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It is only summer, but it is never too early to start planning your Christmas holiday PPC campaign. Many online retailers regard Christmas as the most important time in their financial year. For some, it can literally make or break their business.

Here are 5 tips that every AdWords user should consider to get the most from their holiday sales.

1) Plan Your Promotions

You are likely to be very busy during your holiday promotion. Make the management of your PPC campaign a breeze: prepare your campaigns well in advance. You can keep them all "paused" until the date when your promotion is due to start.

Look at your analytics statistics and make sure you know what seasonal keywords worked last year. Don't just look at those keywords that produced traffic from your PPC efforts. Also, consider targeting high value keywords that produced traffic from the natural search results.

You should also review your ads from previous years and look at how they performed. If a particular headline or call to action worked well, consider adapting it to use in some of your other ads.

Lastly, your landing pages all need to be targeted at the holiday period. Sending people to a standard landing page that makes no mention of your promotion is a big mistake. Make sure you include any promotion codes or discounts mentioned in your holiday ads.

2) Budget Wisely.

Know your Return On Investment (ROI) figures. If you are obtaining or exceeding your ROI goals, there is no reason to keep a cap on your campaign budget!

Login to your AdWords account and with the Campaign tab selected; add a metric called "Lost IS (budget)" ("IS" stands for "Impression Share"). This will tell you how much traffic you maybe missing due to insufficient budget.

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If your "Lost IS (budget)" is 50%, then your ad could be seen twice as many times if you were to increase your budget limit.

3) Know Your Competitors

During holiday periods, shoppers are going to be focused more than ever on looking for the best deal. It is therefore vital that you make your promotions at least as good as those of your competitors.

An offer of 30% off regular price may seem very tempting. However, if your competitor offers the same discount and free shipping, you are likely to get lots of visitors but few sales.

Monitor your competitor ads and web sites. Have the flexibility to adjust your promotions if required.

4) Include AdWords Ad Extensions In Your Ads

Ad Extensions are a relatively new feature for AdWords. They allow you to expand a standard text ad to provide additional information.

At holiday time, you will probably offer a number of different incentives to get people to buy from you. You might be offering free shipping, gift-wrapping, clearance sales etc.

Use the SiteLinks Ad Extension to highlight your special offers. AdWords will add up to four links to the bottom of your ad that will help your prospects get the exact information they want from your website.

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If you also have a high street store, why not use your AdWords ads to drive foot trade to it by adding a Location Extension to your ads. These show the address of your nearest store below your ads.

Additionally, retailers with a telephone order line can use Call Extensions. This extension will include a phone number in your ad. When seen on a mobile phone, your customer can click on the phone number and contact you in person to make their order.

For online retailers with a large inventory, there are Product Extensions. These show a thumbnail picture of your product next to your text ad.

5) Promote After Christmas As Well As Before

Many online retailers focus all their efforts on their pre-Christmas promotions and often forget about post-Christmas.

Shoppers receive gift cards, cash, or products like a Wii, that might require additional purchases. In addition, people often rush to the shops in droves to take advantage of clearance sales.

Do not just go back to your 'regular' ad messaging directly after Christmas is over. Make sure you plan your post-holiday campaign in as much detail as your pre-holiday campaign.

Even though the Christmas shopping season maybe months away, it is never to early to start planning your campaign for what is the most important time of the year for most online retailers.

Let us know what is working or not for your holiday AdWords campaigns. Feel free to comment!

Adrian Key

Adrian Key is a professional AdWords consultant and editor of the AdWords Adviser, a blog dedicated to making AdWords profitable for small business.

Adwords Adviser

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