If you’re an online retailer or even a local business, we hope you haven’t been dragging your feet on holiday season campaigns. If you have been, don’t worry; as long as you create some time to do it, there’s still time to prepare some PPC strategies and tactics that can really help drive your brand forward.
This was also discussed on Episode 59 of The Redirect Podcast; listen below.
Pull Last Year’s Data for Evaluation
We’re making some assumptions here that you’re already running PPC campaigns, or have in the past. We suggest setting aside some time—an entire day, if you can—to really go through the previous year’s campaign data, look for the wins and losses, and make an optimal plan for this year.
What you’re looking for are the campaigns, or the adgroups within the campaigns, that brought you the biggest wins. Depending on your business, this could be in terms of actual online revenue/sales, or it could be appointments booked and lead generation if you’re more service-oriented. Either way, use your conversion metrics here to help guide you.
Rethink Your Budget
Compare that data with where you’re spending the most, and make sure you’re seeing a positive return on those ad dollars. Now, if you’re making a big push through the holiday season, you might be in a position where not all your campaigns and adgroups will provide a positive ROI. This means that you also adopt the principles of omnichannel advertising, and all campaign elements help the brand grow—agreed?
Once you dial into the most profitable campaigns and segments, ensure these do not get limited by budget. Look into whether you hit your budgets, or if they were held back in any way. Re-prioritize your budgeting for this season.
Be Proactive and Communicate the Plan
If you have seasonal-specific campaigns, promotions, and items you are looking to promote, build a plan now so you’re not caught last-minute getting those out there. Something as simple as a Google Doc or Google Sheet can be shared amongst your business units and all players involved. This ensures nothing is hidden, and nobody has an excuse to miss a promo deadline.
Make Optimal Use of the Tools Available
During the holidays, things get competitive. Manual bidding strategies should not be employed during this time. If they are, at least run some level of enhanced bidding to let the power of AI work for you. Other “smart bidding” strategies are available to you and could make sense, so dig in.
Make sure you have audiences clearly defined in either Google Analytics or Google Ads. These audiences allow you to remarked to them and reach out to lookalike customers who are more likely to convert.
In addition, audience targeting inside of Google Ads has gotten much better and allows you to target both in-market and affinity audience types for people who might actively be researching a purchase of your type of products/services.
Now is also the time to get your ads up to par with the proper standard ad units. This means moving past expanded text ads and developing some responsive search ads. Let the power of machine learning help you out with a good mix of headlines and descriptions for improved performance.
Use Ad Extensions
Extensions: We’ve discussed them before, and you should not ignore them. Group up like products/services at either the campaign or adgroup level, and make sure these related items are an option for searchers via extensions. In addition, use extensions as a space for holiday promotional pushes. Are you offering up special bundle packs, seasonal items, or even a discount/coupon code? These can all be built into extensions. These should be a part of your overarching planning and mapping session mentioned above.
Bid Up on Shopping Ads
If you’re running shopping ads, this space is hyper-competitive. While you might have gotten away with lower costs per click (CPCs) throughout the rest of the year, now is the time to really ratchet up and get those bids up there. Consider a run-through to make sure your feed is working properly, you have the latest promo codes in play, and sales prices are reflected.
We hope these ideas have given you some clear improvements to run with as we enter into this busy season. If it feels like a lot, focus on the area or two that you expect will make the biggest difference over last year’s performance. If you need more resources at your disposal, get in touch to see how our team might assist you in making the most of your holiday paid search budget.