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3 Steps to Happy Holiday SEM Returns

daveragals082011
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Q4 is here, and with it come the expectations of online retailers for a very merry PPC season. At the peak of the holiday shopping season, we typically see click volume nearly double and revenue double or even triple. So ‘tis the season to throw every trick in the book at your SEM efforts to end the year on the highest possible note.

Retail Demand Curve for Holidays 2007 to 1020

While one of the biggest challenges for many retail marketers is making sure your advertising matches what you’re selling and adjusts with ever-changing inventory levels, there are several low-effort steps you can take to drive efficiency during this valuable time of the year.

Implement Accelerated Delivery

Use the often-overlooked Accelerated Delivery option to help boost volume without raising bids. For many, this typically has no impact throughout most of the year. But with the significant spike in impression volume and the hard charge from your competitors, this can be a great time to leverage this feature, as long as your budgets are uncapped.

We’ve seen clients increase impressions and clicks as much as 35 percent without a noticeable drop in conversion rate. While your brand CPCs should remain relatively unchanged, it’s important to keep an eye on your non-brand CPCs to make sure they don’t get out of hand. You can expect a modest increase to pay for itself, but competitive pressures could lead to spikes in some cases.

Identify High-Traffic and Negative Keywords

Another challenge during a period of increased demand and spend is having easy access to the right levers to pull. By isolating your high-traffic keywords in a separate campaign or virtual group, you can quickly increase or decrease spend as needed.

A secondary affect of separating your high volume keywords is that it makes it easier to identify negative keywords that are impacting the efficiency of the high volume keywords. These can be keywords that are already in the account or in the superfluous searches that hurt quality score and drive inefficient clicks. By pushing more efficient keywords and excluding the superfluous, you can create higher ROAS even with a lift in spend.

Monitor Search Query Reports

Speaking of negatives, this is a great time to check your search query reports. Some retailers may notice an increase in competitor and generic terms being matched to their brand terms.

We’ve seen clients cut their brand CPCs roughly in half by doing this, which not only improves ROAS on those brand terms, but frees up money to spend on non-brand terms. Again, considering the spike in demand, this can lead to huge increases in traffic with little to no impact on ROI.

Summary

For many, this is a make or break time of year. Without proper planning and strategy, it can lead to little more than a higher cost of doing business. But planned properly, it can easily be the most wonderful time of the year.


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