The holiday season is approaching the finish line and 2012 is almost officially in the books. With Product Listing Ads seeing increased adoption and mobile devices continuing to garner the attention of consumers and advertisers, 2013 should prove to be yet another challenging, but rewarding year for search marketers. But before we usher in the New Year, we need to remember that our work in 2012 is not yet over. With the busiest part of the holiday shopping season behind us, it’s time to take a step back and prepare our paid search programs for success in 2013. This four item checklist will help search marketers review and prioritize our post-holiday campaign management and optimization efforts.
1. Review Keyword Bids
To acquire more revenue and in anticipation of increased competition, many retailers boosted their bids during the holiday shopping season. These boosts are typically implemented when there are seasonal increases in revenue-per-click (RPC) or conversion rate. As the peak of the shopping season ends, RPC and conversion rate are likely to drop.
With visitors spending less, or less likely to convert during this time of the year, search marketers should adjust keyword bids to align with current seasonal RPC or conversion rate. Waiting too long to dampen these bids can lead to wasted ad spend and poor campaign performance. This strategy also applies to B2B and lead gen companies. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be spending more per click for less relevant or unqualified traffic.
2. Pause Holiday-Specific Promotions
Did you promote any discounts or free shipping offers? Is there any holiday themed content for your ad creative or landing pages? As holiday promotions end and the season comes to a close, review your active ad creative and landing pages and ensure that they align with your promotional calendar. Nothing hurts the shopping experience more than an outdated content or expired promotional offers. Last year, I remember seeing post-holiday search ads with expired discounts. Don’t be that search marketer! Pause or schedule to pause any holiday ad creative and revert landing pages back to their standard theme. In fact, activating default creative can sometime improve overall performance depending on their historical quality scores.
3. Adjust Campaign Budgets
During the holiday season, most campaign budgets were expanded to support an increase in traffic volume. As December comes to an end, review your January campaign daily budgets from 2012 and ensure that appropriate budgets have been set heading into 2013. Be sure to factor in projected spend increases to your paid search program and allocate budgets across your campaigns accordingly. Forgetting to adjust daily budgets to align with seasonality could end up costing you a significant chunk of your monthly budget in the first week of January.
4. Generate Reports
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a fantastic opportunity to look back at not only the holiday season, but the entire year in review. Being so tactical about new campaigns and launching new programs throughout the course of a year, makes it difficult to spend the necessary amount of time analyzing trends and reviewing granular levels of account performance. Part of closing out the 2012 holiday season is preparing for 2013, and more specifically, preparing for the 2013 holiday season.
Generate keyword level reports to understand how much RPC or conversion rate changed throughout the year. Compare campaign budgets with their actual spend levels to better allocate budgets in 2013. Generate raw search query reports to uncover additional negative keywords or new keyword opportunities. Being successful in 2013 means understanding what worked and what didn’t work in 2012. These reports will undoubtedly aid in doing exactly that.
I hope 2012 was a prosperous year for you and your paid search program. With this four-step checklist, you should be able to maintain that momentum heading into 2013. Stay tuned next week as I usher in the New Year with my search marketer’s New Year’s resolutions.
Marin is excited to announce the release of our annual Online Marketer’s Guide for the Holidays. Broadly speaking, this guide will help put the 2011 holiday season in perspective and highlight relevant best practices for a successful 2012 season. Our analysis and recommendations are built upon our experience in working with over 1,800 advertisers who invest more than $4 billion a year on search, display, social, and mobile.
In this guide, we examine search marketing trends from last year’s holiday season, explore key dates and trends for your campaign calendar, and walk through ten best practices drawn from our client base. Some of the insights you’ll come away with, include how to:
For additional resources, iProspect’s 2012 Retail Blueprint offers a comprehensive analysis of 2011 holiday trends and provides an in-depth guide for creating increased profit from online channels during the 2012 holiday season. This white paper walks through tactical advice on promotional elements, key holiday dates, trends in channel usage, and creative execution to account for tablet and mobile shoppers.
iProspect recently released their Retail Blueprint for 2012. This study highlights their findings from the 2011 holiday season and provides guidance for a successful 2012 online marketing program. Data from over 45 retailers was compiled and analyzed across three time periods: early (November 1 – 23), high (November 23 – December 22) and late (December 23 – January 8). Some of their key findings include:
With these insights, online marketers can start taking steps now to prepare for a successful 2012 holiday season. Creating and separating mobile campaigns, testing creative timing and messaging in the offseason, and integrating social and display programs are just a few initiatives online marketers should consider.
Want to read more holiday 2011 findings with recommendations for a successful 2012? Download the full report at http://www.iprospect.com/our-work/our-thinking
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