By now, you’ve probably noticed that stores like Target have already started sneaking holiday decorations into their displays. Pumpkins might be the star of the show for now, but before you know it, wreaths and Christmas trees will take their place, and the annual holiday madness will begin.
For marketers, however, it’s never too soon to start thinking about how to leverage holiday fever (and much higher search volume and traffic) to maximize the impact of their campaigns.
Today, we’ll be revisiting some of our most successful holiday-specific marketing strategies from previous years. Some are tried-and-true, others are new!
PS: Don’t miss our Complete Guide to Cliche-Free Holiday Copywriting
This one might seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook whether your ads are making use of ad extensions when you’re trying to launch and manage several concurrent holiday campaigns.
Features like sitelinks, call extensions, and review extensions can make your ads stand out and help holiday shoppers convert. Even if you’re already using extensions in some of your ad campaigns, it’s worth revisiting them and checking that you’re getting the most out of the many different ad formats that are available, especially before the holiday rush.
If you sell physical products, you should seriously consider making Google Shopping holiday campaigns.
Shopping Ads are outstanding from a user experience standpoint, because they provide almost everything prospects need to make a snap (read: emotional) decision about your products without requiring them to click through unnecessarily.
Given that price and product photos are two of the most important elements of an ad, the fact that these ads make these elements clearly visible directly in the SERP makes Shopping Ads a powerful component of your ad strategy.
Granted, your products will appear alongside those of other retailers, making it imperative that your pricing is competitive. It’s also important to use unique images of your products, even if other retailers stock them, as using generic images can lessen the impact of your ads. Overall, though, Shopping Ads are highly effective and well worth considering this holiday season.
At WordStream, we’re always talking about the importance of hands-on campaign management. A “set it and forget it” approach rarely works well in the mid- to long-term, which is why we recommend spending 20 minutes per week optimizing and refining your paid search strategy. However, that doesn’t mean that automation doesn’t have its place in your holiday marketing plans.
Ad automation can be remarkably powerful for time-sensitive campaigns like holiday promotions – you just have to manage it tightly from the outset. AdWords offers a wide range of tools to help you automate your holiday campaigns, enabling you to commence, pause, and resume campaigns depending on your timing and scheduling preferences. For example, you could create specific campaigns targeting Thanksgiving shoppers that will begin automatically during the first week of November, before automatically pausing or terminating one week after the Thanksgiving holiday.
As with any automated process, it’s important to consider all the variables. If you choose to leverage the power of ad automation, make sure you don’t accidentally forget to re-enable a crucial campaign or terminate a campaign that will no longer be relevant after a holiday is over. For more on ad automation, check out this blog post by Brad McMillen.
Far too many advertisers are content to try and tempt shoppers with a time-sensitive sale or other financial reward and call it a day for their holiday marketing campaigns. This is a huge mistake, and one that could cost you dearly. Smart advertisers will revisit their ad copy before launching their campaigns for the holidays.
Yes, rewriting ad copy takes time. It takes even longer to do it well. However, by writing unique ad copy to launch your holiday sales, you’re putting yourself ahead of many advertisers who don’t have the time or inclination to do so. Even if you don’t specifically mention holiday promotions in your ad copy, including seasonal messaging tells your prospects that whatever you are offering is current, providing further incentive to click on your ads.
Of course, that’s not to say that financial rewards such as sales and discounts should be overlooked in your holiday ad copy – far from it. The holidays are an excellent time of year to push prospective customers to buy, especially when combined with other incentives, such as avoiding the dreaded holiday shopping rush (we’ll come back to this idea shortly).
However you choose to position your products or services this holiday season, be sure to dust off your ad copy and create ads that are fresh, compelling, and topical.
Few things compare to the abject misery of frantically driving from one store to another trying to find a suitable gift for a loved one, or worrying about whether Amazon will be able to deliver your package in time for the holidays. Timing is crucial for marketers during the holiday season, a fact that smart advertisers incorporate into all their campaigns well in advance, and appealing to prospects’ desire to make the holidays as stress-free as possible is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
The holidays represent an unparalleled opportunity to entice prospects with special time-sensitive offers, and your ads, landing pages, and social campaigns should all emphasize the ease with which consumers can get their holiday shopping taken care of if they act right now.
Everything about your campaigns, from your ad copy to the imagery you use on social, should reiterate the misery of the holiday rush, and how doing business with you (either in-store or online) can reduce or eliminate this misery. Offer free shipping on orders placed before a certain date. Throw in extras for purchasing early, or offer two-for-one sales. Use hashtags and giveaways on social media to promote your products. Use ad customizers to add a countdown to your sales, creating an even more powerful sense of urgency.
Whatever you do, be sure to leverage the dread that creeps over almost everyone when it comes to holiday shopping – people will go to remarkable lengths to avoid the crowds on Christmas Eve.
Following hot on the heels of our tip to leverage the power of the holiday rush, manufacturing a sense of urgency on your landing pages is a highly effective way to push hesitant prospects over the line and convert.
There are several ways you can do this. Some retailers include countdown timers on their seasonal landing pages that tell customers exactly how much time they have left to take advantage of a time-sensitive offer. Others include banners promoting specific offers, such as free shipping and discounts, on their landing pages. This technique is especially powerful when combined with enticing ad copy and ads taking full advantage of extensions – if you think of your ads as the hook (which they should be), you can think of your landing pages as an opportunity to provide prospects with yet another reason they should buy from you right now.
This is another holiday marketing tip that might seem almost embarrassingly obvious, but you’d be amazed by how many business owners target the same keywords every holiday season, only to be left scratching their heads when their sales are down.
Sure, you’re always going to have your core terms, but it’s vital to capitalize (and bid) on seasonal searches and other timely trends. One way to do this is by using Google Trends and other similar online marketing tools to identify new keywords that can breathe life into your holiday campaigns.
Making tenuous connections between your core terms and trending topics for the sake of capturing largely irrelevant traffic that probably won’t convert shouldn’t be a part of your holiday marketing strategy, but it’s definitely worth revisiting your keywords before the holiday season begins in earnest to see if there aren’t some opportunities waiting for you that you’ve overlooked. Speaking of revisiting things…
Maintaining tight campaign organization and account structure is something you should always stay on top of, but this becomes even more important during the holidays.
If you’re selling seasonal products, these should (obviously) be contained within their own unique ad groups. Keywords should be relevant and tightly themed. If you’re struggling to visualize how best to set up your holiday campaigns, the diagram below illustrates the ideal PPC account set up:
Strong account and campaign organization makes it easier to coordinate, adjust, and run time-sensitive campaigns, but doing so can also increase your Quality Scores and other crucial metrics. Whatever you do, make sure you’re running a tight ship when it comes to campaign management.
If you haven’t already started advertising on Facebook, the holidays are the ideal time to start. Why, you ask? Well, because remember how we mentioned how people will do almost anything to avoid the shopping rush? They’ll also be practically guaranteed to vent their frustrations on Facebook, providing you with the perfect opportunity to offer up some well-timed relief from their holiday shopping woes.
Facebook advertising has several major advantages. The first is the breadth and depth of the targeting options available, allowing you to create incredibly granular custom audiences based on demographic data as well as other metrics such as interests, shopping preferences, and other behavioral identifiers.
The second advantage of Facebook is its cost-effectiveness. As WordStream’s resident social media advertising expert Brett McHale explained recently, Facebook advertising can be much more affordable than many advertisers think, creating opportunities for savvy business owners who want to capitalize on increased holiday traffic.
Finally, Facebook ads are (by Facebook’s design) much more visual than PPC ads, including Shopping Ads. Only 20% of a Facebook ad can be text, meaning you have a large canvas with which to capture your audiences’ attention and inspire them to act – the perfect opportunity to pair some classic holiday messaging with your existing branding.
If you’re not sure how to get started with paid social, WordStream Advisor is now fully integrated with Facebook Ads, so check out our guide to get started!
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know WordStream has been evangelizing about remarketing for years, and for good reason – it’s arguably the most effective technique in your marketing arsenal.
Think about all the time, money, and effort that goes into a paid search campaign. If you’re not using remarketing, you’re effectively dedicating all these resources to a single attempt to persuade a prospect to convert. When you put it like this, it’s nothing short of madness.
Remarketing isn’t just an effective year-round marketing strategy – it’s a technique that’s ideally suited to holiday shopping buying behavior. Think about how you purchased gifts for your loved ones last year. Did you click on the first ad you saw, and bought the first product on sale at that first website you visited? Of course not. Chances are you shopped around for the very best deals, just like millions of other people. This presents a crucial opportunity for marketers using remarketing, as it allows them to capture “lost” traffic by capitalizing on prospects’ reluctance to buy from the first site they visit in the hopes of finding a better deal elsewhere.
You most likely have a customer holiday greeting email primed up (please make sure it’s a GOOD holiday greeting email), but how about a year-in-review email? These emails have the power to generate leads, win over new customers, and upsell or retain existing ones. Learn more about how to write an awesome year-in-review email here.
If you haven’t already started preparing for the holidays, you need to start RIGHT NOW. Time is running out, and the madness will be upon us before you know it, so get a head start on the competition and launch your holiday marketing campaigns soon!
Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.
See other posts by Dan Shewan
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.