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Digital Recharge | Prepping Your Paid Media Campaigns For the Holidays

November 28, 2016
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Digital Marketer Public Service Announcement: The Holidays Are Coming!

Last weekwe took you through some important Do’s and Don’ts when planning your Holiday PPC campaign. Now let’s walk through setting your AdWords account up to successfully promote your sales.

Check out the video and read along below for more details on each strategy.

Then, we’ll show you how it all comes together with the results of a recent Labor Day sale we ran this year.  Enjoy!

With the holidays around the corner, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Is your brand’s performance cyclically influenced by the holiday season? (Tip #1 from last week’s article, “Look at last year’s performance for reference” will help you determine this as your business’ cyclical nature online is concerned.)
  2. If so, does your brand have a plan to capitalize on the holidays? (Take note of Tip #2 from last week’s post, “Research your competitors to see what types of deals they’re offering”, is a good place to start.)
  3. What channels are you currently advertising through?
  4. What channels are you not using that you should be, even if only during the holidays?

Do you have your answers in mind? If you’ve answered yes to #’s 1 and 2 and your answers to #3 or #4 fall within the digital Paid Media ecosphere, we’ve got a tried and true set of strategies ready to help you succeed.

Research Past Performance

First and foremost, arguably the most important part in setting up a successful holiday campaign is analyzing performance from previous years. When you’re looking back at the past, identify your top-performing products or keyword themes that drove conversions during your sale dates and make sure they are well-represented this year if they still pertain to this year’s sale. Along those same lines, identifying and bidding up on specific locations that have performed well in the past is a good call if your business is geographically-oriented. You’ll also be able to predict when to expect the biggest surges in traffic by looking at day-to-day performance from previous years.

paid media services

Sale-Oriented Keywords

What better way to target searchers looking for a sale, other than “sale” oriented keywords! Our client, Essentia Mattresses, drives on average an additional 4% more traffic and 1.5% more conversions through Brand keywords and top-converting NonBrand keywords appended with the word “sale” during well-known sale dates throughout the year.

Sale-Oriented Ad Copy

When you’re running a good deal, don’t leave your searchers in the dark. Any limited-time promotion active on your site should be advertised across any ad groups relevant to the product(s) or service(s) on sale. But what about more general search terms that don’t speak to a specific product or service? You bet. Include sale ad copy for your general Brand, your NonBrand, and absolutely your Competitor ad groups. If your searcher doesn’t know exactly what they want, let them know you’ve got something close on sale!

  • Message matching
  • Specific numbers ($ off for products under $100, % off for products over $100)
  • Ad copy testing: don’t run sale ads exclusively at first unless it’s a sale ad group; add a variant or two into the rotation until it gains traction, then increase Sale ad exposure

Bidding Strategies

The ad auction will naturally become more competitive during well-known times of the year for running sales. Make sure you’re ahead of the curve here and increase your bids for keywords likely to convert during your sale dates. I make this process easy on myself by setting up performance filters in AdWords to quickly hone in on high-value keywords. Here’s a few good guidelines of filters and bidding strategies we’ve found work well

  • Any Converting keywords between positions 2.5 and 3.5 >>> Increase bids by 15% to move up to position 1.5 to 2.5
  • Top-performing converting keywords between positions 2.5 and 3.5 >>> Increase bids by 35% to ensure position 1.0 to 2.0
  • Any Converting keywords in position 4 or below >>> Raise to Estimate Top-of-Page Bid, giving these keywords good exposure during the sale
  • All Brand Keywords >>> Raise to Estimated Top-of-Page Bid for any that aren’t currently in top positions

When the sale is over, simply refer back to your account’s Change History to undo the bid increase.

Utilize The Countdown Script

The AdWords countdown Script is one of the most powerful advertising tools in the AdWords feature suite. Let searchers know how much longer your sale will run through this script which inserts the number of days remaining in a sale based on your sale’s end date. Countdown Script used to be difficult to use, only through HTML code. Now you’re able to write this in directly to your ad copy which is a huge help!

Extend Your Strategy To Remarketing

Retargeting should be an integral part to your holiday campaigns. In our experience, the most successful remarketing campaigns are ones that push new information to a previous visitor that visitor may not have seen while on-site.

Holiday sales are best-case scenario for remarketing campaigns. Not only are you pushing new information, that information you’re pushing is for an unbeatable sale. Because of this don’t make the mistake of reserving budget only for sale dates. Increase budget for weeks even leading up to your sale in order to grow your remarketing lists as much as possible!

Also set up bid increases for searchers who have been to your site previously through Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA).

How It All Comes Together

This combination of tactics is a winning formula. It’s tested and true, and we’ve thankfully been able to celebrate with our clients regularly by following these guidelines. Essentia, an organic memory foam mattress company and great partner of Power Digital, saw the fruits of this strategy a few times this year. The most notable win was Labor Day this past September where sale dates saw 194% increase in revenue when compared to the same time period before the sale. This was also a 104% improvement over the previous year when these sale strategies were not running!

Revenue weren’t the only thing that saw a lift. We also helped Essentia achieve the following improvements to their campaign during the sale:

  • 54% lift in ad exposure (impressions)
  • 68% lift in website traffic
  • 23% lift in overall conversions
  • 3% lift in Store Locator inquiries
  • 132% lift in items added to the cart

The proof is in the pudding! Hopefully this helps your holiday ad campaigns and leads to a successful holiday season. We’d love to hear your other suggestions in the comments below!


Thanks For Plugging In!

We hope this helps you out! Keep an eye out for our next episode of Power Digital’s Digital Recharge, where we update you on the latest news and trends in the digital marketing world. We’ll be back with more very soon, but if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at!


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