While the basics of paid search behaviour and choice of keywords do not change throughout the run up to Christmas, the market conditions, however, vary by the way people buy, the way you sell and the way you compete.
Searches are more gift giving inclined, with increasing urgency as shipping deadlines get closer. As it is traditionally a heavily promotional time focusing on specific key dates - black Friday, cyber Monday and the increasing importance of shipping deadlines, sales and inventory levels vary significantly. As demand rises, competition heats up by existing competitors becoming more aggressive in their online marketing strategies and new competitors entering the market.
The chart below shows the volatile trends of the peak Christmas season last year (click on the graph for an enlarged version).
The text ad is the first opportunity to answer to the searcher's question, it must appeal to their gift giving intent, your promotions and distinguish itself from new and more agressive competition.
Alex Cohen, accomplished online marketer, blogger and presenter gives 3 tips to help increase click through rates and answer the most profitable holiday questions.
1. Segregate your brand keywords
Brand Keywords are unique, containing your brand name, they have high click through rates and low cost per click with high return on investment. Brand plus keywords contain your brand name and a category generic term. As there will be many brand plus terms, it is important to focus on the most profitable first for the Christmas period then to work through the rest in due time. The goal being to only attract brand plus queries, the last step to add your own brand terms as negative to any non brand campaigns
2. Manage your ads with ad parameters
The use of numbers in adverts, e.g. cost, inventory or discounts will help the ad to stand out against competitors, requiring a specific landing page which delivers the promise. You can add parameters to control changing figures for inventory stock or prices. The AdWords API blog has some good examples.
3. Query Mine for Winners
During the period leading up to Christmas, it is important to dig deeper into your search queries. People will search in new and different ways, especially as Google's new ad format and Google instant have just launched and this is the first Christmas period that they will be used. It is important to focus on the highest volume/ cost terms and words that are converting profitably. These will separate out into unique ad groups with specific ad groups that address their intent.
Andy Donaldson (HitSearch Director) comments – ‘A Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign can either make or break a business over this critical period for online retail. Adopting a Christmas PPC strategy focused on a scalable return on investment should be the least your agency is focused on over the next few weeks...’
To ensure success in the run up to Christmas, paid adverts are critical. The best text ads are crafted by focusing on the specific Christmas intent in each search query. Use brand terms to break out your ad groups. Get specific in text ads with numerical parameters and mine search queries to fine tune even more directly.
Adapted from Alex Cohen's "3 holiday PPC Tips for Black Friday (and beyond)" http://searchenginewatch.com/3641490