Nearly all businesses, regardless of vertical or business type, are subject to some degree of holiday seasonality. For many B-to-B businesses, the winter Holiday season is among the slowest weeks of the year, as many employees and prospective clients are out of the office on vacation, and meetings are already focused on planning for the upcoming year. For B-to-C businesses, and retailers in particular, mid-November through the New Year is likely the busiest time of year, with many businesses producing half or more of the year’s total revenue.
Mid-November is officially here and the Holiday Shopping season has just kicked off. For retailers, this is likely the most important month-and-a-half of the year and because of that, planning for your Holiday PPC optimization should have started months ago.
If it did, great! You are ahead of most of the competition and you should feel confident about the coming month. You’ll still want to read on to make sure you covered all of our tips.
If you haven’t started planning yet, it’s okay. Here are 5 last-minute PPC Holiday optimization tips that will still put you out in front of much of the competition.
1. Learn from previous year’s PPC data
Even if you’re late to the game, this is the most important step. Knowing what to expect, on a weekly and daily basis is vital to running an efficient Holiday campaign. For example, many of our clients’ performance is highly correlated to their Holiday shipping offers. For an offer like ‘Free Shipping,’ it is vital to understand exactly what day conversion rate and sales will drop off prior to Christmas.
For most, conversion rates will remain strong so long as consumers feel that they can have their order shipped by Christmas day (There’s a good reason many sites offer “Guaranteed Shipping by Christmas”). We can guess what that day will be when sales drop off, but ultimately the best way to know for sure is to take a deep dive into the previous year’s data. Remember, if your Holiday offer changed then, your performance likely will too.
2. Have a Proactive, not Reactive, Keyword Bidding Strategy
Understanding how conversion rate changes is the most important factor in crafting a solid keyword bidding plan. Too many PPC managers jump straight to cost-per-click and make assumptions about what bid is too-high, too-low, or just right. The problem with this is that CPC is really a data-point that tells you what value your competition gets from the keyword, not what you do. The beauty of pay-per-click is that with the available data there’s no reason for guessing what the best bid is! We can tell you, for every single keyword, EXACTLY how much you can afford to pay for a click and you should be able to as well.
Looking at the graph below, you can see that conversion rate for this retailer drops from 2.43% to 0.00%, from December 21st to December 22nd. Being just one day late by having a reactive keyword bidding strategy in 2013 would be a costly mistake.
3. Write Catchy Holiday Ads
If your business is highly seasonal, failing to write Holiday specific ad copy could single-handedly crush your Holiday campaign. Even if your business always offers free shipping and a 10% discount, make users think that it is a Holiday specific sale. Holiday shopping for consumers is both stressful and exciting. Don’t be afraid to play into that excitement and make people feel like this really is a special time to be shopping (because it is!).
Writing ad copy that creates a sense of urgency is a great way to capture traffic and increase conversion rates. Phrases like “Sale Ends Soon!” help move site visitors more quickly from browsers to buyers by making them feel like they will get a better deal if they purchase from you, right away.
4. Update Your Website to Mirror Your Holiday Offering
We don’t recommend making any offers or claims in ad copy that are not backed up on your website. Doing so is the #1 best way to lower conversion rate and wind up with a very inefficient Holiday campaign. To take this a step further, if you are offering a site-wide sale, use your header or a graphic that shows at the top of every page to let visitors know about it. Your Holiday offer should be the first thing every visitor sees as it will be the first thing they are looking for.
5. Get “Trendy” with keyword expansion
Users search in different ways during the Holidays which means that your Adwords campaigns should be capturing them in different ways. While it won’t just give you the answers, Google Trends is a great tool for understanding how user search behavior changes during different times of the year.
While many of these tips would have benefited from weeks of preparation time to make sure everything is just right, getting your campaigns tuned up for the Holiday season a little late is still far better than not at all. Our final, bonus tip is to create a calendar and action plan for all major sales/events using your historical PPC data to plan out PPC initiatives. Not only will you find that you have a much more accurate idea of what to expect from the Holidays, you’ll be much more likely to exceed those expectations.