From June to September, there will be an estimated 1.2 million weddings in the US. And if you’re like me, you have 2 or 3 wedding invitations stuck to your fridge, serving as reminders of the plans I need to make, dress I need to buy and, of course, gifts I need to buy.

Most people think of wedding season and think about the billions spent on planning - the venue, food, flowers, DJ, etc. However, don’t forget this is also a billion dollar opportunity for retailers selling wedding gifts. According to The Wedding Report, Inc.’s 2012 US Wedding Market Insight Report, in 2010 the average number of guests for a wedding was 141. This was up 10% over 2009 where the average number of guests was 128. It’s expected this will jump to between 135 and 145 guests for the 2012 season. That’s more than 170M people shopping for wedding gifts this Summer.

Outlined below are The Knot’s spending recommendations for gifts according to degrees of friendship to the couple:
  • Co-worker and/or distant family friend or relative: $50-$75
  • Relative or friend: $75-$100
  • Close relative or close friend: $100-$150
Now to a more pressing question. What will people buy for the happy couples? Looking at a recent Mintel International Group Limited study on the types of gifts couples are registering for, you can see that household items like bakeware, appliances and even electronics top the list.

And The Wall Street Journal reported that some of the recent top registry picks across a few big retailers include:
  • premium kitchen cutlery
  • barware accessories (ice buckets, cocktail shakers)
  • electronics
  • camping gear
  • appliances (stand mixer, hand mixer, coffee makers)
  • cookware
  • luggage
  • bath towels
  • bedding
Google Insights also provides details on which wedding registry terms are popular.

If you’re selling appropriate items, now is the time to let people know! Talk with your account team about the best way to reach wedding guests as they move through the purchase funnel of gift getting this season.

Posted by Rachel Perrone, The Google Retail Team

An unusually mild winter this year (along with with a recovering economy) resulted in an earlier jump in search queries for garden, patio and outdoor equipment.

For example, by Mid-March 2012, query volume on Google for the outdoor & patio category had already reached May 2011 levels. Many advertisers benefited from this earlier spike in interest though more sales earlier in the year. Those who succeeded most were the ones with competitive search bids and daily budgets that were already set up to capture demand when it occurred, regardless of the time of year. It is not uncommon for advertisers to lower their bids and budgets in their off-seasons, only to raise them when demand is historically higher. The problem is that by doing this, advertisers unintentionally remove themselves from consumers' consideration sets when consumers are in the research phase earlier in the season. This is particularly true for high-involvement consumer durables with longer purchase cycles (such as higher-end patio and outdoor furniture and grills).

The same philosophy holds true for other marketing channels such as display advertising, mobile search and TrueView video. The most successful advertisers are the ones who respond by putting their message against those queries and content, regardless of the time of year.

With so many sources of information and ways to access the web (tablets, mobile phones, Internet TVs, laptops, YouTube, web forums, etc.), the likelihood of an advertiser getting a conversion just by bidding on long-tail terms at the end of the purchase funnel is becoming increasingly remote. It is important to have brand continuity across both demand generation (i.e. display and video) and demand fulfillment (mobile and search) channels. When the time comes to make a purchase, the advertisers who have been top-of-mind across the entire funnel are the ones who will ultimately be the selected brand.

Tend the roots. Utilize Top-of-Page Bid Estimates to ensure your ads are always appearing in the top three ad spaces on the Google Search results page.

Maintain and grow your crops. Review how much you invested daily during your peak season last year by visiting the dimensions tab in AdWords and customizing the columns to view Lost Impression Share, and then segment your data by day (or week). Set your new daily budgets for this season based on your previous high-season daily investment and how much impression share you lost due to low budgets.

Use timed sprinklers instead of a hose. Implement Automated Rules and have the Google system automatically adjust your bids and budgets on specific (or all) campaigns and keywords to appropriate levels to ensure maximum coverage against consumer demand.

Reap the benefits of what you have sown. Leverage early outdoor & patio equipment demand by pushing complementary products (such as accessories) to customers who have already made purchases this year. Some of the best ways to accomplish this are:
  • Set up remarketing campaigns to reach the exact users who have purchased from you already. Show them ads with compelling offers to up-sell them on complementary products (hint: if you have conversion tracking installed, there is no need to re-tag your site to remarket to previous customers. Just use your conversion tag as a remarketing tag too! When setting up this list, just click the drop down to select from "existing tags")
  • Utilize the new, improved Keyword Tool to scan your website and ensure keyword coverage across all products you sell (hint: be sure to uses the "columns" drop down to show the recommended landing page and approximate CPC)
  • Leverage Dynamic Search Ads, to automatically create ads and choose appropriate landing pages based on the products you sell
Sell your crops beyond the local market. Reach on-the-go consumers with ad text that appeals to consumers on-the-go (i.e. "Call us today for great deals") and include a click-to-call phone number in your ads. For more information on the explosive growth of mobile and how to adapt to the changing landscape, check out our newly released Mobile Playbook.

Host a harvest festival. Celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes by including a social component. The YouTube Playbook for Advertisers and G+ for Business provide insight into how to get the party started.

Plant seeds in various soils. Integrate promotions across all devices and platforms. Some crops grow better in different soils, just like customers convert differently according to how they access information.

Now that you have all the tricks for tending to your account for Summer-specific categories, it is time to watch your sales and performance grow. Happy harvesting!

Posted by Joe Rosenberg, The Google Retail Team

(cross-posted from the Inside AdWords Blog)

Earlier this year, we introduced the Learn with Google webinar program, and we were delighted to see thousands of you show up to learn about a variety of Google advertising products and solutions. Today, we’re happy to announce the continuation of our series with 10 new webinars over the next few months. During each webinar we’ll share tips and how-to’s to help make the web work for your business.

Check out our upcoming live webinars below:
  • May 23 at 10am PDT: Getting Started with Google Analytics
  • May 24 at 9am PDT: Building Blocks of Digital Attribution
  • May 31 at 10am PDT: Introduction to TrueView for YouTube
  • June 5 at 10am PDT: GoMo: Mobilize your Site with Quick and Easy New Tools
  • June 6 at 10am PDT: Our Mobile Planet: Understanding U.S. Smartphone Consumers
  • June 7 at 10am PDT: Introducing Mobile Apps Inventory in AdWords
  • June 12 at 10am PDT: Get Local with ZIP Code Targeting to Increase Sales/Leads
  • June 14 at 10am PDT: Search Optimization: Tips, Tricks, and Tools
  • June 19 at 10am PDT: Bringing the Power and Control of Search to Display
  • July 10 at 10am PDT: Account Management Tools for Large Advertisers and Agencies
Visit our webinar page to register for any of the sessions and to access past webinars on-demand. We’ll be adding new webinars as they’re scheduled, so check back regularly for updates. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by downloading our Learn with Google Webinar calendar to automatically see upcoming webinars in your Google Calendar.

Whether your goal is to engage the right customers in the moments that matter, make better decisions, or go bigger, faster, we hope that you’ll use these best practices and how-to’s to maximize the impact of digital and grow your business. We’re looking forward to having you at an upcoming Learn with Google webinar!

Posted by Erin Green, Marketing Coordinator

Globally, more people have mobile phones than electricity or drinking water! With so many consumers in the market for phones, Google commissioned research to better understand how consumers shop for cell phones in the U.S. We have grouped some of our findings into a variation of the 4 phases in McKinsey’s Consumer Decision Journey:

1) Stimulus: What triggers consumers to shop for a phone?
  • Upgrades and new devices are most likely to trigger consumers to start shopping. 48% of consumers purchased their phone because they were eligible for an upgrade while 31% purchased because they wanted the latest & greatest device. Consumers were less likely to purchase because they wanted a better deal or wanted to switch to a faster, more reliable network.
  • While devices prompt consumers to shop, consumers said they care most about network reliability, cost & data plan structure when shopping for a new phone.
  • Prioritize device/OEM messaging & search to drive sales
  • Highlight network and pricing in communication

2) Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT): Consumers research extensively before purchasing. What sources influence wireless purchases and help consumers decide what brand to purchase?
  • 72% of shoppers considered 2+ cell phone models and 57% visit 5+ different brand sites before purchasing (either OEM, retailer or carrier). They also took their time researching, with 60% of online shoppers starting their research 2+ weeks prior to purchase.
  • Smartphone shoppers indicated that digital resources are most useful and used most often when researching. Search engines were the #1 resource used throughout the research process.

  • When it comes to search, consumers used different keyword types: 49% searched on carrier terms, 43% on retailer terms, 26% on OEM terms and 19% on non-brand terms.
  • Wireless shoppers used video to research and video aided in brand discovery:
    • 41% of smartphone buyers watched videos during the shopping process .
    • After viewing smartphone product videos, 64% of shoppers became interested in specific smartphone models, 44% were introduced to smartphone brands not previously considered and 36% heard about the smartphone product for the first time.
  • Consumers are almost as likely to use their mobile devices to look up product information & reviews as they are to research price & seek deals. They also use their phones to look up store contact information.

ZMOT Recommendations:
  • Digital is core to the purchase process. Ensure it is core to your media mix.
  • Consumers research extensively: Extend attribution window & remarket to shoppers who don’t immediately convert on your site
  • Extend SEM coverage across carrier, OEM, retailer, and category/non-brand terms to reach full relevant audience.
  • Target wireless shoppers watching videos about devices & service
  • Ensure your mobile site is optimized & scale mobile search coverage to reach all consumers looking for you
3) Purchase: Where and how do they purchase?
  • According to Traqline 69% of cell phone purchases occurred in-store in 2011 but almost half of all cell phone purchases were influenced by the online channel.
  • Mobile researchers are more likely to buy in store: 72% of mobile researchers purchased their phone in store vs. 55% of non-mobile researchers.
  • Video drives consumers to store: After watching videos, 69% of smartphone buyers visited a store that sells smartphones and 36% searched a store’s inventory or availability.
Purchase Recommendations:
  • Digital ultimately fuels in-store purchases. Measure and incorporate in-store influenced sales into digital ROI.
  • Mobile & video drive purchases: Include a call to action and ensure it’s easy for consumers to locate a nearby store.
4): Post-Purchase: What can marketers do better to improve the post-purchase experience?
  • Customer service influences future purchase decisions: 42% of wireless shoppers said that customer service was an “extremely important” consideration when shopping for a smartphone
  • Customers turn to the web for help:
    • 20% of wireless customers prefer to use an online channel to solve their customer service issues (e.g., email, online chat, video tutorials, etc.)
    • 37% of wireless customers use search engines to look for customer service help
Post Purchase Recommendations:
  • Increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn and call center costs by activating digital to help customers where & when they need it
    • Serve targeted ads & landing pages to customers searching on customer service terms
    • Use video & chat to get consumers answers faster
 Posted by Eva Barbier, The Google Technology Team

Sources & Methodology:
1) Google/Compete Wireless Shopper Study: Compete conducted an online survey using panelists who researched or shopped for cell phones online within the past 6 months.Surveys were fielded between Nov 10th and Dec 1st 2011 N=788. In addition to a survey, Compete measured consumer behavior within the industry in Q3 2011 using their panel of 2M US Consumers.

2) Google/Compete Video Shopper Study: Surveys were fielded between Sept. 6th to Oct. 13th, N= 1186, Smartphone videos are defined as product videos watched on, retailer sites, oem sites

3) Google/Ipsos OTX Customer Service Study: Surveys were fielded December 29th 2011- January 18th 2012. N=1800

With over 20% of Google searches now containing a location element, rising to over 40% of mobile searches, retailers are becoming increasingly focused on using online mapping to their advantage. We’ve just launched a new site aimed at showing the ways in which mapping can be put to work for retailers, and have found it interesting to see the varying ways retailers have chosen to use Google Maps for Business. The site has examples of great implementations ranging from classic store locators, to promoting in-store events, and even indoor mapping.

As well as showcasing the best uses of Google Maps we’ve seen from retailers, the website also includes a Little Book of Google Maps for Business.

The online book gives tips and examples to help your company benefit from online mapping such as:
  • Locate key store information on the map, such as opening hours, stock inventory, special offers
  • Customize the map in your store’s colors
  • Visualize store performance over time and identify clusters of customer addresses
To get more ideas for mapping in your company, visit or watch this video

Posted by Caroline Mogford, Marketing Manager, Google Geospatial