Check This List Twice: Paid Search Tips for the Holiday Season

4123836038_0d5c9ffd4a_zFor those of us working in the digital world, the holiday season is one of the most active times of the year. But it’s important to remember that to get the most out of the season, digital marketers should be preparing for a marathon, not a quick sprint. The holiday digital marketing marathon lasts long after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It even extends beyond December. To ensure that you’re maximizing your holiday campaigns, check this list — twice — to ensure you’re covering all those holiday bases.

  1. Complete your holiday health checks early. Over the course of November, you should be conducting general health checks of your accounts. This includes making sure that all of your ad groups and campaigns are correctly set up, you are driving traffic to the right landing pages, and that your entire product feed is showing up correctly in Google Shopping.
  1. Optimize for the long haul. After general account health checks have been completed, you’ll want to prepare early for the rest of the season. Depending on what your site’s holiday promotions or value-add services are, this can mean revamping ad copy to get words like “sale” or “free shipping” into the headlines. This work can be done in advance by setting up and pausing relevant ads – then all that’s left to do is activate the copy when the time is right throughout the holiday season.
  1. Pay attention to your budget. This might be the most important part of your entire holiday campaign. Most retailers start ramping up budgets for the holidays because they know that bids will need to increase to maintain impression share. Budgets and bids should also be checked and monitored on a daily basis during the holiday season. You should be aware of whether or not you’re maxing out on impressions because budgets and bids are too low, both during December and in early January when sales and clearances begin.
  1. Use Google Adwords Callout Extensions. This is something that I recommend to all of my e-commerce clients. This extension allows you to enter your selling points and have them presented alongside your ads. Think phrases like “free shipping,” “price match,” or “free gift wrapping.” The callout extension automatically integrates these words into your ads so that it’s easy and efficient to make sure that all your holiday promotions are ready to go.
  1. Think outside the box. You must keep in mind that the potential buyers of your product might not begin with a specific search for your product. For example, if you’ve got a product that would be a great stocking stuffer for pet lovers, you may want to add some words that are focused on your target audience or people looking for gift ideas, not just the product itself.
  1. Align holiday messaging with your overall marketing calendar. Your holiday marketing message should be consistent across all your platforms. Say, for instance, that you’re planning to send out an email on Dec. 15 announcing a special holiday offer for last minute shoppers. If that customer reads your email and then proceeds to Google search your brand, the ad that appears should reflect the same promotion. Consistency is key to encouraging potential customers to follow through with a purchase.
  1. Don’t forget about January. November and December aren’t the only months that matter during the holidays. January is also an important month for sales. If you’ve done it correctly, you’ve been watching your budget throughout the season to make sure that you have the funds to advertise your sales after Christmas. You may not want to bid on words like “sale” and “clearance” in November and December, but if you’ve budgeted correctly, January could be the perfect time.

It’s called the holiday season for a reason — because it’s not just a few days, it’s a few months. Your paid search and digital marketing strategy should reflect as much. By remembering to monitor your budget, cater to your target audience, and prepare for the first part of 2015, your marketing strategy will produce results even after days like Cyber Monday are long gone.

Photo via LadyDragonflyCC – >;< on Flickr. 

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