It may seem like Thanksgiving was just a few months ago but, believe it or not, the holiday season is once again upon us. Papers are flying, ideas are swirling, and the anticipation in the air is palpable as marketers and businesspeople alike are rushing to get in on the action. Wallets are opening wider every day. You should ask yourself if you are prepared to enter the frenzy.
Many businesses are critically dependent on the holiday season with as much as three quarters of their revenue being earned during the period between the beginning of October and the end of December. Other businesses see a spike in sales during the same period, though not enough to be dependent on it.
Either way, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising should be an essential tool for just about every business this holiday season. If your business already does PPC year-round, now is the time to optimize it. It may be a good idea to start now if your business is not already doing PPC. When you play your cards right, you could see massive growth in your fourth-quarter earnings. After all, holiday sales in the United States are expected to top $600 billion this year.
These tips will help you keep your PPC campaigns competitive and bring in more of the cash that your customers are so eager to spend right about now.
#1 Start Preparing Early, Very Early
As of the time of writing this blog, it is already the second half of October. If you have not already started making plans, then you are late to the party. Google’s research shows that roughly a quarter of shoppers begin their searching before Halloween. Unsurprisingly, Cyber Monday and Black Friday are the top two days for online sales. So what can you do to prepare?
Start by looking at your past data. How did your PPC campaigns perform around this time last year? Were there any keywords or ads that performed particularly well? Search trends fluctuate throughout the year, especially during the holidays. Keep an eye out for any historical changes or anomalies in your PPC campaigns around these times. If you notice anything that works particularly well for your business during the holidays, start brainstorming how to expand on it this year. Come up with a plan and be ready to implement it.
Another big part of preparation is doing your research. The keywords that may perform best for you around this time of year may be low search volume throughout the rest of the year. Google Trends is an invaluable tool. Use it to explore topics that are popular during the holiday season and relate to the products or services that you offer. Then, run your keyword ideas through Google Keyword Planner to verify search volume and cost-per-click (CPC) estimates. If all goes well, you should end up with a sizable list of holiday-centric keywords that could drive significant sales.
#2 Use Ad Scheduling To Your Advantage
Certain keywords peak during certain times. Do your research and be prepared to adjust your ad scheduling accordingly. For example, searches for “ugly Christmas sweaters” peak around mid-December. You may want to schedule these ads to run around that time. Other days are better for other products and services. Conduct an investigation and make sure you optimize your ad scheduling to show ads during those times which you expect demand to be at the highest.
Also, do not forget to adjust your ad scheduling to reflect your business’ holiday hours. If you know that no one is going to be around to answer the phone when a lead comes in on December 25th, do not run your ads on that day. Any lost leads that come in while the business is closed are probably lost for good. Ad scheduling can help you avoid wasting these advertising dollars.
#3 Optimize Your Campaigns
It is one thing to bid on holiday-centric keywords, but optimizing an entire campaign is a whole new ball game. Holiday PPC campaign optimization is best described in two parts: ad copy and bidding.
Ad copy is the most straightforward. Make sure your ads appropriately reflect the new holiday keywords you are using. Make sure your ads also reflect any holiday products, services, specials, or promotions. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even adjust your landing pages to reflect the holidays better. This process can be time-consuming, which is why it is so important to start early.
Bidding is more complicated, as it requires historical research. If you are in an industry which becomes more competitive during this time of year, expect your keyword bids to change (and often). Look at how your keyword bidding changed in past years and use that data to anticipate how they may change this year.
Most importantly, keep a close eye on your bids. As your holiday keywords get searched more and more often, those bids are bound to start moving north. As long as your profit margins and ROI goals allow it, do not be afraid to raise your bids to stay competitive.
If several holiday seasons have come and gone, but you have not seen the kind of returns from PPC that you have hoped for during those times, it may be that you need to optimize those accounts more effectively. Many businesses have a plan in place by the end of August. It is not too late though. Follow these tips and do your research, and you may just see a considerable spike in sales.