Fine tune your Google marketing campaigns this holiday season
As the holiday season approaches, it is important to adapt your holiday marketing campaigns to seasonal trends. Failure to do so can cause you to blow through your paid search budget while still falling short of your conversion goals.
During this time of the year, competition is exceptionally fierce for advertising through Google Ads and other advertising platforms like Facebook. Last year alone, consumers spent a total of $33.9 billion between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday in online sales. Not optimizing your campaigns to get them seen can cause eCommerce businesses to miss out on their piece of the pie.
To help you stand out from the crowd and make this your most successful holiday marketing campaign yet, here are a few features to leverage in Google Ads. As an added bonus, we’ve thrown in a final checklist to make sure your campaigns are ready to go live.
Performance max campaigns
Google has been working hard on developing new Performance Max campaigns. But what does “Performance Max” actually mean?
"Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign type that allows performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. It's designed to complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you find more converting customers across all of Google's channels like YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps."
These campaigns apply automation to your bidding, targeting, creative, and attribution, all to help you convert more effectively. Since their introduction late last year, a lot of testing and changes have taken place, and by now most of your Smart Shopping and Local campaigns would have been upgraded to Performance Max.
Google’s seasonality adjustment feature is still available to assist with expected spikes in conversion rates. There is no better time to try this feature out then in the run-up to Black Friday.
“Seasonality adjustments are an advanced tool that can be used to inform Smart Bidding of expected changes in conversion rates for future events like promotions or sales.”
Although Smart Bidding already considers seasonal events, you should use seasonality adjustments for short events with a maximum duration of a week. If you’re launching a sales campaign over Thanksgiving weekend and expect a change in conversion rates as a result, this is the perfect time to implement this feature. It will make Google optimize your bids based on your expected conversion rate — so your campaigns can stay competitive.
Once the set period has passed, your Smart Bidding will go back to your pre-seasonal adjustment settings.
Before populating your campaigns with your keywords, reference Google Trends for some fresh insights. Observe and compare the volume for your top-performing keywords over time. You may notice that certain variations of the keywords peak during the festive season. These are the ones you should focus on. For example, adding holiday modifiers to your top-performing product keywords may be valuable e.g., “Black Friday deals for [your product]”.
If you use Google Shopping ads, use the filter to narrow down the Google Trends results to only Google Shopping searches. This will identify search trends that people are searching for in Google Shopping and highlight the terms that will likely bring up the Google Shopping tab.
Take things to the next level by layering this data with geographical trends. Identifying locations that have a higher search volume for keywords can help you hyper-target your ideal audience and not waste your limited budget on targeting everywhere.
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, customers are looking for the best deals they can get. But how do you know if your discounts stack up to your competitors’?
Within Google Merchant Center, you can discover the price benchmarks for products you and your competitors both sell. This data is extremely valuable, as you can leverage it for your pricing strategy.
Furthermore, having identified competitively priced products, you can use this information to adjust your bidding strategy — increasing the bids for highly competitive items and decreasing those that are less competitive. But keep your goals in mind.
For example, if you’re focused on conversions and conversion value (and using conversion tracking), then the Target ROAS automated bid strategy would be your best option. However, suppose your goal is to increase brand awareness and get ahead of a specific competitor. In that case, you can maximize impressions and outrank the selected domain by using the Target Outranking Share automated bid strategy.
If you resell products from other brands, here’s a tip you might not know. You can leverage the Product Suggestions Report to identify popular products that you don’t currently stock. These are opportunities to capture additional holiday demand.
Make sure you conduct this research at least a month or two before the holidays. That way, you have enough time to speak to your team and merchants about adding items to your product catalog and set up a distribution process.
Are you feeling ready for the holiday rush? Before you launch your campaigns, here’s a holiday marketing campaign checklist to help you boost your success this holiday season.
Google holiday campaign checklist
Whether you’re using Search, Display, Video or App ads, use the below checklist to ensure your campaign is set up for success.
Ensure keywords and text copy are optimized and error-free. This is one of the easiest things to check – but is often missed. It’s important for all copy to be free of typos and grammatical errors, as this can quickly cheapen your brand image.
Audit product feeds
If you are running Google Shopping ads, be sure to audit your product feed and Google Merchant Center ahead of time. Look for any errors or warning messages that you need to address. This will help prevent your account from being suspended during the holiday season.
Let machine learning help
Make full use of Google’s machine learning signals to optimize your campaigns. Leveraging automated bidding strategies is one way to ensure your ad bids stay competitive and cost-efficient. It’s also fantastic at targeting audiences and measuring cross-channel actions.
Sufficient budget coverage
Don’t miss out on opportunities due to limited budget over the holiday. You can use Google Ads’ automated rules to scale the budget up and down based on seasonality and performance.
Adjust for the post-pandemic eCommerce boom
The pandemic changed the way people shop, and led to giant growth in online retailers and hybrid approaches (e.g. being able to return items in-store after ordering online). Stay competitive by enhancing your user experience and SEO to supplement your paid efforts. Also, plan your inventory around the increased demand to minimize customer frustration. You don’t want unexpected out-of-stocks during big sales.
Expand search coverage
Make sure you cover more generic terms like “Black Friday sales”, “Cyber Monday deals”, “Christmas presents”, etc. during windows when people are looking to spend. These terms will help you capture holiday-focused shoppers.
Updates to physical stores
If you’re driving leads to your brick-and-mortar stores, make sure to clearly communicate the most recent updates. This way, your customers won’t be surprised by changes to indoor policies, hygiene and public health rules, store hours, etc.
Apply last year’s learnings
Analyzing the previous year’s data could reveal trends, changes in demand, and more. Use historic data as a resource, but don’t let it limit you. Be sure to adapt to what’s happening in real-time.
Some shoppers won’t be won over by their first encounter with your brand. To ensure a successful campaign, create multiple touchpoints with shoppers. Reach them on multiple channels. The more opportunities you have to demonstrate your value, the more likely they’ll convert.
Follow these tips and checklist and let this be your merriest holiday season yet. Looking for a Google Advertising agency? We’d love to help.