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Bose turns up the volume on holiday sales with paid search

  Article , Retail , Success stories

Holiday traffic visits up 47% with audience targeting


Better sound is just the beginning

Whether you’re rocking out to a favorite song, getting lost in a movie or hearing a loved one’s voice, audio technology innovator and retailer Bose wants to give you the best listening experience possible.

Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Amar Bose in 1964, the company first made a name for itself by creating unconventional speaker systems with unparalleled sound quality.

Today, Bose is one of the leading audio companies, with products ranging from wireless sport earbuds, portable speakers, smart speakers, noise-canceling headphones, and other audio equipment. “We strive to create products that fully immerse people in their audio experience by providing the best sound and the most comfort,” says Hilary Giesler, global digital marketing manager for Bose. “This ethos is even more important today since people are using audio devices more often and are consuming audio in many different formats.”

As a pioneer in the noise-canceling headphone space, Bose was able to enjoy a first-to-market advantage. “We really developed and owned the premium noise-canceling headphone category with our Bose QuietComfort series,” says Giesler. “Still, in recent years that space has become more competitive.”

With competition heating up, Bose knew it needed to increase its online presence and reach a new, untapped audience of audiophiles. Especially with Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching.

The holiday season is the most critical time of the year to capture consumers in market for the products we offer.

— Hilary Giesler, global digital marketing manager, Bose

Staying top of mind

The holiday season is the most critical time of the year to capture consumers in market for the products we offer,” says Giesler. “We look across our product offering and ask, ‘Where is the greatest opportunity for consumers and for Bose?’ Then we work to prioritize our approach based on delivering the best value for consumers and Bose.”

Lady with a Bose headphone

Bose had a few challenges to address during a competitive holiday shopping season. The company needed to keep their products and brand top of mind in what had recently become a competitive noise-cancelling headphone market. This meant getting in front of consumers who hadn’t yet decided about whether they were going to buy our product or a competitor’s, and balancing driving visibility for our newest headphones and driving conversion for promotional offers,” says Giesler. “Boosting conversions across the board was also the main goal.”

To ensure its search engine marketing (SEM) success, Bose relies on their agency MediaCom and paid search director James Ko. MediaCom has been recognized as an Agency of the Year and Account of the Year finalist for the Microsoft Advertising Agency Awards.

Making a list and checking it twice

It was time for Ko to roll up his sleeves and get to work. “In terms of getting people to click on our ads, we made sure we used every Microsoft Advertising feature across the board,” says Ko. “Not only did we promote specific sales and other offers we had going at the time, such as free shipping and discounts, we also wanted shoppers to know that they’d be getting premium sound experiences from our products.” To stress this, ad copy and calls to action were updated to give searchers a strong incentive to click.

Bose speakers on a desk

Ko also created over 50 different Remarketing audience lists to target during the holiday period. This let Bose reconnect with people who had previously shown interest in its products by visiting the Bose website. Bose was able to retarget them with offers and relevant messaging. To reach more customers, the company also used In-market Audiences, which are curated lists of searchers who are in the market to buy for a certain purchase category. In addition, Bose took advantage of Similar Audiences to help increase conversion rates by finding shoppers who most closely matched the ideal characteristics of a current Bose customer.

“Paid Search is a strategy we’ve put in place to ensure we can capture people in those higher funnel stages before they’re ready to buy,” says Ko. “Then we revisit them when we have promos. This way we’re able to focus our dollars on the most qualified searchers.”

Audiophiles wanted

Both Giesler and Ko were impressed with the results with Microsoft Advertising. Bose achieved a 69% increase in click-through rates (CTRs) when looking at the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period year over year. In-market Audiences alone led to a CTR that was a 28% higher rate than non-audience visitors and converted at a 21% higher rate. On top of that, nearly 15% of all traffic visits to came from Remarketing audiences. A whopping 47% of all traffic visits came from using audience targeting features in concert, specifically Remarketing, Similar Audiences and In-market Audiences. This powerful family of features help businesses see stronger ad engagement and returns by focusing marketing on the customers most likely to convert.

These audience targeting features have become a crucial part of the Bose paid search strategy. “Audience targeting allows us to focus our investment and capture consumers we know are actively researching and shopping our product categories,” says Giesler. “We’re able to put Bose in front of shoppers we’ve identified as qualified for headphones, speakers or other audio products and serve them the best information to make a decision and ultimately drive purchase.”

“From a revenue and sales perspective, we’ve always received positive return on investment [ROI] from Microsoft Advertising,” says Ko. “Overall, it’s driven very strong performance.”

We look at paid search as the vehicle that’s going to capture that in-market consumer when they start researching a product or when they’re ready to buy.

— Hilary Giesler, global digital marketing manager, Bose

All in for e-commerce

Bose has always been responsive to its customers’ needs. Given the dramatic shift to online shopping in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia, the company decided in January 2020 to solely focus on e-commerce in those markets, closing 119 retail stores. It couldn’t have come at a better time. In March 2020, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet Bose was poised and ready for the online shopping boom. “Ultimately, we’ve tried to capitalize on the consumer trends we’re seeing in the marketplace,” adds Ko. “We’ve been ramping up quite a bit mainly because our products are what consumers currently need. Right now, they need speakers and headphones.”

As more people turn to online shopping, investing in SEM has become more important than ever. “We look at paid search as the vehicle that’s going to capture that in-market consumer when they start researching a product or when they’re ready to buy,” says Giesler.

Bose is excited by the results it has achieved with Microsoft Advertising and its account team. “They’ve been so responsive, proactive and very helpful with all the recommendations they’ve provided. It’s really a testament to all their hard work,” says Ko. “Plus, we’ve always been pleased with the outcomes from Microsoft Advertising. As Microsoft Advertising becomes more integrated into our management platform, we’ll be using more of its advanced features. We look forward to continuing our partnership and helping grow our clients’ businesses.”

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