Ready, set, plan. When the holiday season is approaching, many retail marketers are making their to-do lists, checking them twice, and bracing to find out if their holiday marketing tactics are naughty or nice. But one factor is essential to ensuring healthy, effective campaigns in Google’s paid search and shopping channels:
The old saying may not ring true in every retail scenario, but timing is important when it comes to managing Google paid search and Shopping campaigns during the holidays. With holiday conversion rates peaking earlier, retail marketers should begin planning their strategies immediately after the back-to-school season.
Don’t pout if you’re behind in your holiday plans—there are strategies to employ during each month of the season. Knowing which tactics to use and when to implement each can make a major impact on your business during the year-end retail rush.
The monthly holiday checklist below will help you keep your campaigns in tip-top shape before, during, and after the holidays. For the complete playbook of monthly holiday goals, strategies, and tactics, consult our e-book The Ultimate Holiday Prep Guide for Google Paid Search and Shopping and prime your campaigns for the busiest retail season of the year.
- Review past performance – Take note of revenue targets in previous years and how your budget stood up to those goals. Look at daily YoY trends and determine when volume started to increase. This will give you an idea of when to start adjusting campaigns in both channels.
- Check website speed – Your site should offer a seamless experience for shoppers browsing and purchasing products. Check desktop site speed using Google’s PageSpeed tool and Test My Site for mobile specifically. Look to increase site speed in your off-season so you’re prepared for holiday traffic.
- Set up In-Market and Similar Audiences – In-Market Audiences lets you target shoppers actively searching for your products. Enabling this feature ensure shoppers receive ads relevant to their search history. Similar Audiences, on the other hand, focuses on targeting new customers. This allows you to grow your paid search and shopping audience without relying too heavily on past customers.
- Remarket to warm audiences – Segment customers who have made purchases on your site during the holidays in years past and remarket them using Customer Match and RLSA. Customer Match lets you adjust bids to target past or prospective customers with ads using email addresses in your database. RLSA dynamically builds lists of shoppers who have taken action on your site and lets you target these shoppers with ads.
- Deploy Google’s promotional tools – During the holiday season, people are shopping not only for a specific product, but also for ideas. Paid search ads give you the ability to use multiple site link extensions and direct your shoppers to multiple items. This allows shoppers to explore both products and your site. Using Google Merchant Center Promotions for shopping ads can highlight deals and offers that entice customers to buy.
- Turn your negatives into positives – If you’re looking for a promotional boost, look to your negative keyword list. You may have branded search terms designated as negative keywords to lower costs or broad terms that weren’t operating efficiently. These keywords may generate high ROI during the holidays. Consider taking them off your negative keyword list and monitoring performance to determine their value. This is also a good cross-channel opportunity between Google’s paid search and shopping channel. Include keywords you’ve put on your negative keyword list on Google Shopping into the positive in paid search. This will increase opportunity for earlier-funnel traffic.
- Frequently check your feed to prevent disapproved ads – Inconsistencies between your feed and landing page often result in ad disapprovals. These are some of the most common issues that arise with your feed. Monitor your feed and update information as inventory levels and promotional pricing changes.
- Leverage Local Inventory Ads – Ensure your local inventory ads optimize drive in-store visits and sales. November, especially Black Friday Weekend, is prime time for shoppers searching for the perfect holiday gifts nearby. Use location extensions to set a radius around each of your stores and set a positive bid adjustment for each radius. Dayparting is a timely way to utilize your budget by only showing LIAs during store hours.
- Scale back aggressive bids after the holiday rush – Make sure to adjust your budget accordingly after peak shopping days. If bids and efficiency targets increased during the holiday season, reset them so you don’t exhaust your budget post holiday.
- Nurture new customers – Shoppers are more prone to explore new stores during or leading up to the holidays, and these new customers can become repeat customers. Be sure to add their email addresses to your Customer Match list to remarket them next season. Make sure you don’t lose focus after the holidays. Use this opportunity to make sure your product feed is optimized and your LIAs showcase proper inventory to reach shoppers during the final weeks of the holiday season.