PPC Chat Streamcap – Ringing In The PPC Holidays

This week, Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) was able to host just 30 mins of the PPCChat; however, James Svoboda (@Realicity) stepped up to finish of the 2nd 30 mins in style, chatting on the topic “Ringing In The PPC Holidays.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Have you started advertising for the holidays yet? If so when did you start?

  • Started Halloween products a little while back and mixed in some/little thanksgiving and christmas as well. (decorative client). – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Certain campaigns with holiday deals, yes. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Christmas started in September. (Organised in August.). For christmas I’m specifically speaking about travel – where lead time is key. – Bassovita (@bassovita) +
  • “The Holidays” no (but doing a lot of planning)…not to say there aren’t more current holidays/seasons that we are targeting. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos) +
  • No not till start of November. – Naomi Rennie (@naomirennie)
  • Getting closer, probably in the next two weeks with a holiday guide. – Kristi Davis (@KristiBug)
  • Have 1 client we ran a very successful Thanksgiving Sale PPC Promo last year that will run again this year starting week prior. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Ideally I like to start early to mid October, but isn’t always the case. – Matt Umbro
  • Currently in planning stages but has to do more with vertical than timing. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • Gifting messaging/holiday campaigns launch when gift finders launch on-site (1st wk of Nov) – important to mirror msg on-site! – Emily Las (@emlas)
  • Some clients offer promo codes for the holidays, I try and get them to start these codes now so we can get best return. – Matt Umbro
  • Depends on the clients’ offers and specials. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • I start holiday advertising once I see Kmart’s layaway commercials. – Eric Farmer (@click_eric)
  • Yes I’m already building out holiday campaigns for some clients ready to kick off from next week onwards. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)

Q2: What results have you seen when creating campaigns and/or ad groups around generic terms such as “holiday gifts” or “gift idea?”

  • Mostly smaller clients, so we have to be more specific for a better ROI. – Mark Kennedy
  • Bad, bad, bad Completely unqualified, mostly a shot in the dark. – Chris Kostecki +
  • Poor QS, lower ROI. quality of traffic can go either way. – Andy Groller
  • To be honest not great results, these terms tend to be expensive and are broad, you hit the buyer in the exploration cycle, not necessarily the buying cycle. Definitely good for brand awareness, but not ROI. – Matt Umbro
  • Low CTR/QS/ROI, too Competitive… Thank God for Broad Match Modifier…that is a holiday MUST. – Emily Las ++
  • I’ve seen low returns on these in the past, but with social sharing integration these days, they might be worth testing. – James Svoboda
  • I can see it as being a good draw for Remarketing (let them qualify on the site), but not to drive sales. – Chris Kostecki +
  • Generic terms are bad, but if you sell baseball products a term like “baseball gifts” could work. – Matt Umbro
    • Generic I am very weary of. Will only run if already proven to work and then in own campaign, capped with negatives. – Rachel Cassidy (@RachelCassidy85)
  • If your client can compete with the big box retailers in terms of budget size good luck! – Andy Groller
  • Not good. Unless I was working for a generic gifts company I wouldn’t use generic kwds. – Bassovita
  • “Gift Terms” have done… not good at all. Can’t see them working at all unless you have a MASSIVE gift guide/audience. Even niche was yuck. “Designer gifts for women” bombed for a high-end bag retailer. Tastes are just too broad! – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • I try to spend smarter- Leave the truly broad keywords (“holiday gifts”) to mass retailers (unless you’re working on 1 of them). – Emily Las
  • I’ve had universally terrible results for generic gift terms across clients & verticals. Do not recommend unless you’re Amazon. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • So true– very few brands have the $$ to compete w/the Amazon’s/Wal-mart’s on generic holiday queries. – Emily Las
  • I’ve seen it with very specific niches (more so than a sport: do they play, are a fan, etc) still better to promote actual products. – Chris Kostecki
  • The keyword Gifts = Ideas, an early sales and information gathering stage. – James Svoboda
  • Even semi-specific terms like “magazine gifts” got awful results. – Melissa Mackey
  • Bad. Period. May have influence some users but I can’t tell. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)

Q3: Have you created any unique display network/remarketing campaigns centered on holiday messaging/promotions? Results?

  • Nothing with remarketing, but I’ve tried targeted placements offering free shipping or discount codes. – Matt Umbro
  • Tried a few but little measurement in results; attribution an issue but when isn’t it? – Andy Groller
  • No, but will now that you mentioned it! Mostly plan on changing up ads for current remarketing lists. – James Svoboda
  • Creatives will be updated to match holiday mailers, also playing around with off site audiences (social) to drive awareness. – Chris Kostecki
  • New this yr= building in social PPC support more. Not traditional “retargeting”- but hitting FB fans w/ads, Promoted Tweets etc. Also prepping by moving strong GDN auto-placements to “managed” status. Tried & true gets custom bid/attn. – Emily Las

Q4: What messaging do you use specifically during the holiday season to further motivate consumers and improve conversions? Understanding that you can only work with the deals your client is running.

  • Order by Dec XX and receive by xmas. Free returns too – give ppl confidence so they don’t run to stores. As crunch time approaches, it’s more about urgency vs. price. I.E. “Holy crap I forgot to shop!!!!” – Aaron Levy
  • Free Shipping, No lines/hassle, convenience. – Chris Kostecki
    • Yes, give them a reason to shop online & now. – Claire Remmetter (@cremmetter)
  • Anything around “limited time”. Get these deals while you can. Of course free shipping helps too. – Andy Groller
  • Way more competition so you have too differentiate yourself. coupon code, free shipping, etc. – Eric Farmer
  • Create sense of urgency, ie: deal good through 12/22, use promo codes for free shipping/discounts, free gift with purchase, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • Shipping countdown is a huge motivator. – Chris Kostecki
  • I’m with everyone else that said “free shipping” – John Lavin (@johnnyjetfan)
  • Maximize holiday messaging by adding sense of urgency – Now, Limited Time Only, While Supplies Out, Seasonal Must-Have, etc. – Emily Las
  • Make their online shopping experience better and safer than going to the physical store. – Eric Farmer
    • “Won’t be trampled or robbed in the parking lot”. – Chris Kostecki
  • Urgency – Ends Today, etc. – Francis Shovlin
  • Obvious: Stating “Holiday Sale”. Works well with offer and free shipping. Sale usually interpreted as limited time. – James Svoboda
  • What is everyone’s advice for prioritizing incentives? i.e. (1) Free shipping, (2) limited time, etc. Only have so many characters. – Andy Groller
    • I would go with limited time, free shipping seems to be the norm now. Also, if you put a free shipping code in your ad make sure it is on your site as well! – Matt Umbro
    • If you don’t have free shipping another ad will, so agree with #1. – Chris Kostecki
      • Agreed but to @chriskos point, if you don’t have Free Shipping plenty of others will so it should be priority. – Andy Groller
    • Holiday/Event Mention, then Sale, then Offer, then Free Shipping. – James Svoboda
  • Agree with most, speaking to urgency is HUGE! – Matt Umbro
  • Free Shipping works, but not enough to create unique offering/cut through the noise of generic kw SERPs. – Emily Las
    • Don’t get me wrong, free shipping is great, but not enough of a differentiation. – Matt Umbro
      • I have seen interesting results from Free Shipping “gimmicks” though.. Make a fancy name for an offer & get $$! – Emily Las
  • Avoid retail lines, save time, shop in your pajamas. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
    • That’s a great one- encourage to shop on-site is huge if you have brick + mortar stores. – Emily Las
    • This is important to incentivise people who research and buy in store. – Mark Kennedy
  • Anyone else done the holiday theme for non-ecommerce sites? Lonely this xmas? worked for a social org! – Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
    • AMAZING for new years resolutions. – Aaron Levy
    • Yup — always good to show time-relevant ads. – Claire Remmetter
  • Don’t have too much experience with this offer, but I would think giving a free gift with purchase helps conversion rate. – Matt Umbro
  • If you need more space use “Ships Free”. – Chris Kostecki
  • If a brand site, Official Site still works. Merchant trust indicators important. Use in sitelinks if you can’t fit in ad text. – Lisa Sanner
  • The term Free Shipping and E-commerce is the norm these days, unavoidable really. If competing ads don’t have it, use it for sure. – Gladue (@gladue)

Q5: Do you create holiday specific landing pages? If so, what are some instances that these pages are necessary? In other words have you created pages around products on sale during the holiday season, special holiday giveaways, etc?

  • Gift Finders rule!! Especially ones that dive into niche categories/recipients. – Emily Las +++
  • Always a good idea. Explain promotion on LP if it needs it and also include products if it doesn’t apply to entire inventory. – Andy Groller
  • Yes, at least for messaging, but having holiday specific products is smart. – Chris Kostecki
  • If the client has a large enough holiday pitch to warrant a landing page, absolutely. Ecommerce in particular = great. – Cassie Allinger (@_CassieLee_)
  • Every ecomm site should do a holiday giveaway.. What better time to capture email regs than during most trafficked time of yr? – Emily Las ++
    • Good point on email list generation. 2nd tier conversions are a must. – James Svoboda
  • Tie-ins to the ads and promos are a must for Holiday LPs. The offers must be found otherwise shoppers bounce. – James Svoboda +
  • If they have a holiday-specific offer, I want a holiday-specific LP. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • I work w/mostly fashion brands– holiday-specific “capsule collections” & gift sets sell fast (& sell out). – Emily Las
    • And if you’re going to sell out, an email cap might be your only conversion. – Robert Brady
  • Push hot products! PPL searching “Apple” Prob want a 4S or iPad 2. Put the latest/greatest in forefront, then upsell w/ offers. – Aaron Levy
  • Yes holiday landing page I always advise, helps with QS, mirroring ad creative, etc. – Andrew Baker
  • Holiday themes across the site make sense too, allows us to use existing product & category pages. – Chris Kostecki +
    • Disagree – every1 puts santa hat/snowflakes on the logo. Not unique anymore! – Aaron Levy
      • Shoppers still want to be caught up in the holidays, I dont think its played out (sounds like a test). – Chris Kostecki
  • My client does a lot of product bundling specific to holidays. Buy this, get X% (or free) this. Build campaigns to turn on/off. Holiday multi-product LPs can work well too, especially items that cross-sell well together. – Lisa Sanner
  • From Black Friday to last shipping day b4 Xmas — the more you can update messaging to increase relevancy, the better. The challenge in PPC is getting those creative refreshes through adWords Editorial in timely fashion! – Emily Las +
    • Upload early, they review paused stuff now. – Aaron Levy
  • Followup – Would you, or do you, implement Remarketing campaigns for these specific holiday LP’s specifically for continuing the holiday promotion?– James Svoboda
    • Absolutely I intend to this year. – Andrew Baker
    • Yes, but did have a convo about ruining the gift shopping if peeps share a computer. – Chris Kostecki ++
      • Always the challenge in retargeting… If product-specific, you could ruin surprise gifts, etc!! – Emily Las
    • Retargeting strategy for post-holiday can be huge… Especially for retailers w/January set as Clearance month. – Emily Las +

Q6: How do you (or can you?) prevent a huge drop in conversions & conversion rates after the holidays are over?

  • Hard to prevent even if you continue the same promotion. – Andy Groller
  • If you’re in e-comm, you can’t. – Aaron Levy
  • I think its not preventable. – John Lavin
  • Less pessimistic…Play on new years resolutions, remarketing, “didn’t get what you wanted,” gift cards etc. – Aaron Levy
  • For B2B I usually see better conversion in January. – Robert Brady ++
  • Deals, deals, deals. – Andrew Baker
    • Clearance, Clearance, Clearance. – Mark Kennedy +
  • It’s tough. Maybe remarketing/email campaign that ties back into an abandoned shopping cart might help? – James Svoboda
  • Gotta be proactive to keep up momentum: Capture more emails during holiday (Email CVR always huge) & Remarketing. – Emily Las
  • Have a closeout sale with a landing page specifically for that product. – Eric Farmer +
  • The drop for e-comm is pretty much unavoidable, but should be expected, it’s the nature of the business. – Cassie Allinger

Q7: For non ecomm campaigns, what kind of trends do you see during the holiday season, ie: lower conversions, less clicks, etc?

  • Also Clearance/Deals, New post-holiday specific msgs… Plus make sure clients’ budgets aren’t slashed too much. Some overdo it. – Emily Las
  • December is terrible for 99% of B2B. Budget accordingly & check insights. – Aaron Levy
  • Depends on vertical, but search volume def impacted. Conversion stats vary. – Andy Groller ++
  • Just lower volume generally. People are out of the office. Don’t want to start stuff until Jan. – Robert Brady
  • My first year with a majority of non ecomm clients, but I expect a big drop on all fronts. – Francis Shovlin
  • B2B starts to pick up mid-jan. Early Jan still has people with holiday hangover, catching up on emails, etc. – Mark Kennedy +
  • Travel-related can be busy during holidays; B to B is totally dead. – Melissa Mackey
  • I see lower leads for B2B clients due to holidays, days off work, people putting off business dev working on existing projects. – James Svoboda
    • Have you tried focused holiday messaging that would appeal to the B2B target audience? – Emily Las
  • Def depends on vertical. Must be strategic to find approp holiday tie-ins + messaging to avoid influx of low quality clicks. – Emily Las
  • Also, Search = Finding. People tend to put off finding new things during holidays & weeks when taking days off… & Vacations. – James Svoboda
    • So true– it becomes more of a challenge in copywriting/landing pg content dept. to get them into funnel. Search is “Pull” mktg but this requires extra “Push”. – Emily Las
  • Def a drop off. Good to educate clients for budgeting before hand. – Bonnie Schwartz (@bonnieschwartz)
  • Some b2bs have to spend budgets by end of year, look at latent conversions. +If it is not a long sales cycle, can see a boost. – Lisa Sanner
  • Some purchases get made in Dec. to get them on previous years books too. – Robert Brady
  • Actually I don’t have many clients that specifically focus on holidays, however I see seasonal trends. – Bart Schuijt (@BartSchuijt)

Q8: How do you explain to clients the importance of PPC advertising during the holiday season?

Q9: How does your bidding strategy change during the holiday season (if it does)?

  • In ecomm, higher holiday bids are a fact of life; strategy may not change in other verticals. – Melissa Mackey
  • Bids increase w/ competition, but principles are the same. Bid high for best keywords, low for bad. Maximize return! – Aaron Levy
  • If the client is not present, competition will be. Additionally: Insights for Search data. Furthermore: depends completely on product. – Bart Schuijt
  • Competition almost always changes … so your bidding strategy usually needs to be adjusted to fit. – Cassie Allinger +++
  • Hm..to sum up: Sky is the limit. – Emily Las
  • Long-tail keyword conversions are usually higher, so we identify them and increase bids. Analyzing last years performance helps. – James Svoboda
  • Don’t forget about Mobile PPC this holiday: Google projects 44% last min gifts/store locator terms will be from mobile devices. – Emily Las
  • Sometimes we target lower settings during holidays in order to capture as much volume (new customers) as possible. LTV matters. – Lisa Sanner


Google AdWords Editor (version as of today’s PPCChat 9.5.1)


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About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Minneapolis, MN, the guy who puts the #PPCChat Streamcap together, an sem blogger, SEO Jedi in Training, Tweeting from @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er.

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