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Use Keywords to Win this Holiday Season

It’s almost that time of the year again! The holiday season is just about here, and the weather department says you can feel it in the air… and let’s not forget the mounting pressure on your friends and folks who work in marketing.

We know who the real winners are in the holidays, and it ain’t Santa…

While holiday season marketing brings the opportunity for creatives to unleash themselves, it’s more important than ever to be precise and calibrated in all advertising to maximize results. 

How well you will catch this wave will often dictate how well you do this quarter, and how good of a start next year might be for your sales.

Well, we’re here with keyword practices that will help you ace this holiday season. Keywords are at the heart of your ad campaigns and all brand communication. So take a lot of notes and share widely with your teams!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. How to prepare a keyword strategy for the holiday season
  2. What data do you need
  3. How to turn your keyword strategy into action
  4. How to run your Holiday PPC Campaign
  5. How to conclude the Holiday PPC Campaign

Let’s go!

Preparing your Keyword Strategy Holiday Season

Gathering Data.

To kick things off, you should be sure you have the overall strategy for the season/quarter. Some questions you would want clarity on are:

  1. What numbers are you targeting? What are the budgets you are looking to allocate?
  2. What are the products you want to focus on?
  3. What kind of discount structures/special deals are you planning to offer?
  4. Are you planning to launch any new products?
  5. Are you planning to focus on any other brand themes?

(Tip: Make sure you take thorough notes in this meeting as it will dictate the constraints you will be expected to work with)

Now that we understand the playing field and its rules, you can explore the assets and tools you have at your disposal. 

First Time Running A Holiday Campaign?

If so, a good place to start is by collecting data on relevant keywords using tools like Google Keywords Planner, Google Trends or Keywords.io. (If you haven’t, you should set up a Google Search Console account. Click here to learn how to it up step by step.)

Setting up a property type in Google search console
Search Console is an incredible tool, if you don’t have it activated, set it up.

Once you have an exhaustive list of keywords, you can start bucketing them into different categories based on festive themes, product/service relevance, functionality etc. Pick a structure and stick to it. This will be key to optimized performance.

From there, hop over to a tool like SpyFu or SEMrush to get a quick look at your competitors and their strategy. Both tools show you competitor keywords/activities in detail once you set up the parameters.

If You’ve Run Holiday Campaigns Before…

Then this will likely feel like a re-hash of things, but since this is digital marketing, things are changing by the hour, if not the day…

A good place to start is to check your Google Search Console account to find out what keywords worked best for the previous season. Then look closely at your ads and analytics accounts to see what landing pages, ad copy and targeting worked best (and avoid what did the worst) last year. 

Once this is completed, you can use this information to draw parallels between your best plays last year and what has been working for you in the last few months.

After this, you could head to SpyFu or SEMrush to study your competitors and their efforts. 

Things to make sure you have answers to: 

  1. What ad copy and landing pages performed best/worst for you? What keywords did you include?
  2. Which products drove the most sales?
  3. Which CTAs are converting best for you?
  4. Which keyword groups outperformed or underperformed against competitors? (Look back over the last quarter and the last year)

Aligning your Funnels with your Keywords

Throughout the holiday season, we see huge increases in traffic, and many folks will be moving through everyone’s funnels. To ensure that you make the most out of this you should give some thought to how best to funnel the traffic you target. You might want to put together:

  1. Lead Magnets to help maximize traffic
  2. Optimized Landing Pages and Call to Action elements to improve conversion rates 

With that jump in year-end traffic volumes, even a small improvement in your conversions can result in large gains. Use your revised keywords list to improve your copies and CTAs. You can A/B test them to be sure the best ones are working for you. 

Carefully planting keywords in your offers and landing page copy will help you deliver consistent messaging, and Google will give you a boost by increasing your quality score—and that gets you better cost-per-click rates and CPA numbers.

Quality Score can have a huge influence on performance. Image courtesy of WordStream.

Running your Holiday PPC Campaign

As the season rolls on, you might see traffic increasing on your themed keywords and special discounts you might have running. 

This is a critical time to start tightening your campaign and take your keyword optimization processes up a notch. 

Some things you might want to try are:

  1. Review overall ad performance daily/weekly. Check which search results are getting you the most conversions using Google 
  2. Maintain lists of low-converting keywords and add them to your negative keyword list. Ideally, you would want to pause a keyword and/or add it to your negative keyword list after you see poor performance over 100 clicks.
  3. Add any keywords that are converting well. 
  4. Consider trying SKAGs (single keyword ad groups) for high-performing long-tail keywords as people tend to look for very specific items for gift-giving. This is often overlooked.
  5. Remember the calendar and maintain proper keyword groups for each upcoming holiday or festival you want to market for.

Concluding your Holiday PPC Campaign

Alright, now you’re ready for the busiest marketing time of the year! But the work is not quite finished… While most would take a few days off after seeing some good results, smart marketers know that it is important to review your performance — and not just the results — before calling it a win.

Our goal here is to help you develop the habit to review your performance and create better strategies for future holiday seasons — and do that while working on today’s campaigns! This extra work will save you a lot of time — instead of searching around and trying to gather data from a bunch of different sources next year.

Good luck! Remember we are always here to answer any questions you might have, so reach out to us on Instagram if you have questions, or send us a quick email. We’re happy to help!

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