Did You Know

According to the National Retail Federation, by October, 55% of consumers will have already begun researching their holiday purchases. So, if you’ve been scouring the internet looking for new strategies to adopt this holiday season, look no further—now is not the time to change your SEM strategy.

The most successful clients during the holiday are the ones who do the same thing they’ve been doing all year, only bigger. Spend more money, get more clicks, see more orders and higher revenue, but do it the same way you’ve been doing all year.

If you’re not sure you can plan and execute a mobile-only PPC strategy this season, then don’t! If you don’t think you have time to flesh out a new shopping campaign structure before Cyber Week, don’t! Save testing for Q1, when the stakes aren’t so high (more on that in the coming months). Use your tried-and-true methods on a larger scale, and I’m willing to bet money you’ll see great results.

Holiday Prep List

All this is not to say you shouldn’t be investing time now to prep for the holidays. Even though I’m suggesting you shouldn’t change your strategy, here are a few steps to ensure this holiday will be your most effective yet.

Check Your Keyword List Twice

  • Ask yourself, is there any new merchandise coming in for the holidays or gifting this season? If so, do we have keyword coverage for these brands or products?
  • Secondly, what key products were popular this time last year? Do you have expansive coverage around them?
  • Finally, once your keyword coverage is in place, are the keywords above first-page minimums so they’re eligible to show ads?
  • Pro-tip: Avoid generic gift keywords (gifts for mom, Christmas present, etc.) unless you have significant budget to spend with low ROAS goals. These terms get very expensive (high CPCs) around the holidays and don’t have specific intent (low conversion rate).

Shopping Campaign ‘Til You Drop

  • As you bid up on your product groups this holiday season, do you know what kinds of search queries you’re receiving? Scan Search Query Logs, and add negatives for any irrelevant traffic that may spike when you increase bids on your popular product targets.
  • Make sure you’re separating your trademark traffic utilizing engine priority settings. Need a refresher on how this works? Check out our Shopping structure post.
  • Pro-tip: Optimize your feed with relevant titles and descriptions. Is your “Gingerbread Birdhouse” a great gift for bird watchers? Add “Bird Watcher Gift” to your product title to help the engines match a user’s intent to your perfect product.

Make Your Message Jolly and Bright

  • There are lots of ways to make your copy stand out. Experiment with countdown copy and IF statements that target user device or audience segments to make your message super-targeted.
  • If you’re using the new AdWords UI, then you have access to Promotion Extensions. This feature allows you to add Black Friday and Cyber Monday specific extensions to your ads.
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  • Pro-tip: If you have physical locations, use ad copy or extensions to promote extended hours to help drive users in-store this season.

Invest Early

  • Shoppers start researching early for purchases they plan to make on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Make sure you’re allocating budget to days based on click date revenue per click, as opposed to purchase date.
  • Don’t rely on your existing time of day or day of week rules through Cyber Week. Keep in mind shoppers may be searching at odd times (like 3am on Black Friday while they’re in line at Best Buy) and your current bid pullbacks may cause you to miss good opportunities.
  • Pro-tip: Use the custom holiday audiences you hopefully created from converters this time last year to retarget as they shop this holiday season.

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As you prepare, ensure the best practices you’ve been refining all year are in place, and don’t change your overall approach. Happy (almost) holidays!