10 PPC Tips: Holiday 2012 Checklist

By some miracle, it’s still sunny in Seattle.  I’m practically breaking the law by even mentioning that winter is around the corner with this topic.  Every year that passes, consumers are spending more and more online for the holidays, and this year is no exception.  I’ve asked my colleagues to share their tactics for dominating the holiday season.  The result is a list of 10 most important PPC tips for the holiday 2012.

1. Start Early

  • Start preparing yesterday.
  • Develop a detailed schedule: Include promotion launches, end dates, free shipping offers, high volume days, etc.
  • Important dates: Black Friday (11/23), Cyber Monday (11/26), Super Saturday (12/22)
  • Assign roles for team members: Who will be up at 3am on Black Friday to turn on the campaigns?


2. Designate Quality Control Person

  • Assign at least one person to be the lead coordinator for manual launches (I’m usually up at 3am on Black Friday anyway), grabbing screenshots of ads for clients/stakeholders, and perform quality checks.
  • Screenshots: These are important, not only to show your ads but what other advertisers are saying in their ads.
  • Manual launches: Sure, there’s plenty of automation these days, but I’m not willing to risk a glitch in the system not turning a campaign on.  Maybe I have trust issues, but I’ll be double checking that the campaigns have launched.
  • Landing page quality checks: Don’t let a landing page malfunction slip your brain, this could mean missing out on an important day of volume. Periodically check links and page load time.


3. Campaign Structure Strategy

  • Organize for easy launching/pausing: Create duplicate campaigns or ad groups to separate promotional copy.  This will also help monitor spend and performance.
  • Isolate holiday copy/keywords if possible


4. Negative Preparation

  • Run related queries series pre-holidays to build out a negative keyword list before the holidays.
  • Continually mine for negative keywords with the search query reports throughout the holidays.


5. Google Shopping Integration

  • This could be a series of blog posts just on this topic! Google is changing the way they treat Google Shopping on the search engine results page.  See the differences here.  In short, it’s not free and everyone is playing in the same arena now.  Here’s a link to a free eBook on Google Shopping for your business.


6. Landing Page Experience

  • Conceptualize experience and flow: Now more than ever, consumers are shopping around before buying products. Don’t let a poor user experience deter them from buying your product.
  • Optimized for conversions: Again, this could be another blog series, but be sure you’re landing page encourages purchasing a product.  The buying process should be simple, safe and obvious.


7. Device targeting presence

  • Mobile and Tablet – Start testing now!  I recommend isolating the targeting by creating separate campaigns to target mobile, tablet and desktops.  I’ve seen great conversion rates on tablet devices for eCommerce clients, so if anything, test these!


8. Free Shipping & Other Incentives

  • Consumers expect free shipping; make sure you offer it!
  • Include free shipping offers in your ad copy, from testing we’ve found that CTR doesn’t always increase but conversion rates generally do.


9. Keep an eye on inventory levels

  • Prevent wasted advertising spend by either 1) turning off campaigns temporarily or 2) create a landing page for inventory outage – make sure the quality control person is swapping in this landing page when the time comes.


10. Understand Post Holiday Fluctuations

  • Include post-holiday in your schedule:  For example, the week after Christmas is very low volume, but picks up significantly in January – conversion rates are very high (don’t blow all your budget, save some for the post-holiday traffic)

What is your #1 tip for the holiday season?

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  • Lisa Sanner

    Another tip is – have a plan B, C, and D. If you have inventory stock out issues on high demand items, you need to have great communication with your client in order to pull those down and be ready with backup offers. Time lost is opportunity lost and revenue lost, don’t risk downtime. Being over-prepared helps a lot.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm
    • Jaime

      Great reminder, Lisa! That brings up the importance of communication during a hectic time. Determine the communication strategy now for when inventory runs out, a promotion is changed, timing is altered, etc. It’s worth the extra planning now to ensure you’re taking full advantage of the revenue opportunities during the holidays. Having multiple back up plans will set you up for success no matter what goes awry!

      October 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm

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