Searching For A Profitable Post-Holiday 'Deal Season'
The best way to keep the sales rolling after the holidays is to use paid search to drive consumers to your site; in other words, make it easy for people to find your bargains. You can also use display advertising, email campaigns, and social network advertising to promote post-holiday sales - but start with paid search since it works best to directly influence conversion.
Before we get into the details of how to optimize your paid search marketing program to generate maximum post-holiday sales, first, let's step back and think about what consumers expect from the post-holiday shopping period. First and foremost, they want deals. Most people who are shopping a few days after receiving tons of presents will only be motivated to purchase if you offer great bargains; they don't "need" to buy anything. Second, millions of shoppers will redeem gift cards or exchange unwanted gifts for credit to choose new items. Third, unlike the frenzy of buying for other people leading up to the holidays, in the post-holiday period, shoppers are mostly shopping for themselves - looking to pick up those items they wanted but didn't receive, or to stock up on family essentials.
Once you're ready to create a post-holiday paid search campaign, consider the following best practices to boost both sales and ROI performance.
Update your keywords and ad copy to reflect post-holiday sales. Bid on keywords and write ad copy that directly reflect your post-holiday promotions and discounts. Bid on keyword terms such as "After Christmas Sale" and "Post-Holiday Sale,"and include copy in your ad such as "Sales Starts December 26th" or "Up to 75% Off Starting December 26th." Get creative with your keywords and ad copy, keeping in mind the typical consumer post-holiday behaviors discussed above. Try creative such as "Now Get the Presents You Really Want: Post-Christmas Sale" or "Gift Cards Burning a Hole in Your Pocket? Sale Starts Today."
Watch out for stock-outs and adjust the keyword mix accordingly. Stock-outs can be commonplace this time of year, especially as you clear out seasonal inventory you don't plan to replenish. Inventory levels should be monitored closely so that you can turn keywords off as soon as associated products fall below a certain inventory threshold. Sophisticated paid search management applications automate this process for you by analyzing a feed of your product catalog and inventory levels in real time, and correspondingly adjusting or eliminating bids.
Clean up your campaigns for the New Year. The holiday to post-holiday transition period is a great opportunity to clean house and start fresh with search marketing. During this time of the year, remove inactive ad copy that resulted from holiday testing, and identify ad groups that are missing creative altogether and associate new copy to them. Review your ad groups with an eye toward relevance and the number of keywords per group. As a rule, you should have no more than 50 keywords per ad group. Restructure your ad groups to ensure associated copy is highly relevant. This will not only help your quality scores, but make it easier to perform testing and optimization in the new year.