How to Tweak Your PPC Strategy During the Holiday Season

Just like in life, there’s an ebb and flow to marketing success.

That means a huge part of finding success as a marketer is being adaptable.

This allows you to capitalize on trends and strike while the iron is hot.

And if there’s any time of year that impacts sales and marketing, it’s the holidays.

In fact, nearly a fifth (19.2%) of retail sales take place over the holiday season.

It’s big business.

And holiday retail sales are only continuing to grow, which is great news for marketers.

While there was a drop off in 2008 and 2009, during the recession, sales have been growing each year ever since.

Here’s a graph that illustrates that growth:

Of course, you want your slice of the pie.

But to get it, you’ll need to modify your approach in several areas of marketing.

One area in particular is PPC.

When it comes to your PPC campaign, you’ll want to tweak your strategy during the holiday season to cash in on the surplus of sales.

And considering the fact that “PPC visitors are 50% more likely to buy than organic visitors,” the holidays are rife with opportunity.

It’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

In this post, I’d like to point out some specific adjustments you can make to your PPC strategy that should minimize your CPC, increase your CTR and maximize your ROI.

Start by creating a new campaign

Let’s start with a couple of preliminary steps.

First, I strongly recommend creating an entirely new campaign, specifically designed for the holidays.

This will allow you to shift from the holiday season to the post-holiday season with ease and zero disruption.

It’ll also make it easier to stay organized and will minimize any confusion later on.

And when next year comes around, the campaign will already be set up for you.

If you’re using AdWords, check out this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to create a new campaign.

Analyze last year’s data

This won’t be applicable if this is your first year running a PPC campaign during the holidays.

But if you’ve done it in the past, it’s super helpful to take a look at last year’s, as well as several previous years’, data.

Some specific elements you’ll want to examine are:

  • keyword performance
  • CPCs
  • CTRs
  • overall conversion rates

Looking at the CTRs of this list of keywords provides instant insights:

Make note of any interesting trends that could give you an edge this year.

Then write down your top four or five keywords because these can serve as the nucleus of this year’s campaign. You can build around those.

If you notice any keywords that bombed or vastly underperformed, you may want to scrap them because there are bound to be better, more profitable keywords out there.

Use holiday modifiers

Once you’ve analyzed last year’s data, you should have a handful of keywords to focus on.

These are good to go.

But what you can also do is adjust the ad copy of your top performing keywords you use normally throughout the year by adding holiday modifiers to them.

This is pretty easy to do, and some quick keyword research should supply you with plenty of ideas.

Here’s an example.

From your Google Keyword Planner dashboard, enter the term “holidays.”

Scroll down just a bit, and you’ve got hundreds of different keyword ideas to choose from:

Now, all you have to do is add a holiday-related keyword phrase to your existing keyword.

For example, you might use “Holiday deals on [keyword].”

Use Google Trends for insights

Here’s another helpful trick you can use to see how people are responding to certain holiday-related phrases.

Go to Google Trends, and enter a few different search terms you want to compare.

I’ll use “holiday special,” “holiday sale” and “Christmas savings” as an example.

First, I’ll set it to the “Past 12 months” option to see which search terms received the most interest last year.

As you can see here, “holiday sale” has received the most interest among these three choices.

Then, I’ll set it to the “Past 5 years” option for an even better perspective:

Everything looks consistent.

Between the Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends, you should be able to generate plenty of good ideas for ways to adjust your ad copy to appeal to holiday shoppers.

Incorporate discount-oriented keywords

The holidays are synonymous with deals and discounts.

There’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.

One way to attract shoppers and increase your CTR is to use keywords involving some sort of a deal.

Here are a few examples you see quite frequently:

Again, you can use Google Trends to see just how receptive shoppers are to these various keywords.

A quick comparison of “coupons,” “promotions” and “specials” lets me know that “coupons” gets far more searches than the other two:

Of course, you’ll actually need to back up your offer by offering discounts on the products you feature in your ads.

Needless to say, simply using discount-oriented keywords without an actual discount is going to hurt your conversion rate and send your CPC through the roof.

But incorporating the right deal-oriented keywords should bring shoppers’ attention to your ads and improve your CTR.

Experiment with other promotions

Besides traditional discounts, there are other types of promotions that shoppers respond favorably to.

Here’s how they break down:

You can cash in on this by working these types of promotions into your PPC campaign.

I did some quick keyword research on the “buy one get one” phrase and was amazed to see the low competition levels.

See for yourself:

Although you need to be conscious of your profit margins when executing promotions, this can level up your PPC strategy and send an influx of eager shoppers your way.

Throw in time-sensitive offers

I’ve talked about the importance of incorporating urgency into your headlines.

But urgency can be applied to a lot of different situations.

It’s a marketer’s best friend.

It can be especially potent for holiday PPC ads.

Here’s why.

There is a handful of specific events throughout the year that are intrinsically time-sensitive.

Here are some examples, and this doesn’t even include New Year’s:

They each have a very distinct cut-off date, and once that date has passed, it’s over, baby.

Shoppers will have to wait until next year to cash in on sales and discounts.

Leverage these different events by creating time-sensitive offers that expire once a certain date has passed.

Here’s a great example of a Facebook ad from just before Thanksgiving:

Keep in mind that the majority of holiday shoppers are in the “buy now” mindset.

So it’s not so much about nurturing leads and gradually moving them through the sales funnel.

It’s more about going for the throat and compelling shoppers to take action right away and buy.

I’ve found creating urgency through this tactic is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

Adjust your budget

Considering the fact that roughly a fifth of all retail sales come during the holiday season, it’s reasonable to expect an increase in searches for your product.

You’ll need to account for this increase by adjusting your budget accordingly.

If you currently have a $ 100-a-day budget, you may want to raise it by to $ 150 or even $ 200 to ensure you’re able to capitalize on increased searches.

You don’t want to miss out on opportunities simply because your budget ran out.

And there are two particular dates when you’ll want to be especially loose with your budget:

Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Just look at how online conversions surged for one company on these days:

These actually dwarfed the week leading up to Christmas and the day after.

While this won’t necessarily be the trend for everyone, be prepared to spend considerably more on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Again, I recommend looking at the data from past years to gain insights on this and for direction on setting your budget.


I love PPC advertising for the simple fact that it can lead to massive sales in a short period of time.

Unlike other digital strategies—like content marketing, social media and SEO (which I love) that typically take a long time to pay off—PPC can get almost instant results as long as you know what you’re doing.

PPC can be lucrative any time of the year, but the holiday season is where the money is really at.

But in order to take advantage, you’ll need to tweak your PPC strategy accordingly.

The things I mentioned here should enable you to:

  • create highly effective ads your demographic will respond to,
  • come up with enticing offers and
  • send shoppers chomping at the bit to buy to your site.

And once you get the hang of it, simply rinse and repeat for the next holiday season.

Can you think of any other adjustments that can rev up your PPC campaign during the holidays?

Quick Sprout

Here’s Your Checklist to Boosting Your E-commerce Conversion Rate This Holiday Season

The holidays are a magical time of year. It’s the season where we are bombarded with as many brand promotions as we are Christmas songs. Over the past decade, shoppers have slowly quit spending the day after Thanksgiving clawing through massive crowd scenes in search of the best deals. Instead, e-commerce websites have been experiencing a steady growth in sales as online shopping has become a much less-chaotic alternative.

The promotions associated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course, Amazon’s 52 days of holiday deals, have put a lot of pressure on e-commerce sites to step up their platform. The holidays are a time for brands to innovate and improve. But before they can do any of that, they’ll need to make sure they have their basics covered. So – here’s a list of some absolute necessities you’ll need to have on your site this holiday season.

1. Update Your Homepage

Your landing page should reflect the jolly time of year. In addition to the layout, the homepage needs to highlight sales, curated shopping lists, or provide insights on season-specific products.


Amazon does a phenomenal job of this by making the holiday shopping experience extremely user-friendly and informative. For instance, their Holiday Toy List shows parents the most sought-after toys of the season for gift inspiration. They even break up the lists into age groups to make the shopping process as simple as possible.


2. Stock Up & Personalize The Shopping Experience

According to a survey by Deloitte, the 2016 holiday season is expected to see more online shopping than ever before. As much as 50% of customers plan to use e-commerce to complete their shopping. Getting a head start to prepare promotions and stock up on inventory will make the heavy traffic times run a whole lot smoother.

Brands must be ready to offer an online experience that reminds holiday shoppers why they wanted to avoid the high street crowd and rush in the first place. Personalizing the experience for the user is a great way to direct online shopping habits. Research conducted by Marketlive found that 55% of online shoppers are likely to take advantage of tailored product information. For example, Target’s Cartwheel app allows users to enter their shopping preferences at the beginning to create an individualized experience.

Here is a look at the app:


Immediately after creating an account, the user is directed a page where they can choose their favorite product categories so the app can pick up on specific patterns to provide personalized recommendations with incentives for saving.

Another big part of preparing for the busy season is getting your sales and customer service staff into the holiday spirit. Every team member should know what is expected of them and have their work cut out. Luckily, there are tools to help.


WorkZone is a feature rich scheduling and collaboration tool that also lets you track employee responsibilities and workload.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

Regardless of the feel-good mentality that the holiday season brings, there is an equal level of stress that consumers feel during the shopping process. Everyone wants to get the best deals on their gifts. Behavioral psychologists indicate that “urgent situations cause us to suspend deliberate thought and act quickly.”

Two of the biggest ways e-commerce companies encourage urgency is by promoting limited-time offers and emphasizing scarcity.

A good tool to use to create a sense of urgency is a countdown timer or banner. Simply Hike uses this directly within their product listings. A ticking timer down to the second showing exactly how long a deal will last works to get an impulse decision out of the user by encouraging the “need to have it now” mentality.


In this example, American Apparel alerts the shopper when inventory is running low directly on the product page, urging them to buy fast before stock runs out.


88% of all impulse purchases are made because an item is on sale, according to a study by BetaBait. Stressing urgency on promotions should be be a top priority for e-commerce site this holiday season.

4. Provide Social Proof

Consumers today love reading product reviews before making a purchase. A survey by Dimensional Research, reported by Zendesk, found that 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions.

Target displays guest reviews on their product pages so when a customer is doing their in-depth research, they can see exactly how other customers felt about purchasing this particular item.


Amazon on the other hand, shows customer reviews on the product listings. This way, shoppers can see what others think of a product before they do their in-depth research.


Displaying positive customer testimonials on your website can be the key to gaining new shoppers and seeing your conversion rate skyrocket.

5. Make Sure the Purchasing Path is Simple

Every step involved in buying is an opportunity for the shopper to reconsider. If a shopper is registered for your site, make the process quick.

Amazon is famous for their “1-Click” buying option. This allows registered users to fill out all their payment and shipping options so they can simply buy an item with one click while they take care of the rest.


Ebay is another example of a fantastic checkout system. Ebay gives the user all the information they need such as buying and shipping options, seller reviews, and remaining stock.


6. Have a Simple Return Policy

A quality return process is crucial in retaining customers. For example, Zappos is well-known for their simplified return policy. They provide 24/7 customer support and offer users plenty of refund options in addition to free returns.


For the shopper’s convenience, Zappos lists their return policy at the bottom of each product listing to ensure the user knows they have a 365 day safety net should they not like the item they bought.

The promise of free returns can drastically increase conversion rates. A study reported by CNBC found that the Zappos free-return policy boosted customer spending by 357%!

7. Optimize for Mobile

Over the past decade, mobile e-commerce has become the preferred platform for shoppers. The experience is now much more convenient for consumers. In fact, a survey from Nielsen found that 72% of smartphone shoppers make purchases from their homes. In turn, this has made the retail business a lot more competitive. Consumers today use their smartphones throughout the entire shopping process from product research, to price comparison, to purchasing. They want their shopping experience to be quick and simplified. To survive, brands must cater to this concept.

For example, Finish Line’s homepage on their mobile apps provides a great portal for shoppers to see the latest releases and view rewards to jumpstart the shopping experience.


Optimizing for mobile goes beyond a stellar website. The increasing trend of mobile users correlates significantly to a strong social media presence. Posts should have simple and concise calls-to-action with links to your website. In this tweet, Toys R Us discusses a current promotion, the savings, a sense of urgency, and a call-to-action with a link to their website.

8. Deliver Personalized Content

Personalized, feel-good content is par for the course during the holidays. Consumers today love to feel engaged with the brands they interact with, especially this time of year. One of the best ways to personalize content is with email marketing. According to Experian, a personalized subject line is 26% more likely to be opened than a generic line.

Tools such as MailChimp and Constant Contact are great for creating unique, personalized email marketing campaigns to promote deals, products, news, events, or anything about your business. Here is an example from La Provence. In this email, they display their current promotions and provide information on the product with a clear call to action.


In addition, these tools also provide data on how well each campaign performs so you can make necessary adjustments.

9. Provide a Live Chat Option

Holiday shoppers are more than likely going to have questions and concerns about your product or service. This means support platforms need to be on point. A survey conducted by BI Intelligence found that 60% of U.S consumers have not completed a purchase due to a poor customer service. This translates to approximately $ 83 billion in lost sales among retailers.

The key to boosting e-commerce conversions is to keep shoppers on your page. Including a live chat function on your website is a great way to keep customers from leaving. There are many support tools you can use to supplement your website. For example, LiveChat is a tool that allows customers to avoid long queues and connects them instantly with customer support – while they are still on your website.

A lot of companies are utilizing live chat tools in their e-commerce strategies. Canyon Bicycles has options in which the user can choose their preferred language for the entire website including the chat function so the visitors can be directed to the appropriate representative. By doing this, the brand works to adapt to wider customer base.


Over to You

Boosting e-commerce conversion rates over the holiday season all comes down to being prepared for the rush. You can never be prepared enough. Year after year, businesses need to keep improving and innovating to finish the year strong. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

About the Author: Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder of E2M, a digital marketing agency, and curator of The Content Marketer, a biweekly content marketing newsletter. He regularly speaks at various conferences and events about all things digital marketing. As a passionate marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge on high end publications like Search Engine Land, Fast Company and the Huffington Post to name a few.

The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Freebie: Celebrate The Festive Season with 26 Special Icons

As the year comes to a close, it means celebrations for the festive season and a new beginning ahead. To add to the celebration, today, we are releasing a set of 26 special festive icons created by Vincent Le moign of Webalys especially for Onextrapixel readers.

They follow the Google Material guidelines and will be great for using in Android apps, but also websites or desktop apps. Like Google icons they are sturdy, legible and based on geometric shapes. As a bonus, each icon is provided in 2 different styles: line and solid, and is available in .AI and Sketch format.

About Webalys

Since 2002, Webalys has been a one-person business focused on designing interfaces and creative assets. You can get hundreds of free icons here or buy 4000 of them.

Download Special Festive Icons

Feel free to use this icon set for personal or commercial projects but please do not sell, modify, distribute or host them elsewhere whether online or offline.

Freebie: Celebrate The Festive Season with 26 Special Festive Icons

If you would like to share this freebie, please help us spread the word by linking back to this original release.

We offer our sincere thanks to Webalys for creating this icon pack and we really appreciate his efforts.

Our freebies are created specially for our readers at Onextrapixel and the design community. If you’d like to release any freebies on Onextrapixel, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to assist you.

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V&A Print Season: Lucille Clerc


Q: What made you choose these particular sections of the V&A for your print? How did you decide on the colour scheme?

LC: My Portrait of the V&A is based on some of my favourite sections, the porch, the sculptures and ceramics department and William Morris rooms. I have then transposed these elements in my own colour scheme but keeping some elements realistic so that they stay recognisable.
I’m currently preparing a new one focusing on the Asian collections and fabric patterns ( both inspired by the Indian section and William Morris patterns)

Pages from lucilleclerc-printlayersPages from lucilleclerc-printlayers-2Pages from lucilleclerc-printlayers-3Page

Q: Did you notice anything odd or surprising/learn anything new while studying the V&A buildings?
LC: I’ve been going for years and each time I discover something new, both about the buildings and the collections. I have a soft spot for the less spectacular parts of the building that I often discover when loosing my way, such as the patterns on the walls and floors of the first floor. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say I’ve seen it all, and that’s what I love about it.

Q: What draws you to architectural subjects?
LC: The city of London has become one of my main source of inspiration. I see it like a giant puzzle with infinite combinations and stories to tell.

Q: In the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, we saw the powerful message a very simple illustration can have, what message do you hope people take from your body of work?
LC: There are several parts in my work, when I work for the press, my images tend to be more synthetic, the aim is to find the most efficient way to convey one strong idea. When I work on books or prints, the time scale is different, the viewer has more time to stare and discover all the details I like to hide in my images. I have time to tell a story.


Q: Did you ever visit the V&A while studying at Central Saint Martins and imagine one day being commissioned by them?
LC: I think my first visit at the V&A was when I was 5 and every year until I finally moved to London and could become a member. (My celebration lunch for my MA was in the Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms with my family). So it’s been a long love story with a happy end I could never have imagined, and hopefully there are still a few happy chapters to be written!

Portrait of the V&A by Lucille Clerc
Limited edition of 40, signed and titled by the artist
6 layer screenprint. £195


Truth Is In Season

Ads seldom haunt. But this one does. In a good way. This three-minute-plus mini video – it feels wrong to call it a commercial – takes us back to Christmas Eve 1914. We feel the hard-packed earth of WWI trenches. Sense cold soldiers yearning for home. Memories seem to float in the air like the…

Greteman Group » News & Views

4 Things Marketers Should Know About This Season of Dancing with the Stars

By David Schwab, managing director of Octagon First Call

Entering its 19th season tonight, ABC's Dancing with the Stars features a new judge (former pro dancer turned actress Julianne Hough), a large crop of new pros, and of course, a brand new cast. As marketers tune in this season, here are four things to keep top of mind throughout this cycle.

• Contestants to Watch
At first glance, season 19's most interesting name seems to be Bethany Mota, a YouTube star with a massive millennial fan base. She may not be a household name now, but her star has risen quickly as one of the faces of YouTube's national ad campaign, and she recently landed the cover of Seventeen magazine. DWTS will help boost her profile from computer screen to mainstream. We expect beauty, young fashion and technology brands to be playing close attention to her.

Perhaps the biggest name this year is Lolo Jones. As both a summer and winter Olympian, Jones regularly garners significant media attention. She has already enjoyed brand deals (BP, Red Bull) and will continue to do so leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. A DWTS stint will allow Jones to broaden her reach outside the Olympics/sports space and into mainstream and lifestyle categories, where she will have more longevity post-Olympics.

• The ABCs of Casting DWTS
While Mota and Jones are standouts this season, the cast as a whole comes off as a bit vanilla. As always, DWTS has seemingly found a casting formula it feels delivers well—and is sticking to it.

The cast includes an Olympian (Jones), a comedian (Tommy Chong), an older competitor (Betsey Johnson), youth-appealing talent (Mota and Pretty Little Liars actress Janel Parrish), a reality star (Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty), a media personality (Tavis Smiley), "tough guy" pro athletes (Randy Couture and Michael Waltrip), Hollywood heartthrobs (Antonio Sabato Jr. and Jonathan Bennett) and celebs who appeal to audience nostalgia (Alfonso Ribeiro of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Lea Thompson of Back to the Future).

• Types of Deals That Work
Because the show is only on the air for a few months, PR, social media, hospitality and corporate speaking are the types of marketing deals that typically make the most sense for DWTS talent to take advantage of their increased appeal and attention.

These activities allow marketers to quickly leverage the current relevance of the show, whereas advertising would not hit until after the show is over and buzz has died down. In season, DWTS celebs get weekly exposure on top entertainment outlets including Ellen, Extra and Access Hollywood, making them that much more valuable and relevant to marketers in the short term (including products they can wear during the interviews—clothing/shoes/jewelry).

• Pros and Judges Pick Up the Slack
The pros and judges are starting to have equal if not more star power than the celebrity cast. While the celebrity talent varies season to season and brings fans in and out of the franchise, the judges and pros become anchors for the series as familiar faces.

Several fan favorites have numerous marketing partnerships and continue to hold strong value for brands, including Cheryl Burke (Depend, imPRESS Nails), Carrie Ann Inaba (Purina, Arnicare, USA Dance) and Mark Ballas (GlaxoSmithKline, Pepsi, Holland America). Serial champ Derek Hough is one to watch for brands, too.

Returning in a new role is former pro (now judge) Julianne Hough, who has proven to be a marketing star through her partnerships with Proactiv, FFANY and Caress, among others. The judging shakeup not only adds a new dynamic to the show (à la Erin Andrews as the new co-host last season) but also brings back a fan favorite, which producers are surely hoping brings in additional viewers as well.

Judging as opposed to returning as a pro should open up greater opportunities for Julianne. Judges and hosts are not frequently in rehearsals and competing week to week, and so they have more availability to participate in branded opportunities.

While judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli travel weekly between London and Los Angeles to judge on both DWTS and its British counterpart, Strictly Come Dancing, their presence on both shows could be leveraged for international opportunities and appearances, too.

—David Schwab is managing director of Octagon First Call, experts in aligning celebrities with brands to deliver a quantifiable results against company objectives. Follow him at @david_schwab.

Adweek : Advertising & Branding