As we head into the busiest shopping period of the year, Paid Media Account Director, Nichole Webb shares her paid search tips and best practices for the holiday season.
While this may sound simple, it’s often easier said than done. While juggling existing campaigns, preparing for several months ahead may be the last thing you want to do, but it can make all the difference. Accounting for the production of creatives, ad builds and promotions can avoid a last minute rush and allow more time for paid media campaign optimisation during the peak season itself.
Additionally, you can review the results of previous years to capitalise on your own data. Determining what promos worked well, if certain creatives resonated best, or if there’s peaks outside of Black Friday (e.g. the likes of Singles Day becoming more evident) can inform the bulk of your strategy.
Making time to audit your accounts in advance will ensure you are in prime position for increased traffic too. Removing redundant keywords, making sure all copy is up to date, and pausing any inefficient audiences are all examples of checks to keep account health at an optimum when more eyes will be looking at your ads.
As demand increases, it’s important to make sure the products you’re advertising are as up to date as possible. No one wants to click on a Shopping ad and then see it’s actually out of stock, and you don’t want to waste that ad spend either. Automating updates to your feed can avoid poor shopping experiences and also promote discounts in bulk to draw in more shoppers.
Keeping track of your stock and sales in a product feed is one thing, but product titles can also be optimised to highlight key selling points that stand out. Even the order of product features like colour and size in a title can make a difference in how likely someone is to click an ad. Reviewing the images you use alongside this is a worthwhile exercise to ensure products are clear and easy to view. Even if you’re displaying discounts alongside relevant products, if your image is poor, users will be turned off.
As users browse multiple websites to shop (while comparing prices for instance) it’s highly likely you’ll see more shopping baskets abandoned on site. Using retargeting ads to make sure prospective customers don’t forget your products is a key tactic. Integrating dynamic product ads on social channels with remarketing audiences will serve relevant products to the right people at the right time.
To further incentivise users who have abandoned baskets, trial providing a unique code for free delivery or alternative discounts, making sure this is only available to retargeting audiences. This can act as an extra step to draw users back to site and complete their purchase
While traditionally shoppers would panic buy on Christmas Eve, with more of us now relying on home delivery, it’s important to know when your cut off delivery date is. Scheduling your ads around this will avoid high levels of abandoned baskets if a user was to rely on delivery.
If you do provide additional options such as collect in store, it can be worth continuing to run ads beyond your cut off date. However, you should specify this in ads once the home delivery deadline has passed to prevent confusion.
It’s not very often that we know exactly what to buy someone for Christmas, and often some research can be involved. This provides a prime opportunity to reach shoppers in the consideration phase of their journey. With contextual display ads, you can put your products in front of relevant users who may not have been familiar with your brand otherwise.
It can be alarming when the number of last click sales from Display campaigns are low, but often on analysis of view through sales (when someone has seen your ad but proceeds to convert through an alternative channel), you can see their true value. By using this approach to increase your reach, you can generate sales with new audiences you wouldn’t have attracted before.
Traffic will undoubtedly increase across your evergreen campaigns over Christmas, so it’s important to assess how you want to split these with your holiday focused campaigns. On Social, you can target your top performing audiences with seasonal content. Meanwhile on PPC campaigns, check if you’re triggering any new search terms that are worth incorporating in your existing campaigns – or launching new ones with Christmas/sale related terms specifically.
Copy is equally as important to update on PPC as it is on Social and Display campaigns. While you may want to maintain consistent descriptions, ad variations for your headlines can draw attention to new offers and products. Seasonal sitelinks can also direct users to relevant sections of your site. This will allow you to maximise coverage and ideally take more space up on the SERP.
While you can prepare your campaigns in advance, we can’t always predict how user behaviour may change. It’s best practice to review performance on a daily basis, and consider competitor activity or changing trends frequently too. As lockdown restrictions changed multiple times over the Christmas period last year, so did user behavior. Keeping up to speed with how people are interacting with your brand over Christmas is important in being able to adapt if behaviour isn’t as you’d expect and it’s impacting your results.
While we often focus on the retail market over the Christmas period, B2B brands also need to adapt accordingly. It may be tempting to pause activity completely when interest drops, but keeping a “lights on” budget is preferable. Turning off any ads means that when you come to relaunch activity, they won’t always return to their original efficiency levels as swiftly. They effectively have to begin a new learning period that may take several days. To avoid this, pacing can be dropped to a minimum level for particularly quiet periods.