PPC for the Holidays

22 10 2010

If you have already begun to implement the recommendations and holiday tips from John, in his SEO for the Holidays post, great work!  Because SEO and on-site optimization tactics have a longer timeframe before you can expect to see results (but it’s worth it, as in the end you’re not 100% reliant on paid clicks for your traffic and sales), it’s never too early to get started.  However, with the holiday season approaching, consider pairing your SEO strategy with a PPC one if you’re looking to gear up your holiday advertising presence more quickly.  PPC campaigns have a shorter ramp up cycle and can be created, launched and up and running in just a few hours.  Nevertheless, don’t let this fast track to results fool you, PPC campaigns need to be crafted just as strategically as SEO campaigns.  Especially, for the holidays.

While the holidays can be a huge source of income for retailers, you can never assume that consumers are more likely “pull the trigger” and buy because it’s the holiday season.  In fact, numerous studies including a 2010 Post-Holiday Consumer Study by Google, shows that the shopping cycle of average consumers is lengthening.  This means that your potential customers are doing a lot of research prior to purchase, even for lesser-priced items like cosmetics and pet supplies.

Holiday Tip: Keep the lengthening shopping cycle and consumer buying habits in mind, and ensure that your PPC strategy includes broad and specific keyword variations that your potential customer would use throughout their research and buying process.  This includes general keywords, long-tail keywords and branded or product specific keywords.

Research and Review before Getting Started

Before you launch your PPC campaign for the holidays, you should review holiday campaigns from the previous season to see what keywords, ads and landing pages performed the best.  This will give you a good baseline for creating a high performing campaign this year.  If you did not run a holiday campaign last year, don’t worry.  Do some competitive research and see what your competitors, similar retailers and stores are running successfully this year.  Then, use similar tactics when targeting keywords and writing ad text.

Holiday Tip: Don’t forget to schedule your launch dates and advertising messaging around nationwide sales days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas Day.  Online shoppers are out in droves, looking for deals and are ready to buy.

Create Ad Text that Speaks to your Customers

Use calls to action!  Don’t assume that your customers will do what you want them to do once they hit your site.  You will likely miss an opportunity to convert an undecided visitor into a sale.  It’s imperative that you give your potential customers a purpose and a reason to buy from you.  This includes highlighting your holiday specials, promotions and product value propositions for them.  And, based on your research, make sure that your ad headlines and copy include keywords that users are searching on, as these terms will be bolded in the search results and help draw a user’s eye to your ad.

Take a look at the ads below, the ad on the left is compelling a user to shop, and giving them a good reason to do so (i.e. Huge Sale and Free Shipping).  The ad on the left has done a good job at utilizing appropriate keywords, but does not include a call to action, enticing the user to click on their ad versus the competitors’ ad.  While first impressions can gain or lose potential shoppers, to generate a successful holiday PPC campaign it’s important for your ad to stand out from the crowd.

 

Holiday Tip: To get your ads to stand out from the crowd even further, consider adding convenience features such as Google Checkout or utilizing AdWords Sitelinks or AdWords Product Extensions through Google Merchant Center to display eye-catching imagery along with your sponsored text ad.  And, don’t forget to test your ads!

Use Targeted Landing Pages

Once you’ve captured your potential customer’s click, what’s next?  Your messaging has done its job, but the user experience has just begun.  To improve your chances of converting your visitor, their experience upon landing on your site must align with their expectations and provide them with the tools and content needed for them to buy.  Now, it’s up to your landing page strategy and conversion funnel to close the deal.

The content on your landing pages should align with the promotions and keywords in your ads and ad groups.  Prominent “Buy Now” or “Shop Now” buttons should be used to grab the visitor’s attention immediately.  Simplify their navigation options on the page and make their path to conversion easy.  And, don’t forget to include relevant imagery that aligns with what the user was expecting to find by clicking on your ad.

 

Holiday Tip: Use your landing pages as an opportunity to merchandise by recommending other items that pair well with the product they’re considering buying.  This improves the potential to increase the final order value and drive additional revenue for related items.  FInally, don’t forget to test your landing pages!

For an immediate online presence during the holidays, PPC advertising can extend your visibility quickly through targeted keywords and strategic holiday messaging throughout your potential customer’s research and buying process (helping them choose to buy from you versus a competitor).  However, before you throw budget at a PPC campaign for the holidays, make sure you’re planning ahead and have time to optimize key elements properly, to ensure that you generate the sales revenue you’re seeking.  By utilizing the PPC best practices outlined above, you will be well on your way towards getting in front of your target audience when they’re looking for what you offer and converting them into holiday sales.  Cha-ching!

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