Are Your PPC Campaigns Ready For The Holidays?

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emmadavis | Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Filed under: PPC Tips & Advice, Technology

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There’s a chill in the air and store shelves are stocked with Halloween candy, which can only mean one thing: the holiday season is nearly upon us! If you’re a marketer running pay-per-click advertising campaigns, it’s time to determine your fourth-quarter strategy. With products that see a spike in sales leading up to the winter holidays, it’s crucial to plan your PPC tactics accordingly. Here are some steps you can take to get your PPC campaigns whipped into shape for the holidays.

Know Your Product, Know Your Audience

Of course, you should know both of these things long before the holidays, but it’s never more important than the months leading up to the prime gift-giving season. If you’ve done your work in other areas of online media you should be experiencing an increase in organic traffic and hopefully an increase in search engine queries related to your product. Now is the time to learn your product offerings top to bottom and figure out how your products are most useful to your target audience of consumers. This is where you’ll find the messaging that will work most effectively to sell your product with ad copy to online shoppers searching for gifts.

Get Cozy With Your Analytics Data

If you’ve been following your site’s traffic all year you know by now what the most popular searches are that match your website’s content. This information is PPC gold because many of these organic search terms will make excellent paid search bids. Chances are your ads will receive higher quality score ratings because your keywords will be considered relevant to your site content, which ultimately means lower costs per click. You can find valuable data in the traffic reports of your site as well as through generating PPC performance reports such as the search query report. Not only do the search terms you find here often present opportunities for successful PPC keywords, they often expose trends of keywords that do not match your product, and therefor make excellent additions as negative keywords. Past the benefit of analytics data on keyword management, you can learn a lot about your best customers through analytics: where they live, how they found you, what pages of your site they visit, and when they do the most online shopping. Some of this data can be purposed into locally targeted campaigns that are more effective than campaigns aimed at your general audience.

Treat These Campaigns Differently

Even if you’re still running all your normal campaigns while you implement a holiday-based PPC campaign, it’s important to know the distinction between the two types of messaging you’ll be using. This is where it can be very useful to be familiar with your PPC platform of choice. If you understand how and when to use the different settings options available to you, you can make the most out of both your normal and holiday season campaigns. Considering time of day is a good way to preserve your budget on high-traffic holiday campaigns: if you know the peak hours of your target customer’s online shopping, you can limit traffic during off-peak times. Similarly, if your ads include promotion-specific language, you can set the start and end dates of individual campaigns to align with your selling strategy. Rather than creating only one campaign, you could set up one for weekdays and one for the weekend that uses stronger messaging, not unlike the way stores at the mall hold sales on weekends. You are also likely to see large amounts of irrelevant traffic if you don’t take the proper precautions so even if you never bother with negative keywords most of the year, it’s smart to choose some important ones to include here. You never know what kind of broad matches your keyword “personalized christmas gift” will receive, and in the interest of preserving your good click-through rates you’ll want to limit unrelated impressions.

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Take Advantage Of Content Network Placements

Some marketers prefer search network campaigns while others prefer the Content Network for ads but I personally believe a healthy balance of both results in the most successful strategy. During the holiday season, shoppers consume way more content online than during most months of the year. They read about what kind of gifts to buy, what trends are popular for different ages, what fashion styles are in demand and more. These content offerings provide an opportunity for you as an advertiser to place your compelling ad copy alongside content that your target audience is already consuming. With managed placements you can even choose which sites to include rather than simply displaying ads based on content keyword matches. You can also take advantage of display ads on the Content Network, so make sure to roll out some holiday-themed image or motion ads that will catch the attention of your shoppers. The beautiful thing about Content Network placement is that you don’t need to worry about getting your ads on fresh, new content because your ads will automatically be matched when the content is relevant.

Get Those Special Holiday Keywords In Place

Now is the time to kick into keyword-generating high gear because shoppers are searching for products during this time of year at breakneck speed and you don’t want to miss them when they might be looking for your product. Evaluate what your highest performing key phrases are and then do what you can to make these search terms a bit more holiday-oriented. Including terms with language about gift-giving, specific holidays, time-based sales and other calls to action can trigger your ads on a surprising number of gift-buying search results. Be warned: if you go for the most obvious terms you’re likely to face heavy competition and higher bid prices, but if you craft a good ad that lands on relevant content it could be worth it to go for the high-roller search terms. If you’re on a limited budget, there’s no need to worry though, because there are plenty of longer-tail holiday-related search terms that you can bid on that will still attract shoppers. They key is making sure you aren’t leaving out any potential buyers by forgetting to include keywords that they might be searching for when shopping for their loved ones.

As more leaves change color, Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem just around the corner, so there’s no better time than now to get started making your PPC campaigns holiday-ready. What are you doing to prepare for the holiday shopping season? Leave a comment and get in touch for a free consultation on improving your PPC performance during the holidays!

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