It pays to think ahead and Christmas is right around the corner! It may not feel like it but you are running out of time to optimise your Search strategy.
Although Search is not a channel to drive awareness, if your business is one that benefits from the shopping frenzy over the holidays, the time to take advantage of this “always-on” channel is now!
- The best time to start your Christmas campaign in Search was last year
Although September is months away from Christmas, by the time you have determined your ideal key words list with the optimal CPC to maximise sales for your target ROI, it’s Boxing Day!
Retailers should be prepared to optimise against a moving target as user searches fluctuate in the lead-up to Christmas, while most of all your competitors are making constant budget and CPC changes.
The best preparation for any seasonal user search behavior and competitor bid changes is to look at last year’s performance in the lead-up to Christmas. If you have two or more years of seasonal data, even better! Overlay as many years of data as possible, consider both number of days to Christmas and day-of-the-week, and build a model for expected traffic, CPC, revenue and ROI to inform your campaign optimisation, budget and revenue run-rate for this year’s festive season.
- The best Christmas campaigns are your always-on, long tail, campaigns
The Christmas campaign is the Super Bowl of the competition – and if you haven’t played in the regular season and collected learnings from it, how can you do well in the Super Bowl?
Your always-on, search campaign throughout the year gives you all the data you need to make the best decisions on where to spend your extra Christmas campaign budget for the best ROI. Categories that work well, keywords that have high ROI, keyword variations that are broadly related, but just don’t convert into sales – key data you need to know.
And the more long tail keywords you actively target – key phrases of three or more words where users search for something very specific – the better informed you are on actual user search behavior and your site’s performance for all the different variations of keywords that describe your products.
- Target the ‘Christmas long tail’
There are indeed some very Christmas specific keywords, which you can make work for or against you. These can work against you while spending a lot of money with little return, if you bid on keywords like “Vegan hampers Bondi”, “Christmas vouchers for dogs”, “Xmas gifts for him / her/ mum/ dad”, “Christmas gifts for under $100 that look expensive” which land the user on generic landing pages, or worse, your homepage!
You can make these seasonal keywords work for you, if you land the users on tailored landing pages with exactly the relevant content and most importantly, relevant product lists (your users want to buy, not read) for the exact context of the keyword. All your vegan hampers, all your gift ideas for him/ her/ mum/ dad that look more expensive.
Before you start investing in landing pages, consult AdWords Keyword Planner for actual search volumes for the individual keywords and check your last year’s search term report to see volumes and past performance.
- Use your Shipping Information as ‘Urgency Message’
One of the few marketing ‘tricks’ that are proven to be effective on search landing pages, is the urgency message. A very simple and credible, even useful, way of creating an urgency message is showing the expected delivery date – Amazon is a genius in this! “Order within the next 2hrs and receive the product by date XYZ”. In a Christmas context, it’s valuable and effective to tell your customers when they can last order to receive their products in time before Christmas.
You can further tailor this by user location and different shipping speeds in Australia by state, metro vs. regional and shipping options (standard, express or courier). Of course, this does not only work for Christmas, but all year round.
- SEO for Christmas, don’t reinvent the wheel
If you have built Christmas-specific landing pages that rank for SEO, don’t build a new one every year – keep the URL and update the content. Data history like back links, traffic and usability stats for a specific URL is of high importance for SEO ranking. By creating new URLs each year, you lose all history and the pages’ past performance credit with Google.
If you have pages that refer to the current year, like “Top Christmas gifts 2018”, then you obviously need a new URL every year. In that case, make sure to add a 301 redirect from your 2017 version (and older versions) to the most recent one. While 301 redirects don’t pass on all ‘link juice’, ‘SEO history’ for Google, they do pass on around ~90% of it – and nobody will miss the page or content for “Best Christmas gifts 2009”.
Make this Christmas count for your business, and always think about the ultimate goal in search: just like in-store, it’s customer experience. If a user asks for “Christmas gifts for dad under $50”, take them by the hand and lead them to the relevant product section – don’t just point them into the general direction. Just like you would train your in-store staff to do.