Optimizing campaigns for e-commerce

Stevie Peacock

Paid Search Director, Jellyfish

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on every aspect of our lives, one of which is how consumers will engage with retailers, and the acceleration of online shopping behaviours. This makes it more important than ever to ensure your search and shopping campaigns are set up for success.

Shift towards online 

In the short term, there has been a significant shift towards focusing more on online shopping and processes. This shift is seen particularly across amenities but also on more luxury products such as electronics and clothing, as consumers prepare for life indoors:

Have you deliberately purchased any of these products or services online instead of offline because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Source: Statista

This means that businesses have to adapt to a different focus in their marketing activity. Companies that were already moving towards a greater understanding of how their online media is performing must now be accelerating those efforts.

Being able to identify and act on changes in consumer behaviour is critical to driving success as well as increases in revenue. Paid Search and Shopping are both key channels for capturing these changes.

Lockdowns across the globe have been a prime example of how consumer behavior can change rapidly. In the UK, consumers have moved from toilet rolls to lounge-wear to gym equipment – all in the space of a few months. This indicates how consumer behavior can spike just as quickly as it can drop.

Think With Google – Rising Retail Categories

Thankfully there are a few tools which can be used to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. However, it is important to ensure that you’re in a position to be flexible with your budgets and to focus on the trends that matter the most to your business, even when these trends sit outside the norm of your usual sales periods.

For example, a footwear brand we work with focuses primarily on winter as their primary sales period would typically be reducing budgets throughout summer to build up into their peak. However, lockdown saw more people staying at home,so there has been an “unseasonable” demand for slippers: 

By ensuring that we were reactive to trends within the market, and being flexible with budgets, we capitalized on that increased demand. This, in turn, helped drive increased revenue for relevant products rather than focusing solely on the standard product calendar which was laid out initially.

Whilst online advertising has been thriving, this is only a small part of a much wider ecosystem – the vast majority of businesses would have felt some sort of adverse impact on revenue. Whether this is due to manufacturing, delivery or store closures:

This has had a knock on impact on marketing spends and will, undoubtedly, put more of an emphasis on short term revenue driving activity. With social distancing looking like it’s here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, we have highlighted 4 focuses to ensure your search and shopping campaigns are set up for success.

Setting up for success

Know your audience

By understanding your audience better you can begin tailoring your user and product journeys to entice them through to conversion. Rather than focusing solely on paid search as a conversion driver, start thinking more from a marketing funnel perspective. This allows you to engage with your consumers on an emotional level by identifying and anticipating their wants and needs. And ultimately this gives them a much better user experience.

Working closely with all marketing channels to create a cohesive and integrated audience plan and ensuring messaging is tied together across channels will make the user feel like they are getting a 1-2-1 experience. Plus, this builds confidence and loyalty with your brand in years to come.

Understand what your customer is REALLY buying

Don’t take the revenue associated with your shopping products at face value. Just because a consumer comes through one product, it doesn’t mean that is the product they end up buying. Looking deeper into consumer behaviour on-site and understanding what has high engagement rather than just high media spend will give you a different picture of what your “best sellers” truly are.

Then you can feed this information back into your shopping campaigns and you’ll have a more rounded split of media that helps you reach new types of consumers, as well as showcasing your product range.

Make sure you’re there at the start and at the end

The natural reaction in the face of any crisis is to protect what you have, this can often lead to brands completely pausing entire campaigns and budgets. However, the advertisers who continue to spend through these crises are often the ones who come out in a stronger position. By being a consistent presence whilst consumers are researching, they are more likely to remember you when it comes to purchasing.

The important thing here is to ensure that you have the right attribution models in place. Being able to assign the right credit to your media, enables you to focus on those channels which are introducing new consumers and driving incremental value into your business.

Know where you can win on price

The online shopping marketplace is getting increasingly crowded, driving up media prices but also giving a broader product price spectrum – In some cases even for the same product SKUs. The online shopping marketplace is getting increasingly crowded. This has driven up media prices but has also meant a broader product price spectrum – in some cases even within the same product SKUs. To thrive in such a competitive environment, you need to understand where and when you are able to win on price and demonstrate added value that goes above and beyond your competition.

Thankfully, there are tools available to help with this, particularly within the Google Merchant Center. Feeding this information back into your campaign structures and regularly understanding where you are competitive on price is going to increase the value of not just your shopping campaigns but all marketing activity.


Whilst lockdowns start easing across the world, there is still an uncertain future ahead. Some areas are already reverting back, some are able to continue moving forward. The retail space, much like many other verticals, will be changed forever. 

The movement to a digital-first environment has been turbo-charged. The businesses who’ll be able to thrive in this uncertain environment are the ones who are able to react quickly, be passionate about understanding their consumer’s behaviors and look at how they truly interact with their products.