Whether you’re a Grinch and can’t stand the so-called ‘Christmas Creep’ getting earlier each year (did you see Tesco started selling mince pies on 2nd September?!) or whether you just can’t wait to deck the halls (56 sleeps by the way; not that I’m counting…) if you’re in e-commerce, it cannot be overstated how important it is to have a strategic plan for your PPC accounts over the holiday season.

Recent stats released by RJMetrics put the above statement into perspective for us:

  • November and December drive 30% more e-commerce revenue than non-holiday months
  • The days from Black Friday through Christmas pull in 50-100% more revenue compared to shopping days throughout the rest of the year

So, are you ready?

‘He’s making a list; he’s checking it twice!’


Prior preparation is key. Here are a few things we think you should be doing to prepare your accounts for the holiday season.

Know Your Dates

Before you begin, make sure you know when the key online shopping days take place. Check the list below to ensure you know the key dates when online shopping is at its highest:

Nov 27             Black Friday

Nov 30            Cyber Monday

Dec 8               Manic Monday

Dec 25             Christmas Day

Dec 26             Boxing Day

Dec 26-31       Year-End Sales

Jan 1                New Year’s Day

Know Your Promotions

You’ll want to optimise your account’s general performance during the seasonal period but you will also want to consider whether you will be running specific promotions for any or all of the above.

For example, do you have a certain percentage discount your customers can save if they book/buy before Christmas or on Black Friday? Can your customers save money if they book or buy within a particular seasonal window? Make a plan for your holiday promotions.

Learn From Your History

Has your account been running for more than a year? If it has, take a look at your results from last year and make sure you know what worked and what didn’t. Know what days and times your results were highest last year and build a budget strategy to optimise your ad performance during these times.

Were there times during the day when there were lulls in your performance? Consider lowering your budget for these times to distribute your budget more effectively. Segment your data in AdWords into performance by day/hour and then create custom bid schedules to suit.

Set Up New Holiday Campaigns

For each of your holiday promotions, we recommend that you set up a new campaign rather than adding new holiday ads to old ad groups. This way you can effectively control budgets for these campaigns without interfering with your regular campaigns.

You can also set specific start and end dates for your promotions this way. Avoid giving your company an unpolished look by showing ads for Black Friday on Boxing Day! When you set up your campaigns, enter a start and end date so that these campaigns will automatically turn on and off, and you don’t need to remember to do it yourself!

Whilst your holiday campaigns are running, pause any non seasonal campaigns with the same targeting criteria (i.e. same keywords) to avoid your new Christmas campaigns having to compete with your original campaigns.

Get Your Landing Pages Ready

Keep landing pages up-to-date with any holiday offers/promotions – offers mentioned in ads must be easy to identify when a customer first lands on your destination URL. If you have the capacity to quickly create new landing pages or have an in-house web designer, it can be really beneficial to create individual holiday pages dedicated to each of your promotions.

Get Your Ads Mobile Ready

Studies have shown massive spikes in mobile traffic at this time of year as more people use their smartphones to shop for Christmas gifts throughout the day. It’s therefore vital that your campaigns are optimised for mobile. Consider implementing the following:

  • Mobile bid adjustments – get your ads into the top two positions on the results page, where 85% of users are reported to look, by adjusting your bids for mobile accordingly.
  • Mobile optimised landing pages – ensure that your mobile landing pages load quickly, have content which is simple and easy to read on mobiles, and that customers can easily take advantage of the promotions and act on CTAs in your ad text.
  • Mobile PLA campaigns – Google announced in July of this year updates to mobile PLAs, including the new ‘Purchases on Google’ option and expandable shopping ads. Both allow PLAs to take up greater real estate on the mobile results page. Make sure you opt in to mobile PLA campaigns!

‘It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags?!’

christmas-present-1443378Despite this heart-warming sentiment from the Grinch (look it up!), ‘packaging’, so to speak, for your PPC campaigns is key. It’s time to get creative and ensure your new holiday campaigns/promotions are packaged with shiny new ads, complete with holiday messaging and language.

Holiday oriented ad text can really help your ad stand out from the competition. The same rules for good ad copy still apply for seasonal ads as they do for non-seasonal ads, but here are a few extra festive adornments which we think your ads should have:

Address your audiences’ change in mind-set

Whereas throughout the rest of the year ads are often targeted to customers completing purchases for themselves, there is a noticeable shift to gift-giving oriented shopping throughout November and December. Ads that recognise this are more likely to be noticed by potential customers.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 14.21.11

This is a great example of an ad tailored to the Christmas audience. Description 1 and 2 combine together to create a strong message telling the customer that they can give lipstick sets as Christmas gifts or buy for themselves. The call out, ‘Exclusive Online Sets’, also suggests a customer is gaining more from shopping online with you than they would in store.

Target the mood of your shopper

It’s always good to ask ‘What mood is my customer in when they are shopping online?’. Especially around this time, what’s driving your customer to search for your product online? Are customers shopping online from the comfort of their own home to avoid the madness in stores? Emphasise in your ads how easy the ordering/shipping process is and the numerous product options you have for them to choose from.

Often when people are searching online, they are looking for the best deals and comparing products on multiple sites. Address this need by introducing promotions and discount codes directly into your ad text. A great example of this is in the below ad for New Look coats.
Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 14.10.30
The code not only eye-catching, adding to the Halloween theme of the ad, but it also reinforces the 15% discount offer the ad is promoting.

Free Shipping

Always popular, but if your company can offer free shipping over the holidays now is the time to mention it! With so many gifts to buy, having them delivered for free can really clinch the deal.

Create A Sense of Urgency

Use language that implies urgency in your ads. Phrases like ‘Offer Ends Soon’ and ‘Don’t Miss Out!’ work well. Another great alternative is to create countdown ads using the countdown function in your ad text. This customises your ads with real time updates.

For example, this function allows you to tell Google when your sale ends and then automatically updates your ad to tell the customer how many days are left until that date, as in the example ad.
Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 16.45.36

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 14.59.07


Remarketing for Search is a great tool to use at this time of year. Early in the buying cycle, potential customers will be jumping from site to site, looking for exactly the right product and the best deals. RLSAs allows you to target forgetful customers who have already visited your site, found the product they were looking for, and then left your site to look elsewhere without completing a conversion.

RLSAs allows you to prompt customers to come back to your site next time they enter a search term relevant to your product.

RLSAs also allows you to create targeted audience lists according to which pages they visited on your site. This way you can create highly specific ad copy to target each list. For example, three common audience lists and associated ad copy could be:

  • Visited but didn’t purchase
  • Shopping Cart Abandoners – Ads implying urgency, reminding them that sales are ending soon.
  • Visited and completed purchase – Ads offering existing customers special promotions or highlighting products in addition to the one you brought.

Another huge benefit to RLSAs is that it enables you to bid on more general, competitive keywords without the associated costs. Keywords like ‘holiday gift sets’ which would normally be far too broad and prohibitively expensive now become available because of your targeted audience who are more likely to convert.

We hope these tips help you to get your holiday PPC campaigns in the best possible shape ahead of the season.

You’re on your way to a holly, jolly, Christmas!