Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 22nd, 2010

6 Search Engine Advertising Strategies for the Holiday Season

smart search engine advertising strategies for online holiday shopping season

Black Friday is almost here. Which means most stores are opening at midnight, 3 A.M., or not even closing their doors at all. That’s all well and good for the retail and other traditional commercial ventures, for they are fighting tooth and nail to get back the flocks of shoppers who are “checking out” in the comforts of their own house, lap top in front of them, coffee in hand, bathrobe still damp from the mid-morning shower, and a quiet room to reward them for their smart and efficient purchase. No crowds, no screaming kids, no price checks and no lines!

As a smart business owner with a wonderful website, you must be asking yourself: “how can I get the biggest piece of the pie from online holiday shopping?” Obviously, your first thought was to call Volacci up and launch a fresh and aggressive search engine advertising campaign (No wait, that’s was my first thought!). Seriously, though, if you want to aggressively capture a delicious piece of the online holiday shopping pie, you need to implement smart and efficient search engine advertising strategies for your holiday season. Here are six search engine advertising strategies for you to try on for size:

#1. Research Long-Tail Holiday Keywords

‘Tis the season to query. People get ‘search happy’ around the holidays and will go to great lengths to find exactly what they want for themselves or for someone else. This means long, descriptive and detailed search queries. If your product or service benefits from this type of long-tailed behavior, it will benefit your holiday season if you conduct a little holiday keyword research.

This is where your holiday intuition should come into play. Keyword traffic for holiday terms aren’t blowing up the analytics quite yet, since people are just now gaining search momentum, so use your business sense. This is as easy as adding terms like “Christmas” and “Hannukkah” to the beginning or end to your already-successful keywords and terms. Play around Google’s keyword research tool and have some fun.

Instead of looking at last month’s performances for holiday keywords, you should look at last year’s performance for keywords. Make your decisions based on last year’s holiday season. Was there a specific category that did particularly well in sales? Will this be the same in 2010? Also, look at popular trends to help determine “top sellers” and manage your budget accordingly.

#2. Holiday-Themed Ad and Landing Page Text

Christmas themes are essential for holiday PPC ads and landing pages

This is the time of year that can make or break a business, and implementing successful strategies during the holiday shopping rush can push you over the top. If you have experienced best-sellers, popular items or gift ideas through the year, this is the time to give them a holiday makeover. Promote them as the perfect holiday gift idea for that special someone and write a holiday-themed PPC ad.

Choose your best performing keywords, or the holiday long-tailed keywords you found in your research, and point the holiday-themed ads to the appropriate landing pages. Yes, that means you will need to tweak an existing landing page or create an all new one, with matching strategic messaging: same headline, sub-headline, pricing, images, etc. Consistency is key.

#3. Push Promotions & Gift Ideas

push promotions and gift ideas with your search engine advertising

Are you giving 20% off any purchase over $200? Buy 3 Get 1 Free? With the recent success of group buying services–i.e. Groupon, Tippr, LivingSocial–online shoppers everywhere are searching frivolously for the best deals available. Get those creative juices flowing.

Tempt them with whatever gift ideas you can think of and they may see you as a friend rather than a salesperson. Put them into your PPC ad headline or text copy. Push it through your professional social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, etc. I cannot stress enough: Tweet, tweet, tweet!

#4. Schedule Your Ad Launches for Important Dates

schedule your ad launches for the holiday season

Once you have your keywords chosen with care, holiday-themed ads written, and your promotions primped and preened, its time to schedule ad launch. Create a schedule for the launch of your new ads, paying very close attention to the following dates:

Black Friday, November 26th - with 28 days until Christmas, people will be flocking to stores and browsers in almost every city, town, and county.

Cyber Monday, November 29th - this day is growing more lucrative every year. If you are looking to boost website sales, concentrate a significant portion of your ad spend on this window.

Christmas Day, December 25th - Christmas Day continues to be a huge shopping day for people making exchanges, returns, or buying complementary goods, using gift cards, and buying additional gifts online from their wish list that were forgotten.

The entire week from Christmas Day until New Year’s Day is also a big week. If you have any leftover budget dollars, this is the time to use it. Most people are off for the holidays and are spending whatever cash flow they have left with their friends and families.

#5. Offer and Advertise Free Shipping

offer and advertise free shipping

This strategy is not for everyone, but if it does speak to you, don’t ignore it. If you can offer free shipping, do it, and advertise in your PPC ad that you are. You can also add your logo to the list of companies and websites that offer free shipping through December 17th, on and join brands like Macy’s, Toys ‘R’ Us, Amazon, and many other well-known brands. This site’s traffic will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your conversion rate this holiday season.

#6. Optimize for Mobile Advertising

optimize for mobile advertising

Is your site ready for customers from mobile phones? Believe it or not, but more and more people are trusting their mobile devices and purchasing gifts through mobile sites. Most people than ever before now do research online before purchasing in the store, and if they can’t find it on the shelf, they can still find it on your website, on their phone, in the palm of their hand.

In fact, many shoppers will be doing research on their mobile phones as they shop in stores. You can easily launch a quick mobile advertising campaign that mirrors your exact search engine advertising campaign from Google’s AdWords. You can run the same headlines and text ad copy for both desktop browsers and iPhones, capturing clicks and eyeballs from both at-home shoppers and in-store researchers.

Do you need help implementing successful search engine advertising strategies? Give Volacci a holiday hello and we can help you on your way to a very Merry Christmas!

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