising with accurate measuring while protecting user’s privacy.

Key Points

  • Web browsers are blocking third-party tracking. Mozilla Firefox and Safari are the biggest players to make moves against the cookie. Of course, Google had to step up against the malicious use of third-party cookies that can cause damage to the user’s privacy by unethical practices.
  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to keep ad delivery efficiency intact without the use of third-party cookies but through browser APIs.
How would Privacy Sandbox work?
  • All the user data will sit safely in the Chrome browsers of the individual users. The interests of the users will be discovered based on their browsing history. The users with similar interests would be in groups (what Google calls FLoC). Only Chrome will know about the group to which a user belongs.
  • The API will signal only the users’ groups, and the buyers will be targeting those groups. The remaining APIs will help in all the supporting activities like reporting, fraud detection, conversion tracking, etc. 
  • The First-Party Sets will enable targeting across multiple sites owned by the same publisher. Cross-site targeting across the web will not work.
What Google says
  • FLoC was proposed in 2020 with the idea that groups of people with common interests could replace individual identifiers.
  • On January 25, 2021, the Google Ads Blog released that FLoC “effectively hides individuals “in the crowd” and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser. 
  • Google’s ads found that FLoC can provide “an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies”and are expecting to see “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent” when it comes to generating interest-based audiences compared to cookie-based advertising.
  • Audience creation will have a remake too. However, it is too soon to tell if the proposal of a “bring your own server” model will have a positive welcoming from advertisers. More testing is needed to ensure that ad auctions will continue after third-party cookies are gone.
  • For Conversion measurement, tagging and an API surface can be added to the web platform to allow advertisers to measure ROI in a way that provides better privacy to users. Using API alone will not be able to support all conversion measurements. Again, too soon to tell, but testing is happening as we speak.
  • In the fight against bots, Google wants companies to be able to distinguish actual visitors from bots and fraudulent traffic (which skyrockets ad spending) with a new Trust Token API. Although the plan is still on diapers, the Trust Token may be released for trial this Summer.

Major key players, like IAB Technology Laboratory, believe that removing third-party cookies and identifiers will have a profound impact on digital advertising, specifically on ad budget, retargeting and measurement. We expect that in the next two years, there will be a lot of action across the digital supply chain to balance consumer privacy and personalization with industry revenue.

Digital marketing agencies will need to go the extra mile. Focus on considering first-party strategies and CMS software to learn how your visitors behave while using your site, so you can develop a sound strategy based on context, content and intent. Monitor, track, and save data collected from visitors to your site using analytics: email newsletter subscribers and feedback/surveys. With each data point on your website, you can utilize it to target ad campaigns, understand your readers, and optimize the site experience. Work on delivering valuable original content and use organic campaigns focusing on the upper-funnel testing new audiences related to your buying personas for testing and data collection.

What are GR Notes?

We believe valuable content should be accessible, that is why we created GR Notes, a free resource with important information for marketers, businesses, and creative geniuses who want to keep ahead of the competition.

Every week we will be sharing highlights, key points, and foreseeable trends on digital marketing topics that matter to you. Think of Novel Notes as flashcards, but way better.

We recommend bookmarking this page so you can go back anytime you need it or register your email and receive GR Notes right to your inbox, where you can save, share and keep them handy.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Better known as that extra just for the geek inside you 😉

Glossary
  • Application Programming Interface (API): Computing interface that defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. 
  • Conversion: The completion of a meaningful user action on the advertiser’s website by a user who has previously interacted with an ad from that advertiser.
  • Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC): A group of people with similar browsing habits so that ad tech companies can observe large groups’ habits instead of the activity of individuals for ad targeting.
  • Third-Party Cookies: Tracking codes placed on a web visitor’s computer after being generated by another website other than your own.
Sources

Make Page Experience Signals a Top Priority .

If binge-watching has stopped you from writing down your Q4 Marketing Goals, maybe knowing that Google’s page experience signals in ranking went fully operational for mobile devices in August 2021 (among other good stuff) motivates you to pause Squid Game. Remember that page experience is a set of all the signals that measure how users perceive the experience of a website. Including visual appeal, stability, loading time, and of course, content.

With less than two months for finishing the 2021, we are updating websites and revamping our content to meet Google’s new standards for ranking on mobile.

Page Experience Signals

Back in Q1 2021, Google announced that additionally to the new experience signals, marketers now have to integrate other topics into strategies. Gear up because Google moves towards indexing passages and not only pages, prioritizing those with the best information.

Sure enough, this news made you jump off the couch.

Maybe you’ve heard it through the grapevine (back in October 2019) when Google announced the most significant leap forward in the history of search: The Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT for short (don’t you love how nerdy it sounds?). BERT design aims to understand better the search intent and the context of the queries, moving away from keyword typing and introducing models that process words concerning all the other terms in a sentence, similar to how we usually ask questions.

A revolutionary approach on how the search algorithm sorts the best results for the user, no more stiff titles with no valuable content. Now, the algorithm focuses on content that answers the search question and the quality of it.

What does it mean for marketers?

So, imagine layer after layer of good stuff, pretty much like a Scooby-Doo sandwich (please do not confuse it with a Shaggy Super sandwich, because seriously? Sardines and marshmallows?). Anyway, back to the topic, imagine an algorithm that understands what the user is looking for (BERT), sorting out high quality websites and looking for the answer in passages, not only pages.

It means offering the user valuable results with the best browsing experience.

For us, marketers, this triple-layered strategy means more opportunities to stand out from the competition. Think how this algorithm positively impacts digital marketing in significant ways: First, BERT matches the copy to the way people search, focusing on often-search questions, and second, enhances the quality of the content with well-written articles aiming for longer, more conversational phrases.

For inbound marketers, this is gold right at the palm of our hands ready to craft the most creative campaign to attract the right client.

Goals to Focus On

First, goals should be thinking beyond keywords and phrases typically associated with the business and considering more conversational phrases that customers might be using to find the product or service. Integrating natural language across digital touch points and creating responses that meet nuanced customer needs.

Second, making sure the business’ website meets Google page experience signals doing a site-wide audit of the pages and see the room for improvement.

Third, don’t wait until May for Google to roll out the changes I talked about above, work proactively with your team reviewing top-ranking pages, prioritize those with good search volume, and focus on strategic content that brings value to the business.

GR Tips

  • Prioritize integrating new page experience signals additionally to Core Web Vitals and stay away from cookie-cutter SEO with poor information.
  • Offer the best experience throughout the buyer’s journey and digital touch points in your inbound marketing.
  • Use bold fonts highlighting solutions and key topics to attract more users into your website on search results.

What are GR Notes?

We believe valuable content should be accessible, that is why we created GR Notes, a free resource with important information for marketers, businesses, and creative geniuses who want to keep ahead of the competition.

Every week we will be sharing highlights, key points, and foreseeable trends on digital marketing topics that matter to you. Think of GR Notes as flashcards, but way better.

We recommend bookmarking this page so you can go back anytime you need it or register your email and receive GR Notes right to your inbox, where you can save, share and keep them handy.

@gaby_rendon