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How to run a winning PPC campaign this holiday sales season

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The holidays are coming, but will customers be coming to you? The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is nearly upon us, so it’s the ideal time to get your PPC campaigns ready for the inevitable festive rush.

Black Friday is no longer just a U.S. phenomenon, and Christmas sales aren't just for B2Cs. Wherever your company is based and whatever you're selling, the festive period is a great opportunity to offer end of year discounts, attract new business and close deals.

These are the key dates to remember for the 2015 holiday sales season:

Nov 27 – Black Friday
Nov 30 – Cyber Monday
Dec 5 – Small business Saturday
Dec 7 – Manic Monday
Dec 25 – Christmas Day
Dec 26 – Boxing Day
Dec 27-31 – Year End sales
Jan 1 – New Year’s Day

Your PPC efforts over the next six weeks will be the driving force behind sales and success for your business. To help you get your head around advertising during this busy period, we have outlined 7 top tips for prepping your PPC activity for the holidays.

1. Get your website holiday-ready

Although not strictly a PPC-related tip, updating your website for the holiday season and optimising it for conversions is a fundamental part of your campaign. After all, the people who click on your ads are going to end up here.

Ensure offers are highly visible to both your organic and paid visitors by promoting discount codes, fresh content, trials and discounts across your site. On your blog, create festive content targeting season-appropriate keywords relevant to your business. You can direct readers to your landing pages with calls-to-action (CTAs) at the end of your blog posts or in your blog’s sidebar.

2. Jazz up your ad copy

’Tis the season to be relevant. Tailoring your ad copy for your Christmastime campaigns keeps your ads on point and engaging for your potential customers. Whether the copy is for search ads or display ads, you can gear it around the above dates for extra relevance.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about offering a discount for just 24 hours. Create a sense of urgency by stating that this is a limited time only offer, ending soon. Your Manic Monday, Boxing Day and New Year’s ad copy should refer to the most wonderful time of the year with festive and themed lingo when it fits.

3. Implement real-time updates

Using ad customisers, you are able to adapt your search ads to include time-sensitive CTAs, countdowns or information about location-specific pricing. By hooking your inventory up to AdWords, you can also let potential customers know your stock level, which is especially useful if your product is selling out quickly.

This is similar to dynamic keyword insertion, but allows you a lot more control and customisation over what advert specific search queries will return. For users with regularly changing inventories and prices, this makes it very easy to make changes across a whole campaign by simply updating a single spreadsheet.

4. Up your PPC budget, but allocate it wisely

Search ads are useful if your business would naturally target topical search terms over the festive period, such as ‘black friday offers’ or ‘christmas gifts’. For the majority of B2B companies, display ads across relevant websites for your target audience and remarketing campaigns are probably more appropriate.

Promote your limited time only offer, discount or free giveaway to attract or re-engage users, bringing them to your website where they will hopefully convert, if your landing pages and website are doing their job properly.

This leads nicely on to...

5. Build themed landing pages

If your ads are written and designed with the festive period in mind, your landing pages should be too. Visually and textually, they should appeal to your holiday audience. These are the pages that will help drive conversions once a potential customer lands on your website, which means they must be optimised to do so.

Are you featuring a product or service that’s discounted for the holiday season? Highlight this on your landing page as well as drilling down on the key benefits and why people should try/buy today. You may want to give away a free downloadable piece of content as a gift. Have your website visitors fill out contact information and details of their company size, industry and challenges.

6. Make use of mobile updates

Both traffic volume and sales from mobile users has been increasing year on year lately. If you are not prepared for an influx of mobile traffic to your site, it's not worth spending your budget advertising to these users. Make sure that your landing pages are mobile friendly and there is a clear conversion path for those on smaller screens.

If you are happy with your website's mobile experience, create adverts targeted specifically for mobiles and enable location and click-to-call extensions on your adverts, if you are a local business. Consider adding a bid modifier to your AdWords account over the holiday period to target the top positions. There are no sidebar adverts on mobile search, so an ad's ranking is of much more importance on mobile than it is on desktop.

7. Monitor your performance in AdWords

The beauty of running PPC campaigns on AdWords, with the help of an agency, is that you can quickly track, scale and optimise your campaigns. Your real-time results and clickthrough rates can be used to measure the effectiveness of your ad settings and alter them for your next campaign.

For example, you could test out different AdWords settings and bids over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and use your results to inform your strategy and best practices for your campaigns during Boxing Day and end of year sales.

As well as considering your inbound marketing and PPC strategy over the busy holiday sales period, it's the ideal time to think ahead to next year. Prepare your strategy for 2016 with our latest eBook on the 5 next big trends in digital marketing:

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Topics: PPC