Christmas Time PPC for B2C

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{Editor’s Note: This is one of a set of articles on ways to approach and prepare for the traditional Holiday Shopping season. I’ve dubbed these articles as “The Marketer’s Perspective” and “The Analyst’s Perspective.” A smart online marketer will use both of these approaches. Here’s the Marketer’s Perspective — Michelle}

In taking care of my nephew a few years ago I remember watching the movie, “The Lion King” and had one of my first Epiphanies in relation to PPC. The song “Be Prepared” is narrated by the evil Scar as a mantra for that which is to come. As non-intellectualized as this silly diddy may sound, it is the exact “Mantra” that should be used for PPC in relation to the Christmas Holiday Season as well as the other seasonal shopping cycles through out the year.

Christmas for most B2C retailers is by far their busiest time of year. Consumer impulse spending behavior, while it may slightly vary year to year, is generally highest for the Christmas Holidays. Because of this, intelligently designed PPC Strategies should take full advantage of the “shortened buying cycle” for consumers during this time. Not only is the buying cycle significantly shortened, but there is also a dramatic increase in online sales. In fact Christmas is the time that even “Grandma Janice,” who still doesn’t even understand what this whole “World Wide Web” thing is, will make online purchases for her grandkids! With this in mind, here are some suggestions for implementing seasonal PPC strategies:

1. Create your online campaigns early!

In measuring the effectiveness of PPC campaigns you need to be able to test, test, and re-test. Start formulating your Christmas Campaigns in September (seriously!) so that you have time to test out a couple of variables and hit them hard by mid-November. As the old saying goes, “The Early Bird Gets the Worm.” The same is true for PPC. Don’t let your competitors get a jump on you for the holiday season. Find out what works before they do so that you can capitalize and see the best ROAS!

2. Try out the Content Network

Many retailers, for whatever reason, run as fast as they can away from the Content Network. Sometimes this is due to poor experiences in ROAS and sometimes it’s just due to inexperience with the network itself. Realize that during Christmas EVERYONE is looking to buy something! This means that there will be a lot of shopper traffic that could be HUGELY beneficial to you. If you are wary of testing out the entire network, start with a very limited budget, find out which sites convert versus which ones do not, and go from there. Placement Targeted Campaigns can also show great results during this season as well.

3. Launch Image Ad Campaigns EARLY

Image ad campaigns are campaigns geared towards the Content Network in which you actually upload an image that will appear as an advertisement. Quite a bit of the time these are used for branding purposes. While I feel very strongly that PPC should not be used for branding itself, getting your name out there for the holiday season is EXTREMELY important. In fact investing a little in September, October on banner ads to get yourself recognized in your industry could definitely pay dividends at Christmas Time. You MUST be patient with this though. More than likely you are not going to see the return on your original investment until the Christmas season comes along. This strategy will not necessarliy work for everyone so really examine what type of market share and brand recognition your product enjoys currently.

4. Test New Strategies Early

Ever tested out dynamic text insertion? Try it out with a product list. Regional targeting? Try it out on a new campaign. Actually trying a few strategies you normally do not use could be VERY beneficial for you. The important aspect of this would be to test them early (once again) but give your test enough time to see statistically relevant data. You shouldn’t arbitrarily run a test for 48 hours and decide that you have relevant data. Realistic results can take weeks to realize depending on the share of the search volume you can gain during your test. Also, note that if you see a SLIGHT increase in conversion rate in October it could mean 500X in December

In conclusion, don’t let this holiday season sneak up on you. Get ready now by testing new strategies and get your Holiday Retail in order. Better yet, pull your statistical data from the last 5 years if you have it available.