Planning For The Holidays

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Planning For The Holidays.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Have you begun speaking to your clients about the holidays? If so, what have you accomplished (i.e. getting promo calendars)?

  • Spoke about budgets so I can start planning strategy. – Mark Roll (@MarkRoll32)
  • Yes. If you’re not, you’re late. Clients are usually done Q4 planning by end of July (or should be). – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • In the (apparently strange) position of having few clients with a big holiday push. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • Yes, Particularly about upcoming promotions or offers they intend to push over the holidays. – Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
  • Testing CRO for them. One client, in particular is likely 80% holiday. They need to learn now to perform then. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
  • Forecasts, budgets yes – promo calendars, not yet. Quick F/U ? When does holiday start for your ecomm clients? – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
  • Solidify specials/offers. Do competitive research on last year. If not documented, might help. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • I’m ‘the client’ and yes, we have already begun holiday planning. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
  • Being primarily lead gen, most of my accounts go pretty dead during the holidays. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
    • Good point. Ecomm blows up during the holidays, where lead gen isn’t affected as much. – Erika Schmidt
  • Yes…usually start early summer with your prospecting. Gives you enough time to plan and execute. – Cleofe Betancourt (@askppc)
  • I’ve mentioned it, but SMBs aren’t always the most…organized. Some have budget estimates but thats all. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • Nope. We’re all B2B. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • I’m kind of in the same boat. B2C e-comm, but our season is wedding, which doesn’t ramp up until late January! – Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
  • Most of our clients are small/medium businesses, so the holidays aren’t on their minds til like the month before. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • The biggest item is to get the promo calendar, the majority of copy can then be written and scheduled. – Matt Umbro

Q2: What is one feature/initiative you didn’t utilize last year that you will for this holiday season? Why?

  • Google Merchant Promotions FTW. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
    • Love Merchant Promotions – so easy to setup and schedule. – Matt Umbro
  • IF I were in holiday, possibly the ad countdown feature. – Brooke Townsend
  • Last holiday season I saw very few advertisers use ad customizers – huge lost oppurtunity. – Matt Umbro
  • Countdown customizers are high on the list as well. – Kirk Williams
  • The countdown customizer is SO powerful for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • I’m making a bigger paid social drive this year. I’ve been drinking someone’s kool-aid. – Mark Irvine
  • I’m also going to use Facebook Multi Product ads (carousel ads). – Matt Umbro
  • More social media ads. People have to do something when they’re standing in line for hours. – Joe Martinez
  • Easy. Go CRAZY with ad customizers! – Erika Schmidt
  • Call Recording, great way to find out leads being generated and an extra layer for CRO. – Juan Restrepo
  • Inventory ad customizers – only did countdowns last year – thinking it’d be huge for limited quantity sales. – Aaron Levy
    • They do take a while – kind of like multi product ads for GSP. – Matt Umbro
  • Labels and Automated Rules to help set-up and manage ads from the start of to the end of the sale. Especially since Labels can now be managed in AdWords Editor! – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • While it makes me happy to see customizers as an answer, if I didn’t say moar scripts I’d lying. – Steve Hammer
  • More GSP. – Coy Robison

Q3: What platform/feature are you especially paying attention to for this holiday season? Why?

  • I would defintely recommend getting into the text ads beta – CPCs are so darn low right now. – Matt Umbro
  • Gemini & Bing shopping. Wild wild west, teeny tiny CPC’s and both are making HUGE pushes to get more volume. – Aaron Levy
    • Bing Shopping, yes. Gemini a big no (until someone proves me incorrect). – Matt Umbro
    • They did just roll out more volume on desktop Gemini, and we’ll start seeing decrease in Bing volume. – Brooke Townsend
      • Agreed – I just despise Gemini’s targeting methods and overall ad apperance. – Matt Umbro
  • Cliche, but trying to milk everything I can out of shopping. – Mark Irvine
  • Social ads and Bing for any of our clients who can afford the expansion. – Erika Schmidt
  • Amazon and another retailer focused program. – Coy Robison

Q4: How do your Display efforts change during the holiday season (if they do at all)? Why?

  • If you are counting Remarketing as part of the Display sector then I kick that into full gear as well. ie: willing to re-enable lesser performing audiences/ad groups from throughout the year to get sales in front of them.- Kirk Williams
  • I’m much more lax on frequency capping during the holiday season since people expect so much advertising. – Matt Umbro
  • YoY retargeting audiences FTW! Set a 365 day audience and go hog wild – users buy for the same ppl every year. – Aaron Levy
  • I’m willing to be more proactive and adventurous in November with GDN – create that interest, bulk up your remarketing lists ect. – Mark Irvine
  • More budget is typically allocated during the holidays *for Retargeting*. RLSA is getting a bump as well. – James Svoboda
  • Yep, rev up the remarketing, going crazy with as many lists as possible, and loosening those impressions caps. – Erika Schmidt
  • Our display efforts really open up during the holidays. Looser conversion targets generally. – Coy Robison
  • Target CRM segments that only buy during holiday w/ Custom Audiences, lapsed buyers that are not engaging via email anymore. – Catherine Kellogg (@CatKellogg)

Q5: What plans/safeguards are in place to ensure you capture as much relevant holiday traffic as you can?

  • Here is where automation can help big time, especially with rules around increasing bids for converting terms. – Matt Umbro
  • Create automatic rules for budget. If you’re skeptical, set up a CPA or ROAS conditional for it to run. – Mark Irvine
  • Labels, labels, labels so you don’t have to stay until all hours of the night to ensure your promo ads are showing. – Matt Umbro
  • Really simple but often missed, switch to accelerated so Google doesn’t go all nap time with increased volume. – Aaron Levy
  • Raise thresholds. Ecomm is competitive during holidays, I’m willing to pay more to maximize results. – Coy Robison

Q6: How do you deal with clients who don’t get your holiday promotions until the last minute which in turn cause you stress?

  • “Yes sir, ma’am, I’ll get this right up.” *makes calendar notation to bug them in June next year* – Kirk Williams
  • Same way all client fuel frustrations are dealt with: as much tact as possible and an occasional drink. – Kyle Crocker
  • In-house here and I’m not “that client”; most of the time. – Coy Robison
  • I’ll do my best to accommodate, but I make it known that now is time to plan and get everything ready. – Matt Umbro
  • Try and do ad copy ahead of time, and use find/replace in Excel to drop in prices or details if you can. – Susan Wenograd (@SusanEDub)
  • Love them, but their loss.Ill meet you halfway anytime of the year,but Im not answering your Black Friday email on Thanksgiving. – Mark Irvine
  • Set expectations – sometimes I’ll be able to turn stuff around fast, other times I’ll be playing drunk cribbage with an uncle. As long as my clients don’t violate fam time (which they don’t – they’re great), I’m happy to help. Everyone has a busy season. – Aaron Levy
  • This is the agency life. The client isn’t going to make your life easier. Your job is to make their’s easier though. – Brandon Green (@BrandonPPC)
  • Set timetables w/ padding padding padding – tho if you are in ecomm and planned to sleep over holidays, time to wake up. – Chris Kostecki

Q7: Given the enormous sales impact during Q4, what else can be done ahead of time to ensure success, both by advertisers & clients?

  • Big thing here is client (or boss if you’re in-house) communication. Keep reminding, keep asking, keep bugging. – Kirk Williams
  • Set clear goals early. “People with too much money and vague goals” is probably the biggest cause of wars and PPC failures. – Mark Irvine
  • Make sure you have team resources to help on ecomm accounts – hope for the best but prepare for the worst. – Matt Umbro
  • In lead gen that totally dies over holiday – feel like forethought is best thing. You know what this season is like already. Needs to be general plan when account starts/is initially planned to know initial direction. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Tags & data mining in place maximize impact, test & learn to inform strategy, & try to replicate consumer desires thru-out year. – Chris Kostecki

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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)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Brandon Green (@BrandonPPC)
• Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
• Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
• Cleofe Betancourt (@askppc)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Mark Roll (@MarkRoll32)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Susan Wenograd (@SusanEDub)

Preparing for Moar Holiday Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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