A Marketer's Guide to Winning Holiday 2018

Blog | 09 Oct, 2018

Holiday is retail's Super Bowl. We plan for it all year, the stakes are high, the competition is fierce, and our performance- or lack thereof- can make or break us. So what do brands and retailers need to do to set themselves up for success this season?


At Google’s 2018 Holiday Retail Summit, the mantra was “Start early. Be helpful. Keep the lights on.” 

With almost half of consumers doing their holiday shopping at new retailers, we know that while shoppers often have a specific product in mind, they expect brands to offer unique value.

  • 76% of mobile shoppers have changed their mind about which retailer or brand to buy from after searching on Google
  • 80% of searchers don’t have a specific brand in mind for their holiday shopping

Start Early

Shoppers are researching early - over half of holiday shoppers begin researching in October or earlier, and 33% began purchasing in that timeframe.

1. Create a plan, and create it early

To meet the early holiday demand, holiday PPC plans should be built out in summer and in place by October. Holiday success, before any strategic decisions, is dependent on reaching goals and KPIs to move into the season with.

2. Learn from last year

Armed with last year’s holiday learnings and a holistic view of PPC opportunities and limitations, make realistic a plan. To maximize opportunity, ask questions like the following: what days did we earn the most revenue? When was our ROI the highest? Did we have days where our budget didn’t meet demand, and how can we meet it this year? What are industry trends telling us?

Specific steps to take here are:

  • Use historical data to allocate budget appropriately
  • Set up attribution and tracking well before holiday campaign launch dates
  • Create a bidding strategy and know when you are willing to bid aggressively and when it doesn’t make sense for your goals

3. Allocate resources now

The holiday season can be volatile, and even with a strategy in place, accounts need more supervision. It’s important to work together early to create a coverage plan.

Be Helpful

With so many shoppers willing to buy from new brands and the impact of paid search ads on purchase decisions in addition to a crowded marketplace, it is more important than ever at the holidays to use an audience-centered approach to PPC.

1. Use audiences to tailor your approach

Leverage RLSA, In-Market, Customer Match, and Similar Audiences to tailor the user experience (and get more for your money). 81% of consumers said they want brands to get to know them, and a strong audience strategy can help.

2. Keep your shopping feed up-to-date

Make the most of automation. A feed management partner like Feedonomics can help you do this.

3. Use attribution to understand what touchpoints are driving users to purchase

Move away from last click, and if possible, move to DDA to understand performance throughout a user’s path to purchase to make more informed decisions about how you bid and spend money in PPC. If DDA isn’t possible, time decay and positional strategies still give a more holistic picture of a user’s journey compared to last click.

4. Explore opportunity with DSA and inventory campaigns

Again, the power of automation.

5. Bridge online and offline strategy

Use local inventory ads and location extensions to drive shoppers in-store. 75% of consumers expect retailers to have product availability information before visiting in store.

Keep the Lights On

There will be last-minute shoppers looking for gifts and post-holiday traffic. 71% of shoppers said they did not feel pressured to purchase early because they knew there would be promotions all season long.  Three quarters of holiday shoppers backed out of a purchase because of inconvenient return policies, and post-holiday returns are a great time to garner incremental sales. This is also opportunity to re-engage shoppers who didn’t complete purchases before the holidays.

20% of in-store traffic happens after Christmas

Keeping local inventory ads and location extensions on during this time is ideal.

50% of shoppers said a limited-time sale or promotion convinced them to make a purchase

Retailers who can offer this post-holiday are at an advantage.

The top holiday sales day only make up ~12% of November and December sales volume

It’s important to keep all days funded.

With these tips, you can make sure Holiday 2018 is your best season yet. Want more? Get in touch to find out how Jellyfish can help your marketing dollars go even further.


Additional Resources:

Think with Google: How to Apply Holiday Shopping Insights to Your Analytics Strategies

National Retail Federation 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook



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