By Neil Patel
Just like in life, there’s an ebb and flow to marketing success.
That means a huge part of finding success as a marketer is being adaptable.
This allows you to capitalize on trends and strike while the iron is hot.
And if there’s any time of year that impacts sales and marketing, it’s the holidays.
In fact, nearly a fifth (19.2%) of retail sales take place over the holiday season.
It’s big business.
And holiday retail sales are only continuing to grow, which is great news for marketers.
While there was a drop off in 2008 and 2009, during the recession, sales have been growing each year ever since.
Here’s a graph that illustrates that growth:
Of course, you want your slice of the pie.
But to get it, you’ll need to modify your approach in several areas of marketing.
One area in particular is PPC.
When it comes to your PPC campaign, you’ll want to tweak your strategy during the holiday season to cash in on the surplus of sales.
And considering the fact that “PPC visitors are 50% more likely to buy than organic visitors,” the holidays are rife with opportunity.
It’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.
In this post, I’d like to point out some specific adjustments you can make to your PPC strategy that should minimize your CPC, increase your CTR and maximize your ROI.
Start by creating a new campaign
Let’s start with a couple of preliminary steps.
First, I strongly recommend creating an entirely new campaign, specifically designed for the holidays.
This will allow you to shift from the holiday season to the post-holiday season with ease and zero disruption.
It’ll also make it easier to stay organized and will minimize any confusion later on.
And when next year comes around, the campaign will already be set up for you.
If you’re using AdWords, check out this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to create a new campaign.
Analyze last year’s data
This won’t be applicable if this is your first year running a PPC campaign during the holidays.
But if you’ve done it in the past, it’s super helpful to take a look at last year’s, as well as several previous years’, data.
Some specific elements you’ll want to examine are:
- keyword performance
- overall conversion rates
Looking at the CTRs of this list of keywords provides instant insights:
Make note of any interesting trends that could give you an edge this year.
Then write down your top four or five keywords because these can serve as the nucleus of this year’s campaign. You can build around those.
If you notice any keywords that bombed or vastly underperformed, you may want to scrap them because there are bound to be better, more profitable keywords out there.
Use holiday modifiers
Once you’ve analyzed last year’s data, you should have a handful of keywords to focus on.
These are good to go.
But what you can also do is adjust the ad copy of your top performing keywords you use normally throughout the year by adding holiday modifiers to them.
This is pretty easy to do, and some quick keyword research should supply you with plenty of ideas.
Here’s an example.
From your Google Keyword Planner dashboard, enter the term “holidays.”
Scroll down just a bit, and you’ve got hundreds of different keyword ideas to choose from:
Now, all you have to do is add a holiday-related keyword phrase to your existing keyword.
For example, you might use “Holiday deals on [keyword].”
Use Google Trends for insights
Here’s another helpful trick you can use to see how people are responding to certain holiday-related phrases.
Go to Google Trends, and enter a few different search terms you want to compare.
I’ll use “holiday special,” “holiday sale” and “Christmas savings” as an example.
First, I’ll set it to the “Past 12 months” option to see which search terms received the most interest last year.
As you can see here, “holiday sale” has received the most interest among these three choices.
Then, I’ll set it to the “Past 5 years” option for an even better perspective:
Everything looks consistent.
Between the Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends, you should be able to generate plenty of good ideas for ways to adjust your ad copy to appeal to holiday shoppers.
Incorporate discount-oriented keywords
The holidays are synonymous with deals and discounts.
There’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.
One way to attract shoppers and increase your CTR is to use keywords involving some sort of a deal.
Here are a few examples you see quite frequently:
Again, you can use Google Trends to see just how receptive shoppers are to these various keywords.
A quick comparison of “coupons,” “promotions” and “specials” lets me know that “coupons” gets far more searches than the other two:
Of course, you’ll actually need to back up your offer by offering discounts on the products you feature in your ads.
Needless to say, simply using discount-oriented keywords without an actual discount is going to hurt your conversion rate and send your CPC through the roof.
But incorporating the right deal-oriented keywords should bring shoppers’ attention to your ads and improve your CTR.
Experiment with other promotions
Besides traditional discounts, there are other types of promotions that shoppers respond favorably to.
Here’s how they break down:
You can cash in on this by working these types of promotions into your PPC campaign.
I did some quick keyword research on the “buy one get one” phrase and was amazed to see the low competition levels.
See for yourself:
Although you need to be conscious of your profit margins when executing promotions, this can level up your PPC strategy and send an influx of eager shoppers your way.
Throw in time-sensitive offers
I’ve talked about the importance of incorporating urgency into your headlines.
But urgency can be applied to a lot of different situations.
It’s a marketer’s best friend.
It can be especially potent for holiday PPC ads.
There is a handful of specific events throughout the year that are intrinsically time-sensitive.
Here are some examples, and this doesn’t even include New Year’s:
They each have a very distinct cut-off date, and once that date has passed, it’s over, baby.
Shoppers will have to wait until next year to cash in on sales and discounts.
Leverage these different events by creating time-sensitive offers that expire once a certain date has passed.
Here’s a great example of a Facebook ad from just before Thanksgiving:
Keep in mind that the majority of holiday shoppers are in the “buy now” mindset.
So it’s not so much about nurturing leads and gradually moving them through the sales funnel.
It’s more about going for the throat and compelling shoppers to take action right away and buy.
I’ve found creating urgency through this tactic is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
Adjust your budget
Considering the fact that roughly a fifth of all retail sales come during the holiday season, it’s reasonable to expect an increase in searches for your product.
You’ll need to account for this increase by adjusting your budget accordingly.
If you currently have a $100-a-day budget, you may want to raise it by to $150 or even $200 to ensure you’re able to capitalize on increased searches.
You don’t want to miss out on opportunities simply because your budget ran out.
And there are two particular dates when you’ll want to be especially loose with your budget:
Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Just look at how online conversions surged for one company on these days:
These actually dwarfed the week leading up to Christmas and the day after.
While this won’t necessarily be the trend for everyone, be prepared to spend considerably more on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Again, I recommend looking at the data from past years to gain insights on this and for direction on setting your budget.
I love PPC advertising for the simple fact that it can lead to massive sales in a short period of time.
Unlike other digital strategies—like content marketing, social media and SEO (which I love) that typically take a long time to pay off—PPC can get almost instant results as long as you know what you’re doing.
PPC can be lucrative any time of the year, but the holiday season is where the money is really at.
But in order to take advantage, you’ll need to tweak your PPC strategy accordingly.
The things I mentioned here should enable you to:
- create highly effective ads your demographic will respond to,
- come up with enticing offers and
- send shoppers chomping at the bit to buy to your site.
And once you get the hang of it, simply rinse and repeat for the next holiday season.
Can you think of any other adjustments that can rev up your PPC campaign during the holidays?