The last quarter of the year features some of the best opportunities for retail sales. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year, the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival and Diwali. Each of these offer potential shopping boosts that can make up a huge percentage of company turnover.
The Holiday shopping season in the US, Canada and Europe has even become a global phenomenon. In China, the Christmas period is even referred to as ‘shopping season‘. And although Black Friday is very much an American event, retailers the world over now rely on Black Friday marketing to bring in the big bucks.
Chances are, if you’re in retail or ecommerce, you have a marketing strategy for the Holiday season sales rush. And retailers and ecommerce businesses also know that winning customers in this increasingly competitive season means one thing: pay per click ads.
PPC ads get those bargains in front of browsing shoppers, and make for more sales. But, of course, it’s even more competitive than ever during Q4 and the Holiday shopping season.
So how can you optimize those PPC ads to boost your Black Friday or Christmas sales for a bumper end of year season?
Optimise Your Ad Copy
Running text ads in the search results means your ad copy needs to be on point. And for Holiday season sales and marketing, this counts quadruple. But you already knew that didn’t you…?
Done right, your ad copy can put you head and shoulders above your competition, even if you aren’t the top result.
- Punchy headlines make all the difference. Get that USP in there and tell shoppers why your product will save their life/money/relationships.
- Make your ad less about you and your business, and all about the customer. What can they get from it? Can it save them time or money? Will they be immeasurably better looking?
- Say more with less words. If your ad is overly wordy, people are gonna switch off. You have milliseconds to get them to click on your ad, so make your ad scannable with all the right words in there.
- Be sure to use a call to action (CTA). People expect it – don’t be afraid to tell them to Buy Now!
We have an in-depth article about optimising your ad copy for PPC, which should help you nail your content. Better still, hire a professional copywriter.
To highlight some of these points above, check out this search for ‘single origin coffee’.
Just take a moment and pretend that you are shopping for some quality coffee and consider which order you would click these ads in.
You’ll see that the top result is from Union Coffee (great coffee too). Their ad ticks pretty much all the tips above.
- Headline hits the search term, and adds a power word: ‘You’
- The copy mentions ‘speciality’ and ‘direct to your door’ and even ends with ‘suit your taste’. OK, you’ve got my attention.
- It’s not the shortest of the ads on show, but it’s saying all the right stuff… And those offers at the end also draw the eye.
- The CTA comes in the form of an ad extension, which we’ll look at shortly
As a contrast, I’m going to pick Bailies Coffee from that list. For me, it’s the worst ad on that list (sorry guys). I’m willing to bet that their CTR on this ad is pretty low. Why?
- That headline is pretty lazy and has almost nothing to draw my click, excluding my search term.
- It’s the only ad on this list that doesn’t speak to the customer. There’s a subscription? Is that all? Oh and there’s gifts… *shrugs*
- The ad copy doesn’t tell me anything great about the coffee. Even the second choice, Pact, adds some nice power words like ‘Ethically sourced’ and ‘Fresh’. The last ad is ground to ‘your’ requirements and has free delivery. Tastes great is entirely subjective, so even that isn’t selling the product here.
What was your preferred order when you looked at that list?
For me it was: Union (1st result), Pact (2nd result) and The Love of Coffee (3rd place).
The takeaway here? (Excuse the coffee pun). Speak to the customer, give them benefits and make them want to click – even if it is because of free shipping or a 2 for 1 offer.
Creating ads for Black Friday or holiday season shopping means making your word count count. But using the right words matters too.
Use Ad Extensions
Making the most of any PPC ads, especially during your Black Friday marketing campaigns, means maximising your ad real estate. Using all your content space is one thing, but you can also add more tempting offers to click on.
With paid search engine results, you have the opportunity to add extensions that take you directly to a specific page. Often this is an offer, such as in the coffee examples above.
But, it can also be to a category or specific product or service page, to save your site visitors from getting lost.
Take a look at this search for ‘Buy Nike Trainers’. (I’m British so trainers instead of sneakers in this instance).
The top result is from British sports behemoth Sports Direct.
First up, they advertise their massive mid-season sale in the headline. If you’re from the UK you’ll know that Sports Direct ALWAYS has a massive sale, but that doesn’t matter. They’re still offering an attractive package.
Those ad extensions will take you directly to Mens or Ladies Nike trainers/sneakers, as well some price drops on popular products there.
Now you might notice that Nike are bottom of the stack there. But, in this instance it doesn’t matter, as we’re looking at a brand name. Nike still makes the sale, whoever you buy from.
In this result for ‘trainers sale’, you’ll see some different ad extensions in use by Sports Direct and a smaller competitor.
Now, if I’m looking for running shoes urgently, or I wanna try them on, I can easily click the location extension to find out where to go locally.
And, MandM Direct are a smaller but growing fashion outlet, so can I trust them? Well, that rating extension puts your mind at ease. And then, hey presto, some nice easy links to trainers/sneakers via some extensions below.
If you’re looking to add some impact to your PPC ads and maximise your sales during the holiday shopping season, experiment with the ad extensions to see which works best for your business.
If you’re running a marketing campaign over Black Friday or the run up to Christmas, the timing of your ads is crucial.
A clever word for running your ads at different times, dayparting is a useful way to optimise your ad budget.
If you run ads 24/7, you’re probably wasting money. The trick is to find the optimum times to run your ads for peak ROI on your pay per click.
Of course, this will vary wildly based on your industry.
But by looking over your historical ad campaign data, you should be able to pinpoint the best times to run your ads. Or at least your ads with the highest bids for keywords.
And this is where an interesting option comes into play.
If you do want to run a campaign out of peak hours, you can play with using a more limited budget or bidding less on your main keywords.
This allows you to keep your foot in, and your visibility up, but with a more controlled ad spend.
When it comes to using dayparting to optimise your sales, consider the following points:
- Take a look at the peak times for CTR (click through rates), conversions and things like the per visit value/conversion value at certain times
- Keep an eye out for keywords that attract high volumes of clicks but don’t seem to convert. You’ll need to use these as negative keywords (more on these in a moment)
- Plan your schedule and set up your ads to run based on your specified times. Remember, you can have a maximum of six schedules per day, per campaign
Remember the whole point in dayparting is to optimise your bidding strategy throughout the day. So, you might bid high on your keywords for an hour or two, then drop the price a bit for a few hours etc.
For best results, test your dayparting a few weeks before your peak sales period to get a good idea of when is most effective.
If you’re running a Holiday shopping sale, or a Christmas or Black Friday promotion, you might be running those for a few weeks before the big day anyway.
We’ve looked at dayparting in detail previously, which you can read about here.
Make Use of Negative Keywords
Some search terms attract high volumes of clicks, but a low volume of actual conversions. This can be because they’re too general, or they can relate to people researching a product or service rather than looking to buy.
As an example, looking at ‘running shoes’ vs ‘running shoes with free shipping’ might imply that the former is just browsing running shoes. However the latter wants to commit to buy but is trying to avoid paying the extra costs for delivery.
Whatever your industry, keep tabs on those search terms that deliver:
- High bounce rates
- Low conversion value
- High volume of invalid clicks
You can make a list of up to 5000 negative keywords in Google Ads, and have up to 20 lists. That is a lot of negative keywords.
Have a USP
So, most of these methods to optimise your PPC ad campaigns have focused on the technical aspects. But, there is something you need to do from a business perspective.
And that is find your unique selling point, and promote it.
It might be that free shipping, your fast service, being available 24/7, unique designs, or perhaps the huge discounts you can give.
Put it in your ad copy.
Running a sale? Put your biggest discount percentage centre stage.
Free returns? That’ll help people who might be worried about committing to purchase.
Rapid response within the hour? People love to know they won’t be kept waiting.
One thing with the USP to bear in mind. Make it about them, the customer, not you or your business.
Being a family run business for 80 years, or winning the award for best workplace, or being the official dog food supplier to the Queen. That doesn’t tell people why they should choose you, it’s just empty bragging and it means nothing.
Put that stuff in your brand story on your website, maybe even in your landing page (if you think it’ll help).
But the ad copy needs to tell the customer why they should click your ad over the others.
Prevent Invalid Clicks
Those pesky invalid clicks on your PPC ads can really add up.
In fact, we’ve looked at the volume of invalid clicks on paid ads across a whole range of industries and the volume really varies.
From 5% all the way up to a dizzying 60%. Invalid clicks are basically clicks on your ads from non-genuine sources. That can be automated sources like web scrapers or bots, or business rivals trying to sabotage your advertising.
Bots make up the majority of the invalid clicks on paid ads, meaning that the average advertiser is spending at least 10-15% of their budget on fraud.
During the Holiday sales season, you’re paying more for clicks, and getting more clicks too. So you need to be assured that you’re only targeting genuine potential customers, not robots, scrapers or fake social media accounts.
As we’re the leading anti-click fraud prevention software, you would of course expect us to tell you to avoid click fraud. But as our 2020 report highlights, click fraud is a pervasive problem that affects almost every industry.
The easiest way to monitor and block click fraud from occurring on your paid ads is to use software such as ClickCease. With a blacklist of suspicious devices, IP addresses and a growing bank of data on fraudulent activity, using ClickCease allows you to run your PPC ads without worrying about who is clicking.
Find out how blocking click fraud optimizes your PPC ads with a free trial of ClickCease.