This Holiday Make Sure Your Business Gets Paid (Search)

The holiday season is going to be quickly upon us!  I don’t know about you but I am getting excited and saving my pennies for presents.  In light of my passion of Christmas, I have started investigating various promotions with and for my clients.  This is the right time to start thinking about the holiday shopping season as it starts in late September.

Today, in my research, I came across a great guide that can help to ensure your account is ready:  Paid Search For Boosting Holiday Season Profits.

Studies show that conversion rates increase in the weeks leading up to the holidays, with overall conversion rates increasing an average of 42%!  We may not see this lift in sales till November but with buyers researching and not only clicking more often on ads, but also converting, merchants see a tremendous lift in overall profits as a result of the compound effect of these behaviors.  In order to build our holiday paid search campaigns for 2010, behavioral observations like these can serve as guide posts for planning budgets, bids, promotions and even management strategies.

Here are 5 tips from this article that will help get our accounts ready:

  1. Boost bids going into the holidays: The article suggests reviewing trends from last year to put together a schedule for boosting bids based on where we are in the holiday calendar.  Research shows that conversion rates typically increase anywhere from 25% to 50% over November in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.
  2. Adjust budgets and max CPCs to handle holiday volume: We want to make sure no keyword falls below the first page during this time due to budget constraints.  During the holidays you will see a trend of increased queries, clicks, and even cost-per-click!  This is a big one for us:  We need to make sure our clients budgets are set so that we don’t run into a situation where our clients ads are not showing during key times in the month.
  3. Plan for break-out items: Now this is a strategy I haven’t seen done but could work.  What we can do is “break out” products that sale really well during Christmas.  Obliviously, we won’t know exactly what will sell out, but we can plan to manage hot items as they arise.  This article suggests setting alerts to identify groups or keywords hat see large increases in click-through and conversion week over week. Once we identify those high performing products and terms, we can consider expanding keyword buys around these products and terms by using search query reports to identify words that users are typing in to reach your site.
  4. Pay attention to ground shipping cutoff dates: According to the National Retail Federation Survey, nearly 80% of retailers plan to offer free shipping promotions this year.  Let’s talk with clients if this is something they can offer as well!
  5. Manage bids to inventory: Again here is where we come into play.  We need to ensure we keep up to date on inventory levels on items that are tied to keyword buys.  Research shows that conversion rates fall for items that are out of stock, as well as for items with limited selection available.  If you see dramatic drops in conversion rates this can indicate that customers are finding either low inventory or limited selection.  Dampening or turning bids off wholesale when you reach a low inventory or limited selection situation will ensure that we don’t buy costly clicks that won’t convert.

I know we are still a couple of months away but it’s a good idea to start planning for the Holidays today!