Matt Fritz, director of acquisition marketing,
Great Big Canvas
With business soaring and the building humming, there’s only one thing that can make everything at this “Big” company even bigger: the holidays.
“The fourth quarter represents a significant amount of our overall revenue,” Fritz explains. “The holidays become absolute madness and insanity. We actually start preparing for the holiday season in July.”
Sometime before Halloween, Great Big Canvas customers begin realizing that treasured family photos would make the perfect gift if it was blown up and put onto a canvas, or that aerial shot of Yankee Stadium would look great in Dad’s office, and the orders begin pouring in. That is when this building really comes to life.
“Our uptick usually starts in October, within that first or second week,” he says, explaining how the company’s paid search strategy embraces seasonal customers. “We start to get more aggressive with our bidding strategies, more aggressive with our promotion schedules, more aggressive with email strategy, just to get people to start thinking about the holidays earlier.”
“Think” they do, which results in a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. “It's great when you get this flood of traffic and this insane amount of orders, particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” Fritz says. “But it's a really scary idea to rely on and expect that's going to happen.”
As much of a rush as Black Friday can be, it can also result in some sleepless nights if your strategy isn’t on target. The key, says Fritz, is to use past campaigns as a template.
“I can tell you a pretty big misstep,” he laughs. “This past holiday, we decided for our Black Friday promotion to not do what we've done in years past. We set up all our paid search campaigns, all the email campaigns, all the social. Everything was focused on a different strategy of promotion for the Black Friday holiday.”
Though the team felt good about its new strategy, it hadn’t been tested. “There was no proven history that this would or wouldn’t work,” he explains. “We launched it and noticed within three hours — basically from 9 a.m. until about noon — that based on historical years, the money and the sales were not flowing like they should.”
The Great Big Canvas team was able to quickly deploy a more classic strategy, saving the day with its rapid response. “We all got into a boardroom, reevaluated what we were doing, looked at what we've done in years past, and then everyone dispersed,” he explains. “I was in all of the paid search accounts, frantically making all sorts of changes to ads, went into the Bing Ads ad extensions and reverted our strategy to what we've done in the past. Within the hour, we started to see sales and revenue go back up to the levels that we were expecting.”
The lesson to be learned here? “You can strategize all you want, but it's really wise to lean on historical data and historical strategies, and just try to refine and improve them,” he says. “Instead of completely altering them.”
To further improve efficiency and return on ad spend they aggressively evaluated the exact search queries matching their broad match keywords. Identifying queries that were irrelevant and adding them as negative keywords across the account aided in increasing their rate of return. While many advertisers steer away from broad match keywords, Great Big Canvas found it to be a valuable asset in not only eliminating irrelevant traffic but also new keyword discovery, allowing them to increase their Bing Ads reach and traffic.
Another tactic that was deployed was the analysis of performance by hour of day and day of week. Discovering that particular days performed better than others they were able to adjust their bidding strategy to capitalize on days where search volume and intent was higher and converted at a stronger rate, while lowering the Bing Ads bidding on days where search volume remained high but purchase intent was lower. Evaluating the rate of return on desktop versus mobile, we were able to adjust our bidding strategies by device to increase efficiency.
Great Big Canvas is exactly where it wants to be heading in the fourth quarter of 2016. Confident in its plan, prepared for the holidays, and ready to power its headquarters with a flood of new memories.
“We recently expanded into another giant room, just to make way for more employees and more equipment and to get more efficient,” Fritz explains. “Our employee numbers swell considerably when we get into the fourth quarter, and this building is about to start running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”