Beat the Competition This Holiday Season With These 5 PPC Tactics

Ryan Larkin
By Ryan Larkin

E-commerce during the Holidays has produced record-breaking numbers year after year. And 2017 is no difference. There are more shoppers than ever online, and you better believe they are planning on getting a large portion of their holiday shopping done via the internet.

So let’s talk about all the paid media tools and tactics you’ll need to capture as much Holiday purchasing as possible during the months that matter most to an e-commerce business.

Forecasting

Before we get started, we’ll want to budget accordingly and also get a sense for how much volume is out there to capitalize on.

If available, prior year’s data should be the first reference when forecasting for the Holidays. Key in on the following with the help of your Google Analytics account:

  • Seasonality Trends (what kind of traffic did your site receive during the Holiday?)
  • Year over Year Fluctuations – Search Interest & CPCs (check in Google Trends as well)
  • Return on Investment & Conversion Rates (to plan your budget accordingly)

It’s important to remember too that Black Friday is now a week long event. So plan accordingly. Also, some things you’ll want to keep a close eye on during the Holidays:

  • Search impression share
  • Impression share lost
  • Average Position
  • Average Cost per Clicks
  • Auction Insights Report (to track competition)

Ad Copy

By the time the Holidays come around you should have a really good idea of what works and what doesn’t in terms of generating higher click through rates/conversion rates. With those learnings in mind, you’ll also what to advertise your deals/sales. So try and use a combination of calling out those deals and the proven ad copy you’ve been using all year.

Related: How to Craft PPC Landing Pages to Rank Better in the Ad Auction

Somethings you’ll also want to use (if you’re not already) are IF statements and COUNTDOWN scripts within your ad copy. With these formulas you can dynamically control what people are seeing with your ads.

The COUNTDOWN script essentially displays how many days are left in a sale:

All you’ll need to do to set this up is write {=COUNTDOWN(”the date your sale ends”,”en-US”,4)}. The en-US represents the language the ad will use (english in this case) and the 4 represents the number of days before the sale the ad will start showing.

IF Statements are also easily applied:

If you write the following formula in your Ad: {=IF(device=mobile,Shop From Your Phone):Shop Healthy} then your ad will read “Shop From Your Phone” when viewed from a mobile Device, and “Shop Healthy” from a Computer/Desktop. It’s important to note that the same character limits do apply here, so check the lengths before you upload.

Keyword Coverage

Brainstorming keyword combinations for both Brand and Non Brand (depending on budget) keywords can have a very positive impact on sales. It’s also worth noting that Non Brand terms can be extremely competitive and costly, especially during the holidays. Adding modifiers like “holiday sale” or “cyber monday sale” to your pre-existing keyword list can be a great way to capture a super interested audience at a cheaper cost. You’ll also want to pay close attention to your existing Broad, BMM or phrase match keywords for potential mining opportunities for relevant search terms.

If you’re running an e-comm business, there’s also a good chance that you’re running Product Listing Ads (PLA’s) as well. I can’t stress enough how important it is, especially now, to make sure your Product Feed and Merchant Center are error-free. We’ve seen Google disapprove entire, multi-thousand product feeds due to a handful of products having minor issues. Since late 2016, Google has been extra sensitive to issues with PLA feeds and we’ve had many, many issues ensuring that product feeds stay active.

On the subject of PLA’s, one thing to also consider is adding verbiage around Holiday Sales into your feed descriptions. PLA’s essentially work by reading your product feed to dictate what search terms they’re eligible to show ads for (sort of like a website and Organic Search, only with a Product Feed and a bid). So if you add Holiday Sale verbiage into your titles, you can essentially add new “keywords” to help your PLA’s show for terms like “holiday shoe sale”.

 

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Related: 5 Things Your PPC Agency Should Always Be Monitoring

Also, a little off the topic of keyword exposure but still relevant due to Quality Score, you’ll want to strongly consider your landing pages and whether or not they provide a good user experience. And if your pages don’t mention the sale, it may not make sense to bid on these keywords as they could negatively affect conversion rates while increasing CTR’s and spend.

Amazon

2017 has been the year of Amazon. They have dominated search engine results page and account for an obscenely large percentage of online sales (43% in 2016, up from 33% in 2015). Another thing to note about Amazon is that 38% of all online shoppers start their purchase as they provide both price comparisons and reviews under one roof.

Advertising with Amazon also typically yields low CPC’s and high Returns due to the nature of the platform – people are there to shop compared to Google where people are mostly there to research.

It is important to understand some of the reasoning why you may not want to advertise with Amazon.

  • You don’t own your data. You will not gain insight into buyer patterns, email address, or any buyer information. This means you won’t be able to re-engage your customer with remarketing or email blasts.
  • Your sales are happening off-site. Which again means you won’t be able to remarket to the most relevant audience. Also you will pay additional overhead (Amazon fee’s) for your product to be purchased online.
  • Increasingly commission costs – Amazon takes a cut of every sale. On top of the cost of advertising. On top of the cost of shipping. On top of the cost of storage (in some cases). If you can coax sales from your site instead, you can save yourself some overhead.
  • Not creating YOUR brand while on Amazon (not fostering brand equity). When you’re advertising on Amazon, you lack the ability to own the user experience. And you’re not building YOUR brand, you’re building Amazon’s brand.

Mobile

Mobile is going to inevitability have an impact on e-comm sales for every company. Even if you don’t accrue a sale online via mobile, you’ll most likely get users researching your product and/or “showrooming”, or the act of comparing prices online when you’re looking at the product in-store.

What the common plight of the Adwords manager typically is, is this: “my conversion rates aren’t high enough” or “my return on ad spend isn’t high enough” etc. There are certainly ways to try and right the ship here.

  • Make sure the mobile experience is as user friendly as possible
  • Make sure your mobile site speed is optimized
  • Use ad copy that re-assures the user that your site is mobile-friendly (using IF statements in your ads)

If all of these factors are taken care of, then you may want to consider alternative methods to attract those mobile clicks.

Related: The State of Mobile Advertising in 2017

Consider bolstering your SEO and local SEO efforts to drive more traffic there. Using social influencers to capitalize on instagram/facebook via mobile devices can be a huge benefit. Using Facebook ads on mobile devices can also be a great play as that is now a mobile-first platform. The bottom line is that you don’t need Adwords to encapsulate high-quality mobile traffic; in-fact, it can be downright inefficient to drive mobile clicks through Adwords.

So there you have it. A semi-complete guide to e-comm during the Holiday Season in 2017! Feel free to continue the conversation with us by dropping a line and happy hunting 🙂

 

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Ryan Larkin is the Paid Media Technical Director at Power Digital Marketing who has 5+ years of industry experience. Ryan has spoken at several events including Media Leaders' Digital Growth Summit, Google's annual E-commerce event in Venice, and San Diego State's Entrepreneur Society's annual Conference in 2016. Ryan is currently focused on growing a variety of online paid media accounts and team members, with an emphasis on audience segmentation and shopping feed optimizations.