The number of most-frequently searched queries — meaning those that reached the 90th percentile or higher — rose by 30% last year during an average month of the holiday season, as compared to an average month outside of that period, according to a study by product content management platform Salsify that was emailed to Retail Dive.
That being said, the length of search queries, as well as the click-conversion rate, did not change much during the holiday season, according to the study, which suggests consumers still search the same way, just for different content.
Product content pushes also increased during the holiday season, with 76% more occurring on retail websites during an average holiday month than during the previous six months. The study also found that product pushes with holiday-related terms increased by more than 25 times in November.
Salsify’s findings drive home the point that marketing efforts are continuing to adapt to holiday shopping habits.
Of particular interest, the search terms that holiday shoppers use often differ greatly from those they’re putting to use during the rest of the year. According to Salsify, several search terms made it into the 95th percentile during the holiday season last year when during the rest of the year they didn’t even breach the 90th, including several holiday-specific searches: "coffee travel mug," "great stocking stuffers," "games for families," "onesies for women" and "stocking stuffers for men."
"For brands, this drives home the idea that your product content, which informs the results of these product searches, cannot remain static if you want to maximize your findability and subsequent sales during this busiest shopping season of the year," the study states. "If your product fits the description of a ‘stocking stuffer’ or a ‘great gift for kids,’ for example, it’s vital that language is added leading into the holiday season to actually be found across those seasonal terms."
Introducing new products during the last two months of the year can also be a good tactic, as holiday shoppers are actively searching for gifts, according to the study. That being said, Salsify recommends that retailers begin pushing "holiday-oriented content" at the very beginning of the season, as it can help retailers stay top-of-mind later on.
"By embedding those key terms in product content right as consumers are dipping their collective toes into purchasing holiday gifts, you potentially outflank your competitors and position yourself for better rankings on those key terms throughout the rest of the season thanks to retailer algorithms," according to the study. "This is a strategy you can extend to other periods of the year for the same reasons — helping drive discovery and win more market share."
While holiday-related terminology is key to getting on the radar of holiday shoppers, using urgency to drive traffic can often hurt sales and retailer’s would do better to tap into different emotions, like achievement or gratification, when targeting customers.
Shoppers have also made it clear that they don’t mind receiving ads from the brands that they care about, and studies show that personalized recommendations and online wishlists from brands are a top priority for shoppers this year — all of which suggest that retailers putting in the extra marketing effort will be welcomed by holiday shoppers.