Adventures in Paid Search — Why Online Retailers Rely on Good Data to Lead the Way

Adventures in Paid Search — Why Online Retailers Rely on Good Data to Lead the Way
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When people use search engines online to find new hiking boots and outdoor gear, paid search ads pop to the top of their screens. These ads are often a company’s first point of contact with consumers and can leave a lasting impression — either positive or negative. That’s why retail brands need to treat search engine marketing as integral to the overall customer experience, making sure that targeting is precise, the messaging relevant, and the payoff worth the investment.

Seasoned digital marketers know that it’s not just data — but the quality of and ability to interpret that data—that plays a central role in creating experiences that build customer loyalty and attract new customers. With that in mind, retail brands looking to differentiate themselves as leaders in customer experience management must be equipped to gather, interpret, and use data to create targeted ads that attract customers.

For The Simply Group (TSG), a UK retailer that sells outdoor goods and leisure wear through several e-commerce sites, the data-driven approach is working. The company has grown its paid search strategy, initially driven by hunches and marketing savvy, to an automated, analytics-driven approach with Adobe Advertising Cloud. The shift resulted in TSG’s strongest November sales numbers ever, with a 62% increase in return on spend during the week of Black Friday, and a 125% boost in revenue for its Simply Scuba brand.

Search ads: an entry point to a great experience

TSG faced a fairly unique challenge. Its four brands—Simply Scuba, Simply Beach, Simply Swim, and Simply Hike — have very different audiences. In the paid search arena, that means managing a wide spread of keywords while trying to run laser-focused campaigns. Whether it’s for a 40-year-old scuba diver, a teenaged competitive swimmer, or a family of hikers, the company needs to create relevant ad experiences that guide consumers toward making a purchase.

To make sure its ads were truly reaching the right audiences while remaining cost effective, TSG shifted from manually managing search marketing to using technology that can process data far more effectively than any person.

“The reason why Adobe Advertising Cloud Search is so enticing is because it makes decisions so quantifiable and clear. We can use actual numbers and analytics to drive our decisions instead of just relying on our gut instinct,” says Sally Allsop, head of marketing at TSG.

Automating search marketing also frees up time, so Allsop’s team can worry less about the day-to-day operations and more on developing highly personalized, engaging marketing campaigns.

Data as a guide in uncharted waters

Its newfound visibility into performance data has given The Simply Group the confidence to defy conventional wisdom. For years, Allsop had been hearing about the need for retailers to invest heavily in mobile search because of the steady decline in desktop use. But that didn’t mean TSG’s advertising strategy was going to follow suit.

“When we looked at the numbers, we realized that the mobile channel doesn’t perform as well as desktop,” says Allsop. “Instead of continuing to drain money away from our highest performing channel, we found a more optimal mix of desktop and mobile ads that helps us get the most from our advertising spend.”

TSG also discovered an untapped audience for Simply Beach and Simply Swim on Bing Ads. These were female shoppers over the age of 35 that the company wasn’t reaching through other channels, and they’re becoming customers at a high rate. Orders resulting from Bing traffic are up 87%, and revenue has doubled—numbers the retailer wouldn’t have achieved while operating on gut instinct.

This is all part of how The Simply Group is building better customer experiences from beginning to end, using data to guide decisions so it can attract just the right customers and deliver on its brand promises.

The Simply Group uses Adobe Experience Cloud advertising solutions to connect with customers more effectively. Learn more about TSG’s digital marketing initiatives. Learn more about Advertising Cloud Search Performance Optimization here.

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