‘Tis the season to start prepping for the holiday season!
Here are some tips for making sure you’ve got all the right ingredients to get your pay-per-click (PPC) search campaigns cooking.
1. Be ready to talk turkey on Thanksgiving. Last year, our online retail holiday shopping research showed that Thanksgiving has become a major online shopping day in the U.S., with a 28% year-over-year (YoY) increase in PPC conversion rates and 40% bump in sales revenue. Some retailers even started their Black Friday sales on Turkey Day. This year, get a leg up on things by having your budgets fully juiced for the early birds.
2. Keep stock of your stock. You’ve got enough to worry about over the coming months without having to keep track of what’s in your cupboard. Leverage real-time campaign technology to sync your product catalog and/or key brand assets with your PPC campaigns so that keywords and ads always reflect your up-to-date inventory and promotional strategies.
3. Take the temperature of your competition. In 2011, we saw global retail PPC budgets rise 10% YoY during the holidays -- even higher in the U.S. (22%) and U.K. (26%) -- as advertisers tried to heat up Q4 sales. Deploy tools to monitor what your competition has cooking so you can adjust your keyword, copy, landing page and bidding strategies accordingly.
4. Don’t forget the side dishes. With more niche merchants setting up shop online and mass retailers offering free shipping, consumers are shopping around more than ever. As a result, total online sales transactions resulting from PPC during the holidays were up 56% globally last year, with average order value down 13%. Take advantage of this trend by peppering in add-ons to your main product dish and create bundles that entice consumers to load up their carts rather than just buy things on a one-off basis.
5. Put down the apron. You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen when guests arrive. Same goes for your computer. Untether yourself during the holidays by using advanced technology tools to schedule campaign actions in advance. Launch new campaigns at midnight on Thanksgiving, update copy on Christmas Day, or even lower bids on New Year’s Eve, all without missing a precious sip of eggnog.
6. Have special meals ready for the to-go crowd. In 2011, mobile devices accounted for roughly 15% of all retail PPC clicks during the holidays, and mobile adoption by consumers and advertisers has only increased in 2012. Just as you’d never serve ham to your vegan niece Sally, don’t serve desktop campaigns to mobile or tablet searchers. Create custom ads and landing pages to reflect the consumer mindset and screen real estate of each device. And adjust bids based on unique metrics and auction dynamics. Don’t hold mobile to strict conversion goals. Think of mobile more as tool for product research, store directions, social sharing, etc.
7. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you’re an online retailer then you’re all too familiar with Google’s recent move to turn Product Search into Google Shopping featuring only paid results via Product Listing Ads (PLA). Turn this shelf tax into an opportunity by connecting your product feed through Google Merchant Center and integrating it with a sophisticated paid-search platform to track, optimize and report on PLA performance alongside text ad placements. Don’t forget to deploy custom bid policies designed for Product Targets.
8. Set your timer. Unless you’re using a Showtime Rotisserie, you’ll need an alert to make sure your main course doesn’t get burned. Ditto for PPC. Set up a dashboard for your team to monitor relevant KPIs, and schedule reports to be sent regularly on all key metrics including side-by-side PPC and SEO performance. Also be sure to create alerts to notify you when campaign activity reaches abnormal thresholds.
9. Save room for dessert. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean the party’s done. With each passing year, we see more online search and purchase activity continuing after Christmas and through New Year’s. Whether it’s from returns or gift card redemptions, consumers have money to burn and you don’t want to miss out. Last year, in the U.K., we saw retail search advertising budgets decrease by 4% YoY during the last two weeks in December, while online sales transactions resulting from PPC were up 66%, and PPC conversion rates were up 57%. This year, if you want a cherry on top of your seasonal performance, don’t fill up on the entrée.
10. Give thanks. Many religious holiday meals start or end with saying grace and calling out everyone who had a hand in preparing the feast. When it comes to PPC, get in the habit of giving thanks to each keyword that contributed to a purchase. Create an attribution model that properly reflects the influence of each ad throughout the path to conversion within PPC as well as other channels. Or you can just go this route.