Teleflora’s testing found that mobile shoppers searching “near me” are in the market to buy at that moment—even if the sale takes place online.

Online florist Teleflora last year revamped the way it ran its search engine marketing program.

The retailer had long handled its marketing in-house, but in November it began working with search engine marketing vendor NetElixir Inc. to bolster its paid search strategy, particularly when it came to mobile search.

About 45% of its site traffic comes from mobile devices and that percentage rises around its peak holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas.

“People are more prone to shop for flowers on their phones when they realize they have an urgent need,” says Beth Monda, Teleflora’s vice president of e-commerce. “They may or may not be in the doghouse, but they will be if they don’t send a gift.”

To figure out how to drive more sales out of its paid search ads, NetElixir worked with the retailer to run a string of A/B tests to determine whether adding such features as a click-to-call button to search ads would cause orders to rise (they didn’t), or if optimizing campaigns for shoppers using “near me” in their searches boosted sales (it did). The vendor also tested which metropolitan areas, cities and ZIP codes produced the best returns at particular times (Teleflora reduced its average cost per order by roughly 40% by shifting its ad dollars from where the most consumers were buying flowers to the areas where recipients were receiving the orders).

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Almost immediately, the more aggressive approach to mobile search marketing paid off: Teleflora’s mobile conversion rate from shoppers clicking from mobile paid search ads rose 14%. Moreover, mobile orders overall grew 116% and orders from “near me” campaigns grew roughly 300%, albeit compared to a small base. And this growth occurred even though the retailer doesn’t operate physical stores; it brokers orders to local florists for delivery.

“‘Near me’” searches are all about being in front of the consumer when she’s ready to transact,” Monda says. “If we can provide what they need, when they need, they’re not concerned about stopping into a store.”

Those findings have led Teleflora to maintain an “aggressive approach on mobile”—even though only about 22% of revenue stems from mobile devices, she says. That’s because even though Teleflora works with a multitouch attribution vendor to determine what devices customers use, Monda figures that—at best—she can track 20% of customers. “It’s hard,” she says. “I think the right approach is to know our limitations but to keep trying.”

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