Why Retailers Should Start Their Pay-Per-Click Christmas Campaigns Now

It might sound surprising, but customers start searching for gifts and products for Christmas as early as September. Hard to believe? Take a look at U.K. department store Selfridges, which last year opened the doors to its festive shop in August with the aim of providing customers a chance of getting ahead with their shopping. By doing this, the retailer was also able to get ahead with holiday sales.

Data from competitive intelligence service Adthena shows customers start searching for Christmas-related keywords such as “Christmas jumper” in late October/November, which means retailers, must be prepared before this time to take advantage.

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Those getting the most traffic from search appear to be the big players such as Amazon, Asda, Marks & Spencer, and Very.co.uk. It’s interesting to note that this represents a combination of online-only and high street retailers.

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However, the share of voice chart shows that Amazon’s presence actually seems to drop in October, while Asda’s hold on the market increases in the key period.

Both Amazon and Marks & Spencer have a higher share of voice in July, while discount store SupaPrice.co.uk also has a strong presence in the height of summer – when you would least expect Christmas jumpers to be trending.

Although it may seem a little too early to start your Christmas campaigns, you should take advantage of the trends – the data certainly shows that your competitors are.

Why Now?

According to Craig Gaylon, a senior PCC and media specialist, the hot period for the holiday season typically begins the day after Halloween, with traffic levels increasing during the first week of November. This means you need to start marketing your campaigns now to make sure you’re in the front of customers’ minds before the hot shopping period even starts.

In 2011, John Lewis, Waitrose, Debenhams, and Boots all reported a 4 to 6 percent increase in sales in the five-week period leading up to Christmas, and this shows why you need to start earlier than you might think.

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Image credit 28 Faves

A Competitive Intelligence for Search solution allows marketers to analyze what search terms their potential customers are searching for, when they are searching, and also how competitors are using PPC to capture market share.

How Long Should a Christmas PPC Campaign Last?

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Image credit lowjumpingfrog

While many retailers may think Christmas advertising campaigns should end just before the holiday period, this isn’t necessarily the case.

For example, by entering the keyword search “Christmas gift” into the intelligence tool, data showing the busiest time for Christmas gifts searches is surprisingly between June and July, with the rise beginning as early as April in some cases. It also gives details of a specific gift website, Not on the High Street, where traffic has performed the best overall. Its peak performance is in July, followed by April – a time where most would believe that consumers are still thinking about how full they were from eating at the last Christmas period, let alone thinking about next Christmas’ gifts already.

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Generally, the Christmas gift search term drops off considerably around the Christmas period itself, despite other related terms (such as Christmas jumper) peaking at this point – and this certainly confirms why you should have already begun investing in the Christmas focus.

So how did these retailers do it?

Beating the Competition

Use Popular Keywords

Retailers should review keywords to target the ones that were successful in previous years. Those that haven’t used PPC Christmas campaigns before should use competitive intelligence tools to find the best keywords to target. They can also find out what their competitors are targeting to ensure they lead the charge for Christmas.

Increase Budgets and Spend the Money Wisely

Christmas is the most profitable time of the year for many industries, and also the most competitive, meaning cost-per-click tends to rise.

Return On Digital recommends that retailers increase their budget during peak times such as the Christmas period, as it tends to be spent a lot quicker than off-peak times. After all, retailers want their ad to appear in a top spot.

For retailers that are on a tight budget, establishing a day of the week or time of day that adverts receive the highest volume of conversions means that budgets can be focused around these periods. This maximizes the efficiency of spend.

Creating Enticing Adverts With Ad Extensions

Retailers should be sure to include any information about offers, such as discounted products and free delivery on their PPC ads, as they will drive revenue.

Ad extensions should also be used on any promotional material to ensure customers can trust the store and have all the information they need at their fingertips.

It is also worth considering adapting ads to target other demographics, as varied groups of people visit online stores when they are purchasing gifts for other people.

Themed Landing Pages

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Image credit Picknik website

When a consumer clicks on a retailers’ PPC campaign, they want to be directed to a landing page where they can clearly see the seasonal products advertised. The better the user experience, the more chance of the consumer staying on the page, browsing, and buying.

When Should You Start Your Campaigns?

According to data from Adthena, Christmas PPC campaigns should span across the summer months – from as early as June up to October – to make the most of customers shopping online. Once you head into November, searches for Christmas-specific terms drop until summer again, potentially leaving you out in the cold.

Homepage image via Andy Doren.

* Sponsored content in collaboration with Adthena.

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Find out more about Adthena’s Competitive Intelligence for Search services.

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