3 ways to quickly ramp up online for the peak holiday trading period

Tracy Steffensen

The silly season is again almost upon us. With The Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous horse race, finally over, it’s now the unofficial start to Australia’s holiday season.

It’s the time of the year when we start planning our holidays, end of year, Christmas and New Year celebrations and for many businesses it’s a peak season.

Whilst many smaller businesses are only just starting starting to plan, it’s not too late to make the most of a key spending season. Thanks to the digital age, there’s 3 key activities you can undertake to get you geared up quickly.

1. Get your Search and Shopping Campaigns ready by planning carefully. Before you promote your products in Google (e.g. Google AdWords and Google Merchant Center (Google Shopping), there are a few things you need to do first:

a. Forecast your budget and set key performance indicators (KPIs). If you’ve utilised Adwords in the past, this will be more accurate. Pull your historical data for the holidays and estimate your spend then layer your account’s current year-over-year trends. The purpose is to capture missed traffic by budgeting more for days where your historical click share decreased but retail query volume or your competitor’s click share increased. Keep in mind to allow flexibility in your budget to survive holiday shopping peaks and valleys. Don’t forget to factor in cross-device and in-store impact when setting KPIs.

Adwords_05Learn from your previous holiday campaign(s).

b. Prepare your promotional calendar. Discuss with your team what and how long you want to promote your products. Again, look at your historical data and identify which promotions drove the highest profits or conversions. Don’t forget to consider your new products, doorbuster deals, site-wide promotions and exclusive promo codes.

You can try Google’s Merchant Promotions to highlight offers and add the sale_price and sale_price_effective_date feed attributes to schedule price changes in advance for promotions.

c. Create a crisis-response plan. Even for the most prepared businesses there’s always a possibility something can go wrong such as landing page or website issues. You need to be prepared for these things and assign on-call contacts. Define what’s considered a crisis, who needs to be involved to fix the problem, and what’s the expected lead time. Loop in relevant team members, vendors and your Google account team. Determine who’s available to troubleshoot account suspension warnings, item disapprovals or performance issues immediately.

2. Build your digital storefront. As soon as you have your plan ready, start preparing for your foundation. Start with your inventory and have a strong presence on the digital shelf at all times.

a. Expand coverage of increased holiday queries. Make sure that you’re advertising on all seasonally-relevant keywords and products. You can use Google Trends for this task. Google offers this search tip: “Hunt for missing keywords by running a keyword report for the same time last year, then filter for conversions > 0 and cross-reference against your current keyword list. Then broaden your match types. Capture all relevant queries by expanding high-performing exact match keywords into phrase and broad match types.”

Google keywords_02Tip #1: Organise or group  your holiday ads by theme to reach the right customers.

Google keywords_03Tip #2: Be specific. Don’t use general keywords. Use 5-20 keywords per ad group.

b. Keep your product price and availability fresh. Don’t expect your customers to ask for the price or availability of your product because they won’t! Most of the time, they will bounce from your store if they don’t see these important details.

c. Optimise your product data and maximise the relevance of your ads. Create unique and relevant content for your customers. Make sure they match what your customers are looking for. Additional tip: Create compelling product titles and descriptions accompanied by rich images.Adwords_02Fact:  Advertisers who use both text and images ads in multiple sizes and formats see up to 40% more conversions without increasing cost per acquision.

3. Capture more holiday shoppers. Expand your reach and attract customers throughout their holiday shopping journey with fully stocked shelves. Having enough inventory in stock shows you are prepared and you mean business!

a. Get mobile shopping right. Most of your customers are probably mobile. Therefore, it is imperative to optimise your store or website for mobile devices. Use cross-device conversions to assess mobile impact on your performance. Your mobile site should also load in less time to reduce bounce rate. Moreover, create a positive mobile shopping experience by using autofill forms (the shorter, the better), avoiding interstitials and placing the product’s price and “Add to cart” button above the fold.

b. Set the right bid for every auction based on your conversion rates. Enable and test enhanced CPC in Google Adwords to automatically adjust bids in real time based on the likelihood of a search query to convert without increasing cost. Check for Opportunities that appear as a light bulb next to ad or product group bids to increase traffic at the same cost.

Google Adwords - Opportunities

c. Reach new and qualified customers. Drive additional traffic and re-engage shoppers who have already shown interest in your products. Use signals from your site to bid based on audience segments with remarketing lists.

d. Let customers know you have what they want nearby. Take this as an opportunity to drive online traffic to stores. Enable location extensions to bid by location and proximity of your customers to your stores.

Some quick preparation and savvy online marketing can still help you make the most of a key trading period.

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