The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

Posted by in Search Marketing (SEO) on October 25th, 2007 12 Comments

Tis Christmas approaching, and the time is not for debating whether Santa Claus exists or not, the time is for you to adapt your PPC campaign for Christmas and acquire a chunk of your competitors’ (in this case, Santa’s) customers. This year, a record amount of Britons will avoid the high street and shop online, spending an estimated £13.6 billion in the run up to the 25th, with an average spend of £509 per person ($1,040).

But how do you make sure you get a significant increase in profits during this busy period? You need to optimise your campaign for the month of December, and do it early so you can tap into your competitor’s market. PPC is all about differentiating yourself from the rest of the crowd, and here is some comprehensive information on how to do exactly that during the christmas period. I have structured this information in three parts:

1. Christmas Keywords

2. Christmas Ad & Ad Text design

3. Christmas Landing Pages

1. Christmas Keyword Optimisation

Well of course you know that people spend a lot of money online during Christmas, and people search for Christmas-related terms like Cards, Chocolates and Tree. But what are you actually doing about it? And are you doing it right? There are benefits to adapting your keywords list for Christmas, but only if you do it correctly and don’t start throwing money down the drain like in this example where an advertiser has obviously entered Christmas a broad keyword:

Xmasnegatives The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

Remember to stay targeted, and you will keep a high CTR and conversion rate.

Another mistake is to create a new adgroup/campaign for Christmas: take advantage of your existing quality score, and optimise your campaign one ad group at a time. That way, you are sure to get decent positioning as well as a lower min CPC.

e-Commerce Sites: In your keyword list, you should have some general terms, and some long tail phrases. Use these generic keywords and within double up on their potential by adding Xmas and Christmas before them, and adding them to your adgroup as broad matches. Do not delete the old generic term, as you want to keep its quality score and low bid (which you have achieved over the course of the year) instead create new phrase-matched keywords and make sure their match type does not clash with your other terms. Also, use broad match for generic terms such as ‘Xmas presents’ or ‘Christmas gift’. That’s if you sell these products of course.

Financial Sector: Christmas is a time when money is on everyone’s mind (unless you are in this list), so don’t think that you should decrease your ad spend, instead make your service relevant to the time of year: Bid on keywords such as ‘xmas loans’, ‘xmas mortgage’, ‘pay in instalments xmas’ and other related terms to make sure you get the people who need money before Christmas to click on your ads and have a look at what you are offering. You can even tailor your products to christmas, offering lower rates as ‘presents’ for example:

Xmasloan The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

Recruitment industry: In this area of business, September to January can be a very quiet period as people have just come back from holidays and are now looking forward to Christmas. A boom in applications occurs around January, so potentially, you could get cheaper keywords before Christmas; make sure you take advantage of this. Step ahead of the competition and advertise for ‘Christmas and Xmas jobs’, two generic terms that will bring the seasonal worker crowd to your website. Later, we will see how your ads can even entice viewers even more.

Travel Industry: Here, there is a real and competitive market that battles it out to get the best offers out there. Just like the recruitment industry, September-January is pretty quiet for the travel sector but there are still many people who miss the summer sun, and could be persuaded to spend Christmas on a beach. Make sure you include keywords ‘Xmas breaks’, ‘Xmas holidays’, ‘Xmas in the sun’, ‘hot Xmas’ in phrase and exact matches. Later down the line, your ads need to pull the consumer even harder so make sure they are highly enticing.

Local Businesses: During this time of year, internet and search engines can create huge amounts of custom for local businesses. As people search for Xmas office parties, hotels, weekends away, caterers and present ideas, make sure you come up in the Google map listings if you are a small business offering local services. Have a look at the competition, and describe your service in the headline instead of the ad text: In Google maps, there are much fewer results displayed, so if your ad title matches the user’s exact search query, then you will be in for a guaranteed conversion.

2. Christmas Ad & Ad-Text Optimisation

General Advice: You will notice that if you do a search for almost any search query containing the word Christmas, most of the sponsored search results will be in bold. If all of your niche’s competitors’ ads appear to have bolded titles, it might an idea not to have one: You will stick out much more if you look different. Tip: you can use mispellings to make sure you will never be in bold, but make them subtle eg: Chrislmas works quite well.

I have seen many ads that display “Christmas 2007″ or “Christmas 2007 Holidays”. I belive adding 2007 will not help acquire viewers as they would probably think “well, obviously it’s 2007…” At the end of the day, I believe it’s a waste of characters.

For E-Commerce Sites: There are so many people browsing online shops during the months of november and decemeber that your ads not only need to get the viewer to click through, but they also need to place him into a purchasing frame of mind if they are to convert. In this respect, you should use every single character left on your ad text to help convince him that your shop is the best place to buy. Avoid offering product-specific discounts in ads trigered by generic terms, instead offer site-wide incentives and promotions on a range of products. Incentives to buy will convert much better than simple product descriptions:

XmasCards The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

For the Financial Sector: People will still be searching for financial services during Christmas, so make sure your ads display the best possible offer in order to be the one who will be financing gift lists through your loans and credit card deals. Your ads should diplay messages about the benefits of using your service before Christmas: ‘Loan in time for Xmas’, ‘Response guaranteed before xxx’…

For the Recruitment Industry: As explained previously, there is a slowdown in applications before Christmas, so you need to explain to searchers in your ad text why they should apply now, and what are the benefits. It could be the fact that you have Santa jobs going on at the local supermarket, in which case you can come up with some funny creatives, but generally you can use sentences like this: “A New job for Christmas”, “A New job is the best present!”, “apply now, get a job by Xmas”, or even “New Year Resolution: Get a Job” if you wish to go on the offensive.

Here is an example of non-optimsed and partly optimised ads:

xmasjobs The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

For the Travel Industry: Anyone in the northern hemisphere searching for holidays and christmas around september-november is understandably cold and looking for a warm, hot christmas, whether it be in a lagoon or in a chalet in the Alps (October is all about rain in England…). To convert, your ads will need to make the searcher picture himself at Christmas: is he going to be at the in-laws’ traditional Christmas lunch, or sipping Sangria? Use ad text like “Spend Xmas day in a lagoon”, “Cold? It’s 36 degrees in Florida…”, or intrigue them with something “This year, Pina Colada-style Christmas!”.

Here is a good ad, but there is nothing compelling here, just a description of what there is to offer. I don’t really want to click that do you?

xmastravel The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

Local Businesses: To get a maximum CTR and conversion rate, and to keep your media spend as low as possible, make sure your ad describes exactly what you offer, what your niche is, and brag your USPs. I have become immune to internet advertising, but if I ever click a sponsored result, it’ll be a local listing describing exactly what I am looking for in the ad title.

Also, make sure paying on your website is easy, that way you can get express bookings!

Xmaslocals The Ultimate Guide to Adapting your PPC campaign for the Christmas Season

3. Christmas Landing Page Optimisation:

For this section, all of the usual techniques of landing page opimisation should be used before your Christmas ‘add-on’ is installed: Simple navigation, bullet points, call to action, big button! At this time of year, you must place a seasonal greeting on the page. This is England guys, we are very polite over here, and our customers are too! One of the most important things for Christmas is to make it easy to pay for your service, you make sure you have a steady payment program/structure on your website, because there is nothing as infuriating as finding a great product and not being able to buy it.

Here are some more advanced techniques for optimising your landing page:

For E-commerce Sites: Design different landing pages. One for your general keywords, and then some product specific ones. If you have many products, you want to send people searching for generic terms to a page where they can browse this category of products, ie a page with a search or browse function. If your site is sticky enough, it should generate some good conversions. For product-specific landing pages and long tail search queries, send your users to individual product or product category pages that bear the traditional landing page attributes. However for Christmas, my advice is to add a comparative table on your landing page: people will browse a lot before they buy, so if you do the browsing for them, they will trust you and purchase you products in large quantities.

For the Financial Sector: If your user is coming from a seasonal keyword such as “Christmas loan”, make sure you ‘calm them down’ by explaining that with your service they will be able to afford their gift list or planned holiday. It also is a good idea to compare your product on your landing page, not only with your competitor’s but also with yours previous to your offers.

For the Recruitment Industry: Again, you should have two types of landing pages. For generic terms, make sure you explain on your landing page why it is a great idea to apply/get a new job before Xmas. A great way to convert is to explain on your landing page that “if you apply now, you could be offered a job within the week and start after Xmas, thus not using any of your entitled days off during this holiday!”

For the Travel Industry: The way to design landing pages for the travel industry, is to either do it by geographical location (carribean, europe, south-east asia) or by type of holiday (round the world, adventure, spa). So depending on where the searcher wants to go, write up some key points that would make YOU dream of going there… “It’s 39 degrees in Barbados on Christmas day…”, “You can’t be cosier than in a Chalet on the Mont Blanc…”. Basically anything beating the thought of your in-laws should work if your landing is inspiring enough.

Provided you have some good keywords optimised for Christmas, some great ad text that attracts the eye, and a landing page that converts as well as Cat Stevens, you should see some great stuff happening to your campaign this Christmas! The increased amount of money spent online means you have more chances to make a profit during this very busy season, no matter what you sector and niche are.

I would be interested in other people’s comments about optimising for Christmas or other seasons, so let me know if you have any converting techniques, or if you implement these, track them and we can compare our data after Christmas!

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