Happy holidays, everyone! As a follow-up to the recent webinar we hosted on 11/14, “Gearing Up For The Holidays,” we wanted to present you with the material so that you can have it all right at your fingertips. Your faithful holiday webinar presenters, Erin Sagin, Jeff Stevens, Katie Lyons, and I, will each be providing you with a blog post based on the content we shared with you. Think of it as a mini-series!
For my part, I’ll be discussing which elements of your AdWords account you should be thinking about to best prepare for the upcoming season.
The beauty of the holidays is that they fall on (roughly) the same days every year, making it very easy for you to plan ahead! It’s good practice to review holiday performance from previous years, so that you can better prepare for this year. Knowing how your account is going to perform before it performs can give you a great competitive advantage. And if this is your first holiday season running a PPC campaign, then there’s no better opportunity to learn than now.
You may want to start by creating a calendar of events pertaining to the holiday season to identify key dates for implementing strategy. In addition to marking off holidays, you can mark off dates for increasing budget, adjusting bids, or maybe pausing or ending campaigns.
You should also consider setting dates for adjusting your campaigns for the post-holiday swing. It’s just as important to remember your post-holiday actions, as you will want to capitalize on those consumer activities, and eventually you will want to ramp back down to your normal account activity level. It will be important to know when exactly to make this switch.
Using your calendar and considering key dates, you can begin to think about how you will execute on your holiday strategy. You will want to think about these six key areas:
- Keyword Lists
- Ad Copy
- Ad Extensions
Keyword research  will probably be the most important piece of preparing for the upcoming holiday season. You will definitely want to ensure that you have an accurate and up-to-date list of keywords so that you are targeting the appropriate audience and capturing the right traffic. Review what is in your account now, and identify keywords you may need to add based on what is in your product inventory, as well as any keywords you may need to pause.
One tool that can come in handy for helping identify keyword trends is Google Trends (fitting name, right?). This is tool is actually pretty insightful. You can search for specific words (think of your products, services, or your overall industry terms) and see how that term has fluctuated in Google searches over a certain period of time. You can also read relevant news articles to gain insight as to how you can best prepare for those trends.
Your PPC budget  is going to be a vital piece of the puzzle, as you will likely see a spike in your spend during the holiday rush. You will want to make sure you review your current daily budget, as well as any budget fluctuations during the holidays of previous years. This can really help you determine how your budget may spike in the upcoming months.
You will want to keep a close eye on how bidding changed in previous years, and plan accordingly for the keywords in your account. The trends that your keywords followed will be important to review, so that you can ensure your keywords will be competitive in the holiday frenzy. Again, Google Trends may come in handy here. For any terms that are trending up from a popularity standpoint, you may be facing higher costs due to increased competition.
The right messaging plays an important part in your paid search efforts, and this is especially true during the holidays. Take some time to create ads that are reflective of your holiday offerings – this includes products, services, and promotions. You will want to create new ads or update existing ones well ahead of time so you can cue them up to align with your holiday calendar. You may want to think about pausing certain ads that won’t be quite as applicable during the holidays.
Ad extensions  can come in very handy during the holiday months, as you can provide links to additional products or services that you are offering via sitelinks. Special promotions are also a great way to utilize sitelinks. This is another reason to carefully review your product line to ensure that any sitelinks you set up will be accurate.
Knowing when to run your ads will be essential to capturing valuable traffic. You may want to think about when your target audience will be searching for the products and services that you offer and designate that in your time-of-day ad scheduling. You can also consider bid modifiers for the times of the day when you want to ensure you are being most competitive.
Clients, don’t forget that you can view “Gearing Up For The Holidays” in its entirety by checking out the Blog and Videos tab in WordStream. Enjoy your holiday season!