If your “To Do” List during the holidays looks anything like mine, it probably includes things such as: buy presents, clean and decorate the house, plan a menu, plan for all the relatives, and still manage all of my normal day-to-day duties. Do you really want to have to add “manage my holiday promotions for my PPC campaigns” to that already long, stressful list right in the middle of a holiday season? I certainly wouldn’t think so.

That’s why I am here to give you some easy ways to plan all promotions in advance as well as manage your budgets and bidding strategy for any holiday season. There are numerous steps that can be done days, weeks, even months ahead of time (OK, it’s probably a little too late for that last one) in order to alleviate any added stress, disorganization, or even missed opportunities.

Here are five quick tips to follow when planning your holiday promotions:

  1. Set up campaigns ahead of time and keep them paused until execution so that you won’t be rushing to do so last minute, possibly forgetting important details or settings.
  2. Look back at performance during the last holiday season in order to help this year’s performance. Last year was a year ago, that means you have been sitting on all of this useful data that can help you to plan for this upcoming season way in advance.
  3. Use automated rules so that you can enable/pause/rotate ads easily. If certain days, weeks, or a specific time period worked well in the past or if you can anticipate specific high-traffic periods, use automatic rules to ensure you’re offering the best promotion at the optimal time.
  4. Research your competitors to make sure you are offering competitor deals. You don’t want to lose out to a competitor simply because you didn’t take the time to research their offerings and keep an eye on the promotions they are releasing. And finally, the tip I consider to be one of the most important….
  5. Be Flexible, Be Flexible, Be Flexible. You should always be somewhat flexible with your PPC campaigns, but I can only stress it that much more for the holidays. Make sure you’re planning for various scenarios and gauging whether or not you have room to be flexible. Think about the holiday nightmare of a scenario when all of a sudden a competitor is offering 20% off AND Free Shipping on that exact same soft polar fleece that you are selling. You’re going to want to make sure you have some flexibility to offer a similar (and hopefully better) promotion and quickly edit ad text and maybe even bids and budget so that you can maintain a competitive spot.

Don’t Forget Your Budget and Bids

As important as planning your promotions is, managing your budget and bidding strategy should be high priority too, especially during the holidays when search traffic is expected to increase.

Holiday Bid Strategy

In general you might want to allocate a higher budget during the holidays (for your PPC campaign, that is, not just for buying gifts), or at least plan so that you can have some extra budget in case you end up needing it. Also ensure that your planned budget will last you throughout the holidays so that you don’t run out too early and miss out on conversion opportunities.

It’s not always fair, but some products just do better by nature during specific times of the year. That’s why it’s important to also consider adjusting your budget for specific products or services depending on the seasonality of that product/service. Be sure to allocate more of your budget to the specific offering that is going to be most appealing in order to capture all possible conversions.

As for your bidding strategy, take note that CPC will generally trend higher as there is more competition on keywords, especially those that perform well during the holiday season (imagine crowds swarming stores on black Friday to get that “it” toy of the season…OK, maybe not quite so dramatic, but you get the point). Make sure you research these potentially popular keywords so that you can anticipate your bid competition, allowing you to better position yourself in the crowd. But don’t forget, just as some of those “it” toys face a surge of popularity only to fade quickly, keyword popularity can also change at any time, so make sure you are keeping an eye on your bids and taking appropriate steps to adjust bids.

Lastly, in case you didn’t hold my message of the importance of flexibility close to the heart of your PPC campaigns, I’ll repeat it again here when talking about budget and bids. You should be monitoring your budget and bids consistently and making necessary adjustments based on your performance. If you end up outperforming your expectations, face more competition than expected, or just didn’t quite start out on the best foot, get in there and make changes to your budget and bids so that you can maintain strong performance.