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The holidays are coming and with the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, savvy web marketers stand to make a fortune in sales this winter. But since huge potential means huge competition, it's vital that your ads stand out from the crowd. Let's look at one way to differentiate your advertisements and boost your click-through rate (CTR) by incorporating holiday themes into your pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
1 – Start with proper keyword research
Although there's no doubt that the holiday season represents a sales spike for many web businesses, this doesn't give you carte blanche to start advertising for any relevant keyword you can think of. Just like with the traditional marketing tactics you use every other day of the year, conducting the proper keyword research up front is a vital step in ensuring that your holiday PPC campaigns will be successful.
So where should you start? First, build up a list of holiday-relevant keywords. For example, if you run an ecommerce store that sells electronics, you might want to consider advertising for the keyword phrase “LCD TVs holiday sale” instead of your usual “LCD TVs”. Consider any of the following holiday modifiers (or any other alternatives you can think of) to add to your current list of PPC target keywords:
- Gift set
- Holiday sale
- Christmas sale
- Christmas present
Let your mind run free for a bit here. There's an unlimited number of possible combinations when it comes to holiday keywords, and with a little extra effort, you might be able to uncover a winner that's got good search volume and low competition amongst other advertisers.
2 – Optimize your landing pages to your holiday theme
If your PPC ad states that you've got the, “Best Deals on Holiday Gifts”, be aware that people are going to arrive back at your landing page in a holiday gift-giving mindset. To make the experience as consistent as possible for these visitors and to prevent the cognitive dissonance that occurs when a landing page doesn't mean buyers' expectations, disrupting the sales process, spend some time integrating holiday imagery into your site.
The following are a few different places you can add holiday-themed elements to your landing pages:
- Color scheme – Temporarily change your color scheme to popular seasonal palettes (including red, white and green or white and blue), to convey a sense of holiday celebration without going overboard.
- Imagery – Depending on the products you sell and the demographic makeup of your target visitors, adding holiday imagery in the form of snowflakes, snow men, Santa Claus or other icons can help tie your landing page back to your holiday-themed ad. Just be careful to avoid religious images, unless your site sells specifically religious merchandise.
- Text – Adding the words “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” to your page can make it feel more festive (putting visitors in that all-important holiday spending mood).
- Promotions – With mega-stores competing for holiday business by dropping prices lower and lower, consumers expect major bargains at this time of the year. Offering free shipping is pretty much a “must”, but it's a good idea to think up some other special promotions you can offer as well in order to stand out in your marketplace.
3 – Capitalize on ad extensions whenever possible
When drafting your holiday PPC ads, it's also important to understand existing ad extension options. According to PPC Hero:
“You should not forget the power of extensions, especially in the holiday season. Ad Extension allows you more relevant information in your ads and increases the space your ad takes in the SERP.”
Basically, there are four different types of ad extensions – calls, locations, products and sitelinks. Any or all of these options might make sense for your business, depending on the products you sell and the consumers you target, so it's important to evaluate the potential of these ad types when setting up your campaigns.
4 – Analyze profit potential
At this point in the process, you should have a good idea of what types of keywords you want to target and how you'll structure the ads that get these visitors back to your website.
But don't just dump these newly modified keywords back into your campaigns. You won't be the only one targeting these holiday-specific keywords, so it's still important to check what you'll need to bid to secure a good position. If bid prices are significantly higher than what you usually pay, you'll want to map out your estimated ROI in the long run before launching your holiday campaign.
Of course, you shouldn't let potential short-term losses deter you entirely, as plenty of businesses use the holiday shopping period to lure in new customers with special promotions and make up any advertising losses with back-end sales or subscriptions. However, in order to count on this long-term profit making up for front-end losses, you've got to be pretty confident in the conversion potential of your sales funnel.
If you aren't confident in your business's overall sales potential, there's only one way to find out if your holiday PPC ads represent a good investment for your website…
5 – Test and track your holiday ads
If you don't currently have a means of tracking which specific PPC clicks result in sales on your site, look into a third party script provider that will give you the tracking codes necessary to obtain this data. Here's why this is so important…
Suppose that, following from our earlier example, you decide to advertise your LCD TV holiday promotion by targeting both “LCD TVs Holiday Sale” and “LCD TVs Christmas Sale”. You bid the same on both keyword phrases, and your campaign generates 500 clicks a piece at $1.00/click, making your total investment in the campaign $1,000.
Because you were able to sell two TV sets at $1,000, you consider the campaign a success. But since you didn't have click tracking installed (or narrow enough PPC campaigns!), you don't realize that both of those sales came from the keyword phrase “LCD TVs Christmas Sale” – meaning that you lost $500 on the alternate advertisement that didn't convert. If you had utilized click tracking from the beginning, you could have nipped the unprofitable campaign in the bud and boosted your ROI significantly.
So as with every other element of website marketing, testing and tracking is critical to a successful holiday PPC promotion. Test your ad copy using different variants and parameters (be sure to set your ad spend to accelerated mode in order to generate data faster), different keyword variations, different bid positions and so on. Then, take this valuable information and use it to inform future promotions, resulting in the highest possible return on your holiday PPC investment.