Marketing Strategies

Search Strategies For New-To-Online Consumers

Yuly Gonzalez, Director of Search at Rakuten Advertising APAC highlights strategies for retailers looking to engage new-to-online consumers following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yuly Gonzalez- Director of Search

This post was guest authored by Yuly Gonzalez, Director of Search, APAC

We’re now halfway through 2020 and what a wild ride it’s been. In many ways, 2020 has been one for the most transformative years in recent history as the world sought shelter while battling a global pandemic. All aspect of business was impacted by the shifts in the way people operate, and the e-commerce industry was not immune to this.  

Although verticals have been impacted differently as consumer preferences shifted towards essential items, e-commerce overall has experienced steady growth. Many consumers, especially those of an older generation, for the first time began shopping online 

Similarly, brick & mortar retailers who hadn’t previously invested in e-commerce found themselves at the mercy of digital retail. In a post-COVID world, it is no longer viable for retailers to not have online visibility.  

As stores reopen and ramp begin ramping up sales, Rakuten Advertising is witnessing clients in our Search portfolio report strong online growth in comparison to their offline sales. This growth is comprised of new-to-brand consumers and also new-to-online shoppers. With continued online growth in mind, how do retailers ensure the proper strategies are in place to address changes?  

Assess the competition.Review auction insights and know who your competitors are and where the market is saturated. Are there any new-to-online competitors?  Are those with minimal online presence now expanding? This will determine the competition to your brand and how to adjust your approach. 
Action: Review auction insights report more frequently and amp up live checks for your best-selling products. Potentially, revisit a SWOT analysis for the search channel. 

Understand your new traffic. During this time, your customer base may be expanding more than you know.  It’s essential to have the proper setup to be able to understand the scale of this new traffic as it may bring new behaviour and a level of unknown to current campaigns. 
Action: Create RLSA audiences tailored to recent visitors (i.e., last 30 days) and observe their impact on your campaigns, then expand your strategy based on findings. 

Accept the shift. Variances will occur for metrics such as click-through-rate and conversion rate as the traffic increases and audience widens. It’s likely that new-to-online customers will not behave the same way as existing customers. It may take a more descriptive ad to entice the initial click, they may also require a longer consideration or more page views before making a purchase.  During this time, it’s vital that retailers test and act with strategy.
Action: Establish new benchmarks to understand which variances are acceptable. Use this information to create a testing plan for ad copy, landing pages, and campaigns for best sellers. 

Adjust your bidding strategy. Even if automated bidding is being utilised, new traffic means different performance. Don’t miss out on new customers because the bidding algorithms aren’t evolving along with new to file customers. Examine whether the bidding strategy allows for an influx of new users? Do ROI targets need to revisited based on the new customers that can be acquired during this time?
Action: Revisit targets (ROAS, CPA) and bidding frequency. Ensure adequate investment is in place to properly capture additional traffic. 

Think bigger picture. Changes in customers’ intent can directly translate into search performance. However, the focus does not have to stop there. Just as search audiences and traffic may be evolving with an influx of new-to-online customers, so are other digital channels. How is your business set up to understand this?
Action: Review differences in behaviour between channels, which audiences are resonating well, where tests are in place, and how you can provide a cohesive experience for the new traffic. 

Find out how Rakuten Advertising can help your brand reach new-to-online consumers by visiting

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