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How to Maximize Holiday Search Spend: 7 Practical Tips from Offermatica and Fathom Online

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While paid search prices have dipped slightly in some categories compared to last year, holiday traffic is far from inexpensive.

Savvy marketers are fine–tuning all parts of their PPC strategies – from bid placement to creative through to the ultimate sale – in order to maximize revenue this holiday season. But what are the most important areas to tweak?

Here, Chris Churchill, CEO of Fathom Online, and Offermatica CEO Matthew Roche offer their tips for getting the most out of your holiday spend:

Tip #1. Wait until December 1

Last year, keyword prices actually dropped after the week following Thanksgiving, probably because most retail
ers stopped focusing on search and started focusing on fulfillment.

Consider December 1–10 as your key time for search spending.

Tip #2. Save for post-Christmas

The week after Christmas, when post–holiday sales entice bargain hunters, is also a good time to budget for search.

Tip #3. Think local

According to Fathom, many marketers would benefit by allocating at least 20 percent of their holiday PPC budgets to local search. The reason? Local search has a higher conversion rate across the board.

Tip #4. Focus on specific keywords

General keywords are expensive – and they don’t always pull their weight in driving sales. Consider replacing general keywords with more specific ones – they usually convert better and cost less, so you can purchase more of them and increase ROI.
For example, the (approximate) top bid for toy is $.61, compared to the top bids for Barbie ($.16), Care Bear ($.10), and Play Dough ($.11).

Tip #5. Include offline call to action

Don't fall into the trap of excluding your offline channels simply because search is an online medium. Consider including a call to action within your ad copy that drives customers to offline channels. It’s more difficult to track unless you’ve already put a system into place – but consumers have proven time and again that they like having multiple ways to respond.

Effective phrases like “a representative is standing by to take your call” or “to order now, call…” have proven successful.

Tip #6. Reinforce offline creative

A tried–and–true but sometimes forgotten technique: If you’re running a marketing campaign in other media, reinforce the message in your online ads.

Tip #7. Create customized landing pages

Perhaps the best way to increase bottom line ROI without increasing your media budget is to improve landing pages. How? By segmenting consumers – by originating search engine, by keyword “buckets”, etc. – and testing landing page content.

For example, a recent BIGresearch study published in iMedia Connection showed that Ask Jeeves and Google searchers were influenced by online ads more than AOL searchers were. In other words, one landing page does not fit all.

Both Roche and Churchill recommend testing and then optimizing based on results – not just on text ads or landing pages, but across the entire buying process through the final sale.

Only then can retailers be sure they’re wringing every possible bit of return from their search dollars – and it will be a jolly and profitab le season for all.
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Matthew RocheAuthor: Matthew Roche, CEO and Co-President - Offermatica

Matthew Roche is Co-President and CEO of Offermatica. Offermatica provide a scientific testing platform for applying A/B, multivariate and Taguchi testing to increase online sales.