Get Your PPC Campaigns Ready for the Holiday Season

Zac HeiseyPaid AdvertisingLeave a Comment

Google's the ad auction

It’s just about that time of year again. The time when online retailers and ecommerce store managers start the mad scramble to make sure their products are visible and available to the influx of internet shoppers. The 2014 online holiday shopping season is nearly upon us, and it’s time to get your PPC campaigns in order.

While the “official” online shopping season runs between Thanksgiving and Christmas, smart online retailers will start planning their holiday marketing calendar now to get out ahead of their competition. Here we’ll take a look at a few ways online retailers can get their paid search campaigns ready for the upcoming online holiday shopping season.

Review Your Account Structure, Settings, Bids & Budgets

If you sell products online, this is the time of year where you’ll want to give your overall PPC account structure a thorough review. You may have been able to get by with unorganized campaigns and competing keywords up to this point, but cleaning up any potential trouble areas now will position you for ecommerce success through the online shopping season.

Aside from the standard best practices like maintaining tightly-themed ad groups of around 10 keywords, running 2-3 ad variations per ad group at a time, and separating search and display campaigns, a few things you may want to implement include:

  • Making sure keywords for your best-selling and highest margin products are featured and have the best chance to serve ads. This may require you to build out separate campaigns and ad groups for these keywords so that they can have their own dedicated budget.
  • Along with organizing your campaigns to favor your top products and services, make sure that you’re paying close attention where your ads stack up against your competitors. You can review your ad impression share on Google by exploring the ‘Auction Insights’ tab (see below). This gives you an idea of who you are up against, how much overlap there is between your ads and theirs, and how often their ads show above yours.

  • Along with the information gained from Auction Insights, you can also use tools like SpyFu and iSpionage to track competitor spending trends and ad copy adjustments going into the online shopping season. After gather all of this intel, you can start to adjust your keyword bids and campaign budgets to ensure that you remain competitive for your high-priority keywords throughout the holidays.
  • It’s a good idea to structure your campaigns and ad groups in a way that mirrors your ecommerce site navigation. This helps with overall management of your campaigns, while also allowing you to quickly and easily address trouble spots or focus on the areas that matter the most.

Update Your Keyword Lists

Search queries usually fall into one of three categories: navigational searches, informational searches, and transactional searches. A well-planned PPC account will have campaigns, ad groups, and ad variations that address all three categories.

However, as we head into prime online shopping season, it makes sense to adjust your strategy in a way that gives preference to transactional searches with high purchase intent. These are keywords that include modifiers like “buy,” “shop,” “coupon,” and “purchase.” Bidding higher on these types of transaction searches is a solid strategy since the user is more likely to make a purchase than someone searching “review” or “compare” keywords.

Diversify Your Networks and Ad Types

If you’ve been marketing primarily on one or two paid search networks, now is the time to increase your exposure and expand to some new networks. For online retailers who’ve stuck mainly with Google Adwords or Bing Ads, look to run ads on Facebook or Twitter, as well as on the variety of comparison shopping engines (CSEs), which includes:

  • ShopZilla
  • Amazon Product Ads
  • Nextag
  • Google Shopping
  • Price Grabber

In Addition to new ad networks, don’t be afraid to try out some new types of advertising mediums as well. For those familiar with your standard search text ad, this might mean creating and marketing some banner, rich media, or video advertisements. Committing to a solid retargeting initiative is also a great addition to your paid search efforts. Whether you retarget to past website visitors directly through Google Adwords or Facebook Exchange, or you use a 3rd party retargeting platform like AdRoll or Perfect Audience, the ability to show a unique message to non-converters can give your sales numbers a real boost, particularly during the hectic holiday season.

Don’t Ignore Mobile

Roughly 64% of internet shoppers report using a mobile device before making a purchase online. Additionally according to Marketing Profs, 52% said they would be more likely to purchase from an online retailer offering in-store navigation on a mobile device . The take away? Don’t put your mobile marketing strategy on the back burner during the holidays.

Create some mobile-specific ads in all of your current ad groups. This means adjusting ad copy to be locally focused, include your business location and contact info, or directing users to your mobile-optimized ecommerce store. If your ecommerce website isn’t currently optimized to present and sell products to visitors, invest some time and money in getting that taken care of. It will pay off big over the course of the 2014 online shopping season.

Take steps now to prepare your paid search campaigns for the influx of online shoppers in November and December, and your online retail business will reap the benefits throughout the holiday season.

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Zac Heisey


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