Welcome to part 4 of our eCommerce Holiday Preparation blog series! In this four-part blog series, you’ll learn tips and tricks from eCommerce experts on how to get your business ready before the busy holiday rush.

Check out Groove’s eCommerce blog every Tuesday in the month of August to get guidance on several aspects of planning an eCommerce store for holiday success.

The holidays are approaching, and you want to make sure your paid advertising efforts are aligned with the expected increase of online shopping. Whether this is your first year advertising during the holidays or if you’re a seasoned holiday advertiser, there are steps you need to take in order to have a successful holiday season.

It’s important to start this off by mentioning that paid advertising during the holidays needs to be planned and ready to go months in advance. You don’t want to start too late and miss out on any early shoppers or be in a time crunch the month prior to the holidays. Ensuring you lay down a solid foundation before going live is extremely important.

1. Know your holiday shoppers

A good Advertising Manager will know their market and who will be searching for their company’s products. It’s important to understand how your audience and searchers may change once the holidays are upon us — for example, you may see an influx of parents and couples spending for their children and significant others. With this change, a slew of differences in the way you will need to advertise come about. Here are some key characteristics you need to know about your potential customers:

• Will a certain geographic area increase more than others?
• Are the same buyers reaching out to you?
• Do your competitors adjust and shift the market?
• How do the prices in your industry change in different seasons?
• Are your buyers going to change in price-sensitivity?

For more insight on seasonality paid advertising tips, we’ve provided a paid advertising life cycle infographic to help you understand the change in demand across various industries.

2. Holiday-specific keywords

If your market is affected by the holidays, it likely means you’ll have holiday-related search queries coming through your paid ads.

Beware of targeting generic keywords like “christmas deals” and “holiday sales.” This will bring in a lot of traffic, but unless you’re an etailer selling a wide variety of products (like a department store), your visitors will likely find themselves looking at very specific products that may not interest them. If you sell running shoes, try targeting “christmas running shoe sales.” The traffic will be lower, but the relevancy of the search will be extremely beneficial. This ultimately ensures the expectations of the searcher will be met by creating more of a connection around the search query and the offer. It also ensures a higher conversion rate and a lower cost per conversion.

3. Seasonal ad copy

The ultimate goal of writing ad copy is making sure it catches the eye of the searcher, earning a click that drives them to your site. Due to the fact that searchers are spending less time reading ads, it’s more important than ever to capture a searcher’s interest from the start.

When advertising for the holidays, it’s a good idea to make holiday-specific ad copy. If you sell bicycles, instead of talking about the durability or the style of the bicycle, you should mention that you’re having a holiday bicycle sale. If you aren’t having a sale, you could probably benefit from reminding parents that they should get a bicycle soon while they’re still in stock. A key takeaway here is that holidays ultimately create one thing for advertisers to use to their advantage: a sense of urgency.

If you offer a seasonal coupon code, we suggest adding it in your ad copy or as a callout extension. If you can capture just a small percentage of those price-sensitive shoppers just by mentioning a coupon code, you’re going to reap the benefits.

4. Seasonal sitelink extensions

Sitelinks are great weapons in your paid advertising arsenal. One of the lesser-used features of sitelink extensions is the ability to schedule the extensions. This little feature can help you plan and execute an array of holiday-specific sitelink extensions.

The tip here is to create a sitelink extension based around the holidays. While that may seem pretty basic, you can choose when you want these sitelinks to show. Schedule these extensions to show a few weeks ahead of time, optimize and then reschedule. With enough time to make these optimizations, you will eventually have extremely targeted and relevant sitelink extensions to go along with your highly relevant holiday ads.

What the sitelinks will be and where they will lead is going to depend on your market and audience. I would suggest understanding the expectations your audience will have come the holiday season, and use the sitelinks accordingly.

5. Seasonal landing pages

Now that you have seasonal ad copy, you’ll want to create seasonal landing pages. Whether it’s styling changes or a complete overhaul (this is something you will need time to A/B test), you will want the visitor experience to match visitor expectations — which at this point is holiday-centric.

Make sure you are continuously optimizing your landing page to create the best experience for your shoppers. Use what you learned last year to your advantage. If you didn’t A/B test last year, do so this year. The more you learn this year, the better prepared you will be for next year.

6. Understand your difference in budgeting & spend

It’s pretty easy to understand why a holiday budget will need to be a bit higher than your normal budget. How much higher is going to depend on your brand, industry and goals. If you haven’t advertised during the holidays before, you will need to monitor your spend every day throughout the holiday season. Over time you will get a general idea of the difference in traffic and the difference in spend. If this isn’t your first time dealing with seasonal spending, you’ll want to refer back to last year and base your spend off a similar amount, depending on the difference in campaigns.

7. Understand your difference in bidding (especially mobile)

Much like budgeting, you’ll want to monitor your bids on a daily basis. With an increase in traffic will come an increase in advertising competition, which means higher bids. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you’re getting the best quality score you can out of your keywords. This will keep your CPC down in these expensive times while earning you a better average position.

Users are more willing to buy products on their mobile devices each and every year, so it’s important to mange your bid adjustments by device, too. Check your historical data to get a better idea of what campaigns and devices work and make a judgment call on a bid adjustment. Your average position should give you a general idea of where there is room for improvement within your keywords and where your bids are working just fine.

Quick tips

• Know your audience and how they change during different holiday seasons
• If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Don’t wait to plan and create holiday campaigns — be ahead of the game.
• Use previous holiday seasons to better optimize your efforts and set realistic goals

We hope you’ve learned something that will help you better prepare your Paid advertising for the holidays. If you need a little more help with your PPC advertising efforts, contact us today! Our Marketing Specialists would love to help your business grow.

Are you interested in learning other ways you can maximize your eCommerce experience this holiday season? Be sure to check out parts 1–3 of our eCommerce Holiday Preparation blog series to learn how to set up a holiday marketing plan, optimize your email marketing strategies and test your online store.

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