A 5-Step Approach to Managing Holiday Search Campaigns
Holiday search campaigns already should be paying dividends, but yours may not be paying off as much as it can be. So below, I offer five steps to help you double-check your efforts for potential oversights.
1. Plan. Understand your target consumers and their search paths through the holiday purchase cycle. This helps create the most relevant and compelling holiday shopping experience for customers. You can use industry research while considering the following questions:
- Who should I target?
- Where should I target?
- What messaging should I use?
- When will prospects shop versus buy?
2. Increase SEO visibility. Correcting problems with a website’s search engine optimization takes time. Move fast to audit a site’s performance and diagnose critical shortcomings; then do what you can to correct them in the limited remaining time. Whether outsourcing or going it alone, start by asking yourself if search engines are doing the following:
- finding your most important pages;
- showing the "right" pages for your site;
- ranking your site above competitors’ for top keywords; and
- sending qualified traffic to your site.
Also, determine if you're optimizing for the right mix of keywords and whether your site achieves maximum exposure on search engine results pages.
3. Organize your paid search campaign. Your paid search campaign structure must be nimble and flexible to effectively manage holiday inventory as you run out of some products and develop surpluses of others. Flexibility helps you capitalize on conversion opportunities, preserve budget when costs per clicks become too expensive and increase relevancy. Organize keywords into tight campaigns and ad groups to streamline bid, keyword or copy changes around specific keyword groups.
Also, manage mission-critical holiday terms in a separate campaign. These bread-and-butter terms that drive most of your holiday sales should be managed by the minute.
4. Create relevant offers. Every offer should be relevant to the search query. Pay close attention to falling clickthrough rates. Sudden drops often signal a competitor has switched to a more compelling offer, and you should match or exceed it if possible. If not, promote a different value proposition in your copy, such as free shipping or messages about higher quality. The faster you react to ensure your message is the most unique and compelling, the better.
5. Optimize landing pages. With paid and natural search programs in place pushing consumers to your site with relevant offers, keep in mind that driving traffic to your site is only half the battle. Next, leverage resources to maximize conversion while you have consumers’ attention.
Optimized landing pages, for example, are one of the most important factors of your on-site experience to improve conversions. Every landing page employed in your search campaigns should address at least the following four visitor considerations:
- Relevance: Is this what I asked for?
- Value: Why am I here and not somewhere else?
- Entry point: Where should I start?
- Difficulty: How easy will this be?
Craig Greenfield is the vice president of search and performance media for Chicago-based Performics, the performance marketing division of the Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center. Reach Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.