We continue to get closer and closer to the busiest time of year for e-commerce businesses and the most festive for online consumer traffic. Our teams at Marin Software have even more tips and tricks for making sure you’re amply prepared.
To help you prepare your accounts for the holidays and top your competitors, we’ve put together five key action points you can start to implement today, directly in Marin.
There are several holidays between November and January. However, not every holiday is relevant to your customers – so, it’s important to focus and prepare for the dates and audiences that matter.
First, identify your customers. Are they discount shoppers looking for online bargains? Or shoppers looking for that special present for a loved one? Depending on what’s relevant to your business, bucket your strategy into interest-based audiences. For example:
Next, plot the dates that could influence them to search and purchase online. Here’s a short list of eight dates that have the most impact on consumer behavior, and who the holiday appeals to most. Be sure to add these dates to your calendar!
Review your target audience – will any of these dates affect their purchasing decision? In some cases, people might be interested in a holiday just to benefit from the special promotions that come with it. Instead of including the holiday name in your copy, try organizing by interest. To increase CTRs, tailor your creatives to match the holiday that appeals to your customers.
Creating ad copy for every holiday can become difficult to manage. Having a Christmas creative active on New Year’s Day can reflect poorly on your company. It’s important that a mechanism is in place to prevent this from happening.
Scheduled Actions in Marin enables you to schedule campaigns, groups, and creatives at a specified date and time. So, if you’re planning on ringing in the New Year on a beach in Mauritania, you can schedule your seasonal campaigns in advance and let Marin pause and activate them while you’re out of the office.
The top positions for your main keywords are prime real estate. With your competitors throwing compelling ad copy and offers into the ring, competition can be fierce. Just your presence alone in the top spot is not always enough.
To expand the size of your creatives and improve visibility, add Ad Extensions to them. This can increase CTR and brand awareness.
Leverage from your existing creatives’ quality score and add Ad Extensions to:
Excluding dates from bidding allows you to leave out cost and conversion data for specified dates and date ranges. This is useful during seasonal periods where accounts experience unusual performance, which can skew bid calculations.
If the data is not a true reflection of normal performance, bids will be calculated based on this inaccurate data. To prevent this, exclude the relevant dates.
Your additional holiday marketing efforts will very likely attract new visitors to your site. These new visitors may have gone to several sites before and after yours. With so many online holiday bright lights, it’s understandable how they could forget where they found that perfect product.
Use retargeting to help jog their memory, bringing them back to the original page where they first saw your offer. Whether you decide to use them or not, there’s no cost in building retargeting lists in AdWords and syncing them with Marin.
Each holiday attracts different search intent. Converting customers on Cyber Monday and Boxing Day could be listed as ‘Bargain hunters’, and customers converting on Christmas can be listed as ‘Gift Buyers’. Building retargeting lists around your target audience will enable you to promote offers across audiences through Display and Search.
We hope these tips get you well on your way to clinching the holiday gold. To learn more about how you can stand out this season, take a look at some of our recent content:
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.
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