Hopefully, your festive search marketing strategy is in full swing by now and ready to make the most of the final week before Christmas. Research from Google tells us that people are leaving it later than ever to make their festive purchases and next week is when things really get interesting.

So today we’ve got a roundup of consumer behaviour over the final week before Christmas and how you can adjust your strategy to make the most of those last-minute sales opportunities.

Last-minute Christmas purchases are hot

While many retailers are pushing their Christmas deals earlier in the year, consumers are leaving it later to buy. The mobile web has empowered shoppers to wait until the last minute before pulling the trigger. They know they can compare products and offers from as many retailers as they want and be confident their chosen items will be one click away when they’re ready to buy.

So festive shoppers are now buying on their terms – and this makes the last week before Christmas a mad dash to get everything ticked off their Christmas list.

As Google says:

“With mobile, shoppers know they can easily find and get what they’re looking for up until the last minute. So, despite all of the improvements retailers have made to shipping speed and product availability, many people still wait to buy.”

“When shoppers consider a new purchase, they spend 13 days on average shopping for the item. But once they decide to buy, almost half expect it either the same day or the next day. In fact, mobile searches related to “same day shipping” have grown 120% since 2015.”

Source: Inside AdWords

The search giant also tells us that conversion rates from the week before Christmas (up to the delivery cut-off point) are on par with the week of Cyber Monday. Likewise, there are 34% more shopping searches made on Christmas Day than on Black Friday, which means the frenzy isn’t over once Christmas actually arrives.

Next week is when things really get started.

Make yourself discoverable in the final week before Christmas

The last week before Christmas is a huge opportunity for retailers – we’ve already established that. The challenge is to make sure you’re discoverable for searches that matter most to users during this hectic final week.

Know your festive micro-moments

Festive micro-moments from Google
            Source: Think with Google

When you want your brand to be seen in a competitive environment, knowing the right micro-moments to target is essential. For Christmas, this starts with inspiration – or I-want-to-know moments – and searches for the best kind of gifts to buy special people this year.

Once people have an idea of what they want to buy, they turn their attention to getting the best kind of product they can. According to Google, mobile searches for product reviews have grown by over 35% in the last two years and searches for “best [product type]” have grown by over 80% during the same period.

Mobile searches for "best" have grown 80% in the past two years
Source: Think with Google

As we’ve already established today, once people have chosen their product, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily ready to buy. The rise in product reviews and “best” searches reflects this.

Once people have decided on their item of choice, their next priority is to find the best deal. This is where high-intent search terms take the lead and your goal is to make sure consumers choose your brand to buy from. Make sure you know how much your competitors are charging and what kind of incentives they’re offering (free delivery, one-year warranty, etc.) so you can find a way to create a more compelling offer.

All that’s left is to make sure your products are seen on the right channels as consumer intent changes.

Nurture your Christmas leads until delivery cut-off

The delivery cut-off point for Christmas is normally between December 21-24. Use this deadline to your advantage by creating a sense of urgency with your target audiences. Reinforce your organic SEO efforts with AdWords remarketing to remind people they’ve only got so long to guarantee items will arrive on time.

It’s a good idea to offer free shipping as much as possible but it might be worth checking what your competitors are offering in terms of delivery fees. You might be able to encourage people to buy sooner by promising free delivery on all purchases made before a certain date to encourage more sales – especially if your competitors aren’t so generous with their shipping fees.

You might also want to offer incentives for shoppers who choose to buy from you. For example, a January sales voucher that gives people reason to buy now and come back in the new year could tie them into your brand for the New Year.

Focus on local SEO after delivery cut-off

Once people run out of delivery options, they’re forced to do their shopping offline and this is where local, in-store visits take the front seat. So go back to your rivals and make a list of their delivery cut off dates because anyone who can’t buy from them online is someone who could buy from you instead.

Local Christmas purchases significantly increase after December 21 so make local SEO your priority from this point onwards. We can see that searches for “where to buy” peak on December 23 before local shops start to close on the 24th Dec.

Searches for "where to buy"
Source: Inside AdWords

Once again, reinforce your SEO strategy with paid advertising to maximise your reach and target high-intent buyers. Use AdWords local inventory ads to show people you have what they’re looking for in-stock and in their area.

 

Local inventory ads lead to in-store purchases

 

Keep pushing after Christmas Day

As we mentioned earlier, there are 34% more shopping searches made on Christmas Day than on Black Friday, which means we’re not done once Santa has paid his visit. This difference will be even bigger for UK only searches where Black Friday isn’t as big a deal as in the US and other countries.

In fact, search data shows that consumer search activity is just as busy between Christmas and New Years Eve as it is during the rest of December, except for the frantic final week before Christmas Day.

The key difference is consumer behaviour is just as active offline as it is online during the final days of December.

Consumer behaviour online over Christmas
Green: Aggregate store traffic | Dark blue: Toy stores | Light blue: Video game stores; Source: Inside AdWords

The post-Christmas shift sees people turn their attention to clearance sales, spending their gift cards and preparing for the upcoming January sales. After spending a bunch of money on other people, consumers start to think about rewarding themselves with some well-deserved discounts.

So make sure your festive SEO strategy continues to attract new leads beyond the New Year and nurture leads into the start of 2018.

 

Christmas consumer behaviour is changing at a rapid pace and our SEO strategies need to adapt ahead of the curve if we want to be seen in the right place at the right time. Consumers are leaving it later than ever to buy products and using a wider range of channels – both online and offline. So it’s vital you’re able to integrate your search strategy with paid advertising, social and every other touch point you’ve identified.

Above all, you need to be discoverable in the final week before Christmas. This is when demand is at its highest and shoppers are under the most pressure to take action. You need to capture those leads and be ready to push them along a relatively short buying process. A buying process that drastically changes once retailers stop shipping products before Christmas.