With Christmas trees popping up in Zoom backgrounds, and festive party planning well underway, it’s safe to say all eyes are firmly on the Christmas break. As the three-week countdown begins, we welcome you to our penultimate search and digital marketing roundup of 2022.
It’s been far from a quiet year in the digital marketing space, with plenty of new algorithm updates, ad formats and shopping tools for marketers and webmasters to get their heads around.
Of course, this month is no different. Covering everything from Google Shopping upgrades to a reflection on Black Friday performance, here’s a roundup of our biggest trends and updates from November 2022.
Search On 2022 updates go live
In September this year, Google announced a host of new updates for search, shopping and maps at its annual #SearchOn event. Now, just two months later, we’re beginning to see these updates going live. Let’s recap:
MultiSearch Near Me
Google is enhancing the discoverability of local restaurants with its MultiSearch Near Me function. Users simply need to add a photo of their desired dish, plus the words ‘near me’ to find local vendors that offer exactly what they’re looking for.
Launched in the U.S. on 17th November, we’ll be interested to see the uptake of this tool by users and the impact on website traffic and impressions for local businesses. We imagine SEO techniques for these queries will angle towards ensuring each individual menu item is listed on the website alongside high quality (ideally mouthwatering) photography.
AR shopping features
Google has been making big moves in augmented reality (AR) over recent years. This was particularly accelerated throughout the pandemic, as retail businesses moved almost entirely online and consumers no longer had the ability to ‘try before they buy’.
This was particularly prevalent for the beauty industry, which relied heavily on testers and the in-person shopping experience to drive sales and customer loyalty. Now, Google has harnessed AR to make it easier for consumers to colour-match beauty products at home.
With a photo library of over 150 models, representing a diverse range of ages, genders, face shapes, ethnicities and skin types, the tool allows customers to test thousands of foundation shades from a wide variety of brands.
A similar approach has also been applied to footwear brands. Using images of shoes from different angles, consumers can now browse 3D mock ups of new footwear and even use AR to see them in their own space.
Both of these tools also launched in the U.S. on 17th November. We look forward to seeing consumer response to these features and how effective they are in boosting customer trust in purchasing online – particularly in the case of beauty products which are so dependent on great quality colour-matching.
Competition for search hotting up
It’s no secret that Google and Amazon have dominated the search and ecommerce industries for the last 10+ years. But recently, we’re seeing competition heating up as bigger players move into the space.
As Shopify has continued to grow its market share and revenue, there has been increasing speculation around its plans to go head to head with Amazon. While Shopify maintains a greater focus on the merchant – as opposed to Amazon’s acute focus on the customer – the main differentiator of these platforms is Shopify’s lack of a marketplace feature for customers to browse and shop products.
That is, up until this month. Despite denying plans to become a marketplace in 2021, as of 15th November 2022, Shopify has started testing a universal search feature, enabling customers to browse all 4M+ merchants on the platform. The ‘search for anything’ tool will allow users to search by product and merchant keywords, as well as browsing previously purchased items.
It’s not yet clear whether this will be rolled out globally, but if successful, this could create some significant changes in the ecommerce industry, particularly where Amazon is concerned. A Shopify Marketplace would also raise a number of SEO questions, such as how merchants will be ranked in search? What Shopify ads might look like? And how a ranked marketplace would affect smaller merchants?
As Amazon’s ad business reaches $31 billion and growing, Shopify has some strategic decisions to make if it does have plans to grab a slice of the global marketplace pie.
Reflecting on BFCM
The lead up to Black Friday was met with a great deal of speculation this year. Concerns around inflation, postal strikes and the distraction of the World Cup were met with optimism around the return to a ‘pre-pandemic’ in-person shopping experience, free from any Covid restrictions.
Just two days after the last of the Cyber Monday deals, initial figures are looking positive. eCommerce performance was generally on the up, with data from national banks showing a 3.2% increase in online transactions since Black Friday 2021, and a 35% increase compared to the same weekend in 2019.
Brick and mortar transactions were also up from 2021, but lower than 2019 levels. This could reflect overall changes in consumer behaviour since the pandemic, with a greater affinity for the ease, speed and convenience of the online shopping experience.
Regardless of the reasons prompting this change, Back Friday is a huge opportunity for eCommerce brands to gain a significant amount of data on their customers and the ways they are interacting with their website during this period. Did a particular promotion generate much higher demand? What products were the most popular? Was there a marked change in source traffic for certain pages?
These insights can be invaluable for guiding and shaping digital marketing strategies – particularly for identifying areas which would benefit from extra investment. Was there a significant uptick in conversions on PPC? Paid social? Sponsored posts? Taking note of these changes will not only help brands to boost performance for next Black Friday – but for every trading day until then.
Need some help delving into your data or creating your 2023 digital marketing strategy? Speak to a member of the Mackerel Media team.