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SEM Trends: The 2017 Holiday Season

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year for brands to
make an all-out push toward bolstering their bottom lines. Shoppers flock to
stores and e-commerce sites in droves to find the perfect gifts and supplies
for whichever holidays they’re celebrating, so it’s no wonder that the final
quarter of the year is also a key time for refining search engine marketing
(SEM) strategies.

Holiday Spending Spikes in 2017

Now, more than ever, search dominates the holiday season for shoppers
and businesses alike. Holiday sales increased by 4.9 percent from 2016,
and eCommerce specifically jumped a whopping 18.1 percent. Big names
like Adobe, Salesforce, and Amazon all reported record-breaking revenue
through the 2017 holiday season, splitting what Adobe estimates are more
than $108.2 billion in eCommerce revenue.

Those numbers were dwarfed by the National Retail Federation’s reported
estimate of $138.4 billion. Either way, the growth in sales year over year
was immense. With more money there for the taking, the importance of
devising and executing an effective SEM strategy to capture revenue
cannot be overstated.

Paid Search

Paid search was the big winner of the holiday season, driving 23.5 percent
of all online holiday traffic. Paid search served as an essential tactic for
marketers to get their brands in front of consumers who were still making
decisions as to what to buy, and it seemed to make a big impression.
These types of ads drove the most traffic in a record-breaking year, making
paid search the mainstay of the 2017 holiday season’s marketing push.

Organic Search

Organic search played a big role during the holidays as well. According to
Adobe, taken together with paid search, organic helped drive 44.8 percent
of all online visits. And the split is roughly even: while paid search drove
23.5 percent of traffic, organic was responsible for 21.3 percent.

Organic search cannot be neglected as part of any effective strategy,
especially when you consider organic users already expressed intent to
purchase your goods or services. Once they’ve found you, all that’s left is
conversion.

Email Campaigns

The importance of email marketing campaigns this holiday season should
not be overlooked. Closely following paid and organic search, email
marketing campaigns drove 20 percent of all traffic. That means taken
together, these three sources of online traffic – paid search, organic search,
and direct email campaigns – was responsible for driving nearly 65 percent
of all online holiday traffic.

If you’re considering revising your SEM strategy, consider this three-
pronged approach to boost your effectiveness.

The Rise of Mobile

Finally, mobile is becoming a more effective tool for marketers as
consumers increasingly search and shop from their phones and tablets.
Mobile visits increased across most retail categories last holiday season,
particularly in apparel which saw a 32 percent jump.

 

Marketing Budgets Increase to Meet Demand

According to a survey from Search Engine Land, brands have recognized
this growth and moved decisively to capture it. More than 70 percent of
respondents said they increased both search and social budgets to capture
a piece of the pie. Failing to do so risks falling behind the competition, as
many brands heavily increase investments across a variety of channels.

For example, more than 75 percent of respondents to Search Engine
Land’s survey said their Google budgets increased, and 25 percent said
those budgets grew by more than half from the previous year. Bing
spending also grew for 40 percent of respondents. On Facebook, 66
percent of respondents said they grew their budgets from the previous
year.

The takeaway? Companies are spending money on unified search
strategies across different channels. With sales growth year over year and
more consumers making bigger purchases online, it’s no secret that the
future is search. Brands that adopt and implement wise SEM strategies will
survive and thrive, while those that don’t will inevitably be left behind.

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