Now that we’ve made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we have some great insights to help ensure you are pulling all possible levers to drive strong sales volume this year from a paid search perspective.
While this has certainly been a year of returning to normalcy, we are still adjusting to new ways of working and purchasing goods and services. Digital marketers should prepare for another startling holiday season as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced that prices increased 8.3% this year. Battling inflation, 65% of consumers say they are planning to cut their holiday budgets.
With prices up and budgets down, how can we come out on top this holiday season—and beyond? This year’s holiday planning guide will ensure you are adapting your paid search strategy to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.
Paid Search Levers to Pull This Holiday Season:
- Fund Upper Funnel Strategies
Increase brand investment in upper funnel strategies to grow your remarketing pool. Consumer loyalty is at an all-time low—this holiday, 54% of consumers report they will change where they shop this year. 82% of consumers are looking for sales and less expensive ways to shop. This presents a huge opportunity for marketers, bringing new consumers into the brand and providing compelling copy speaking to the value/savings key. With the holiday season getting earlier and earlier every year, increased investment in awareness tactics can begin as early as September. We can leverage YouTube, GDN, and Discovery campaigns to drive increased traffic to the site, which we can then remarket to.
- Leverage First- and Zero-Party Data
Due to increased regulation over the years, first- and zero-party data is more important than ever, and it is essential for brands to begin strengthening their data collection strategy. Paid search marketers should leverage the direct integration for many CRM data providers into Google ads. There are several possibilities for how to effectively use these audiences. Specifically for the holiday season, we can target those audiences directly through GDN campaigns, add as audience signals to Performance Max campaigns, or simply add into Search campaigns with an increased bid adjustment.
- Seasonal Audiences and Keywords
Google has available certain seasonal audiences that make sense to add into your campaigns this year or next: Online Black Friday Shopping, Online Christmas Shopping, and After-Christmas Sale Shopping. Additionally, you should conduct keyword research on potential holiday queries that you can target. For example, if you are a brand selling running shoes, you should target keywords such as “Christmas running shoes,” “running shoes Christmas sale,” etc. The best part of this strategy is that many advertisers forget to target these keywords or simply don’t, figuring the various match types will capture these terms, so they tend to have less competition and a higher return for your brand.
- Seasonality Bid Adjustment
Leverage Google’s seasonality bid adjustments to account for expected changes in conversion rates. Seasonality adjustments are an advanced tool in Google Ads that inform the Smart Bidding algorithm of expected changes. These adjustments are available for Search and Display campaigns using Target ROAS and Target CPA bid strategies, as well as Smart Shopping and Performance Max campaigns using all bid strategies.
- Ad Extensions
Ensure you are using all available extensions to take up additional real estate on the SERP and provide the best experience for your consumers. Promotion extensions are perfect to call out seasonal deals as you can include monetary or percent discounts for your products.
- Drive Foot Traffic
Consumer spending has remained strong this year at brick-and-mortar stores and is expected to continue rising. For the first time, brick-and-mortar sales will surpass $1 trillion. If brands are looking to drive foot traffic during the holiday season, ensure you are leveraging local inventory ads. Also, use location extensions to set a radius around each of your store’s locations. Be sure to set a positive bid adjustment for each radius.
- Launch Assets/Copy As Soon As Possible
By implementing new assets earlier, we better informed the algorithm and drove stronger performance during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Additionally, this year we have been seeing a delay in the approval process by Google Ads. The earlier new ads are in the system, the better.
- Bid and Budget Strategy
If you’re using automated bidding, get more aggressive with your bidding to maintain your positions in ad results. Traffic is not the only thing that will increase during this season—competition will, too. CPCs have already started to rise over the past few months, and bidding strategies will need to adjust in order to keep up. Keep in mind that any changes to bidding and budget should be done incrementally so as not to shock the system. If you are manually bidding, closely monitor your search impression share throughout this season and your search impression share loss due to ad rank. When you see changes in either, make appropriate bid optimizations to improve them.
- Performance Max Strategy
This will be the first holiday shopping season with Google’s new Performance Max campaigns, which means you should not create a new Performance Max campaign specifically for the holiday season because the learning period will take too long to ramp up. If we need to support promotional items through Performance Max campaigns, we have two options: We can create a new asset group for the promotional items or layer the new promo creative and extensions into existing asset groups. If a new asset group is created, do so in an existing campaign so that the product-level historical performance will be utilized.
- Review Historical Performance
While the past few years have been a rollercoaster for e-commerce strategists, to say the least, historical performance data is still essential to this year’s strategy. To understand your optimal budget for this holiday, we recommend looking at your holiday spend from the last few years. Pay close attention to how much your campaigns spent and what the CPCs looked like. Plan for significant increases this year and ensure you have enough budget to support the increased demand.
At Stella Rising, our Paid Search team prides itself on our flawless planning and execution, especially during the holiday season. As Google Premier Partners, we receive exclusive access to Google products and advanced marketing insights, as well as direct support from the Google team to assist during the holiday season and all year long. Connect with us today to learn more about our effective approach to paid search.
Sources: eMarketer, “How Economic Stress and Inflation Are Changing Consumer Behaviors,” 2022, eMarketer, “US Holiday Shopping 2022,” 2022.