For many online advertisers, the Christmas period can be a very confusing time. What was previously a relatively steady & consistently performing campaign throughout the first 10-11 months of the year can very quickly turn into something that is costing you huge amounts of money in a short period of time.
So what are the problems that advertisers face during Xmas? There are 2 industry categories that seem to be the most heavily affected by Xmas seasonality and each have their own set of problems when approaching the holiday period:
Retail Businesses – Searches volume on Google for retail products can see anywhere up to a 500% increase in traffic during December compared with the previous months of the year, so it’s clear as to why Xmas is so important for a retail website to capitalise on. Firstly, AdWords users will have to prepare for the huge influx in traffic volume that they’re going to see, and secondly they have to be prepared to see some changes in competitor behaviour that may have an impact on their own advertising.
Service based businesses – As the majority of the population become increasingly busy worrying about holiday plans, gift buying, end of year deadlines for work etc. etc., a lot of service based businesses seem to take a big hit in both traffic & lead volume. Xmas is a time where people are so busy focusing on Xmas & holiday preparations that everything else is planned for after December.
…. If you run or work for a company that falls into one of the above categories, you’re more than likely well aware of the above user trends during Xmas, but you’re probably asking yourself how you can use this information to ensure your AdWords performance is maximised throughout the holidays. Below are 5 commonly asked questions relating to Xmas AdWords activity answered with the help of the above information.
1) What are most important changes I should make to my AdWords campaign during Xmas?
This is really going to depend on the kind of product and/or service you’re offering. If you’re a retailer, it’s going to be important to ensure that you’ve got your campaign budget caps set to an amount that you’re comfortable with spending, as you may suddenly notice a huge increase in search volume approaching Xmas. You’ll probably also need to increase bids across your high converting keywords to ensure that your positions don’t slip – your competitors will probably become a lot more aggressive in their bidding during this period to make the most of high converting Xmas traffic so increasing bids may be necessary to keep your ad positions stable. If you’re a service based business, conversion rates are what you need to keep an eye on during Xmas. You may find that people are doing a lot more research with their time off work but not really interested in taking action when it comes to certain services.
2) My Ads have suddenly dropped off the first page in December. What might have caused this?
The most probably for reason for your ad dropping off the first page in December would be the increase in competitor activity seen during this time. The increase in retail purchases made both online and offline during the Xmas period means that a lot of businesses become a lot more activity in their marketing activity. Businesses that run AdWords campaigns all year round will most likely spend more on AdWords during Xmas as well as increasing their keyword bids, and there will also be new competitors entering the AdWords market that may advertise during this time exclusively.
3) My conversion rate has decreased significantly approaching Xmas. How can I determine the cause?
If you’re a retail business, a decrease in conversion rate could be seen as a result of a variety of things – New competitors could have entered the market with strong offers, your competitors’ Xmas offers may be stronger than yours meaning users are buying elsewhere, or maybe your delivery time is too longer and/or not properly outlined in your site copy.
If you’re a service based business, it may just be that your target audience are too wrapped up (excuse the pun) in Xmas & holiday planning to bother contacting you until the New Year. If you think this may be the cause of your conversion rate drop, consider reducing your AdWords spend during Xmas or even temporarily reducing your keyword bids (or both!).
4) Should I bother with special Christmas offers?
YES! Xmas is a great time to use special offers as an incentive for people to do business with your company. For most industries it’s the time where your competitors will be at their most aggressive in marketing, so you need to do everything you can to counter this and ensure that your share of the market share pie is as big as possible. Whether it is a discounted price, faster shipping, or a small gift with each purchase – as long as you have some kind of offer you should see better conversion rates than what you’d see with no unique offer.
5) I’m a service based business and typically business is slow throughout December – should I even bother running AdWords at this time of year?
This really depends on the conversion rates you’ll be experiencing. As AdWords is a CPC model, it really won’t hurt at all to keep advertising throughout Xmas despite the fact that traffic volume may drop off for you. The important thing to ensure is that the amount you’re paying for each lead is still profitable for your business. As long as you’re running at an effective CPA (cost-per-acquisition), I say keep on advertising!
6) I’m an online retailer – should I increase my marketing spend during Xmas to make the most of the increased search volume?
Absolutely – but do so carefully. Ideally you have a full year’s worth of conversion data behind your campaign that tells you exactly which keywords within your account work well for your business. These are the keywords that you should be focussed on spending more money on. My recommendation would be to create a new campaign within your AdWords account that contains only your high converting keywords. This way you can set a high daily budget cap that is specific to the high converting terms only. This way you’ll ensure that the extra marketing money is being spent in the right areas and thus conversion rates should increase too.
There are many more questions that I’m sure you advertisers out there will have regarding the Xmas period, so if I’ve missed any questions that you’d like to be answered then please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!
Merry Xmas and have a safe holiday.