Anyone plugged into the Retail landscape in the past couple of years has undoubtedly had an encounter with a private sale site. These types of sites exist to offer sales on designer goods at discounted prices for short periods of time. The idea of the private sale site is to create buzz around new brands while encouraging loyalty for old favorites. What makes these sales private? Sites require users to sign up as a member before allowing them to make purchases.

These days, you can find a private sale site for almost any product, be it clothes, jewelry, furniture, or even wine. In fact, ComScore's February Media Metrix, which measures online traffic, showed an overall increase in unique visits to flash sale sites compared with the February of last year. Because of the high popularity of these kinds of sites, well established retailers across the board have been throwing their hat in the game to test private sale sites of their own. How do you take advantage of this unique business model to drive more traffic? Check out the tips below.

1. Create a buzz before launch
The attraction of a private sale site is its exclusivity. If shoppers think they’re being given the first look into the next hot trends, they’re more likely to rush to join a site. Start running ads across relevant sites on the Google Display Network a week or two before your site actually goes live to get people talking. Include a call to action encouraging users to come sign up with their name and email address so they can be one of the first members to take advantage of your exclusive offer. Since the GDN reaches 80 percent of Internet users worldwide, it’s an easy and effective way to get the word out about your new site before you even go live.

2. Cross-sell from your current site
For established retailers looking to launch a new private sale site, consider tagging users on your current site and using Google Remarketing to send them ads about your brand new private sale site. This is a really effective cross-sell strategy for any advertiser who owns more than one site or brand!

3. Identify a new audience
Let’s say you’re an established retailer who sells casual clothes at low price points to all demographics. That’s going well for you, but now you want to venture out and start a private sale site with designer maternity clothes. Simply sending emails to your previous customers just won’t cut it. Instead, use the GDN to create awareness on sites expecting moms are most likely to visit. With high profile mom-friendly sites like,, and, the GDN makes it easy to reach the right audience at the right time.

4. Bring users back for every sale
In addition to cross-selling, Google Remarketing is a useful tool to generate loyalty among your customers. When users buy something from your site during one sale, pixel them and send them ads for future sales. Remarketing can help you upsell products to current customers and make them fans for life.

Posted by Kathryn Smith, The Google Retail Display Team

[cross-posted from the Google Mobile Ads Blog]

Bridgevine is a company that is focused on driving customer acquisition for its clients via its Acquisition and Merchandising Platform, AMP. The platform is a complex network that combines several different channels of promotion to support clients in marketing. To ensure that they are in front of all prospective clients, Bridgevine has been using online and mobile campaigns to promote their business with display and search advertising across both platforms.

As Bridgevine expanded their business onto mobile, they saw some unexpected but very interesting behavior from clients. 20% of clients that did research on the desktop would then finalize their purchase on their mobile devices. Seeing this incredible crossover data, Bridgevine invested in mobile search advertising by leveraging Google’s click to call to drive traffic to their call centers and also send mobile users to an easy to use two-step ordering process on mobile and tablet sites. This investment led to a large increase of new prospects and also lowered the cost of a sale by 25% when occurring on mobile versus the call center.

With visible success with Google Mobile Ads, Bridgevine targeted their mobile audience by generating mobile-only deals accessible via their mobile optimized site. To ensure they were targeting customers accurately on specific mobile devices, Bridgevine put resources toward campaigns that focused on device keywords, and then tweaked the campaigns to suit the interactions they saw by device. The campaigns using Google mobile ads drove up mobile sales by 10% for Bridgevine; something they believe wouldn’t have happened without Google mobile.

With this type of success in mobile, and also seeing a crossover from desktop to mobile, Bridgevine will continue to invest in mobile advertising as an asset to the growth of their company’s revenue.

To learn more about this crossover campaign, download the entire case study here.

Posted by Dalia Mitra, Product Marketing Manager, Mobile Ads

There are more than 2.4 billion conversations about brands every day, according to our latest ‘Word of Mouth’ study with Keller Fay. More than half of consumers involved in these conversation say they’re likely to make a purchase based on what they talk about. We wanted to know more about how media and the Internet play into all this conversation so we took a look at what effect the Internet and search has on a word of mouth. The study shows how media and marketing channels provided content before, during and after consumer conversations by surveying 3,000 adults across 12 categories.

It turns out that while most people still talk about brands face to face, their conversations are informed by the Internet more than any other media source. And, when they’re online, users go to search sites more than any other. This is even more true after conversations, especially those sparked by TV. People follow up by searching for more information and prices more than any other online activity including social media.

Check out this video or Think Insights for more information and results!


Posted by Think with Google

Just like in old-fashioned retail, selling online has its cycles. And while the Q4 holiday shopping season is usually Retail’s big wave, we shouldn’t forget about the summer months, particularly if your product inventory aligns well with things you’d need to make a splash at a pool party - [board shorts], [sunscreen], [flip flops], [floaties] and [pool chairs].

Just remember, taking advantage of summer seasonality is far easier than perfecting a backwards 2 ½ somersault dive with an extra 1 ½ twists (see some real experts, here), or even preparing the perfect summer evening snack (hello, homemade ice cream). Follow these three easy steps to make a splash this summer:
  • Capture rising demand. Use tools like Google Insights for Search to research how customers are searching for inventory. Are they searching for “patio furniture,” or more specifically, for “wicker patio furniture?”
  • It’s not just search anymore; be visible wherever your customers are. Take advantage of the Google Display Network and expand into key areas to reach users that are browsing for the latest outdoor party ideas, among other things. 
  • Make sure customers get the message. Tailor your ad creative to speak to a summer audience. Use call-to-action messaging encouraging your customer to act now and “beat the rays this summer,” or try reminding them that “it’s not too late to find the perfect beach chair.”
Posted by Amy Lovin, The Google Retail Team

The Commerce Department just released May 2011 retail sales data, reporting that retail sales fell in May for the first time in 11 months. The decline was only 0.2 percent — less than the 0.4% decline economists had forecast. Here are some highlights from the May sales report:
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book and Music sales declined 0.4%
  • Electronics and Appliances sales fell 1.3%
  • Clothing store sales increased 0.2%
  • Building Materials and Garden Equipment Suppliers sales increased 1.2%
The month of May included both Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekend — two retail periods that typically coincide with shopping for flowers, gift cards, and women’s apparel (for mom!); or moving, installing a new ceiling fan, or grilling out over that long last weekend in May.

Looking ahead to Father’s Day and the month of June, it’s difficult to say just what will be driving retail sales. Will it be cordless drills? After all, what dad doesn’t like power tools? Steaks are also likely to be a hit, too. And when all that hard work and au jus ends up staining dad’s favorite T, what better gift than some new undershirts?

And let’s not forget that the July 4th weekend kicks off on Friday, July 1. As a result, June may see its fair share of grill and barbeque-related sales (grill tool sets!). Maybe the gift of the year for all the superstar dads will be this star-spangled “Caperon!” Of course, there’s always the default solution for the impossible to shop for pop: gift cards!

As for me, if my two year old happens to be reading this (wink, wink mommy): that Caperon, a new set of grill tools, and a juicy bone-in ribeye look like a mighty nice gift to me!

Posted by Justin Owings, The Google Retail Team

[cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog]

It’s time for our third post in our Mobile Insights series featuring expert views from our mobile ads team. This week’s guest contributor is Adam Compain, a Mobile Specialist at Google. Adam explains why it’s vital to create a mobile website now versus later.

In the early days of the Web, businesses didn’t believe their customers were online, nor did they think the Internet would become a viable medium for customer interaction. Companies were hesitant to build websites, let alone advertise online.

Of course, the Internet ramped up faster than anyone imagined. Companies that hesitated were left behind and those that took action became industry leaders, reinventing their business models to become more efficient and profitable marketers. In this new age of mobile computing, how can you ensure your business remains present? Build a mobile site. Research has shown that web retailers can increase consumer engagement 85% with a mobile-specific website (1).

At Google, we’ve worked with many advertisers who’ve already built excellent mobile experiences for their users. Each one of the examples showcased below focuses on the needs of a mobile user and is designed for ease of navigation on a mobile device. These sites, all stemming from different industries, prioritize content, use a simple layout and are designed specifically for touch interaction with large buttons.

Blue Nile                 esurance       

Meanwhile, 79% of large online advertisers do not have a mobile site (2). Those who have not taken action may be harming their relationship with potential customers: 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% said they’d visit a competitor’s mobile site instead (3). Throw in the astonishing rate of mobile web adoption - which is ramping 8x faster than the desktop web did in the mid 90's - and the importance of having a mobile site is clear. (4).

Think about the 4-inch mobile screen as your new storefront. It may be the most important one you ever have: it’s always open; it’s in the hands of nearly everyone, and it’s increasingly how people are finding your business. As important as it is to have a mobile advertising strategy, it’s even more vital to build a mobile website that delivers a seamless and satisfying experience to your users.

Avoid falling into the trap of marketers in the mid 90’s who didn’t think the Internet would evolve into a viable medium for customer interaction.

Ready to take action? Download our new two-page guide: “5 Easy Ways to Mobilize Your Website”.

Posted by Adam Compain, Google Mobile Specialist

1. Research by Brand Anywhere and Luth Research, “Supply and Demand of the Mobile Web” Nov, 2010.
2. Google Research, 2010
3. Compuware, “Why the Mobile Web is Disappointing End-users,” March 2011
4. Mary Meeker, Economy & Internet Trends, Oct 09

Despite high gas prices this Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimated that over 35M Americans traveled at least 50 miles or more during this year’s unofficial start of summer - approximately 100,000 more vacationers than in 2010. Of those 35M, almost 90% drove to their destinations. This is great news for travel and hospitality businesses. However, advertisers within all retail industries should be celebrating and taking advantage of the influx of family caravans this Memorial Day as well. “Why?,” you ask?

Just think about how the dynamics of your own family road trips and how they have changed....

Rare now are the days of car sing-a-longs, the license plate game, or “slug-bugging” each other. Now little Johnny’s in the back with his iPod cranked up, Cindy’s texting her friends back home, Mike is searching for the nearest fast food chain, and Mom is trying to use her mobile GPS to tell Dad that he made a wrong turn 5 miles back.

Technology has changed the way we travel, the way we vacation - the way we live. We are no longer disconnected from world after we leave our computer screens. Our mobile devices have capabilities far beyond the simple phone call. The time spent on mobile phones has increased 90% from March 2010 to March 2011 (Internet Retailer May 2011). With people spending more time on their hand-held devices, advertisers must understand the importance and value of having a presence in the new mobile frontier. However, many are missing out on the opportunity and will be late to the game.

Without a defined mobile strategy, advertisers are losing incremental market share and leaving dollars on the table for competition. According to a 2011 ForeSee Report on Mobile Retail, shoppers are using their phones for a variety of reasons and are becoming even more savvy:
  • 56% are comparing price information
  • 46% are comparing different products
  • 35% are looking up product specifications
  • 27% are viewing product reviews
However, the most telling statistic speaks to the importance of defending & defining one’s personal brand. While in physical stores, almost 70% of mobile shoppers use their phones to visit the store’s own website, but nearly half also used their phones to access a competitor’s website. Years ago, business owners were only responsible for the image and branding of their brick and mortar store fronts. However, today that company is responsible for two additional equally important store fronts - the Desktop Website Homepage & Mobile Website Homepage/App.

One of the top priorities for 2011 should be focused on developing an expansive mobile strategy. Google has a variety of targeting capabilities to allow for optimal control and real-time alterations, as well as an ever-expanding inventory for search and display advertising. As more people take the roads this summer for vacations, weekend get-aways, and holiday celebrations - be certain that you’re along for the ride too!

Posted by Terra Teague, The Google Retail Team

Google Analytics installed on this blog tells me that about 8% of you are reading this post from a mobile device right now. How many of your customers are completing purchases on their mobile devices today? Do you know how many are looking for driving directions to your store right now? Whatever that number is, expect it to continue increasing as a percentage of your total traffic, and for there to be significant incremental query demand in your keywords from mobile devices over time.

As usage of mobile devices for both digital and physical commerce grows, so does the number of touch points for reaching your customers on the portable web. Mobile devices are not just used for communication anymore; in fact, only 27% of time spent on smart phones are devoted to communication (calls, texts, skype), while 60% of time is web-based, including web apps, games, social, search, maps, and other activities. So, how many touch points are you covering in your mobile strategy?

If you have a mobile application out there, great! (I hope you’re promoting it and not just letting it sit in the marketplace and collect dust at rank #128,395). Don’t think you have all your bases covered with that app, though. Mobile app markets are just one of the many touch points where your customers may be expecting to find you. The number one place they are expecting to find you is on your own domain. In addition, they expect that you have thought through and developed an excellent experience catering to their small screen and mobile network speeds. Here are five reasons why you should develop a mobile optimized version of your site in addition to your mobile app:
  1. 63% of all online adults said they would be less likely to buy from the same company via other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a mobile transaction
  2. 68% - Users prefer mobile sites to apps for browsing for products (eMarketer October 2010) 
  3. 40% of mobile users would visit a competitors site if they are dissatisfied with the performance of the mobile site
  4. 58% expect websites on your phone to load almost as quickly or faster than desktop sites
  5. Mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access devices worldwide by 2013, which means very soon, more views of your site will be from mobile devices than on desktops (Gartner)
So it’s not just what you could gain by taking action, it’s also what you could lose if you don’t. Also, if 2013 sounds pretty far away when you already have a to-do list that’s miles long, just remember that Mobile web adoption is ramping up about 8x faster than desktop web adoption did in the mid '90s. So, before your customers head over to a competitior’s mobile-friendly site instead, get a comprehensive strategy together and mobilize your website!

Posted by Tiffany Lin, The Google Retail Team