5 surprising paid-search insights to help you win the holidays

Whether you are ready or not, here come the holidays! Black Friday is only three Fridays away, and it — along with the holiday season more generally — is one of the best times of year to get your products in front of the millions of shoppers searching for the right gift at the right price.

Recently, my colleagues at Bing Ads and Merkle led an enlightening presentation on strategies for making the most of your paid search campaigns this holiday season. And they shared a few insights that may surprise you.

1. It’s not all about Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Bing Ads data reveals that many of us are procrastinators (no surprise there). But what you may not know is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday only comprise 17 percent of all holiday sales. Forty percent of gift purchases are made after these big days.

What does this mean for you? While you definitely want to reserve ample budget and bid early to capture Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, you’ll also want to budget for sales throughout December. And don’t forget to include a little extra budget for those post-Christmas shopping sprees. (That’s when you’ll see me doing my shopping!)

Tips:

  • Use a campaign planner to benchmark and project your seasonal traffic spikes.
  • Set up automated rules and alerts to track ad spend in real time. That way, you’ll have plenty of budget in place to win sales late in the season.
  • Make sure your titles include all the relevant details like brand, size and color. Be mindful of character limits, and test the order of product attributes to determine what drives the best traffic.

2. Early-bird shoppers account for 39% of holiday sales

Believe it or not, there are lots of early birds searching and buying well before Thanksgiving. In fact, while 30 percent of holiday purchases are made year-round, 9 percent of holiday purchases are made in the weeks before Thanksgiving. This means you need to plan early and have your campaigns ready by early November (Hint: that’s right now)!

November is a prime time for individuals who are researching their upcoming purchases and for those who don’t procrastinate (like me) to get their shopping done early. In the lead-up to Thanksgiving, you’ll want to be sure that you focus on building brand trust by making it easy for searchers to access product reviews and comparisons (and purchase, of course!).

Tips:

  • Use extensions to link to reviews and product comparisons.
  • Expand keyword coverage to include research-centric terms like “ideas,” ”best,” “kids,” and “women’s.”
  • Don’t forget about remarketing! They already came to look; make sure that they come back when they’re ready to buy.

3. One for you, two for me

Self-gifting is big this time of year. In fact, people shop for themselves 70 percent of the time during the holiday shopping season, especially when it comes to apparel. I know I have a hard time passing up on that amazing sale while shopping for my family. (What we don’t know is how many of these folks actually wrap their gifts to themselves!)

Tip:

  • Consider testing “treat yourself” ad copy for popular items with self-gifters.

4. There’s more to Thanksgiving Day than feasting and football

Like the turkey, search is hot on Thanksgiving. Shoppers are scouring the internet as they plan their Black Friday shopping sprees. What are they looking for? Deals, of course. The week of Thanksgiving, you’ll want to showcase your upcoming deals — then, on Black Friday, make it easy for customers to find your store and coupons.

Tips:

  • Adjust copy to include relevant keywords and seasonal attention-grabbers like “special holiday offer” and “Black Friday deals.”
  • Use countdown ads to show the sense of urgency for great limited-time offers and deals.
  • Make it easy for shoppers to click-and-call your business or find your nearest location from their mobile device.

5. Saturdays are popular with the hobby & leisure crowd

And hobby and leisure shoppers also generate more click volume earlier in the season. Think about the days that your audience might be searching. For example, if you sell products in the hobbies and leisure space, Bing data shows that Saturdays are a popular shopping day, although people begin their searches early in the season.

Tips:

  • Know your audience’s habits, and bid accordingly.
  • Pay attention to trends, including the types of devices being searched on and the days of the week (and time of day) shoppers are clicking and buying.

Final thoughts

So, what are you waiting for? The holidays are literally right around the corner, and you’ve got just a few more weeks to get your products in front of holiday shoppers!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

​Christi Olson is a Search Evangelist at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington. For over a decade Christi has been a student and practitioner of SEM. Prior to joining the Bing Ads team within Microsoft, Christi worked in marketing both in-house and at agencies at Point It, Expedia, Harry & David, and Microsoft (MSN, Bing, Windows). When she’s not geeking out about search and digital marketing she can be found with her husband at ACUO crossfit and running races across the PacificNW, brewing and trying to find the perfect beer, and going for lots of walks with their two schnauzers and pug.


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