The holiday season is in full swing. Retailers everywhere are using a variety of digital marketing initiatives to help their brand stand apart from the rest during this competitive time. Whether it’s email marketing or mobile advertising, these tactics can truly make a difference when it comes to boosting your holiday sales. For a lot of companies, enhancing a Google AdWords campaign can be incredibly beneficial and really help to generate traffic to your site, and ideally, increase your overall conversion rate.
For a lot of consumers in the US, these last few weeks of holiday shopping are often the most popular. It’s crunch time. To reach your targeted audience through paid digital advertising, and to make the most of your PPC campaigns, we’ve compiled a list of 12 things to consider integrating into your strategy during the days leading up to Christmas. These can improve the effectiveness of your efforts throughout the holiday season, as well as the other 353 days of the year.
1. New Account Structure
Drive better results with a new account restructure. Everyone has a different opinion on how they would like their account organized, but if your quality scores are hurting your campaign performance, you may need to restructure your campaigns.
There’s no universal way to build out an account, so it all depends on what your brand needs. For instance if quality scores are low, you may need to build out new ad groups to improve ad relevance. Trying out a new account structure can really enable your brand to be better organized with your campaigns, and in turn, present your company with more opportunities to optimize ads across a spectrum of elements, many of which are discussed below.
2. Dedicated Landing Pages
Whatever your goods or services might be, all of your PPC campaigns should be sending users that click on the ad to a specific and relevant landing page. Sending customers to a general homepage could potentially hurt conversion rates and quality scores. Bring users as close as possible to either the point of conversion for the product you’re advertising, or to a specific page about the services you’ve sparked their interest with. Whatever you’re targeting for is where you should be taking your users to—nothing general.
If you’ve been targeting a specific keyword, take those users directly to a page on your website where the keyword is relevant and prominent, further reinforcing that they’re in the right place and that your business can fulfill their respective needs. Advertising a specific product like a pair of snow boots that might make a great holiday gift? Send the users to that product page, not to your homepage.
3. Fresh Ad Copy (and Don’t Forget A/B Testing)
Now is a great time to freshen up your ad copy to make it as compelling and interesting as possible. Whatever industry your brand is part of, your PPC campaigns must provide users with an incentive to click on it. Using descriptive and enticing content is the best way to do so. If you have products that make excellent holiday gifts, craft your copy to promote them for this season.
Throughout the whole year, occasionally putting together new ad copy is a great step at improving your conversions from PPC. Any successful digital marketing campaign includes A/B testing, and paid advertising isn’t an exception. Monitor what copy is working the best, and don’t be afraid to change it up in order to improve performance. What has worked in the past may not always work best for your company all year long. A/B testing allows you to test what copy campaign is performing best so that you can optimize your PPC efforts for elements that drive the best results.
4. Sitelink Extensions
Most brands understand the importance of sitelink extensions in their PPC campaigns—these are additional landing pages you’re showing those you serve an ad. However, a missed opportunity that a lot of company’s fail to consider is adding descriptions to go with each.
Including a brief comment describing each of the pages you’re sending users to can help to drastically provide further value for your services or products. As well, it can improve the click-through-rate on your ads because users are given a deeper understanding as to what each page will provide them with because they’re shown a greater amount of detail. Not to mention having descriptions on your sitelinks gives you more real-estate on the search engine results page.
5. Remarketing lists
For any brand using paid advertising during the holiday season, as well as all year long, remarketing lists offer indispensable value. The ability to reach customers that have previously visited your site is one of the more effective ways to stay top of mind with a highly qualified prospect. Users that are already familiar with your brand, and then are served with an advertisement at a later point already know your company, and therefore are that much more likely to recognize your brand and continue down the funnel. When you’re shopping for a product, you generally won’t go to just one site. A lot of consumers will check out different websites to compare prices and styles. So having the ability to remarket them as they search through other sites for a product that you sell keeps you top of mind.
Understanding the buying cycle is important. People that are actively on your site should be considered “high priority” in a lot of ways, so adding them to a special list is a great initiative that more and more brands are taking part in. In general, it makes complete sense to bid higher for users that are already interested in your brand, products, or services, as opposed to someone who immediately bounced from your site.
For a lot of companies, running advertisements at a specific time of day may have a strong ROI. With day parting, you select which times you want your ads to run, or what time you want them to run more or less frequently. If you own a breakfast shop that closes at 5PM, it’s probably not worth it to run ads at 9PM. Change the bid multiplier for your campaigns based on time. Perhaps certain hours consistently garner the highest traffic and the most conversions, so you may want to ramp up your bid by 10% during that time.
Day parting is another great option that allows you to tailor your ads to the needs of your business objectives. If you’re trying to secure the interest of last-minute shoppers, day parting gives you the power to make sure that your ads are showing up more frequently throughout these next few days and weeks in the hopes of driving clicks for the perfect holiday gift.
7. Gmail Sponsored Promotions
Not as many companies as you’d think are leveraging the benefits of Gmail sponsored promotions, so it’s definitely a great space to get involved with if it’s fitting with your company. Target your competitors email lists and appear inside of the Gmail account of your potential customers that may be interested in a product you offer.
While there are several options for formats, the creative assets should be easy-to-read and provide clear direction to the user as far as next steps to take. The use of text and imagery should be an even balance, and fitting with the Gmail look and feel. You can target relevant locations and demographics, and just like with the traditional AdWords platform, you can use day-parting to optimize your campaigns for the best performing hours.
8. Topic Exclusions
Within the display network only, topic exclusions are something that you should be thinking about as you set up campaigns. The internet is vast and for most brands, appearing on an inappropriate website, or showing up in an article about violence can drastically hurt your brand credibility.
AdWords allows you to select which topics you want to avoid association with. Think about what subject matter would hurt consumer trust if they saw an advertisement for your brand on that page, and perhaps consider excluding it.
9. Call Out Extensions
Call out ad extensions offer you the ability to showcase more details about your company and products when users conduct a search that you appear for. The best starting point to determine what your call out extensions should be is to focus on what unique value proposition your brand has that some others may not. What is something great that your brand offers that your competition doesn’t?
If you’re a retailer, maybe it’s free shipping that you want to highlight. If you are an auto-dealer, showcasing that your service center is open 7 days a week might be important. This is another chance to tell the user any differentiator about your brand that they would find beneficial for their needs.
10. Snippet Extensions
Similar to a call out extension, snippet extensions allow brands to highlight more details—but on a specific product or service. Structured snippets by nature should provide the user being served an ad with some specific features of the product they’re interested in. Headers can be anything from types, to styles, to amenities.
If you’re selling women’s sweaters, you might select “style” as your header, and then include a brief mention as to what styles you sell—cardigan, turtleneck, or crewneck perhaps.
11. Negative Keywords
Don’t forget about negative keywords—they are an incredibly important feature to think about—especially if you’re using broad match or phrase match within the AdWords system. With exact match, your advertisement will only appear when a certain term is searched by the user, but with broad and phrase match, that isn’t the case. These searches could contain part of your keywords, but they may not be relevant to your needs and are a stretch for what you’re offering as far as products or services.
To highlight this on an extremely basic level, consider the following example. You may be going after the keyword “gifts under $10 for girls,” so appearing in a search result for “gifts under $10 for boys” isn’t going to be a fit. The search phrase contains part of your keyword, but it won’t drive sales if you only sell girl-themed presents. It would be a waste to have users click on your ad, visit your site, see that you don’t have what they need, and leave your site.
12. Bid Automation
Bid automation can help with the process of determining where you should set your bids (what you’re spending) for each of your keywords. Customize it to fulfill the needs of your brand, and in accordance with your company’s budget so that it’s ideal for your spend. You can do this on a rolling basis and have it automated based on the rules you want to include. Optimize for keywords that have fallen below first page bid or even automate to lower bids for keywords that spend at a high rate without converting.
The primary purpose is to make sure keywords that convert at a high rate are not dropping in position against competitors. Bid automation can recognize what keywords convert most effectively, and increase bids for them automatically as needed.
Improving Your PPC Campaigns
Whether it's to boost holiday sales or to improve your sales all year long, integrating paid advertising into your business plan can be incredibly beneficial to your business. When you're optimizing your PPC campaigns this holiday season, consider leveraging the tips above to enhance your effectiveness!
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