The busy season is fast approaching for those of us in the paid search world. It's the thing we wait all year for: the retail holiday season.
Each year digital – and paid search specifically – has become a more important ingredient to any brand's success. As you plan for this year, here are three tips to get prepared.
1. Plan Your Budgets Carefully
Every day, minute, and hour is more important during the holiday. You need to understand not only when transactions occur, but also when shopping starts.
As you can see from the 2011 sales chart, early in the week accounted for 6 of the top 10 sales days, led by Cyber Monday overall at No. 1.
The other key piece of planning is when consumers start shopping. Thirty-three percent of mobile and tablet shoppers started before Halloween. Compare that number to 25 percent of all holiday shoppers you can start to understand not only early shoppers, but the differences by devices.
2. Have Your Mobile Act Together
Last year saw a 173 percent increase in mobile shopping on Christmas Day, and 9 percent of sales came from mobile devices. These types of growth numbers will continue this year with the continued growth of smartphones. Your brand needs to be prepared with the proper mobile experience, and ability to optimize specifically for mobile.
- 61 percent of smartphone were used to compare prices often while in a store ("showrooming").
- 75 percent of users were simply validating their purchase decision by looking for ratings or reviews.
These numbers don’t lend themselves to direct purchases. However, they do play an incredibly strong piece in the decision journey.
The purchase paths for consumers can be quite varied. For example, 46 percent of consumers started on their smartphone, and purchased in store. There is no absolutely strong way to measure this action in your daily sales report, but can your brand afford to not be included in this search just because it doesn’t have a high direct ROI?
3. Quality, Quality, Quality
I feel a little bit like a broken record since I just wrote about quality a couple of months ago. However, not a holiday season goes by where an article isn’t written about a company that was promoting an offer that no longer was valid, or sending traffic to a website that wasn’t prepared for the traffic.
To be best prepared have a team member scheduled to cover these issues at all times. Someone should be acting as quality supervisor checking keywords, ads, and landing pages:
- Do they all match?
- Are they accurate?
- Is the site working properly?
Having someone ready to update copy, alter budget caps, or simply shut off the campaign until the site goes back live can be the difference between a record setting holiday season, or one of wasted spend.
Holiday season is the best time to be in the paid search business. You get a chance to really test your chops:
- Are you nimble enough?
- Did you plan properly?
- Are you able to use data to identify key signals to take action on?
With some good planning and knowledge of the business you should be able to take full advantage of the consumer tidal wave of activity. Have fun, and enjoy the ride!
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