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6 Paid Campaign Tips & Traps for the Holidays

Brittney Sheffield
6 Paid Campaign Tips & Traps for the Holidays

The holiday season will be here before we know it, which means it’s time to start planning and budgeting for our paid-search holiday campaigns.

Whether you’ve never adjusted your strategies around the holidays or you’re a paid-search holiday veteran, this list of tips and traps can help you prepare for your campaigns and help you have the best Q4 season yet.

Tip: Capitalize on Timely Keyword Trends

During the holiday season searches for keywords and phrases like “coupons” and “delivery” fluctuate based on the day and hour, as Bing’s data researches recently revealed. You should adjust your typical keyword strategy during the holidays to account for these types of terms and even if you don’t have Bing’s level of data to back it up, make some hypothesis about when people will be using certain phrases in their queries to search for your products or services.

For example, people starting the holiday shopping process early or on Black Friday are likely looking for deals and have time to shop around for the best price. Create a keyword strategy that evolves as we close in on the holiday itself. Consider this timeline as you create your keyword strategy:

  • Early November-Cyber Monday: Focus on keywords that include phrases that reference deals, coupons and discounts in the ad copy.
  • Early December-Mid December: Divide up your ad spend between deal-focused content and more product-focused content.
  • Mid-Late December: Allocate most of your budget to product-focused and long-tail content that will drive buyers who are looking for your specific products. Continue to run deal-focused content only if those ads have led to a solid amount of conversions.

Trap: Bid On a Keyword You Can’t Afford

Everything you learned about paid strategies still applies during the holiday seasons.

Take the time to research the keywords you want to target just as you would when you launch a new paid campaign. If you’re going to focus on words that are extremely competitive or popular during the holidays you need to determine how much you’ll need to bid in order to show up in a page one position.

Utilize the Google AdWords keyword planner to get a sense of how much you will need to bid in order to get the impressions and clicks you need. If the terms you are targeting will require more than you can afford to get the amount of clicks you need to lead to a conversion, go after terms that have less opposition. Really consider those long-tail terms that may have fewer impressions, but are guaranteed to lead to a sale.

If you must bid on the most competitive terms, it’s even more important for you to create and test ad copy that clearly demonstrates your company’s unique selling proposition and encourages users to click your ads versus your competitor’s.

Tip: Location Targeted Bid Adjustments

Whether you are a brick-and-mortar business or you exclusively do sales online, you can benefit from location-targeted bid adjustments. Location-targeted bid adjustments allow you to increase your bid in certain locations so you are more likely to display if someone searches for the terms you are bidding on in that specified location. Follow these options based on the structure of your business:

  • Brick-and-Mortar Business: Increase your bids for people specifically on mobile devices who input your targeted keywords within five-to-10 miles of your business. Create ad copy that indicates the proximity of your storefront to people who are nearby and ready to make a purchase.
  • Online Sales Only: Adjust your bids in the parts of the country where you’ve historically made most of your sales. You can do this by region, cities or specific zip codes.

online sales only 

Trap: Deliver the Wrong Landing Page Content to Location-Targeted Visitors

You should not deliver the same type of content to people who may be physically near your store that you would deliver to someone on their desktop in another state. Create a new ad group for your location-targeted visitors.

Consider creating landing pages to target mobile users that indicate the proximity of your store to their location — without being creepy. Share a message like, “We’re just around the corner, come check out our Thanksgiving sale.” Try including a map to your store location.

For online-only stores you should deliver a page that gives specific information about the product the user is looking for and make converting extremely simple. Include product images, prices and specs. You should also include links to similar (but not competing) products. Make it easy for them to make a decision about converting ASAP. It helps to be specific and clear about sale information, including deadlines.

Tip: Try Something New

Tradition is a terrible reason to prevent you from changing things up — and that applies to your paid campaigns too. This holiday season you shouldn’t be afraid to try something you’ve never tried before with your paid budgets. Here are fairly low-risk ways you can expand your typical paid search strategy:

Try display or remarketing ads that can reach your audience while they visit other websites. Remember that ad content for display networks and remarketing should be more branded than your paid search ad content. You’ll also want to create more dynamic or visual content for the display and remarketing ads, so be sure to plan for those resources in advance of the holiday season.

Create more dynamic remarketing lists so you can retarget people who don’t convert during their first visit to your website. Your dynamic remarketing lists should be more granular and product-page specific. During the holidays you should also create visual ads that are designed specifically for the holiday season to draw the user’s attention. Even if you already run display or remarketing campaigns you can always revamp your dynamic remarketing lists.

Bonus tip: Gather information from your customers about the type of information they want to see after they’ve visited your site and are waiting to make a purchase decision about your product during the holidays. A fresh perspective and a small change can change may lead to more conversions.

Trap: Spend Your Entire Budget Trying Something New

It’s OK if trying something new doesn’t work out, but you need to stick to what you know with at least part of your budget so that you get some quick wins from your paid efforts this holiday season. Use past data based on your typical holiday campaign strategy or what works for you during most of the year and allocate the majority of your budget to those strategies.

If you aren’t ready to spend any budget on a brand new paid tactic then start small by adjusting and A|B testing your ad copy or the landing page you send your potential customers to. Duplicate your ads and make just one small change and then observe the data to determine what performs best and then pause the ads that aren’t doing the trick.

What are your holiday campaign tips and traps have you experienced? Let me know in the comments!

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Brittney Sheffield is a marketing strategist for 352, an agile digital agency that provides custom design, development and digital marketing solutions. She has a background in agile project management and previously held client marketing and development team coordinator roles at 352.
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