Published September 17, 2021
For some, September marks the beginning of pumpkin spice and decorating for autumn or Halloween. For brands and advertisers, it’s the commencement of Cyber Week and holiday preparation. While Cyber Week and the gift-giving season are still over two months away, there’s no time like the present to construct and optimize your digital marketing strategies.
When planning for the upcoming season, it is important to consider not only your ads but also the user’s experience once they reach your site. To help maximize your growth this year, we have compiled five key focus areas that you and your team should consider while strategizing your holiday plans.
Business being good isn’t always a good thing. Shipping, inventory, and fulfillment are the basic underpinnings of a business that must work flawlessly for marketing & advertising to be worth it – and they are all in flux right now.
1. Finetune the Basics
When shopping for the holidays, customers often find themselves discovering brands they’ve never interacted with before. For that reason, brands need to put their best foot forward starting with the very first ad impression. That may require reviewing and refreshing the basics, including ad copy and ad extensions.
Assessing your ad copy will allow you to pinpoint areas of opportunity to improve your click-through rates and drive more traffic to your site.
Tip: Use these questions to guide your “fall cleaning” checklist:
- Are all active headlines and descriptions still relevant?
- Are you maximizing your headlines and descriptions to use the allotted character space?
- Are you adopting responsive search ads in all ad groups?
- It is recommended to have at least one responsive search ad per ad group with at least five unique headlines and at least two distinct description lines.
- Are there any visible value propositions or promotion codes being used that should be refreshed?
- Are you utilizing ad extensions for all of your campaigns?
- Are you highlighting the best that your brand has to offer?
- If you were to see your ads next to your competitors’ in the wild, could you easily determine why potential customers should pick you?
2. Enhance Your Site Experience
Imagine: You just gained a new site visitor after they saw your eye-catching ad copy and ad extensions. They’re eager to learn more about your promotion and product offerings. When they click through the ad to get to your site, they’re puzzled to see a white screen. After a few more seconds, they say to themselves, “Why is this taking so long?” and bounce from your site.
Time is money! For that reason, site speed is very important to customers and prospects. If a site is running too slow, that can lead to users having a poor experience and cause them to leave the site without purchasing.
Tip: Use Page Speed Insights to get your site speed score. It’s a great tool that provides you with real-time feedback and a list of adjustments you can make to improve your site speed.
3. Take Advantage of Automation
In the past, preparing ecommerce accounts for the holiday rush felt like a laundry list of chores that spanned across the weeks leading up to Cyber Week. While there’s still plenty of preparation to fulfill during these peak seasons, Google’s Smart Bidding has made holiday implementation much more efficient.
Smart Bidding: Google’s way of using advanced machine learning to proactively adjust bids in your campaigns to capture demand in real time.
What’s beautiful about Smart Bidding is that it utilizes signals that are nearly impossible for a human to assess at every minute of every day, including device, user location, day of week, time of day, search query, seasonality, site behavior, price competitiveness, browser, audience – the list goes on.
Some of these signals used to be levers that were blanketed across accounts going into seasonal periods. Now that select campaigns automatically take those into consideration, implementing seasonal adjustments takes significantly less time. That saved time is then free to allocate toward other high-impact initiatives or new strategies. Again, time is money!
Tip: Keep in mind the learning periods that are necessary for automated campaigns to fully optimize. If you’re transitioning to automation for the first time or even to a new automated strategy, consider making the change by September to allow for a full month of learning prior to Q4 seasonality.
While Smart Bidding does take care of bid management, account managers should never assume a “set it and forget it” mentality. Regardless of which Smart Bidding strategy you use, it is important to apply human insight to determine 1) which bidding strategy is best for your specific campaigns and 2) how to continuously optimize the levers that you can control.
Smart Bidding comes in many forms of automated bidding strategies:
- Smart Shopping
- Target ROAS
- Target CPA
- Maximize clicks
- Maximize conversions
- Maximize conversion value
- Target impression share
- Enhanced CPC
The earlier you start automation, the sooner you can optimize and ensure your campaigns will be running smoothly by the time November and December roll around.
Tip: If you foresee a change in conversion rate by 30%+ that will last 1-7 days (i.e. Cyber Week), seasonality adjustments are recommended. If your seasonality is more gradual or will last more than seven days, no manual changes will be necessary because the algorithm already takes that into consideration.
4. Re-Engage With Remarketing
Based on preliminary data analysis conducted by Google, we expect the 2021 holiday shopping season to begin slightly earlier compared to years past. That being said, we can anticipate customers to spend more time researching their shopping lists before making purchases.
Tip: Utilize either Max Conversions or Max Conversion Value bidding strategies to drive the most return on your remarketing campaigns.
Since you likely want site visitors to ultimately come back to your site to make their final purchase, it is important to re-engage them throughout their journey. This can be done across the Google Display Network by utilizing eye-catching static display ads, responsive display ads, and dynamic remarketing ads.
Out of the three, dynamic remarketing ads are by far the most tailored remarketing efforts and often see the highest click-through and conversion rates.
Tip: If your brand sells higher priced items, generally customers will take a longer time to research prior to purchasing. With dynamic remarketing ads, you can create a campaign using your feed to specifically target those who have viewed high AOV items. Work with your Paid Search and Feeds Team if you are interested in implementing this strategy.
5. Push Promotions
As you know, one of the main factors that influences a shopper’s willingness to buy is price. In fact, 77% of shoppers say price is a top consideration in choosing where to do their holiday shopping.
During the holiday seasons, especially Cyber Week, promotions are abundant. While that is great for consumers, for brands it becomes a competition on who is offering the best prices and how we can match those discounts.
Deciding on the discount is half the battle. The second piece is advertising that to the people who are actively searching for your products. Having promotions visible in your search, shopping, and display ads are crucial to driving higher click-through and conversion rates.
Tip: To maximize the visibility of your promotion offerings, use the following as a prep checklist:
- Merchant Center Promotions
- Sales Attribute
- Text Ads
- Ad Customizers
- Callout Extensions
- Sitelink Extensions
- Promotion Extensions
- Display (if available)
We wish you the best of luck in your holiday preparations! If you’re still solidifying your brand’s holiday plans or are looking ahead to 2022 planning, get in touch with an ROI expert to see how we can help. Our proven digital experts been helping brands like yours exceed their digital marketing goals since the dawn of digital and are eager to help your brand identify critical untapped growth opportunities.
For more information and recommendations on how to best set up for success this holiday season, check out ROI Revolution’s 2021 Ecommerce Holiday Success Plan for Brands!