It’s that time of year again.
Crisp mornings and glittering, dew-laden lawns. Trees that light the sky with hombre flames. The cinnamon-laced scent of pumpkin-spice lattes.
And the flurry of marketing prep for the holiday shopping season.
Early fall is the perfect time to set your holiday search marketing plans into motion so that you can make the most of the gift-giving season.
In this article, you’ll get some helpful insights derived from Microsoft Advertising data to help you reach and influence online searchers.
You’ll also get some planning pointers to help you boost your results.
1. Start Engaging NOW
Dialing in your timing during the holiday season pays off with more effective campaigns and a greater return on your marketing dollars.
While the traditional holiday shopping season begins on Black Friday, there are plenty of early-bird shoppers out there searching for deals.
This means if you want to engage these shoppers, you’ll need to have your search marketing plans ready to roll out this month.
The good news is that October has the season’s lowest costs-per-click (CPCs), giving you a budget-friendly opportunity to influence early brand discovery and decision making.
It’s also worthwhile to ensure you have plans in place to capture mobile users. Last year, we saw tremendous growth in mobile searches and clicks during the holidays.
Overall, mobile searches were up by 59% and clicks by 27%, and in 2019, mobile sales are expected to grow 28%.
Key Tips for October
- Raise awareness early and differentiate your brand to influence shoppers who are making decisions about brands/products to buy.
- Consider using conquest tactics to capture non-branded clicks, which account for the majority of searches.
- Pay attention to mobile and PC/tablet differences early on and take advantage of device targeting.
- Monitor performance to see when customers are most likely to click. We found that PC/tablet clicks peak on Mondays and mobile on Sundays, so increase mobile bids during the weekend and PC/tablet bids during the week.
2. Ramp up in November for Black Friday & Cyber Monday
In the run-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, clicks start to increase – along with CPCs.
The majority of last year’s top click days happened during Cyber Week, with Cyber Monday seeing the most click action.
Additionally, we saw increasing engagement as shoppers approached conversion.
From a timing standpoint, when we examined the decision journey of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers, we found that 64% of shoppers took less than a week to convert, and 19% took between 15 and 30 days.
We also saw that Black Friday query growth was slower than Cyber Monday, giving marketers more time to sway consumers.
Cyber Monday queries ramped up faster, so having competitive offers in the week leading to the event is mandatory. Additionally, keep in mind that Black Friday and Cyber Monday searches continue after both holidays.
Key Tips for November
- Have Black Friday offers in-market early to entice consumers, who are planning out their shopping around deals.
- For pre-Cyber Week, highlight promotions to be competitive and give customers a taste of what’s to come during Cyber Week.
- During Cyber Week, make sure offers are in-market to drive sales during this peak shopping period. Optimize CPCs and reach your ideal customers by targeting audiences strategically.
- Use remarketing to capture these shoppers.
3. Build on the Momentum in December
By December, the holiday shopping season is in full swing.
While clicks were high in the week leading up to Black Friday and throughout Cyber Week, there’s a lot more gift-buying to be done.
Holiday click-share post-Cyber Week through Christmas is 35%, and top click days are predicted to be December 9 and 10, and December 16 and 17.
Key Tips for December
- Continue to highlight flexible shipping, returns, and in-store pickup options to maximize sales post-Cyber Week through Christmas.
- Continue to use remarketing to engage shoppers with discounts and product recommendations.
- Feature product comparisons and reviews on category and product pages.
- Re-engage cart abandoners with limited time offers, free shipping, or in-store pickup.
4. Keep It Going Past Christmas & New Year’s
You’re in the final stretch. The days following Christmas through January 6, see 9% of the holiday season’s total clicks.
In fact, 52% of shoppers make returns within the week after the holidays while 42% use gift cards right away – with 59% spending above and beyond the gift-card amount.
Key Tips for the Final Stretch
- Save room in your budget to engage these final-stretch shoppers.
- Highlight post-holiday sales to drive customers to your store to process returns and use their gift cards.
- Use automated extensions to surface products that consumers have searched for.
Maintaining a voice throughout the holiday season can help you engage and influence searchers. With the right planning, you can capture a greater share of holiday dollars.