Josh Grashin

4 Ways eComm Marketers Can Optimize Holiday PPC Results

‘Tis the season…for online shopping! Here are 4 factors that will help you get the most out of your holiday PPC strategies.

‘Tis the season…for online shopping! Here are 4 factors that will help you get the most out of your holiday PPC strategies.

November and December in particular can make or break a retailer's year, and all small issues are compounded because the stakes are so high.

Looking at just one of Adept’s retail clients, it’s obvious why Q4 is so important:



64% of this retailer’s spend and 50% of their orders came in November and December of last year, underscoring the importance of having a good plan.

Here are a few factors to help maximize effectiveness of PPC advertising during Q4:

1. Daily Budget Tracking

Due to increased competition during the holidays, the cost per click can increase as much as 20-50% within search engine marketing. As a result, it is imperative to keep this in mind and check budgets and performance throughout the day to adjust bids and budgets accordingly.

According to IBM, Black Friday eCommerce sales peak in the morning. Yet, on Cyber Monday, sales spike in the evening. These two crucial days represent the challenge of marketing during these crucial few weeks – ensuring that a campaign’s budget is large enough to accommodate the peaks and valleys of a given day, and accounts for the surge in CPCs.

What works for 10 months of the year may not work in November and December. Keep tabs on your budget daily to pivot spend in a way that maximizes results.

2. Get Ad Approval as Early as Possible

It is also essential to plan out all promotional ad copy and ad extensions in advance.

Google is typically able to evaluate all ad copy within one business day, but this can be delayed during the highest traffic periods. As a result, the more you can do in advance the better.

If you have a promo calendar all set, create and upload the ads in advance. Not only will your ads be approved well before they are set to go live, but thanks to Google and Bing’s automation tools, it will be one less detail to worry about come Thanksgiving. 

3. Have a Mobile Plan

Mobile search traffic continues to rise across virtually every category. People are spending more and more time on their phones, therefore it is incumbent on all marketers to factor this in to your holiday (and really year-round) plans. 

According to Google, nearly 4 in 10 users search ONLY on a smartphone in an average day.

As a result, there are more Google searches on mobile than desktop. Smartphone usage peaks in the evening hours, which is also when desktop usage begins to drop. This makes the budget allocation on any mobile targeted campaigns especially important on key shopping days (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc).

Additionally, according to Monetate, mobile conversion rates peak in Q4. In the US, mobile conversion rates peaked at 1.43% for Q4 2015, up from 1.24% in Q3.

While still significantly below desktop and tablet, because so many people use their phones as their primary searching device, it is still vital to your PPC strategy remain visible on mobile searches – even if it is just for the research phase of the buying process. Apparel and Consumer Electronics, to name just two categories, are up 40% in mobile searches YoY according to Google, so being visible on mobile and optimizing your mobile experience are two important ways to increase revenue.

4. Optimize Google Shopping Campaigns

Google continues to make their Shopping ads more important to overall retail success. Search Engine Land reported that in Q3 of 2016, 48% of all retailers’ search ad clicks came on Shopping ads. For non-brand clicks, it jumps to 73% of clicks.

These staggering numbers point to one thing: Shopping ads are crucial to paid advertising on Google – there’s no getting around it.

What can you do to prepare your Shopping campaigns?

  • Take advantage of the Special Promotions feed. Make sure any and all promos that can be loaded to your feed, are, in fact, added. While Google doesn’t approve those until the day the promo is set to run, it is still better to plan them in advance so everything is set to go.
  • Check performance and spend throughout the day. The same phenomena that affect search campaigns can affect Shopping campaigns as well. In other words, make sure that your budget and bids are able to withstand the bombardment of the holidays.
  • Make certain your feed is in tip-top shape before getting to the holidays. This would include making sure your products are the most “searchable” they can be, making sure you are refreshing the feed as often as you can to factor in products that may go out of stock, and any other optimizations you deem valuable (segmentation by price, items going on sale, etc).

Prepare for Hang Ups & Roll with the Punches

Don’t be scared of the holidays as a marketer. It can be a fun and exciting time to see the orders roll in.

As long as you are prepared in advance, you should have the ability to roll with the inevitable punches – such as ad disapprovals, last second changes in promotions and late-day budget constraints – and be nimble enough to make any changes on the fly.

Get out there and have a great holiday season!

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Josh Grashin

About Josh Grashin

With more than seven years of experience managing PPC teams, both at an agency level and in-house, Josh oversees all PPC accounts at Adept. His eye for detail and penchant for working with people make him an expert at crafting unique strategies that aim to increase revenue and grow businesses.