Over the next few weeks, we’re offering five opportunities to learn more about Google+ for your business. We kick off with a Learn with Google Hangout on Air with bestselling author +Chris Brogan on November 5th at 10am PT / 1pm ET. Chris will cover tactics for successful social marketing and discuss his new book, “Google+ for Business: How Google's Social Network Changes Everything.” RSVP for the Hangout on the Google+ Event page.


 Learn Chris’s recipes for how to grow and engage your Google+ community to build your brand and drive your business’s visibility and conversions. Hear about Chris’s own experiences helping companies succeed in their content marketing and social projects. Chris Brogan is a New York Times bestselling author, CEO of Human Business Works, and advises companies on marketing, business strategy, communications and more. If you have a question for Chris, leave your question as a comment on the Google+ Event.  

Boost your success with Google+
Want to learn more about using Google+ for your business? Sign up for our Learn with Google webinars. Here are some great upcoming webinars to help you get the most out of social for your business:
  • Social Media Best Practices for a Successful Holiday Season (Wed, Oct 31, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
  • Social that Adds Up: Performance and Measurement (Thurs, Nov 8, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
  • Supercharge your Social Media Initiatives with Video (Wed, Nov 14, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
  • Building a Digital Brand with Google+ (Thurs, Dec 6, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
Posted by Lindsay Rumer, The Google+ Team 

'Holiday shopping' used to fit neatly between Black Friday & the week before Christmas (or even Christmas Eve, for those last-minute shoppers); a look back at 2011 spend statistics, however, indicates a blurring of that timeline. Retailers, shop owners, and emarketers: if you're waiting until the post-Halloween lull to prep for major holiday sales upticks, it's time to rethink your strategy. According to Mastercard Spending Pulse, we saw some major sales volume dates throughout November 2011—even ahead of Black Friday. How early did we see spending at brick-and-mortar locations spike, in 2011? November 5th—two weeks and counting!

What does this mean for 2012 holiday shopping habits? Well, for starters, Black Friday—which once signaled the major gift-buying kickoff—is no longer the starting point. According to Ipsos, 54% holiday shoppers started shopping before Black Friday in 2011. Thanksgiving itself is nothing to frown at (what turkey coma?). Internet Retailer states that in 2011, $479M was spent on Thanksgiving day — up 18% from 2010. Even now, Halloween costumes aren't the only thing on consumers' minds: last year, 27% started their Christmas shopping before Halloween.

So, what can we expect for this year? Well, for one thing, an even greater increase in overall spend: a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation indicates that more than half of U.S. consumers will be shopping online this holiday season. And with internet sales comprising a quarter of all 2012 sales dollars, we know consumers will be shopping everywhere—and from anything.

Here are three must-do's for the holiday marketer or retailer:

Be competitive
Consumers expect special deals on pricing and shipping (free shipping, specifically, is widely expected by online consumers). Especially with Target joining the ranks of other price-matching retailers (which was recently announced by Internet Retailer) it's imperative that any discounts or competitive offerings are highlighted on your site and in your ad copy.

Be present, on all devices
Developing an ecommerce-enabled site is tough, but it's effort well-spent: 1 in 4 people used multiple devices to shop last year (Ispos) and roughly 9% of online sales came from mobile devices (IBM). And, mobile isn't going away, especially this holiday season: many users expect that a mobile- and tablet-optimized site of their preferred retailer will be available.

Be early

Roughly a third of all consumers target Cyber Monday as their gift-buying deadline (Ipsos). Promote your offerings early, through email marketing, AdWords, etc—whatever method necessary for connecting with your consumers as early as possible.

Happy (early) holidays, retailers!

Posted by Amy Ostrowski, The Google Retail Team

Note: graphic developed by Becky Chilowicz

How many times have you started searching for a new pair of shoes on your smartphone while waiting in line, continued your research on your laptop when you got home, and then searched online to find a local store that has those shoes in stock? Today, people no longer see a line between online and offline shopping, and neither do smart retailers. This year online and offline shopping experiences are more seamless than ever before - across pricing, functionality, and promotions - making this the first Nonline holiday season.

Not only is this the first Nonline holiday season, but it’s an important one for retailers as consumers prepare to spend more money -- and spend more time making sure they get the most value for every dollar spent. Our research released today with Ipsos shows that on average, shoppers plan to spend $900 on holiday shopping this year, up slightly from an average of $854 last year. Along with this bump in spending, we’re seeing an increase in research before purchasing by shoppers who are more judicious about their purchases- 46% plan to spend more time shopping around for gifts this year.

Here are the three main trends we see driving this year’s season, and some insights from our survey about how consumers plan to shop:

Online and offline shopping is blurring
We found that 80% of shoppers will research online before making a purchase this season, and they will switch devices to suit their needs. For example, 51% of shoppers will research online and then visit the store to purchase, while 17% will visit a store first and then purchase online. Another 32% will research online, visit store to view a product, then return online to purchase. In short, the shopper’s journey looks less like a funnel and more like a flight map, and the lines between online and offline shopping experiences are blurring.

People are shopping smarter
Shoppers are starting earlier and using more devices to inform their purchases:
  • Similar to last season, 54% of consumers will start holiday shopping before Black Friday.
  • By the end of Black Friday weekend, 77% of consumers will have started their holiday shopping.
To capture this interest, many retailers are actively promoting holiday deals well before Black Friday.

Mobile devices are now the concierge in every shopper’s pocket - comparing prices, finding a nearby store, looking for offers and coupons.
  • 85% of people shop for a gift on one device and then make their purchase on another.
  • To do so, 45% will leave an item in the virtual shopping cart, 45% will send themselves an email or link, and 32% will conduct a new search on a new device.
Savvy retailers are stimulating demand on one device and completing a sale on another.

Shopping searches spike on mobile devices on days when people are on the go - out at a Thanksgiving dinner or hunting bargains at the mall. The biggest days for holiday shopping searches on mobile devices last year were Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the day after Christmas, and the weekends in December.

Last year, 62% of shoppers used a smartphone in a store to help with shopping research (Google Ipsos Post Holiday Study, 2011) - this is enabling retailers to inform in-store purchase decisions with a mobile-optimized website or app.

Trusted connections are coming online
It used to be that shoppers and merchants formed connections offline - a salesperson could spark a conversation with a shopper in the store. Now these connections are happening both online and offline. With YouTube and social networks, people are sharing their opinion on products not just with a group of friends, but with millions of people. Retailers are advertising against terms like “reviews” and “haul videos” to promote their message. And for good reason - we found that 13% of shoppers plan to watch online videos to help with shopping research, and 48% will use tablets to read product reviews before purchasing.

Smaller retailers are also building trust with their customers through programs like Google Trusted Stores, which offers a badge for qualified merchants.

To download the full research on holiday shopper intent, visit Think With Google.

Posted by Todd Pollak, Industry Director, Retail, Google

(cross-posted on the Google Commerce blog & Inside AdWords blog)

Shoppers are savvier than ever. They use social recommendations, web searches and smartphone apps to make informed purchase decisions. So how can a retailer stand out and get a shopper’s attention?

Today, we're rolling out a new way for retailers to reach shoppers at the moment of interest. Retailers can now add promotions to their product listings on Google Shopping to make them stand out. In addition, they can distribute their promotions on other Google properties such as Google Maps for Android and the Google Offers app, and attract shoppers to their store. 

Promotions are highlighted in product listings on Google Shopping

In a few simple steps retailers can create a promotions list, map it to the right products in Google Shopping and upload to Google Merchant Center.  Our system supports user specific redemption codes and associated reporting, enabling retailers to measure the performance of each promotion.


Shoppers can see nearby promotions while searching in Google Maps for Android

This is one of the many steps we’re taking to provide traffic, technology and tools to help retailers grow their business. Over 25 well-known U.S. retailers, including, OfficeMax®, Inc., Tommy Hilfiger, Express, Chico’s, Overstock, Guitar Center, and Wayfair, are already part of this program. In the coming months, we plan to expand the program to include more retailers. If you are interested in featuring your promotions on Google properties, you can learn more here.

Posted by Nitin Mangtani, Group Product Manager, Google Offers and Michaela Feller, Product Manager, Google Shopping

(cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

Earlier this year, we launched The Mobile Playbook in the US to help brands and agencies develop winning mobile strategies. At the time, most marketers had already moved beyond the “why mobile?” question, but didn’t know where or how to get started. Now it’s become clear that, when done right, mobile works for marketers. As the industry has evolved, we’re seeing examples of marketers designing compelling mobile creatives, and how savvy advertisers are finding ways to measure the real value that mobile has on their businesses. These are two areas that have been top of mind for the thousands of marketers that we’ve talked with and we’re excited to expand the playbook to delve deeper into these topics.

In The Full Value of Mobile section, we dive into the range of mobile conversions possible today and how they provide economic value to businesses in ways that marketers may not realize. For example, Adidas worked with iProspect to evaluate how mobile clicks on their store locator links were driving in-store sales, and ultimately found that each mobile store locator click was worth $3.20.

With mobile debuting as a new category at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity this year, it’s clear that mobile has truly arrived as a creative platform. According to Terry Savage, Chairman of Cannes Lions, "We're now starting to see some marketers build incredibly engaging and immersive creative for mobile. We sought out to celebrate these great mobile creatives at Cannes Lions this year and inspire others to think about how to bring their brands to life on mobile." The Mobile Creativity section explains why mobile is unique and powerful from a creative perspective, and shares examples of how marketers from around the world have used mobile to bring their brands to life.

The Mobile Playbook was created as a one-stop resource to spotlight brands that are making mobile work for them and to reflect our latest recommendations on how marketers can approach mobile strategically. We’ve also rolled out international versions of The Mobile Playbook across different countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, France, and the UK, and will bring the playbook to Japan, Australia and Italy over the coming weeks. We welcome your input, and will keep adapting the playbook as the industry continues to evolve.

Posted by Jason Spero, Head of Global Mobile Sales & Strategy

(cross-posted on the Inside AdWords Blog)

As we’re nearing the end of 2012, we’ve all got business goals to meet. Some of you might even be prepping for your busiest season. Today, we’re announcing our next series of Learn with Google webinars, which will arm you with the tools you need to get the most out of your holiday ad dollars. We’ve got a special series on remarketing as well as a few holiday-specific strategies to help you navigate the season successfully. Over the next couple of months, 20 webinars will teach you tips and how-to’s to help make the web work for your business.

Check out the full schedule of webinars below:
  • 10/16 [Search] Drive Traffic to your Locations with your Online Campaigns
  • 10/18 [Video] TrueView Video Advertising Strategies for the Holidays
  • 10/23 [Mobile] Understanding your App Users with Google Analytics
  • 10/24 [Research] Real-Time Insights with Google Consumer Surveys
  • 10/25 [Display] Remarketing Series: Getting Started with Remarketing
  • 10/30 [YouTube] TrueView Video Advertising for Agencies
  • 10/31 [Social] Social Media Best Practices for a Successful Holiday Season
  • 11/01 [Video] Optimizing TrueView Video Ad Campaigns
  • 11/02 [Analytics] Attribution Modeling for Digital Success
  • 11/06 [Video] YouTube Analytics for Advertisers
  • 11/07 [Video] Remarketing Series: YouTube and Video Remarketing
  • 11/08 [Social] Social that Adds Up: Performance and Measurement
  • 11/13 [Analytics] Getting Started with Google Tag Manager
  • 11/14 [Social] Supercharge your Social Media Initiatives with Video
  • 11/15 [Display] Remarketing Series: Getting Started with the New Remarketing Tag
  • 11/27 [Display] Remarketing Series: Getting Started with Similar Audiences
  • 11/29 [Mobile] New Tablet Research: How to Win on the Third Screen
  • 12/05 [Mobile] Capturing the Full Value of Mobile with Click-to-Call and Call Metrics
  • 12/06 [Social] Building a Digital Brand with Google+
  • 12/12 [Analytics] Remarketing Series: Remarketing with Google Analytics
All webinars are at 1 ET/ 10 PT.

Visit our webinar page to register for any of the sessions and to access past webinars on-demand. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by adding our Learn with Google Webinar calendar to your own Google calendar to automatically see upcoming webinars.

Learn with Google is a program to help businesses succeed through winning moments that matter, enabling better decisions and constantly innovating. 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 seeing you at an upcoming session!

Posted by Erin Molnar, Marketing Coordinator

Google and Compete recently completed the Portable PC Shopper Study to better understand the purchase decision journey for tablet, laptop and ultrabook shoppers. Here are a few highlights from our research:

Tablet, Laptop and Ultrabook shoppers are triggered to shop for different reasons.
The top 4 reasons why consumers purchased a device were:
  • They wanted a smaller/lighter device (tablets & ultrabooks indexed higher here)
  • They needed to replace a lost/broken device (laptops indexed higher)
  • They wanted to upgrade their device
  • They purchased based on impulse - they just had to have it
Overall, these triggers were pretty even when looking at data aggregated across portable PCs. Ultrabooks & tablets indexed higher against smaller/lighter device and impulse. Laptops indexed higher against replacing a lost or broken device.

When they start shopping, Portable PC shoppers are often undecided on a brand or retailer.

Portable PC Shoppers use digital sources to inform decisions throughout the research process and search is a key resource.

With so many shoppers relying on digital throughout the purchase process, it’s no surprise that visits to websites that sell tablets, laptops and ultrabooks have grown 10% and online conversions have grown 36% year over year!

Portable PC shoppers are also intense online researchers using many different resources, comparing several brands and searching a lot.

Searchers are often undecided with a third starting their search on a category term.
We evaluated how portable pc shoppers searched online and found the following:
  • 63% of all search paths included a category term (ie tablet, best laptop)
  • 38% of all shoppers and 34% of online purchasers started their search with a category term (ie tablet, best laptop)
  • While a third of converters started with a category term, 42% of them ended with a manufacturer term (ie Dell laptop) or a retailer term (ie Best buy tablet)
  • We also found that 17% of shoppers exclusively search on category terms. In other words, if a retailer or manufacturer does not appear in either paid or organic results on these term, they miss reaching 17% of researchers
Video viewership has tripled year over year.

The number of shoppers watching online video about Portable PCs tripled YOY. Of those shoppers who watched online video about portable PCs, 44% spend 30+ minutes viewing these during the research process.

Video viewers also take action. As a result of watching videos about Portable PCs:
  • 35% visited a store online
  • 29% visited a physical store
  • 23% searched a store’s availability for that specific product
Online video ads especially drive action: 78% of shoppers who saw an online video ad looked up the Portable PC advertiser for more information

Mobile researchers have grown double digits year over year.
The number of tablet, laptop & ultrabook shoppers researching on mobile devices has grown double digits YOY and a third of mobile researchers have used their phone to shop for portable PCs while in a store.

Here is what they are doing on their phones:
  • 36% compare prices and features, read reviews and general product information
  • 27% looked up a store they were interested in purchasing from
  • 34% used mobile to research in a store. Of those, 40% viewed a product description and 33% looked for discounts
  • 70% of mobile shoppers used a search engine to shop for a portable PC
Most purchases occur in-store
While laptop, tablet and ultrabook shoppers research online, most purchases still occur in-store. Well over half of laptop & tablet sales occur in store, and approximately half of those in-store sales are influenced by online research. (Traqline)

Re-engage customer post-purchase to reduce returns & build loyalty
91% of consumers were satisfied with their purchase and most of them would purchase the same brand again. However, 11% of purchasers reported returning their portable PC. When we ask purchasers why they returned their portable pcs, a large portion of returns had nothing to do with a broken device: 40% said it didn’t meet their expectations or they were just dissatisfied with the product. Here are a couple theories why these customers returned their device:
  • The brand messaging set expectations that were not met after consumers purchased the product.
  • There is a need for more customer education. Technology can be complex and educating customers post-purchase will help increase usage and make them feel like they are getting the most out of their purchase.
Key Recommendations:

1) Portable PC shoppers are often undecided on a brand and they use digital resources to inform decisions. Make digital core to your marketing strategy because consumers are using digital sources to make brand choices

2) Search is a key resource for shoppers and a third of searchers start their search with a category term (ie tablet, best laptop). Influence undecided shoppers with ads in top positions on category terms, ensuring a place in the consumers’ consideration set.

3) The number of shoppers watching online videos about Portable PCs has tripled YOY and 78% of consumers who see a portable PC video ad look up the advertiser for more information. Enhance your online video advertising strategy to reach these consumers.

4) The number of Portable PC shoppers researching on mobile devices has grown double digits YOY. Optimize websites for mobile and reach shoppers with ads on their #1 mobile shopping resource - search.

5) Although most shoppers research online, most purchases occur in-store.
Measure online influenced in-store sales when evaluating online ROI.

6) 40% of shoppers who returned a product said it was because they were dissatisfied with the product or it didn’t meet their expectations. Returns are costly to both OEMs and retailers and bad experiences will influence future purchases. Since a large portion of returns had nothing to do with a broken device, it’s important to deliver on your brand promise and educate customers so they get the most out of their new tablet, laptop or ultrabook. Apple does a great job with this by hosting classes and giving customers easy access to Apple experts. We’ve also seen some brands & retailers educate customers through online video tutorials and product reviews.

Posted by Eva Barbier, The Google Technology Team

Source: Google/Compete Portable PC Study Sept 2012