Holiday Optimization for PPC: Prep & Strategy

By Heidi Kramer | Oct 8, 2013
More Articles by Heidi


online holiday shoppingIt may seem a little early to be thinking about the holiday season. I know when I walk into a retail store at the beginning of October and they’re already showcasing holiday decorations that involve colorful turkeys and that jolly, rosy-cheeked gentleman that goes by the name Santa Claus, I want to scoff and walk away. However, I have to admit that I usually find myself perusing the aisles before moving on to what I actually walked in to the store for.

Based on a report by RSR Research, 28% of brands will start their holiday marketing on October 1st or earlier, and according to Bing, 22.1% of consumers start their holiday shopping in October. Online holiday sales are growing every year, and 2013 is no different. Don’t put off your online advertising like you do your gift shopping – get started today and prepare your PPC accounts for a stellar 2013 holiday season.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Getting Started: It’s best to start your holiday pay-per-click advertising in October so you don’t miss out on the early shoppers.  This means that in August, September or even as late as early October (yes, I realize it’s already a week into October!), you should be reviewing your 2012 account performance at both an overall and granular level – including campaigns, ad groups, keyword lists and ads.

Budget: Before you launch, be sure to determine your budget for the whole season – this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  You want to be sure you are maximizing your budget in the best way possible – from October (or earlier) through the beginning of January – with the biggest pushes reserved for November and December.

Nov Holiday CalKey Days: If you’re already immersed in the retail world, whether online or in a brick and mortar store, you know there are key days that see a high spike in shopping traffic. Make sure you budget accordingly for these days and for the days leading up to them so when it’s time for a customer to make a purchase, you are the first that comes to mind or you’re right there when they search the web for your product or service.

Learn from the Past & Make Changes

It’s important to make adjustments for this year’s holiday season so you can get the most out of the small window that you have for a great end of the year revenue push. As you put together your 2013 campaign and analyze your 2012 data, be sure to optimize your account based on what you learned from last year. This can include:

  • Day-parting
  • Key traffic days and corresponding budget
  • Ad copy testing
  • Competitive keyword bidding
  • Promotions and incentives
  • Enabling or updating ad extensions offered by Bing and Google

2013 Focuses

Every year there are more updates and changes to online advertising and consumer spending than you can probably keep track of – so here are the key areas that should be your main focuses for a successful 2013 holiday season:

Remarketing: Set up a remarketing list if you haven’t already. Retargeting consumers who have visited your site but did not make a purchase is a must for the holiday season . When looking at year-to-date data for all of our AdWords clients, we see an average combined conversion rate (using many-per-click and view-through conversions) of 6.40% for remarketing campaigns. Think of what could be brought in with the increased holiday traffic around your products and services with a similar conversion rate and a lower-than-average cost-per-conversion usually associated with remarketing. Learn more about what remarketing is in this infographic.

mobile and tabletsMobile & Tablet: The total number of mobile and tablet owners is continuing to skyrocket,  and they are increasingly more likely to use those devices to shop and research online. In fact, 84% of shoppers use their smartphones while in a physical store. Make sure you are prepared for this shift by implementing responsive web design, ramping up your digital advertising, and ensuring that you are publishing up-to-date content, product specifications, and pricing as consumers conduct research on the go.

Free Shipping: Based on a study by eMarketer, the most successful promotion for the 2012 season was free shipping (41.7%) and it is well known that the last day of free shipping is usually a high sales day. Offering free shipping as a promotion or purchase incentive is detrimental to stay competitive this holiday season. Consumers will put in the extra effort to find the products that offer free shipping, so use this type of incentive in your online ads to give consumers a reason to choose you over a competitor.

Questions on holiday advertising strategy or have a story to share? Reach out to me on Twitter @heidinkramer.

Holiday Marketing Success Checklist

Don’t procrastinate any longer – now is the time to get your marketing plan together for the holidays! Download the Year-Round Digital Marketing Checklist for Holiday Ecommerce Success to make sure your marketing plan is in tip-top shape.

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