by Rhett Mitchelhill, Search & Affiliates Lead at Half Dome, a Melbourne-based digital agency

With more people spending time window shopping (virtually), as well as spending money online during the pandemic, beauty retailers have an opportunity to make the most of the changing space by adjusting their SEM and digital presence.

Data from leading digital agency, Half Dome, along with global research by Wordstream, shows there has been a 49 per cent increase in internet browsing between midnight and 3am. And at the other end of the spectrum, there is 27 per cent less browsing during the traditional commuting times of 5am to 8am.

Changes haven’t just been in when people shop online, but also how they are doing it. When it comes to search terms, more people are asking conversational questions – “how to renovate my bathroom”, for example.

More than 60 per cent of consumers changed their shopping behaviour due to convenience or value, according to research from McKinsey. Supply chain disruptions and price could also be a reason behind these new habits.

While it’s of no surprise there have been changes in the way people browse online, it does give businesses a great opportunity to educate, assist and become a trusted advisor, especially since we’re now seeing brand loyalty playing less of a role in people’s decision to buy.

Businesses need to tweak their optimisation strategies to keep up.

To leverage these changes brands must make an upgrade to their SEM in order to successfully engage consumers. By upgrading and tweaking optimisation strategies they can be used in a more proactive way to cater more to middle and upper funnel tactics within the marketing funnel.

There is also a shift required with in-platform optimisations. In recent years the rise of automation and machine learning from historical data has required rich data and audience signals to deliver efficiencies more effectively than a human could, particularly when it comes to bidding in SEM. So, fortunately most of the hard work here is done by platforms like Google, as their algorithms automatically update and respond to these changes. However, this should trigger brands to revisit the strategies they can control, like their messaging, structure and testing frameworks to ensure it caters to the new consumer mindset. 

Other things businesses can do to adapt.

So what else can businesses do? They must ensure they have the content to address consumer needs, which enables customers to stay up to date with the latest communication.

We’ve seen an increase in queries about DIY or contactless delivery. As a result, businesses need to include these in their content, website, and SEM strategy to ensure customers who search these queries are shown relevant messaging rather than generic information. 

When creating SEM strategies, building brand trust should be a top priority, not dissimilar to other marketing and communication strategies. Within SEM this means updating strategies in-platform, like keyword lists, ads and even bidding and optimisations.

You need to direct consumers to relevant content, first and foremost. Update your messaging to keep them informed but not misled, and be adaptive to the technical optimisations required in-platform to cater for the changes we’re experiencing in consumer behaviour.

Rhett Mitchelhill, Search & Affiliates Lead at Half Dome.

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