PPC Teams Getting Prepared for Q4 + the Holidays

By Shelby Higgins

The holidays are an exciting time for all parties involved including businesses, marketers, and consumers! However, because it can also be extremely stressful for all parties involved as well, we have created a list of tips and tricks to help Paid Search Marketers stay on top of Q4 and completely crush it.

Know All Important Dates

First thing first, you want to establish all important dates including holidays, promotional days, etc. Certain days that have higher volume, you are going to want to bid more aggressively on and adjust your budgets accordingly.

–       Thanksgiving: November 22th

–       Black Friday: November 23rd

–       Cyber Monday: November 26th

–       Hanukkah: December 2nd

–       Green Monday: December 10th

–       Free Shipping Day: December 15th

–       Christmas Day: December 25th

–       Post-Holiday Promo Period: December 26-31st

Increase Daily Campaign Budgets

After establishing specific dates that are important, you will want to adjust your daily campaign budgets accordingly. The holidays are historically known to be the most highly trafficked time of year, which can put marketers on edge in the months prior; however, this can also be a very opportunistic time of year as well for companies and marketers with all of the volume coming through! Because of the increase in search traffic and online purchases, daily budgets for campaigns will need to be increased to accommodate the surplus. This should already be accounted for in your overall spend for Q4, and can be more granular by seeing which products/campaigns spent more and performed better in years prior.

Make Bid Adjustments

Holiday season comes with higher volume, as mentioned above. You are going to want to increase your max CPC (cost per click) for various keywords and products because there will be a great deal of competition. If you have access to old data from previous years, it would be beneficial to check trends and set benchmarks of old max CPC’s for yourself to be able to go off of. When doing this, keep in mind some of the Do’s and Don’ts for your Holiday PPC Campaign.

PPC Forecasting Tool

Location, location, location. When it comes to location bid adjustments, you will want to make changes to your account regardless if you’re a brick-and-mortar store or are an ecommerce client with no physical storefront. Both situations are completely suitable for bidding upon certain locations and increasing your chance of making a sale.

If you are a brick and mortar store, you should increase bids on mobile devices. More specifically, people who are in a particular radius of your business, who have searched for your keywords. By taking this approach, you have consumers with high intent that are already searching for your terms, and are in close proximity to your store. This gives you the ultimate power and allows you to tailor the ad copy to your search ad to be extremely targeted towards this type of consumer. It could read something to the extent of, ‘Stop by our storefront just around the corner and get what you’ve been wanting!’. These prospects are going to be extreme bottom of funnel and ready to purchase with very high intent, and you should execute! Read more in our related article about why understanding search intent is key to engaging your target customers.

On the flipside, if you are an ecommerce client with no physical location, you can still adjust your location bids! With this, you’ll have to use historical data to steer you in the right direction. Depending on which areas brought you the highest sales, you can increase bids on those specific locations. These areas you target can be regions, cities, or even zip codes!

Update Keyword Lists with Holiday & Deal Modifiers

Throughout Q4, there are various holidays, and consumers’ search queries will slowly be transforming. A lot of queries starting beginning to mid-November will start including things like “holiday sales on ______” or “holiday gifts ______”. An overwhelming amount of queries will include holiday variations, so you will want to account for this. By taking top-performing keywords and adding some sort of holiday modifiers, you will acquire a much larger volume of queries.

Related: Using Programmatic Data to Optimize Search

Not only are customers going to start searching for holiday-related terms, but consumers are also hunting for DEALS. During this period of time, the single motivation is to see how much product you can get for the lowest possible price. Knowing this, you should do some keyword research around different deal modifiers including deals, coupons, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. This will again, make a huge difference in search volume around this time of year.

If you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start in terms of keyword research, check out our related article: Keyword Research Tips for the PPC Beginner.

Update Holiday Messaging in Ads

The idea of this goes hand-in-hand with updating your keyword lists with holiday messaging. You’ll want to incorporate different holidays during their specified time period into your ad copy. Take it a step further by not only adding in the specific holidays, but also discount-oriented copy as well. By adding this type of messaging, it will effortlessly grab the readers’ attention that is looking for holiday deals (which is 99% of the population). Various studies show consumers have the highest response rate when exposed to messaging along the lines of “discounts/sales” or “free shipping.”

Little Quirks to Keep in Mind

Engine Lag Time Differences: Although Bing Ad has improved from years prior, it’s still slower in accepting bid changes in comparison to Google Ads.

  • This will be something to keep in mind when wanting to ramp up spending, and also pull back on spending.  You will want to give yourself a little more of a buffer when increasing/decreasing spending.

Time Zones: West Coast is 3 hours behind East Coast = ads turn on at 9pm versus 12am when scheduling times for ads

Related: Increase the Success of Your Paid Search Campaigns with These Landing Page Best Practices.

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