For most brands planning their holiday paid search campaigns, the first thing that comes to mind is Google. And for good reason. More than 80 percent of the world’s searches happen on Google, according to NetMarketShare. Between Gmail, Google Maps, Google Apps for Business and more, the search giant is indispensable for many, so it’s critical to be there with your search dollars. However, Google’s not the only game in town. Companies that rely solely on Google AdWords this holiday season are going to fall behind their increasingly savvy competition. Here are some ways to optimize your paid search spend, and places to look outside the (gift-wrapped) box this holiday season.
Google? Great. But Make Use of Other Search Engines, Too
Bing is the world’s second-largest search engine with nearly 7 percent of the market share, and Yahoo commands nearly 5 percent of the global search market. Bing and Yahoo can be good search engines to reach an older audience more likely to use a legacy or pre-installed search engine. Ask, AOL and Excite each garner a tiny percentage of searches, but if your audience gravitates toward those search engines, you should be there, too. Because there is less competition on these non-Google search engines, advertisers get more bang for their buck with cheaper cost-per-click rates and better positioning.
Go Local (Search) When You Go Global
If you have global reach, Google may not be the only answer. China has the world’s second-largest economy and is a newly open country. To reach consumers in mainland China, pass on Google and instead turn to its native search engine, Baidu. Whether you stick with Google or venture onto native platforms like Baidu, it’s critical to hire local marketers to ensure your message comes across as you intend it. Don’t commit embarrassing international marketing fails due to cultural misunderstanding — think Mercedes-Benz marketing in China as Bensi, which translates to “rush to die.”
Make Your Google Spend Count
Google’s latest paid search update — expanded text ads — offers some new features you should take advantage of. You can use two headlines instead of one, and they can be slightly longer — 30 characters each instead of 25. They’ve also combined the two description lines into one and made it slightly longer — 80 characters instead of two lines of 35 characters each. Your text ads are now also automatically mobile-optimized.
Speaking of Google’s Automatic Optimization, Don’t Overlook Mobile Elsewhere
No matter what search engine you market on, brands must optimize mobile purchasing on your websites. Thanks to Amazon’s one-click ordering, the mobile-purchasing era is here. Make it easy and seamless for consumers to purchase on their devices from your website. Don’t make people pinch in and squint to shop, because they won’t. Instead they’ll go to your competition’s mobile optimized website.
Create Seasonal Keyword Lists — Early
Holiday season paid search planning should start months ahead of Black Friday, with a foundation of keyword lists that include highly segmented search terms. Map out user journeys that result in highly granular search terms. Then keep your promise by returning search results that precisely match the terms people are searching for. Someone searching for “waterproof earbuds” shouldn’t land on a page with “noise-canceling, on-ear headphones.” And while you shouldn’t be afraid to A/B test different ads during the holiday season, you should get your ads approved weeks before your campaign starts.
Work Hard on Your Landing Page Content
The holiday season is the perfect time to build urgency into your website content. Provide discounts for a limited number of products each day and show a countdown of the remaining quantity. Use social proof techniques to show how everyone uses your product, and how shoppers can, as well.
With a willingness to embrace these paid search techniques, brands can succeed this holiday season in garnering record-setting sales.
Related story: 6 Tips for Starting an AdWords Campaign