1. Leverage historical data. No two successive holiday seasons are identical, but there are strong and reliable patterns from last year and before that you can use to inform the paid-search strategy you'll use in the next month. Make sure you have a handle on last year's data, and can identify with precision where and when your best clicks are coming from. It's crucial that your internal team or agency not just have this data on hand in intelligible form, but be able to act on it in real time. Remember, you're competing against the big guns during this time of year. The best way to outcompete a deep-pocketed search spender is with superior data driving a more efficient campaign. Use automation systems -- especially those employing real-time bidding -- so that you can stay ahead of your larger but slower-moving competitors.
2. Pay attention to the context (as well as the content) of your ads. Your job doesn't end after crafting the text of a compelling paid-search ad. You need to understand how your messaging will function in context with ads from other vendors. This is especially important now as competition for scarce SERP space heats up. Do a search right now on your business-driving keywords and note whether your competitors' ads all stress the same point (e.g. "free shipping" or "best price"). If these ads all look the same, craft an ad that departs from whatever theme they're focusing on. Make sure your ad stands out against the crowd of look-alike ads.
3. Don't blow your budget. Today, the holiday season not only begins much earlier, but ends much later. There are always thousands of people who deliberately wait until after Jan.1 to get the best holiday deals. This population is growing as the economic recovery has not fully materialized. Think beyond Q4 so that you have enough money left over to cater to these people. Craft your copy to appeal to these savvy deal-seekers and keep enough budget reserved to move ahead of your competitors as they wind down their campaigns and keyword bid prices return to more rational levels.
I wish you the best of luck this holiday shopping season.