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7 Strategies for a Successful E-Commerce Holiday Plan

By Brinson Thomas in Media Strategy on November 20th, 2012

Keep these seven tips in mind when planning e-commerce holiday search campaigns.

1. Identify Top Sales Dates: It is important for advertisers to be aware of top sales dates and to be prepared to take advantage of them.  By using historical data along with outside sources, we can identify the top sales days from last year’s holiday season and use the information to prepare accounts.  It is especially important on these key days to ensure that campaigns have enough budget, keyword bids are increased, and that appropriate ad copy is in place.  The average day to day budget may not be enough to handle the increase in search volume on top shopping days, causing you to miss out on valuable sales.  Competitors will likely know the top sales days as well, so advertisers should be proactive in boosting keyword bids in order to avoid falling out of prime positioning during peak times.  Be sure that your ad copy is relevant to these top sales days by mentioning “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” and also consider adding a sale/deal to your copy to give your ad the edge over competition.


2012 Expected Top Shopping Days

2. Bid Boosting and Managing Budgets:  The holiday season is known for high search volume, increased competition, and large budgets.  Advertisers must keep a close eye on both their budget and bids in order to remain in a prime placement.  If you are not too limited by budget, be sure to boost bids and push offers prior to key shopping dates to ensure prime placement.  If your budget is limited, consider using day parting to allocate more of it where you stand to benefit the most.

3. Early Bird/Last Minute Messaging Keyword Expansion:  Holiday shopping starts earlier and earlier each year. Take advantage of early bird and last minute shoppers.  Many advertisers focus on the prime period of mid-November to mid-December, completely neglecting the early bird and last minute shoppers.  Take advantage and target these searchers with ad copy specific to them.  Searchers will be more likely to respond to these “targeted” ads versus the average holiday ad.

4. Keyword Expansion:  The holiday season brings into play a new set of keywords.  Searchers will be searching on “holiday” terms, “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday,” as well as “deal” and “coupon” terms. In addition, there’s a strong emphasis during the holiday time period on “free shipping” search terms. Be sure to bid on these keywords to ensure you don’t miss out on individuals who search on your product combined with a holiday term or just on general holiday terms.

5. Utilize Sitelinks: Competition during the holiday season is fierce, so online marketers are encouraged to implement tactics that will grab searchers’ attention and increase their likeliness to click.  Implementing Sitelinks (also referred to as Ad Extensions) adds additional opportunities for ad text (more characters!) and takes up more real estate on the networks.  This initiative just became available to all advertisers on the Bing Ad Network. Sitelinks not only help to increase CTR, but they provide a great competitive advantage, which is always important during heavy shopping seasons.  By creating more clickable areas on an ad, advertisers are able to point searchers to multiple landing pages within their site, as well as reveal popular options and provide shortcuts to products from one quick glance.

During the holiday season, Sitelinks should be targeted towards holiday shoppers in the same way that ad copy tends to be.  We strongly encourage promoting special offers, holiday deals, competitive price points, coupons, and free shipping within Sitelinks.  Sitelinks are easy to change/edit, so leveraging this powerful feature is simple when advertisers need to update sales, special offers, price points, dates, etc.

6. Mobile & Tablet Device Targeting: With mobile and tablet traffic consistently on the rise, it is critical for online marketers to implement specific strategies for these devices in order to ensure strong visibility during the holiday season.  Research shows that 9 in 10 consumers move between devices to accomplish a goal, such as purchasing a product or service. (Source: Google Study, “The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-Platform Consumer Behavior”; http://googlemobileads.blogspot.com/2012/08/navigating-new-multi-screen-world.html) Therefore, being present on mobile and/or tablet devices during the holiday season may easily result in driving additional desktop orders, or vice versa.  Knowing that shoppers on high-end devices such as tablets and smartphones are typically more tech savvy, advertisers can use this to their advantage in several ways during the holiday season:

  • Target by location (message users who are in close proximity to your store),
  • Target by carrier/WiFi (especially useful for telecom companies who want to target “competitor” customers)
  • Target by operating system (message users directly who you know are using an Android operating system)
  • Target by device model, etc.7. Create Urgency in Ad Copy: In order to successfully maximize revenue during the holiday season, online marketers must prepare for the drastic fluctuations in search trends.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and several other key dates, tend to drive some of the highest search activity during the holiday season.  In order to leverage this traffic, create ad copy that combines urgent calls to action with engaging promotional offers.