With December approaching many of you may be starting your Christmas shopping, or if you’re super organised, maybe you’ve already wrapped your last gift!

It’s quite easy to put Christmas off until the last minute and then make a quick dash to the shops for last minute buys. However, when it comes to your PPC (pay per click) account, this last ditch approach won’t serve you well. But don’t worry, it’s not too late. Our 5 point PPC  Christmas Checklist will help you get the most out of your PPC account this Christmas!

Failing to plan is planning to fail

For many businesses, Christmas is a key period of the year. It’s when the majority of their yearly revenue is earned and also when they allocate a higher spend on PPC. Therefore, it’s essential that additional budget is spent in the most cost effective way to get the highest return on investment.

Check your analytics

To prepare, I recommend spending time analysing your PPC performance and on-site user behaviour from last Christmas. This should be done as early as the third quarter and will help you to understand which campaigns, keywords and products are key areas worth investing in for the festive period, and indeed future campaigns.

Take stock

It’s essential to ensure your campaign structure is ready for Christmas and that it reflects any new Christmas products you may be launching. Users’ search behaviour changes around Christmas so it’s important to consider keyword variants that may be more suited to Christmas orientated search trends.

Amend content of your ads

Also Christmas themed ads, site links, promotions and extensions need to be planned, as well as mobile strategy and not forgetting keyword bid and budget management to ensure you do not miss out on ad impressions.

This may seem like a lot of preparation, but I assure you, it’s worth it!

But, it’s not too late, yet!

Ideally, Christmas PPC planning and preparation should now be complete as we head into the busy December period. Christmas related search volume begins to rise as early as October for most sectors, however, research into online traffic data from Twenga, the UK’s most comprehensive retail search engine showed that Christmas related searches began as early as July of this year, so it’s safe to say that planning should begin well in advance!

For now, I’ve compiled a list of the busiest online days of the year. The most notorious, often called Cyber Monday, isn’t predicted to fall until December 2nd this year.

Key Christmas 2013 dates from Google:

Friday 29th November: Black Friday – traditional first day of Christmas shopping

Monday 2nd December: Cyber Monday – 2nd largest spend online each year

Thursday 26th December: Boxing Day – Largest spend online each year with 113 million visits to retail websites

So if you’re worried that your PPC account isn’t ready for Christmas, there’s still some time to prepare for the busiest period and catch key dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To help you do this I’d like to share with you a PPC Christmas Checklist detailing some quick wins to help you get the most out of your account in the coming weeks.

1. Christmas Remarketing

Comparison shopping is now the norm for most online shoppers, it’s not unusual for them to visit your website and view your products only to return to Google and visit one of your competitors. Remarketing is a great way to close this loop; get in front of your customers whilst they comparison shop and encourage them to come back and buy from you. Here’s how it works:

remarketing_how it works

Source: www.onenetmarketing.com

If you have a Merchant Centre Account then I would highly recommend creating a dynamic remarketing campaign for the Christmas period. Click through rate (CTR) is often higher due to the ability to show ads with dynamic content linked directly to the products the user viewed. Alternatively, even basic remarketing will have its benefits over Christmas and the opportunity to create Christmas themed ads with specific offers and promotions should not be missed. If you are stuck for time, the Google Display Ad Builder is a great way to produce display Ads quickly.

For those of you that are not e-commerce businesses or perhaps Christmas is a quieter time of the year for your business, I would still recommend investing in remarketing.  For many of our service orientated clients, search volume and conversion rate falls between October and the end of December, but unfortunately it’s an unavoidable consequence of user behaviour and seasonality. For many of these clients, business picks up again straight after Christmas and therefore remarketing over Christmas is a great way to build brand awareness and promote any future offers in preparation for January when your target audience will be in the market again.

Depending on your business goals, a new remarketing feature from Google called remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) may be suitable as part of your Christmas PPC strategy. This will allow you to apply your remarketing lists to your search campaigns. So, for example, if you had a remarketing audience of ‘convertors’ you could apply this to a new search campaign and only target users searching for your keywords who had purchased from you previously.

This could be particularly useful around Christmas as you could bid a little more for these searches knowing that the probability of purchase is higher. Likewise, you could broaden your targeting slightly with more generic keywords with less risk. You could also create Christmas specific ads for these users focusing on loyalty, perhaps giving them a Christmas voucher code to use.

 

2. Festive Sitelinks

Christmas specific sitelinks are often neglected by advertisers, yet they are relatively quick to set up and can be very effective in increasing CTR during the busy period. I would recommend creating Christmas themed sitelinks for each campaign, or even ad groups if you have time. However, if time is an issue, a generic Christmas sitelink will suffice. Examples of these options are shown below. You will also notice in the screenshots that scheduling can be applied to these sitelinks so you can, as I have in this example, set them to be active during the Christmas period.

Ad Group level Christmas Sitelink:    

ad group level

Generic Campaign level Christmas Sitelink:

generic campaign level

When writing your site links I would suggest focusing on festive messaging that reinforces to the user that your products are potential gifts and also include any limited period offers or promotions.

3. Themed Ads

If you’re an e-commerce business and all of your products are potentially Christmas gifts, I would recommend creating a Christmas themed Ad in every ad group. This is likely to be time consuming, so as an alternative, I would suggest picking out five high spending campaigns that are delivering a positive cost per acquisition (CPA) to start with.

Christmas themed messaging not only sets your ad apart from the competition but it can also influence the user into purchasing. Using ad text such as ‘… The Perfect Xmas Gift’ will put the user in the right mind-set, and as they arrive at your site they will already thinking about your products as potential Christmas gifts. Examples of some Christmas themed ads I am using with one of our clients are shown below:

christmas themed paid ads

4. New Shopping Campaigns

If you’ve used Product Listing Campaigns (PLA) before you’ll know they are a cost effective way of driving conversions. So you’ll be pleased to hear Google are currently trialling ‘Shopping Campaigns’ on Beta. These are available to select accounts so you may have already received an email about them, alternatively you can be opted into the Beta via your agency.

These new campaigns are ideal for Christmas. I recommend them for advertisers who have left it late for their Christmas set up because they can be quickly implemented. Unlike PLA campaigns, there is no need to set up individual audiences for all of your product types as you can now see the Merchant Centre feed directly within Adwords and pick which products to target and how much to bid.

With PLA Campaigns the Adwords interface would only allow for reporting on key metrics at audience level. However, with Shopping Campaigns we are now able to segment and filter reporting in a far more granular way: performance statistics are available for individual attributes within your feed including ‘category’, ‘product type’, ‘brand’ etc.

Just like PLA Campaigns you are able to create Ads within Shopping Campaigns. So take this opportunity to include a Christmas related promotion to boost CTR, examples are shown below:

Christmas promotion ad:                                                       Generic ad:

christmas promotion ad      generic promotion ad

5. Don’t neglect Mobile

We all know mobile use is massive and continually growing yet, according to The Financial Times “only 33% of FTSE 100 companies have mobile optimised websites”. Likewise, from the free PPC Healthchecks we carry out at Receptional, it’s very common to come across accounts that have neglected mobile advertising.  I recently attended the Think:Digital 2013 Google Event in Dublin and they shared some interesting stats that highlight just how important mobile is and why you cannot afford to neglect it, especially over Christmas:

  • Searches on mobile are set to exceed those on desktop in 2014
  • 24% of people comparison check on their mobiles whilst in store
  • Of these 24%, 17% change their mind as a result
  • 20% of online sales this Christmas will come from mobiles
  • 32% research on their mobiles before purchase

If you have a mobile optimised website already, that’s great; your next step is to make sure you are optimising your PPC account effectively to get the most from this audience. With 20% of sales expected to come from mobiles this Christmas, it is an area of your PPC account I would highly recommend dedicating some time to. Some quick wins are detailed below to help your campaigns appeal to this growing mobile audience:

Bid adjustments: Mobile ads are unlikely to get seen, let alone clicked on, if they are not in the top 3 positions. Therefore, using bid adjustments for ad groups where your mobile ads achieve an ad position higher than three is highly advised.

Mobile Sitelinks: When creating mobile sitelinks bear in mind that long descriptions will not show in their entirety on mobile devices so keep them short and sweet. Also, your audience are likely to be on the move so tailor your sitelink text to appeal to them.

Mobile Ads: Make the most of the option to create mobile specific ads. Try to amend ad text so you are linking Christmas to mobile users specifically. A company selling watches for example could use ‘Buy Your Christmas Watch Gifts On Your Mobile Now’.

Mobile on the Display Network: For increased reach this Christmas, consider creating mobile sized display ads for the Google Display Network (GDN). Also, consider the games and apps your target market are likely to use over Christmas and use ‘placement targeting’ to reach them on mobile.

Mobile Strategy: Avoid replicating your desktop settings to mobile. To do well  this Christmas, try to think of your mobile marketing as a separate audience. Consider how their habits, intent, search trends and purchase behaviour will differ to your desktop audience and try to reflect this in the way you manage your PPC account.

I hope you have found our Christmas PPC checklist useful and it helps you get the most from your PPC account this Christmas!

If you would like more advice or want to optimise your paid ad campaigns for Christmas, please get in touch with our qualified Google Adwords professionals or request a Free PPC Healthcheck.

Happy Christmas from Receptional!