As we enter the last two months of 2020, with our holiday music on full blast, we wanted to share our PPC Holiday Checklist with you. Not only is it the most wonderful time of the year – it’s also the most wonderful time to ensure your digital advertising doesn’t miss a beat.
- Develop a content calendar and an action plan – Creating a calendar or excel document (we like Google Sheets for easy updates) that showcases all your promos, sales, run dates (including time zones!) and approved messaging in one place is key for a PPC manager. If you don’t have a document like this, get to work! You won’t be sorry. From this, you’ll want to create an action plan for each promotion – how will you support it? Adding promo extensions, sitelink extensions, callout extensions and price extensions are all popular ways to showcase your promos. Additionally, you can consider ad swaps for longer campaigns where you don’t expect a drop to quality score that you usually get with quick change that runs over a short flight. You might also consider a display campaign, where you run sequential messaging or offers for particular audiences.
- Shipping times are SO important – Along with having a content calendar, it’s also very important that you are up to speed on shipping cut off dates and that this information is shared prominently in your ads. If it’s that last day to purchase in order to get a gift in time for Christmas, create that urgency by telling your searcher that in your ad. When it’s too late? Remove that messaging, as no one likes to be let down on the holidays. A cool way to do this is leveraging Countdowns in your ads.
- Run some prospecting/awareness campaigns to kick things off – If you typically run pretty slim campaigns, now is the time to open things up and run some prospecting or awareness campaigns – ideally through the Display Network or YouTube. Get that cheap traffic now to build your remarketing lists for the holiday season.
- Develop campaigns for the researcher or gift giver – Right around this time is when we start to see searches coming from those who are looking for gift ideas. Make sure your brand has the wanted coverage on terms like “best gift for husband,” “best present for wife,” “best place to buy xyz,” “top gifts for a techie,” etc. Additionally, when you think of your gift giver, they may be the exact opposite of who you typically target. Ensure your campaigns aren’t too restrictive by age, gender or other demographics, and consider how your messaging might differ and what would drive the gift giver to purchase.
- Add all relevant audience lists as observations on your campaigns for smarter bid opportunities – Whether you have first-party lists like your cart abandoners, site visitors, etc. or third-party lists like In-Market Audiences, Affinity Audiences or other kinds of lists, now is a great time to make sure you’ve added them as audiences to your search campaigns. Start to collect data now, with a goal of learning if some of these audiences outperform the baseline for the campaign. If so, be sure to implement bid adjustments on these audiences so that your ads show more often or in a higher position when your keywords are being searched by someone in one of your key audiences.
- Open up your bids and budgets – It’s a really good idea to have a game plan for your business or client that sounds something like this – “Our budget is $10K for December, but we can surpass that, with no cap, if we are hitting a ROAS of at least $5.” Holiday budgets are usually set higher, of course, but sometimes things are really taking off and your PPC Manager, who is crushing it from their couch on Christmas Eve, is going to want to be able to make the call to keep spending without needing to call in the rest of the team for approvals. Additionally, as we near certain holidays – especially Black Friday – set your daily budgets WAY higher than you’d expect. If you’re able to – tune in every hour or so during the key periods and refresh the UI to ensure you’re not capped out and that the higher budget is performing as it should.
- Consider bid strategies – If your accounts allow for it, you may consider testing some bid strategies now, before the holiday influx of traffic. The holiday shopping frenzy will likely skew and misinform your strategies a bit (though surely Google must account for that in some way) as we back off of the holiday upswing, but it’s good to make sure your bid strategies have been running and are doing well for a couple weeks before everything goes nutty!
- Understand cross-device conversions and open up mobile – If you are a retailer that typically doesn’t spend much on mobile, it might be time to switch your strategy. If it’s because your mobile experience stinks – get to work on making this a top initiative to get fixed before the holidays. In years past, we’ve found the majority of searches actually start on mobile devices. You can just picture it, right? People at home, curled up near the fire (me, sitting in 85-degree weather in Florida) scrolling through their phones searching for that perfect gift for their significant other. In 2020, mobile is going to be much bigger than any other year, so be prepared. If you normally limit mobile spending with bid adjustments, consider lifting that as people are spending less time at the computer.
- Check your shopping feed – If you are using Google or Bing Shopping campaigns at all, definitely make sure your team is checking in on the feed in Google Merchant Center regularly and getting the web team to help with any errors. Oftentimes shopping feeds will be riddled with errors, and it’s important that these are rectified so that each product is eligible to have a shopping ad if and when it is searched. Also, if you are going to have items on sale, do make sure that you pass sale prices into the feed as well.
- Take a deep breath! – I have spent YEARS running PPC campaigns during the most hectic Q4 seasons you can imagine. It’s actually the first time I noticed gray hairs popping up! My best piece of advice is to have a plan, and to take a big, deep breath. If you have times you need to work, or check in on your campaigns, let family know far ahead of time and give them warnings when you’ll need to pop on your computer for a minute. The more you plan ahead; the smoother things will go (typically). If things go haywire, be sure that you’ve got someone to contact, ask questions of, or get approvals from that is ACCESSIBLE – you shouldn’t be in this alone and a communication plan is important.
All in all, we love the holiday season. If you’re in retail though, whether at a crowded shopping mall or even behind the computer running digital campaigns, things can get a little crazy at times. What else can you add to this checklist to make sure you’re ready?