Holidays 2014 – Strategies That Worked

Hello 2015!  I’ve finally accepted that 2015 is here to stay, I’ve gotten back into my routine, and I’ve had time to do a deep-dive analysis of our holiday tactics.  I work with a few eCommerce clients, and for us the holidays are not so much a time of relaxation as it is a flurry of long-hour days and hourly check-ins that leave me feeling a bit obsessed.  But hey – that’s what I love about my job!  During the holidays, everything is fast-paced and intense, and I truly get to experience the power of digital marketing.  This year, the holidays felt different from past years because I began planning well in advance which gave me time to line up my strategies and test new tactics early.  I’ve put together a list of strategies that worked for me, and I’ll be sure to implement these again for the 2015 holidays.


What Worked

RLSA Campaign w/ General Holiday Keywords

For clients that have a set ROI, bidding on generic terms is an art form that is difficult to do successfully.  In the past, I’ve managed general holiday keyword campaigns for short bursts of time when I anticipated sales to be highest and I would quickly blow through my budget with an embarrassingly low ROI.  This year I took a different tactic – remarketing lists for search.  And it worked!

I created a campaign containing keywords related to holiday sales, black friday deals, cyber monday offers, etc. and targeted only people who had previously visited our site.  This campaign requires creating a remarketing audience well in advance to make sure your audience size is sizable before the holidays.  I ran these campaigns during our largest sale periods and was pleased with the ROI.

Countdown Ads

In general, creating a sense of urgency in your marketing tends to work.  During the holidays, it works even better.  On short-term sales such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Click Frenzy, I have seen this customized ad produce increasing conversion rates by the day and even hour.  I made sure that the countdown code was in Description Line 1 of my ad, ending with a period, to allow Google to pull the countdown text directly into the headline.

Holiday Display URLs

This wasn’t anything complex or advanced, but I found that updating our ads to reflect a holiday-theme (along with site content!) went a long way.  In many cases I included holiday messaging directly in the ad text, but in some cases I reserved that space for sale details and simply switched our display URLs to include holiday keywords.  For example, on December 1st I updated all our active ads with the display URL:

An important caveat: if you are using general holiday messaging in this fashion, your website content MUST be consistent with the ad message.  Our clients did an excellent job of launching a site-wide holiday theme fully equipped with falling snowflakes and green and red text for the holidays.  We also had a dedicated holiday page that pulled all active promotions onto one page that was easy to navigate from anywhere on the site.  This created a fluid (and festive) experience for the user.

Callout Extensions w/ Holiday Highlights

When consumers are shopping online during the holidays, they are often more scrupulous about weighing each pro and con.  There are many competing offers vying for their attention, so every bit matters: price, convenience and timeliness.  I used the callout extension in our ads to highlight these benefits of purchasing on our site.  Some great callout extension options are:

– Free Express Shipping
– Free Returns
– Price Matching
– 24/7 Online Support

Dynamic Search Ads

During the holidays I gave my dynamic search ads a bit more attention than I typically do.  I wanted to make sure this campaign picked up any relevant traffic that I may have missed in my always-on campaigns so I checked budget limitations and bidding to ensure these were running at a good average position.  I also changed the dynamic ads to include holiday language to be consistent with our always-on ads.  Overall, having this safety net set my mind at ease and we did gain incremental sales through it.


What Didn’t Work

I tested running a RLSA Campaign w/ General Holiday Keywords in December when our big sales were not running, and we did not see great return.  The lesson learned is: save your generic keyword campaigns for times when your site is running compelling offers.

Also, there is such a thing as way too much.  And this can be the case particularly with remarketing campaigns.  I found that scheduling too many sales during the holidays does have a diminishing return.  For example, having a Black Friday Sale, Cyber Monday Sale, Holiday Sale, Post-Holiday Sale and New Years Resolution Sale are way too much particularly if the sale details are similar each time.  By the third sale, if consumers have not made a purchase, they likely just want to stop seeing your ads.  We saw a drop in click-through rate, conversion rate and ROI towards the end of our sale schedule in our remarketing campaigns.


Cheers to an even more successful 2015!

Evelyn Baek About the author

Evelyn Baek is an Account Director at Point It Digital Marketing in Seattle, with a passion for developing advanced marketing strategies for the agency's larger clients who want to stay ahead in the ever-changing world of digital marketing. She enjoys leading teams that work collaboratively to deliver results for their clients. Outside of Point It, Evelyn loves exploring the Pacific Northwest, rooting for the Pittsburgh Penguins (Go Pens!), cuddling with her little pup, Tifa, and cooking up a storm.

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