Christmas In July – Preparing for the Holiday Season

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Christmas In July – Preparing for the Holiday Season.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Have you begun discussing holiday season promotions and initiatives with your clients? Why or why not?

  • YES, we prep for holiday year round. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
    • To Heather’s point, we should be preparing for the holiday season all year long, but it’s especially important to start now! – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Absolutely! The sooner the better so we can start writing ads, customizing remarketing audiences, adjusting PLA tags. – Matt Umbro
  • Yes, with clients who rely on huge holiday seasons to promote their biz. Can’t start too early. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Yes! Sooner the better – need to consider traffic increases and budgets too so there’s more than just account work to be done. – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • Mentioned it to most clients this month. Most aren’t ready w/promo schedules yet, surprise surprise! – Logan Durant (@THELoganDurant)
  • Depends upon client, some small ecom sites are so disorganized it can be a struggle to get a Fall Promotion out of them. – Kirk Williams (@KECreate)
  • Have brought it up but have to get thru product launches, site migrations, etc. first. Learnings there will fuel holiday plans. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • It’s also helpful to immediately review Holiday Season in 1st Qu when it’s fresh to develop next year’s schedule. – Kirk Williams
  • Gives needed time to prep for clients with a well planned sales season & time to coach those who aren’t as ready. – Sean Evanko (@sevanko)
  • They might not have promotions but they should clearly have an idea what their strategy is for this holiday season. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
  • There isn’t much holiday prep in my company (no PLA’s) but we’ve been creatively considering it in discussion this month. – Christine Eitel (@ECEitel)

Q2: What new PPC feature are you most excited about implementing for the holiday season? Why?

  • Biggest benefit I found from starting early last year: setting up remarketing audiences early. – Logan Durant
  • Offer extensions as well as site link descriptions to expand on Xmas delivery terms. Review extensions when possible too! – Niki Grant
  • RLSA because I think this will be a nice addition in the research shopping phase. – Heather Cooan
    • I’ve seen very little traffic with RLSA…but I could be doing it wrong. – Matt Umbro
  • Remarketing for Search, Dynamic Remarketing because I can show different audiences different messages/promotions. – Christina Hall
  • Dynamic Remarketing! – Matt Umbro
  • Bing Product Ads. Assuming they can get their stuff together by then. Have my doubts. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • I am looking forward to working with and seeing others work with sitelink descriptions! – Christine Eitel

Q3: How extensively are you writing new copy for the holiday season? For example, does every single ad group get 2 new holiday ads?

  • Depends on client, promos, goals, etc. Sometimes not as much bump as you might expect from ad copy changes. – Jeremy Brown
  • Yes – especially for ecom or anything particularly seasonal. Delivery times are extra important around Xmas so push them! – Niki Grant
  • Yup. All creative gets overhauled for holiday. Text, image, vids, all. – Heather Cooan
  • Specific new ads for high ROI products & options to exchange copy if necessary. – Christina Hall
  • Yes. Though some of my best holiday ads are nearly identical to my non-holiday season ads. Maybe the vertical? – Luke Alley
  • Usually go for “ad set optimization”- keep the regular “winner” in the mix with the new holiday stuff. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • When I did ecommerce in-house, we tested holiday ad copy and it SUCKED. Regular copy did much better. But this was a while ago. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • Ultimately, it still comes down to the sale – if it’s a good deal people will click, with or without holiday messaging. – Matt Umbro
    • We’ve run a number of promo ad copy tests and in and out of holiday season and often they don’t perform much better. – Jeremy Brown
    • Yes, I’ve seen similar. Dove in the first year with all out holiday copy, it sucked. Made slight changes, did much better. – Luke Alley
    • It’s also heavily dependant on the advertiser. I use holiday/gift related SQR’s with conversions as my signal for use. – Heather Cooan

Q4: What PPC feature that you have never tried, or have done little of, are you hoping to work into your PPC holiday preparation?

  • GA remarketing to make audiences as relevant as possible at the crucial points. Better than just ‘visited – didn’t convert’ – Niki Grant
  • Advanced Remarketing Segments with Analytics Based RMKTing! – Andrew Bethel (@abethelga)
  • Display image ads specific for holidays. – Christina Hall
  • FBX will be an interesting addition this year. I’m curious to see how cost/comp. spikes at holiday. – Heather Cooan
  • Bing PLAs. Again, if they can roll out in time for holiday season. – Jeremy Brown
  • The Communications Extension. I would love tips, if any of you have worked with it! – Christine Eitel

Q5: What tools/features will you be using to improve efficiencies in preparation for the holiday season?

  • Kenshoo. – Jeremy Brown
  • I mentioned it earlier, but hopefully scripts. – Matt Umbro
  • Good ol’ Excel! – Logan Durant
  • Bulk bid changes mainly as we don’t really use any external tools. Also Response Tap for call tracking & measuring lead quality. – Niki Grant
  • On call and frequent checks calendar. – Heather Cooan
  • Outlook. – Matt Umbro

Q6: Have you begun preparing your PPC for after the holiday season? Especially for ecomm, how important is January for PPC?

  • Yes, preparing to capture those GC dollars! – Heather Cooan
  • I’ve been surprised with my clients how important January is for some. This is a HUGE part of our strategy. – Kirk Williams
  • Some clients especially health & supplement January IS their Holiday season. Same for B2B in many cases, though doing good top of funnel in Nov/Dec can lead to strong January/February. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • Specifically targeting people who got money / gift cards from family/friends for Christmas and are searching after it’s over. – Kirk Williams
  • Jan is important to adjust budgets & strategies & to pause any holiday only products. – Christina Hall
  • January is important for many clients. Also a time for new budgets,new CMOs, etc. – Jeremy Brown
  • That is a brilliant question. I hadn’t considered it, yet…now I am. – Chrstine Eitel
  • Cold weather clothing retailers are also smack in the middle of high season in Jan. – Heather Cooan
  • For one client we advertised January Deals well ahead of time to pick up the Xmas Cash, Jan nearly beat out Dec in Rev for them. – Kirk Williams
  • Jan is important month for retention. When clients plan next year’s goals, make sure cutting PPC mgmt costs isn’t one of them! – Logan Durant

Q7: What action item are you going to take out of this chat and begin immediately?

  • Take a longer look at segmenting with Analytics Remarketing! – Kirk Williams
  • Focus more on scripts,actually write down an action item plan. – Christina Hall
  • Try to get clients into the “closed beta” for common sense. – Bryant Garvin
  • Looking back into ad blocking issue on DCLCK cookie. GA team told me it was no long an issue. – Heather Cooan
  • External management tools! Any good training sites for these? – Niki Grant
  • Continue to get more clients on Dynamic Remarketing, RLSA, and FB retargeting. – Matt Umbro
  • Def Scripts & GA RMKTing: 15-20% CR for most of my new segments! Helps to have tons of volume! – Andrew Bethel
  • Reach out to clients for their holiday promo plans, and get the ball rolling on planning our own strategy. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Focus more on advanced planning with clients. Get them to think ahead instead of be reactionary. – Bryant Garvin
  • Talk to Bing and see if Bing PLAs will actually be ready for holiday retail. – Jeremy Brown


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrew Bethel (@abethelga)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
• Christine Eitel (@ECEitel)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• Kirk Williams (@KECreate)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Logan Durant (@THELoganDurant)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
• Sean Evanko (@sevanko)

Prepared for Holiday Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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