Preparing your Paid campaigns for Christmas

It’s October and there is no escaping it, the gifting period nearly upon us. Here is what you should be focusing on from a Paid Marketing point of view over the next 3 months.

October

Search

We know it’s crucial that you have your gift guides and stocking fillers live on your landing pages already. If you’ve not pressed publish, you’re missing out on traffic. Got yours in place? Now’s the time to promote your content.

Use Google Trends to discover when ‘Christmas gift ideas’ or other relevant search queries are increasing and combine this information with keyword planner data to forecast spend and traffic on those terms.

If you’ve got the budget, Dynamic Search Ads (DSA’s) that target gifting pages will increase traffic for search terms Google matches with your landing page and product content. If you’re using this strategy, be sure to add all targeted keywords as negative keywords to avoid double targeting and increase relevant traffic. Want to supercharge your results? Monitor top search terms and build them into your targeted keywords with dedicated ad copy.

Don’t forget to use the power of Responsive Search Ads. Create different headlines and descriptions so Google can do its thing and use algorithms to create the best combinations for your ads.

You can also drive additional traffic to gift guides pages via sitelinks on your other search campaigns. This works well if you’re running a brand campaign to promote limited-time offers.

Remarketing & Display

Setting up Google Analytics remarketing lists will put you in front of people who bought from your site last year. They may not be your usual shoppers, but now’s the perfect time to sell to them.

To maximise your display campaigns, we recommend creating Responsive Display Ads. Google asks you to add headlines, descriptions, imagery and even video content from YouTube to these. These assets are then used to create different ad combinations for testing. This might include Dynamic, Native, Gmail and YouTube ads.

Want to tap into a group of customers who are actively researching products to purchase? Target your display ads with in-market audiences. Google uses thousands of browsing signals to understand whether a user is browsing or actively looking to purchase. Use in-marketing audiences to target the latter and add relevant audiences to drive new customers ahead of the peak period.

Shopping

Be ready for those extra shoppers on the streets too. If you have physical stores, use local inventory ads to display stock availability and encourage browsers to head in store. According to Google consumer research, footfall is down, but average order value is up, so use paid clicks to increase instore revenue.

The beginning of quarter three is a key research period for Christmas trading. When you start to hear the distant sound of a jingle bell, use Showcase Shopping ads to catch those early, broader search queries for products. Showcase ads display catalogue of products rather than an individual item, giving the user more choice and raising awareness of your product range. You will only be charged for when a user clicks through to your site or browses the catalogue for more than ten seconds. You can use Shopping Ads to target those ready to purchase.

Now is also the time to get your Google Shopping feed in order with an audit. It’s crucial that your products, categories, titles, descriptions and attributes are as accurate and in depth as possible. We know getting these basics right gives you the best chance of improving visibility without blowing your CPC budget.

Another great tip is to review how you structure your custom labels. Add custom labels for margins, sale and non sale, % discount or sell rate and make your shopping campaigns work harder.

Device Bidding

We all know mobile and tablet activity often comes at the start of a purchase, typically with a conversion on desktop later. So, how do you shape your strategy to fit? Resist the urge to drop your mobile and tablet bids too much. Drop them too low and you could fail to catch the eye of researching shoppers.

November

Smart Shopping

Combining shopping data with remarketing is smart shopping. Google combines your product feed and display assets with their machine learning to find the best ad combinations across Google Shopping, Local Inventory and Google Display Network. November is the best time to get started. History tells us that your previous web visitors will be deciding between a few products or retailers at this time, so it’s crucial to get your brand in front of them.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Keyword Planner is a gold mine when it comes to planning Black Friday and Cyber Monday budgets. Use it to estimate search volume and cost per clicks for Cyber Monday and Black Friday plus product searches e.g. Cyber Monday tv.

Get your Black Friday or Cyber Monday page up a few weeks before the events too. This way, you can start directing traffic with your keywords, along with sitelinks from other search campaigns.

Display

To maintain high quality display traffic, continue to target in-market audiences. You should also use Analytics to discover the domains that have been driving revenue and prioritise their ads.

Search

You’ve got a good idea what your bestsellers will be, so push those and your high-margin products via search and shopping. We know Showcase Ads and Dynamic Search Ads put you in front of researchers, so use search campaigns targeting ‘Black Friday + product’ or ‘product deals’ variations alongside dedicated ad copy. Combining search campaigns with Affinity and In-Market audiences improves the relevancy of traffic to site.

Once Cyber Week begins, Countdown Ads become an important feature that create urgency in consideration phase users.

Promotion Extensions are another good tool for this month, thanks to Google’s dedicated Black Friday promotion extensions, which keep users well informed.

Shopping

It all gets a bit crazy around Black Friday when everyone wants their piece of the pie. Don’t risk getting lost in the noise. Use Merchant Promotions to communicate offers to those using Google Shopping as well as, or instead of, Search. Create your promotions well in advance to give Google time to review and approve at this busy time of year.

December

You’re going to face stiff competition from paid advertisers aiming to make last minute smash and grab sales – so make sure you stake your claim.

The first place to do this is on the search results page. Again, give your ads urgency by adding a countdown. After all, nothing says ‘buy me’ like telling your potential customers they only have one day left for guaranteed Christmas delivery!

If you’ve got the budget, increase your bids on products that are selling well. CPCs do rise in December, so don’t sit back and expect to maintain your top ad position without a fight.

And finally, bid more aggressively on your site visitors from the past three weeks. Maximise your panic buying gain by getting your search, display and dynamic remarketing ads in front of as many eyes as possible.

January

Now you’ve got your sales and new customers, it’s time to nurture that CRM data into more revenue and loyal customers.

Hopefully, you’ll have had a good holiday trading season and be ready to tell all your new web visitors about your great January sales. But it’s also good to evaluate your ad performance. Did your CTR increase? How did you perform year-on-year across search, display and shopping? Measuring the impact of paid search in the customer journey is essential. When you know how many people started their purchase journey via paid, or how many transactions were aided mid-funnel, you can factor it into next year’s planning.

Finally, feedback to your SEO/content teams about improvements that can be made to quality score. Are there any high-converting keywords that can be put into landing pages next year? It’s never too soon to get started on next year’s Christmas campaign. After all, the faint sound of jingle bells is only eight months away.

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