Holiday 2014 Learnings: How Delivery Options Impact PPC & Conversions

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Most companies, apart from Amazon, have a cut-off for Christmas delivery which is a few days before the date itself. I wanted to look into the impact of this for online sales for a few accounts.

Account A

In this scenario, the cut-off date for free standard Christmas delivery was December 17, with a higher delivery fee being charged for express delivery after this date.

You can see the impact has been drastic, with conversion rates plummeting to 0.5% over the weekend before Christmas. This low conversion rate remained even after the express delivery period passed, so this type of delivery option didn’t appear to have a big impact on sales.

Account A Example

In this scenario, “click and collect”  (often called “store pickup” in the United States) is in place for the client, but it’s not tracked through PPC as these sales are allocated to stores. This is a typical issue we come across, in which departments are not looking into multi-channel — and this something I hope will be given more focus in 2015 as we begin to be able to track more online/offline activity. Hopefully, more people will start to take advantage of offline conversion tracking next year to help resolve this.

Click and collect data were collected through Google Analytics, and the results are impressive. (Note: These data don’t take into account if the users actually picked up their click and collect items and paid for them in stores.)

The orange line shows the e-commerce conversion rate for all traffic to the site. This remained pretty constant at around 4-5% overall. Click and collect is represented by the blue line, and you can see that conversion rates really peaked in the week running up to Christmas.

Account A Example 2

Account B

Last order date for standard delivery before Christmas was December 16 in this account. After this date, you could order up until December 22, but for a higher postage fee. You can see that this date deadline did have an impact on conversion rates with the 16th being the peak for that period.

Account B Example

The final date for standard delivery was advertised heavily through PPC activity, and this will have fuelled a higher conversion rate for that date. In this scenario there are many stores across the UK but no click and collect option in place at the moment.

Once the higher postage fee delivery option finished on the 22nd, they saw a further dip in conversion rates the next day. With so many shops across the UK, this could have been resolved through offering click and collect.

Account B Example 2

Account C

Interestingly, this company had set final standard delivery to December 17, but they also have a range of stores and were offering 90-minute delivery up until the end of store closing on December 24 for a higher charge.

In this case, the 17th didn’t see a big fluctuation in conversion rates. Unlike most other examples, where conversion rates kept declining after the standard delivery period had passed, this account saw an incline again in the days leading up to and including the 24 — likely influenced by the unique delivery option.

Account C Example

Account D

This online retailer’s final standard delivery date was December 19. Following this, they saw a 2% drop off in conversion rate. No click and collect was available.

Account D Example

What Do The Data Show Us?

Though I’ve only given a few examples here, there were similar patterns for many advertisers. The main points I hoped to convey in this article are:

  • Click and collect is something all retailers should be thinking about for next year if they don’t have it set up already. Click and Collect sales are expected to increase by 82% by 2019, so now is the time to jump on board and take advantage of this emerging trend. Even better if you can offer something like Account C, which had 90-minute delivery on Christmas Eve!
  • Consider extending your standard/free delivery period, as this does have an impact on conversion rates overall. It would be worth running some tests next year to see if covering some of the costs for higher delivery options actually led to a higher increase in revenue over that period, as people are always more inclined to order if they don’t have to pay as much/at all for delivery.
  • Make sure you’re advertising your delivery options. They clearly matter to people and will make an impact on your conversion rates over this period. Be sure to include delivery dates in your ad copy, make use of the new ad customizers and count down the number of days till your final delivery date to create a sense of urgency.

Should You Switch Off Your AdWords After Your Final Delivery Date?

There are varying opinions on this. It really depends what your business model is and what you’re selling.

If you know that people might only be buying your products as gifts and you are running seasonal campaigns, then switching off after your final delivery date would be a good idea. If your products can be purchased year round, then I would say just make sure you are letting people know your delivery policies in your ad copy so you’re not wasting clicks.

As an example, many fashion retailers go into sale already on the 23rd and 24th of December, so switching off for those industries wouldn’t be a good idea because people expect that they’ll only be able to get delivery after Christmas in most instances and might be shopping for New Year’s apparel.

In most cases, I would advise leaving your PPC activity running but to use bid modifiers to lower positions for the period between your last delivery date and your next promotional activity beginning or Christmas, whichever comes first.

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