Valentines Day – e-commerce Gaps, Fails & Things to Fix
I was going to write a post about PPC Tips for Valentines campaigns, but as I started to research screens and brand positioning for the main Valentines product areas, I discovered a whole heap of things not working as they should, and a lot of tricks that are potentially being missed for both PPC and SEO.
I also found many things that could affect your bottom line, or issues that you may want to look out for before the busiest shopping period before Valentines Day gets underway…
I don’t mean to point fingers as things go wrong with e-commerce all the time, but a lot of these issues I see time and time again and many have simple fixes so I have used the actual examples I came across while doing my research that are currently live.
A quick check now, or a few additions now could save you a little more in advertising costs and make you a little more in sales revenue so don’t shoot the messenger!
(disclaimer: some of these issues may depend on your last delivery dates, regularity of search engine indexing and red-tape you have to go through before you can make any changes!)
Main Valentines Sectors
General consensus is that the top sold Valentines products fall in these areas:
- Chocolates/Confectionary / Candy
- Food & Drink (Meals out/Champagne etc)
- Beauty/Fashion Accessories
I wasn’t going to put this but since I found no dating ads around the term ‘How to break up with your girlfriend on Valentines Day’ – I’m adding
There will of course be other types of gifts but these are the money spinning areas for Valentines Day.
Find the Gap
Before I move into things I found that were not working, I found a lot of gaps that might be worth filling.
Just because it may not be a highly competitive generic search term, it does not mean that it won’t provide any return. Some of my clients can’t afford to target generic keywords for prime slot holidays like Valentines and being from the school of affiliate thinking, I am programmed to look for potential gaps of the longer tail variety that ‘might’ pay off.
I say ‘might’ as although I often find that there are no advertisers in many places and old blog posts where new blog posts could be. I sometimes find after testing that there may be a reason for there being not many Ads in the space, or that poor performance means they are switched off quickly, but if you are not testing and looking for gaps, you won’t know.
To start with I searched for:
- Most Popular Valentines Gifts
- Popular Valentines Gifts
- Best Valentines Gifts
- What to buy for Valentines Day
- Top Selling Valentines Gifts
- What should I get my girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/pet on Valentines Day
- What Gift should I get my girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/pet
I then searched for Valentines specifics just to see who was advertising, how they were advertising and whether there were actually different strategies for SEO and PPC
- Valentines Flowers, Valentines Roses
- Valentines Chocolates/Candy/Confectionary
- Valentines Jewellery
- Valentines Lingerie
- Valentines Weekend Breaks (ok so romantic weekend break also fits but trying to keep it ‘Valentines’)
- Valentines Champagne
- Valentines Cards
- Valentines Meals, Valentines Menu [location]
- Valentines Gifts
Also using the words ‘buy’, ‘send’, ’day’
Many top positions were from wiki’s a few from, National Geographic – really? no major e-commerce brand appears for most popular valentines gifts? or Best Valentines Gifts? Askmen had some blog posts but they had no product links. I also saw a lot of newspaper articles so it may be time to get friendly with your well connected PR
Of course it may not be worth your while to spend a lot of time gaining SEO positions for lower search traffic areas, but I wouldn’t have thought it would take much to rank in some of these places if your site is already a popular e-commerce website.
My Funny Valentine?
I also searched for
- Valentines Gifts under £5
- Cheap Valentines Gifts
Maybe my sense of humour is way off or it’s one for the ‘bad ideas’ draw, but a well-done funny page for Valentines Gifts under a fiver with the cheapskates guide to Valentines Day would certainly get me sharing on LAD networks.
Since writing this the Thorntons ‘little gifts’ page has started to show as has a Gifts under a tenner for notonthehighstreet, and I was amused to find poundland ranking for Valentines Gifts.
I only had a quick look, so if you find anything worth sharing let me know – I was actually disappointed at the lack of offending your girlfriend listings with only the toxic fox ranking for and actually showing cheap Valentines Gifts.
There are always exact match PPC slots and you can always find some reasonably empty spaces surrounding searched for questions such as ‘what should I get my wife for Valentine’s Day?’ My advice is to just search, see what comes up, then refine searches, extend searches and go off on as many tangents as you have time for.
I use the Google AdPreview tool when checking to make sure that ads are not just hidden from me. This helps you to identify searches from any location you wish using any country suffix and saves you logging in and logging out.
I also found a number of gaps for location based queries, particularly with restaurants. I have written more on this a little further down in the article.
If you are looking for gaps in advertising for holiday slots my advice is:
- Start advertising early - you may hit ad approval delays, you may also not get the perfect combination straight away – give yourself time to test.
- Start on very low spend and work up - I have been caught out before in affiliate days by getting too excited about potential gaps in the PPC space including a legendary mistake from a PPC campaign a few years back where I burned the entire budget in an hour playing with a placement from a Google Doodle search term.
- Start exact and move to generic/broad – in case your CTR gets you switched off prematurely
Even if you find no gaps at all, searching manually instead of relying solely on keyword tools can help you brainstorm creative ideas for infographics, posts, and campaigns.
It’s not me, it’s you(r website)…
Just because it’s holiday spend season, there is no reason to assume that people will buy because it’s Valentines Day and you have a store. As with all e-commerce, there are things that help conversion and ways to encourage busy (and often last minute) shoppers to buy there and then. At the very least you want them to think about coming back for a second date when they are ready to buy.
Here are just some of the things I found where improvements could be made while searching in the areas above:
I am always surprised with Christmas and Valentines that there are so many things missing that could trigger a sale… conversely there can be many things that can put people off buying altogether.
My first searches were for Jewellery related terms. H Samuel are top of the UK ‘Valentines Jewellery’ listings, but if you click through you are faced with some questionable landing pages for PPC and SEO.
The SEO page had a spammy looking content page opposite a huge advert with no link. Really? this was the best SEO page for #1 ranking you could come up with for maximum conversion? When I finally clicked through on Gifts for her under £20 from the PPC landing page – the first items were Mickey Mouse Jewellery #ohtheirony
Compare it to their PPC landing page. If it works, it works. I personally would not buy from either but I am left wondering who does buy from these pages? In fairness, the main site is a lot better when you get past these landing pages, but at busy holiday season, I would have thought you want to bring people in, not put people off!
Last Day for Delivery, Guaranteed Delivery Dates
After quite a few Christmas delivery Fiasco’s, many shoppers have learned not to trust delivery dates. At Christmas you can rely on the buy and print gift voucher and ‘get-away-with-it’, but at Valentines, a Gift Voucher so you can choose what you would like yourself totally misses the point of showing undying love for your partner.
Make it easy for customers to know that you can deliver by X date, and if possible try and trigger a sale based on there being very little time left.
Although there were some sites using express buy tactics, many were not. Having worked in online Jewellery Sales for a number of years, we found a few things that help buyers, and especially male buyers at this time of year to stay on site and purchase.
- Gifts for Him/Her
- Gifts under [insert price bracket]
- What type of Girlfriend do you have/Persona based suggestions
- In a hurry? How much do you want to spend >> GO!
- This is where you SHOULD go for a romantic weekend
- Make it easy for people – this example below makes no links to any of their suggested destinations
Make sure your site works!
I found a script error on Interflora - nothing major, but definitely something you don’t want popping up with nervous buyers with credit cards.
Watch Those Title Tags
Just because you want to cover all markets, there is no need to get lazy with your Title Tags. These Christmas and New Year Tags are still on the ‘holiday’ landing page with Valentines Listings.
Not only will this will be costing more in PPC – the page is currently ranked #5 for ‘Valentines Weekend Breaks’ so tweaking that Title tag could result in easy wins for organic search and PPC and if you’re lucky it could happen just in time for the weekend shoppers to catch it.
Watch your Affiliates
Being at #1 for Valentines Roses is a pretty good position at this time of year, but if your affiliate has the wrong links on your affiliate banners, they are not just wasting their own listing, they are affecting your brand.
Check all of your own listings and see who is visible in the space. If your affiliates have outdated links or links that do not work, contact them and ask them to change things. If they are sending you significant traffic, you could always offer them an incentive to put your ad at the top in the most prominent position.
Make sure your product is for sale!
If you’ve worked hard to be top 10 for ‘Valentines Chocolate’ – make sure that your product is:
1. Available and 2. your best landing page for Valentines Chocolate (not sure – test it with a PPC split test)..
The Fortnum and Mason Chocolate page could have been the landing page for this term. With a few tweaks and additions, the ‘better’ page could have been the page found for Valentines in the top 10.
Listings that are out of stock or pages that are no longer available can easily be re-directed to a page that has products for customers to buy.
Make a Perfect Match
Regardless of how many articles you read about conversion and consistency telling you to match the Headline of the Ad or the subject matter to the landing page, we still see advertisers adding a few keywords to the same campaign or using broad match everything. With something as specific as Valentines Day, it is a no brainer to at least match a look and feel to your search terms and titles.
I am not sure if it because Vintners don’t sell as much as everyone else does at Valentines or if alcohol sells regardless of look and feel, but searches for ‘Valentines Champagne’ brought up some lovely examples of how to lower your conversion rate – well I guess it’s just booze after all
I clicked on all of these links below and found fails/misses on quite a lot of them…
Laithwaites, Wines Direct, Vintage Wine Gifts, and lovechampagne had not change anything about their site and are advertising the same site against the same Ads for wine as they are for Valentines Champagne.
Fortnum and Mason had a mismatch on their landing page – Valentines Wine & Spirits as a title for a page with only 1 product that was not champagne from a page optimised for Valentines Champagne.
BolneyWineEstate excelled themselves with their PPC advertising on ‘Valentines Champagne’ – with a high converting landing page #result
Don’t be afraid to be Negative
I could have picked a better example, but I can’t tell you how much I love the fact that ASDA are at the top of the PPC listings for the term ‘Valentines Dinner’. Fair play to them, they even have a special landing page with hearts, flowers and everything you would expect to need on Valentines Day. Tiffany & Co.® at the other end of the spectrum are appearing for everything Valentines.
Tiffany & Co.® may be able to afford it, but if you’re not going to change your PPC Ads to something relevant for the search term (and I don’t just mean shoehorn or auto add ‘Valentines’ into everything), you could be burning the precious pennies that you could put towards a different campaign that IS bringing you conversions.
If you want more information on how to use negative keywords effectively – read this post from the awesome Matt Van Wagner at SearchEngineLand
For the Love of Food!
I searched for:
- Valentines Meals Manchester
- Valentines Menu Leeds
- Valentines Meal Offers London
- Valentines Day Restaurants Birmingham
Any Ads? NO! I even searched for Sunday Roast Dinner Manchester City Centre to be sure that I was not imagining things. Even searches for ‘romantic restaurants London’ and ‘Valentines Day [name of restaurant]‘ were reasonably empty. Apart from TopTable and a theatre that was offering dinner, but didn’t mention it on the landing page.
Google bring up loads of map and restaurant listings for online takeway terms but there is no guarantee to be found for Valentines so increase your odds. If you are a local restaurant – advertise LOCALLY
Forget about the Price Tag
I love you darling – hang on – HOW MUCH???
Not really an oversight issue, but an opinion of mine. Links of London – have several splash pages, bracelets, love notes, infinite love etc. Most collections have a mix of prices so that you can see expensive and reasonably priced, but the infinite love collection does not have a mix and is straight in with prices at £900 -£1000+ – that may be the whole purpose of course but I moved straight on to a different site.
I also found when following through from the splash to the the products, I had to scroll through 9 pages of product before I found the item in the picture that encouraged me to click through in the first place.
There are of course many more areas that can Improve wherever you look and this does not just apply to Valentines Day. I could not test infinite search terms but it appears that even big brands don’t always think about the buying customer, how they are buying and what they are landing on.
A few press releases this week, some tweaks to text and a few split tests before the weekend could substantially improve your revenue this Valentines. Having a look to see what listings you have currently and not assuming that your prime page is ranked will also make a difference. If you are indexed regularly, you could even get some quick wins.
I may continue to add to this post, and I may even turn ‘Valentines bloopers’ into a regular feature if not just to get my own back for years of not being able to go for a meal out or a weekend away with friends on my birthday (the day before Valentines Day so I’ll be expecting two cards hehe).
Let me know if you find any more frustrating things that could be ‘fixed’ by sundown!
This post is best suited for in house or agency teams aiming for extra conversion on the lead up to the Valentines Day 2013 shopping weekend