Department Stores go Crazy for Wedding Shoes in Summer

Posted by
Jennifer Bahr
Date
 7 July, 2015
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The UK’s three leading department stores are all bidding on wedding shoes for summer, but who does it best across desktop, mobile, and Google Shopping ad formats?

As we enter wedding season, it will come as no surprise to hear that department stores everywhere are putting their wares on full display for brides to snap up before the big day.

According to Debrett‘s, June is the most popular month to host a wedding, thanks to the (mostly) reliable weather. Also, it sits right in the middle of the year – meaning money is likely to be a little more available than it is during the Christmas period.

Taking a look at Adthena’s wedding keyword data across the three competitors, it would seem as if John Lewis is way out ahead across all terms, while Debenhams completely stopped bidding on the words included in our group from February on.

I’m going to look into which keywords were most popular throughout the year and which ad formats gained the most traction – as we’ve discovered in the past, a unified strategy is always the most effective.

Seasonality

The wedding market is very seasonal indeed. Searches for wedding dresses start up to a year in advance, as brides know they will have to be adjusted a number of times to get the perfect fit – and that’s after they have normally been made to order.

It’s no surprise to see that cheap wedding dresses peaked between October and February, when it’s likely that brides will be searching for their perfect dress with time for it to be adjusted.

However, Adthena’s data shows that generic wedding dress keywords have hardly any visibility compared to brand terms (such as Debenhams wedding dress), which we excluded in this study.

Wedding jewellery stays below 5% until December, when its share of clicks more than doubles, hovering somewhere above 10%. Jewellery (apart from wedding rings) is usually the last thing a bride will buy for her wedding day as part of the finishing touches to an outfit.

After all, until they know how the dress looks, they cannot find the accessories to complete it.

By far, though, shoes are the item that gets the most clicks from wedding-related clothing throughout the year, whether we look at ivory wedding shoes, wedding shoes UK, or the generic wedding shoes term.

Although Adthena’s data shows there are peaks in clicks, it’s clear that the term is one of the most popular around, so we’ll use it as the basis for our research.

Digging Down into the Ad Copy

Taking the search term wedding shoes as the basis for our ad copy analysis, we’re going to look into whether it was the format of the ads that resulted in John Lewis’ overarching win.

For regular desktop ads, John Lewis clearly had the most visibility out of the three department stores.

Although House of Fraser’s efforts earned a couple of its ads the highest exposure, John Lewis’ ad copy was more varied and used keyword matching, as demonstrated by the top ad and the generic shoes-related keywords.

This strategy obviously works, ensuring the company gets both sets of customers coming to its website.

House of Fraser is directly targeting those shopping specifically for wedding shoes and promotes its deals along with free delivery to add that extra edge for people looking to save costs.

House of Fraser was the only competitor using mobile ads in its wedding shoes campaign, which is surprising, considering how mobile is becoming more important in all searches. Once again, it concentrates specifically on wedding shoes, but uses a different approach.

The adverts use two essential aspects of any mobile campaign: they emphasise immediate proximity by explaining that customers can pick their shoes up from the store; and they emphasise speed, saying any customers can get their shoes delivered by 9 am the next day.

Finally, onto Google Shopping. It’s clear this is a missed opportunity for both Debenhams and House of Fraser – the only company using Google Shopping units is John Lewis, and it’s perhaps the factor that helped the department store gain such a lead.

Its ads show a range of different products available in the wedding shoes category, including designer shoes, which is a great way to showcase everything on offer without making customers click through the website.

Wrapping This into Your Strategy

What’s evident from looking at these campaigns is that retailers, particularly those advertising seasonal products like clothing, must use every tool available to make themselves more visible on all platforms.

Now that Google is beginning to put more weight on mobile and with the Google Shopping Button’s expected arrival within the next few months, this is more true than ever.

The results really do speak for themselves – John Lewis dominated across the board, but it should start using mobile to get an even bigger lead across all platforms. Meanwhile, House of Fraser should consider using Google Shopping ads to expand its coverage.

Debenhams should carefully study its competitors’ strategies to see why its own has failed – it could be due to the excessive focus on branded keywords like debenhams wedding dress, but most likely it’s because the company is relying on desktop searches to get clicks.

Competitive intelligence for search enables businesses to start seeing where they are missing out on both ad platforms and keywords.

Adthena’s competitive intelligence tool allows you to see exactly how you’re faring against your competitors on mobile, desktop, and Google Shopping so you can see how to adjust to gain better ROI, however you play the PPC game.

(Main image credit: bg5000/flickr)

No Adthena client data was used in this analysis.