With Covid-19 restrictions easing, the Australian retail sector is readying itself for both regrowth and a heightened focus on online sales – a potentially permanent change to consumer behaviour. According to KPMG, now is the time for retail to fast track their digital transformation.

Let’s look at four key areas that Australia’s retailers need to optimise for in the post-Covid retail environment, and how Siteimprove can help.

1. Ensure your site loads fast

Speed is the new website currency. If you want higher search engine rankings and users to find and buy your products online, then your site must be fast. In fact, most visitors become impatient after just two seconds of load time.

The impact of Google Core Web Vitals on your site

Making the internet more user friendly has been on Google’s agenda for over a decade now. Back in 2010, Google announced web page speed as a new signal in their search ranking algorithm. And just a few weeks ago, Google introduced Core Web Vitals as a new ranking signal to evaluate the overall user experience provided by websites. Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics which measure user experience based on factors including site load time, interactivity, and visual stability.

Measuring Core Web Vitals is based on real user monitoring. This means that it captures the performance experienced by your site's actual users. This presents a problem. While large sets of user data provide an accurate representation of how customers are experiencing your website, it will not tell you what the industry benchmark is.

Using synthetic testing to identify benchmarks

This is where synthetic testing, as opposed to Real User Monitoring, comes in handy. Synthetic monitoring is website monitoring that is done using a web browser emulation or scripted recordings of web transactions. It simulates an action or path that a customer or end-user would take on a site, creating a baseline for performance across different user profiles.

With Siteimprove Performance, which is a synthetic monitor, you can monitor how your pages load differently depending on a visitor’s location, network speed, and browsing device. With Visitor Profiles, you can choose a combination of settings that simulate the conditions your visitors face:

 

This approach enables you to uncover different benchmarks which can then be compared against the core web vitals data from real user monitoring. Now you can see how you stack up against your industry.

2. Capture increased search demand – for less

Covid-19 has hit retail businesses hard, and as is often the case during bad times, digital marketing budgets and campaigns have been put on pause as belts tighten.

Yet, data fails to back up this approach. A closer look reveals that Cost Per Clicks (CPC) have plummeted by an average of 50% during the pandemic.This fall has been bolstered by skyrocketing search volumes as consumers switch to shopping online.

This means that retailers who continued their online marketing campaigns have been rewarded with more leads at a significantly reduced cost.

Worried you have missed the boat? Don’t be. Looking at the CPC map for Australia from our partners over at SEMrush, the trends of lower CPC and higher volumes aren’t likely to disappear any time soon.

The good news is that capitalising on these trends doesn’t require upping your budget. With Siteimprove Ads you can discover smarter ways to optimise your paid search spend.

Google Quality Score: why it matters

It’s important to understand how Google’s Quality Score influences your ad cost, so you can effectively optimise your ads for more traffic at lower costs.

Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages, and plays a crucial role in determining your CPC. By optimising your Quality Score, you are setting yourself up for lower prices, better ad positions, and a higher return on investment.

The relationship between your Quality Score and CPC has a strong monetary impact on your account’s performance – and your budget. It nets you a 50% discount if you have a high Quality Score of 10, and imposes a -400% penalty if you have a low Quality Score of one, with staggered discounts and penalties applied to all scores in-between. If you have an extremely low Quality Score, Google will not display your ad at all, as it deems it to be of insufficient quality. This links back to Google’s emphasis on providing its users with a positive search experience.

 

Let’s look at what this means in practise. A company that spends 100.000$ in Google Ads could save more than half of its budget if it simply optimises its Quality Score upwards from 4 to 7.

It’s clear that effective advertisers need to have a high Quality Score, but getting there can be difficult. That’s why the Siteimprove Ads tool focuses on helping you achieve the highest Quality Score possible with a clear overview of your score across all levels of your account, combined with actionable recommendations for improving it, so you can implement the necessary changes quickly and save money on CPC.

Landing pages are key to optimising your Quality Score. To get the most from them, it’s important to follow UX best practice. Two of the most important areas to optimise are page load speed and ensuring landing pages connect with your ad groups to provide a seamless user experience.

3. Monitor changing search trends

Covid-19 has altered consumer expectations and preferences in new and unexpected ways. In the grocery sector, a study found that 40% of consumers will place a stronger emphasis on product safety after the pandemic subsides – which translates to a preference for environmentally-friendly, locally grown produce. In fact, 80% of Australians say their preference for buying local brands has increased since the outbreak began.

Retailers must be ready to pivot and address these consumer shifts. In this case, by offering greener, locally sourced produce.

 

So, how should retailers stay on top of changing search trends in their industry? Here are a few methods to consider:

  • Use Google Search Console to identify new queries. Scour Google Search Console data for impressions from search queries you haven’t seen before. Next, create new content (or optimise existing content) to answer those search queries and provide searchers with relevant information, services, or products.
  • Monitor search volume trends. Sudden fluctuations can be an indication of an emerging search trend. Use free tools like Google Trends and Google Alerts to stay up to date with industry and local conditions. Your site should be ready to react to increases that work in your favour. You can learn more about how to adapt to changing online search behaviour in our recent blog on why now is the time to focus on SEO.
  • Keep track of ranking changes. For both your own site – and your competition. Wholesale shifts in ranking could indicate that search engines now find your industry more relevant for certain queries. An example of this in action is for the search term ‘Corona’, which was associated with beer before 2020.

4. Track the success of omni-channel marketing campaigns

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important online sales have become. E-commerce can no longer be considered a nice-to-have – retailers need to invest in their digital sales channels or risk losing out to their more digitally-savvy competitors over the coming months.

And the aftershocks of the pandemic could fundamentally alter consumer buying habits in the long-term. Smart retailers are now implementing online multi-channel campaigns to expand their online reach and increase sales, for now and in the future.

How to run an effective omnichannel campaign

Users increasingly expect a smooth customer experience across a retailer’s offline and online channels. That means running the different elements of your marketing campaign in a holistic manner – silos are bad for business! Key channels for your digital marketing strategy include:

  • Email marketing
  • Paid search ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Social media posts
  • Guest posts

The key to a successful online marketing strategy is integration. Simply tracking the success of your channels in isolation is not enough. You need to understand how effective each channel is at bringing visitors to your site, engaging them, and ultimately, converting browsers into buyers. But getting all your marketers onto one page and measuring success by the same standards can be a challenge.

 

With Siteimprove Analytics you can put your channels under a microscope and identify the most successful of them. With just a few clicks, you can compare campaigns and make smarter decisions on where to better focus your resources in the future. That way, you stop wasting time and money on initiatives with a low return of investment and increase your spend on channels that convert.

How Siteimprove can help

The Covid-19 pandemic presents Australian retailers with big challenges – and even bigger opportunities. But successfully adapting to the new normal requires retailers to master SEO, ads, site performance, analytics, and more. Fortunately, using a specialised tool, like Siteimprove, can do the heavy lifting and help retailers deliver a stand-out online shopping experience.

Ready to learn more? Book a 1-1 consultation now