Lucy Griffiths

Managing your Online Marketing for Christmas (and Beyond)

23rd Dec 2009 PPC Blog, SEO Blog 3 minutes to read

Christmas is the time of year where retailers, etailers and marketers go into overdrive. A surplus of consumers means that opportunities for good sales figures are abound.

But it would be churlish to suggest that preparations start as we peel back the first door in our advent calendars; in truth, it goes back to the time where summer is turning to autumn, when ice, snow and Christmas Eve panic buys are the furthest things from most people’s minds. Or at least it should.

Despite still being in the grips of a recession, UK consumers aren’t shy when it comes to parting with their cash at Christmas time; as evidenced by this year’s typically frenzied rush for gifts. More and more consumers are turning to the Internet too when buying goods; with recent reports showing that online shopping in November increased by 11% compared with the same period in 2008 and 25% more than the preceding month of October. So the need for ecommerce websites to be fully optimised as the rush begins has never been more evident.

Preparing Your Marketing & PPC Campaigns Early

There’s no harm whatsoever in starting to redesign areas of your website or writing optimised festive content during the dying days of summer – as evidenced by our September post entitled ‘Preparing for Christmas with 100 Days to go’. Preparation is key. You could also start rolling out your PPC campaigns, giving them time to mature and develop before the December deluge. You needn’t instigate website changing decision, just have everything in place for a smooth transition as and when required.

PPC is certainly one of those areas that some people struggle with. Whilst there is an immediate element to it, in so far as adverts can be posted live in a matter of minutes and traffic flowing in not long afterwards, there are dangers too. At Christmas, as previously addressed, every man and his dog is online – some trying to buy, others to sell. Due to the swollen numbers of consumers, businesses are far more inclined to increase bid amounts in an effort to tap into a highly lucrative search market.

However, if you arrive too late, haven’t prepared your advertisements and run weeks of testing and optimisation, you could pay the price. Not only will the cost per click by very high (due to heightened competitiveness and the likely low quality score attained because of the relative youth of your ads) but you will struggle to target the areas you really want.

The Dangers of Broad Match Paid Search

Stuffing your PPC campaigns onto broad match might get you the traffic you desire, but it won’t come cheap. Broad match has little or no targeting, leaving you reliant on a fair amount of good fortune in attracting the right kind of custom. This effectively means you could be appearing in searches that have little or no relevance to what you want to be listed for, and charged a small fortune at the same time.

At least by having a progressive rollout, perhaps using a very small fraction of your budget, you have the opportunity to give your campaigns strength. Okay, some Internet users might be a little perturbed by finding an advert for Christmas products in August, but come November/December when festive shopping is in full flow, you’ll be ready to compete with the big boys.

By scheduling your marketing strategy to coincide with the height of the season, rather than putting together a last minute plan in an effort to cash in, you can help to ensure the very best outcome. The same of course is true for other major events such as Valentines, Easter and Halloween; whatever you sell, whatever your market, identify when your peak periods are likely to be and get a head start.

PPC shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix, something you can just throw money at and expect positive results. Like other forms of search engine marketing, there are subtleties and areas that need to be ironed out over time to ensure the best performance. It’s a competitive market, not least during the peak shopping seasons, so build up your arsenal before going into battle.

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