The holidays are coming and marketing budgets are getting fat as retailers both online and off seek to maximize their festive revenue.
While B2B firms might see their sales slack off during November and December, it's the peak of the year for many consumer-facing organizations. Even websites selling holidays and flights have the potential to drive greater sales as people travel home for winter or fantasize about some sun.
Search marketing offers a brilliant way to engage with festive customers and generate more holiday season sales. Your SEM team may want to slack off over the holidays, but they have never been so important.
Here are my tips to ensure your SEM works as hard as possible during this busy time of year.
Get Creative With Your Copy
Many brands fail to understand the importance and significance of their SEM copy, and tend to hire mathematicians with no real copywriting expertise. They may be great at working out effective ad spend, but often lack the necessary creativity to write really hardworking words.
Your SEM copy matters and, if your marketing relates to the season, it's important to have some creativity.
Don't get me wrong, with the few characters you get you're never going to end up competing with Voltaire. But you can be more clever with your copy than you think. It all affects your click through.
Target the Right Kind of Customers
SEM teams have a never-ending battle to find the most appropriate customers who are just on the cusp of the buying cycle. Accidentally driving irrelevant customers to your pages simply wastes clicks and budget.
Partly this needs to be done through careful keyword analysis. You should often check the success of individual keywords.
This is especially true during the holidays when you use a temporary keyword strategy rather than the one you've honed the rest of the year. Ensure your team regularly re-evaluates the success of your chosen terms and hones them throughout the season.
But the copy you use also affects the customers you attract. The tone you use can be the difference between affluent and economy customers, young and old customers, families or singles.
Think about who your target audience is and ensure your SEM copy is written with them in mind. Read up on all the latest best practice guides for writing search ads.
So, if you're new to this business, invest some time in learning to write persuasive copy that sells.
Bag a Bigger Budget
You're not the only marketer planning to make the most of the Christmas season, so don't assume your chosen keywords will stay at the price you expect.
They may soar in popularity (and cost), meaning you have to have the budget to deal with that. It's a bit late now to suggest you start saving, but see if you can eat into the budgets for quieter months like February and March. It's worth it.
Create a Microsite
Does your business thrive particularly during the holiday season? For many card retailers, gift shops and supermarkets, this is such an important time of year that they should consider building a microsite.
Targeting customers searching for festive terms with your SEM copy will help land them on your dedicated page.
This can then be tailored specifically towards the season, meaning existing ad campaigns can be updated without distracting from the work that's been done on the main site.
If you're a major retailer of more than one brand (e.g., a department store or supermarket), then this can be a great way to showcase all your festive produce neatly and in one place.
A microsite is also a good way to boost your organic search engine optimization (SEO) for Christmas terms. Making use of both SEM and SEO has always been the best way to secure customers at any time of year. The holidays may be a short season but it's worth the investment in your site.
Don't be Afraid to Outsource
Don't be afraid to bring in some outside expert help if you don't have the skill to maximize your holiday season SEM revenue generation.
Just remember to ask your prospective agency to show you some examples of successful seasonal marketing first, so you can be sure they have the skills you need.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!