End Of Year PPC Strategies

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with another great question set titled “End Of Year Pay-Per-Click Strategies.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Is there anyone who has to use budget by the end of 2015 or it will be lost? If so, what are you doing to spend the budget?

  • I personally aim for profitability with my SMB clients so if we don’t use all our budget, I count that as a “win”. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • We work with nonprofits who get the Google grants. We run pure, broad match campaigns if certain months are slower. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Contextual Display, YouTube. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • Yep, yep, yep. Spend strategy depends on the client, but we’ve implemented kw expansion, geo expansion, accelerated bidding. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • Not anymore. but in the past we’d maximize spend on what was already converting, maybe even high cost converters. – Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
  • Make sure Bing, GDN, Retargeting, and all available channels are being maxed out is the first step. – Brandon Bednar (@brandon_bednar)
  • Christmas came early and got some significant extra budget from a client. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)

Q2: Especially with ecommerce, are there platforms you are investing more in at the end of the year? Why?

  • Guess I spend proportionally more on search at the end of the year – no time for experimental channels in Q4. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • Shopping campaigns – on Google, Bing, and *shudder* Yahoo are the obvious answer, but remarketing becomes more important too. – Mark Irvine
  • The “busy” season for ecommerce is still here until about Dec 18, so lots of focus on Google/Bing Shopping for me personally. – Kirk Williams
  • In general Shopping campaigns and Remarketing get more of the budget at the end of they year to push sales for ecommerce. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Facebook is definitely more beneficial for end of year as you hit those audiences needing gifts! – Matt Umbro
  • Yup, Google Shopping is a huge focus for ecommerce all year long but even more so during Santa season. – Joel Neustaedter (@JoelNeustaedter)
  • Shopping and remarketing are pretty prominent for us at this time. – Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
  • Majority going to AdWords. Gotta follow the volume and maximize profits. – Gil Hong
    • Gmail Ads are also great for this time of the year – don’t convert well but give you tons of cheap traffic. – Matt Umbro
      • Yea would love to pair it with clients that have a great email marketing campaign. – Gil Hong
      • Talked to a guy at State of Search, does PPC for a grocery store chain, GREAT for newsletter/coupon sign ups. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Bing Shopping, Facebook Dynamic Product Ads and some of the Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs). – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • Anyone using the new YouTube shopping formats? – Matt Umbro
    • Yeah, we tried Shoppable Trueview, with the product cards at the end. Not great for ROAS, better for branding. – Elizabeth Marsten
      • I feel like “branding” is the word for YouTube advertising in a nutshell. – Mat Umbro
    • Seems like a lot of people mentioned Shopping. Anyone trying out Search Partners for shopping to get Youtube impressions? – Gil Hong
  • Google Shopping but also thinking about remarketing strategy targeting non-purchasers when the sales come round post Christmas. – Samantha Noble (@SamJaneNoble)

Q3: Do you agree with price slashing/promos during the holiday season in order to boost sales? Why or why not?

  • As long as it is profitable and makes the client happy I say go for it. – Brandon Bednar
  • I do to a certain extent in order to bring in new customers…but I also want those customers to purchase again. – Matt Umbro
  • Ultimately the client should know their margins. Holiday promos may be less ROAS but overall higher profits. – Gil Hong
  • As long as it is strategic & profitable. – Amy Bishop
  • If it works for your brand, margins, fulfillment, staffing, etc. then yes. If not, reconsider killing your profit, err prices. – Kirk Williams
  • Remain competitive. If your competitors are all doing it, you kind of have to. But no reason to feel obligated if the aren’t. – Mark Irvine
  • Well there’s no way out now. Classic Prisoner’s Dilemma. If you don’t, people will just shop at a competitor who does. – Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
  • Remain competitive. If your competitors are all doing it, you kind of have to. But no reason to feel obligated if the aren’t. – Mark Irvine
    • Ditto! You risk losing business to competitors if they are doing sales. – Erika Schmidt
  • I think people have come to expect it. However, you need to have good customer service and an email funnel set up. – JD Prater (@jdprater)
  • When I worked at Kohl’s each deal was surrounded by related products that were higher tickets. Avg cart $$ was larger. Worth it. – Joe Martinez
  • Lower AOVs & profit margins, but increased conversion rates make it worth it. Careful bidding. Preview deals & then RLSA/UET. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • It’s a must. We’ve trained consumers to look for the steals & deals during the busy holiday season. – Joel Neustaedter
  • For some of our customers, discounts are the only way they can afford (justify?) buying our product. So yeah, we like it. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
    • So why do you not set your price lower and sell more year round – Not criticising – just curious? – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
      • Good question, I’m going to assume it is a brand image thing. – Kirk Williams
      • Because then margin is lost on those who can pay full price. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
        • But must depend on size of market. If pyramid base is wide numbers might stack either way – volume has to be better. – Steve Cameron
      • Map pricing and product positioning. We’re not a ‘cheap’ blender brand. – Coy Robison
  • I agree, I don’t think price slashing increases the amount of disloyal customers. Can be used as a way to introduce products. – Sarah Holder (@SarahAHolder)
  • It was a loss leader to get people into your store, but now that consumers are able to purchase online. You almost have to. – Orlando Valencia
  • My ideal goal for the holidays is to get lots of revenue in the short term (at the cost of profit) and gain long-term customers. – Matt Umbro
  • Use sales to move old inventory that you don’t want to pay taxes on (again). – JD Prater

Q4: How do you ensure that conversion momentum continues into January after the (hopefully) great results of Q4?

  • Drop the price further? – Steve Cameron
    • You won’t see the same great results, but I find that January tends to be a great month for sales as well. – Matt Umbro
  • RLSA on non-converters to use up any gifted money, RLSA on converters for up/cross sell. – Gil Hong
  • It is possible to get residual sales from returns, post-holiday shoppers with gift cash in some instances. – Kirk Williams
  • Tons of labels to differentiate seasonal vs non-seasonal keywords; label high, low performers and keep a close eye on IS. – Brian Chausmer (@brianlchaus)
  • Hype the fun/ savings aspects of the product during the holidays and responsible side after. – Sarah Holder
  • FYI, if I were an etailer I would heavily emphasize gift cards. So many people forget to use them (including me!). – Matt Umbro
  • If you sell gift cards/certificates then January should be strong too. Don’t hold back on budget until you see ROI dip. – Joe Martinez
  • Focus on complementary pdts, accessories, etc. in January. Post holiday clearance discounts. SMB B2Bs have new annual budgets. – Lisa Sanner
  • Make sure you have a good back end email/social/RLSA/ whatever plan in place to keep in touch with those who bought. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Retarget upsells/accessories to people who purchased. – Susan Wenograd (@SusanEDub)
  • When I did ecommerce PPC, we sold a TON of gift cards on Christmas Eve. – Melissa Mackey
  • Create a new holiday? Like “Love Day” but not as lame. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • January is usually a strong month for us, for one reason; New Years Resolutions. So we make sure our messaging matches. – Coy Robison
  • With our clients we’ve seen good results having our adcopy match the season. The whole ‘New Year – New You’ concept. – Erika Calencia (@ppcErika)
  • Part of it depends on seasonality of products, health care, personal improvement, tax software/services do great in new year. Sells of “As Seen On TV” products drop off dramatically after stocking stuffer season. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)

Q5: Aside from sales/promos, from a tactical standpoint, how do you make your ads/brand stand out during the holiday season?

  • Sometimes it may be better to stand back than stand out. – Steve Cameron
  • I say it all the time, but use countdown customizers and Merchant Center promotions – creates urgency! – Matt Umbro
  • Honestly this is something that has to start in Q1 (and always). You can’t build your brand in just Q4. – Bryant Garvin
    • Agreed. Other things include: refine ad copy throughout the year, build neg. lists, neg. funneling, query mine, RLSA. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Not unique to the holiday season, but make sure your promo codes are on the site so users don’t have to remember/search for them. Also for paid search, the shorter the better for promo codes – helps save precious characters! – Matt Umbro
    • Yes this is a must! I always find myself going offsite in search of ‘promo codes’ at the check out page. – Erika Valencia
  • Sparkling snow flakes on our banners!! Jk.. but client did make us test this once. Didn’t work. – Orlando Valencia
  • Extensions. – Lisa Sanner
  • Go above and beyond with customer service. Craft an unforgettable experience. – JD Prater
  • Try it for more than just sales countdowns too. I’m experimenting with countdown-Till-Shipping cutoff before Christmas. – Kirk Williams
  • I completely killed a clients affiliate marketing because the only thing it was being used for was “deals & promo codes”. – Bryant Garvin
  • Do competitive research and make sure your ads don’t mimic everyone else’s. – Susan Wenograd
  • Creating urgency is big. Sale ending, Days left to ship & receive before Christmas, etc. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
    • My best countdown timer was a countdown to guaranteed Christmas delivery. – Bryant Garvin
  • My holiday ad recipe: – Ad Customizers – Get Personal – Ad Extensions – Symbols – Numbers Serves millions. Bake continuously. – Erika Schmidt
  • Ideally it would be great to use customer match to target consumers who have lost touch with your brand. – Sarah Holder
  • Advertise on platforms where audience lives. Be everywhere with an omni-channel approach! – JD Prater
  • Urgency is definitely key. Gotta catch ’em while they’re hot or they’ll go out and find the next best deal. – Joel Neustaedter
  • Consistent CTA across channels timed with client marketing calendar. – Gil Hong

Q6: What can B2B accounts do during the holiday season to gain an edge/position themselves for success?

  • This time of year for B2B should be focused on building relationships & education, so decision time you are top of mind. – Bryant Garvin
  • Interesting question. Most of my B2B clients are concerned with year-end goals but not so much holiday. – Amy Bishop
  • KW cleanup, Neg Lists, Ad Copy refresh, Strategy Planning, Implement something new, Account Structure Audit- A few things I do. – Josh Kelson
  • Create year-long remarketing audiences. So when new budgets begin in the new year you can get in front of those people again. – Joe Martinez
  • Use this time wisely to do research and be ready for the start of the new year/budgets! – Joel Neustaedter
  • If INTL, good opportunity to focus on countries that don’t celebrate winter holidays, though year end still has a dip. – Gil Hong
  • B2B sales always slow Q4, but this is a great time to conquest market and provide real value when others quit marketing. – Bryant Garvin
  • Hype the importance of being ready for the new year, we see a dip in conversions but an increase in sample requsts. – Sarah Holder
  • Account cleanup/restructure, set up new initiatives (social, remarketing, etc.), keyword research, Ad copy writing, landing page review and build, plan the next year’s budgets. – Melissa Mackey
  • If it’s slow time for you it’s a great time to do some account housecleaning. Clean up extensions, delete old campaigns. – Paul Wicker (@Wickerpedia)
  • I do B2B and we’re busy enough that I hardly have time to read this chat! I say, just keep doing business as usual! – Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
  • Also a great time to write new ads and/or get a new ad test cycle going. – Matt Umbro
  • Go back to the basics. SQRs, negatives, restructures, new ad copy, etc. All things you should be doing, but now have the time. – Orlando Valencia
  • Prep for the new year to begin – connect with customers to confirm top of mind & re-purchase habits. – Laura Johnston (@PearsonLA)
  • Pitch new services for Jan. 1. Most clients have new budgets, get that $$ now! – Melissa Mackey
  • Use the time to do a deep audit of your account & develop a strategy for next year. Hit the ground running in 2016! – Erika Schmidt

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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)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Brandon Bednar (@brandon_bednar)
• Brian Chausmer (@brianlchaus)
• Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Erika Calencia (@ppcErika)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• JD Prater (@jdprater)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Joel Neustaedter (@JoelNeustaedter)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Laura Johnston (@PearsonLA)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
• Paul Wicker (@Wickerpedia)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
• Samantha Noble (@SamJaneNoble)
• Sarah Holder (@SarahAHolder)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Susan Wenograd (@SusanEDub)

End of Year 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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