Somehow we blinked and 2021 has already arrived at the autumn season. The holidays still feel a little far away, but the reality is that if you haven’t started planning for them yet as a business owner or marketer, you’re already very close to being behind.

Trust me when I say that the absolute last thing you want is to find yourself scrambling for new keywords or trying to organize promotions two weeks before Black Friday, hoping your ads will be approved without a hitch in time. 

Especially since 2021 isn’t like all the other years that have come before it. Due to changes in consumer behavior, supply changes, and the economy, we’re playing by slightly different rules. 

The good news is that there is plenty of prep work you can and should be doing now to have outstanding holiday PPC ads. 

Let’s take a look at the holiday PPC prep work you should start doing right now to have a killer 2021 season. 

1. Take Potential Supply Chain Issues Into Consideration Now 

This might not sound like advice you’d typically get from a PPC agency, but the reality is for this holiday season you don’t want to jump the gun on advertising all of your seasonal offerings just yet. 

You want to know what you’re planning. You want to have some of those campaigns ready. (We’ll talk about this in a minute). But don’t jump the gun just yet on running your advertisements promoting all of your products. 

With supply chain issues impacting a large number of industries this year (and sometimes unpredictably), the reality is many eCommerce businesses are going to have to worry about even having stock available come December – especially after the frenzy of holiday buying during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If there are any products in your inventory that pose this threat, we’ve got a new approach we recommend taking here. 

Take a look at the different channels that drive sales for these particular products. Do they sell well to existing clients through email? Are they going fast on Instagram’s shoppable posts, or are you dominating through organic search traffic? 

If you can sell the limited-stock inventory through other channels, do that. This will protect your bottom line, keeping you from dishing out ad spend you didn’t need to actually spend while potentially keeping you from going out of stock too soon. This is actually a vital holiday PPC prep tip that you’ll want to keep in mind.

2. Plan Your Promotional Calendar Now 

No matter when you’re reading this, now is the time to start planning your promotional content calendar.

Having appealing offers during the holiday season can help you stand out, and you need to plan ahead to make sure that your offer 1) scales well, 2) is competitive, and 3) is profitable for your business.

Think about what you want to offer, including product bundles, discount codes, buy one get ones, or free expedited shipping. Under what conditions are these offers available, and when are they going to run? 

holiday PPC prep work for promotional calendar

Map this out in advance, and get the creatives all lined up with the extra extensions (like promotion extensions!) in place. Get your ads scheduled and pre-approved so there’s nothing that you need to worry about on this front later. 

3. Look for Holiday-Specific Keywords

When the holiday season is in full swing, it’s common for people to start searching for holiday-related keywords.

Instead of “candle,” someone might search for “candle for stocking stuffers.” And people who are out of ideas period start looking for keywords like “Christmas self care packages for men.” Sometimes even “stocking stuffers” or “best bikes to give for Christmas” are in the mix, too. 

Do some keyword research and looking for holiday keyword opportunities that you can realistically rank for. Google’s Keyword Explorer is a free tool that shows you how different keywords perform overtime and offers suggestions based on what you’re searching. 

Keyword research for holiday PPC prep tips

For best results, keep these keywords to their own ad groups so that you can create stronger and more relevant campaigns that incorporate them accordingly. This is a holiday PPC prep tip that should take seasonal factors into consideration.

4. Don’t Neglect the Funnel 

Yes, holiday shoppers are fairly fast and often high intent shoppers. That’s great. You’ll likely get a lot of impulse purchases if you’re just able to get your holiday PPC ad seen by the right people.

That doesn’t mean that the full digital sales funnel and buyer’s journey doesn’t matter, however. Plenty of customers shop in a frenzy, looking at a variety of different options for a single person before they settle on one. 

Having a PPC ad funnel that accounts for every step of the buying process is the best way to drive the most sales from the holiday season.

Have Shopping Ads ready to go so your customers browsing products on Google can find yours. 

Get your keyword-focused search PPC campaigns uploaded in advance, and use extensions to help guide customers to the right products. Consider different stages of the buyer’s journey with different keywords; someone searching for “men’s stocking stuffers” may not be quite as high intent as someone searching for “men’s grooming kit.”

And finally, have retargeting ads up and running in advance. Dynamic and responsive display ads are an excellent choice, allowing you to show customers products that they’ve viewed already or other relevant items.  

Keep the full funnel alive and well with your holiday PPC ads for your best shot at getting users to complete those purchases. 

5. Make Sure Your Product Feeds Are Up to Date 

This is such an easy and obvious step that it’s actually sometimes overlooked.

Are your Google product feeds all up to date? Do they reflect your current inventory and pricing? 

Do you have a plan in place for any out-of-stock items?

The last thing that you need is people ordering items that are out of stock or incorrectly priced, so make sure that your product feeds are syncing to your site and everything is updated. This includes seasonal products or product bundles, which you definitely want to be advertising in your holiday PPC ads. 

6. Check Historical Trends

Did your competitors outbid you last year? If so, then they almost certainly got some of the sales that you could have snagged if you had upped your bid or your budget.

Use Google’s Keyword Explorer to see how much your target keywords cost last year during the holiday season. It’s typical to see spikes in cost during busy seasons, so you don’t want to go in thinking that your existing bids are going to cut it. 

Checking historical trends of holiday PPC keywords

Once you choose a custom date reflecting the previous year’s holiday season and take a look at existing keyword trends to see if they’re more or less popular overall this year, you can see the high and low bids for individual price ranges. 

Checking historical trends of holiday PPC keywords

This can help give you a starting point of what you should be bidding to be truly competitive. While you should never bid more than what would be profitable, especially for holiday purchases where plenty of customers purchase from a brand once and never again, bidding as much as you can during competitive seasons is the best way to increase your impression share

7. Prepare to Up Your Budget

The holiday season is a high-traffic, high-sales season. More people are spending, and more people are spending quickly. This means you need to capture the sales as the come in.

In order to do that, you’ll likely need to increase your ad spend budget in addition to potentially increasing your bids. This allows you to capture more of the impression share, because you aren’t running out of money before it’s too late. 

How much you invest depends entirely on your business, and remember that search ads only use up ad spend when the desired action (like a click) is taken. Some brands increase their ad spend by anywhere from 10-20% during the holiday season, but consider what’s right for you. Calculating your budget now is an easy holiday PPC prep step you’ll want to take in advance.

8. Put Top-Performing Products In Their Own Ads 

Most brands have some standout products, both in general and during the holiday season. 

If you want to ramp up sales, consider putting top-performing products in their own niche ads and ad groups. This will help your search ad’s quality score go up for relevant searches, which means more visibility at a lower cost. It will also show users that the ad is directly relevant to what they’re looking for, which means more clicks and more sales. 

Here’s an example. KitchenAid mixers are an incredibly popular holiday gift. You’ll see that they pop up in Shopping Ads, and there are also ads that go out of their way to mention “KitchenAid Mixers” and “KitchenAid stand mixers.” While they may have used dynamic keyword insertion, the result still works: Users see that these ads are exactly what they’re looking for. 

Google Ads holiday PPC campaign

9. Build Your Lists Now 

Remarketing is a goldmine now just as much as it always has been. You want to capture your customers’ interest so they purchase from you instead of someone else, and all you need to do is to keep your business at the front of their minds.

Start building your customer lists for remarketing now. 

Think about what audiences you’ll show holiday PPC campaigns to. Leads? Existing customers? Past customers? People who have recently viewed your site?

These are all viable candidates for different lists that you should be creating. You can even upload a list of customers who bought once around the holiday season in previous years (likely as a gift for someone) and show them complementary gifts to entice them to repurchase. 

Check to make sure that any automated tools that sync your CRM with Google customer lists are in great working order and that all your lists are up to date at this point so you can capture every potential customer. 

Final Thoughts 

The holidays are a heavy buying season for many businesses, and if your brand is included in that, it’s essential to start preparing to get your chance to earn your piece of the holiday sales pay.

We’re moving into the last few months of the year, so it’s now or never. Take a look through the holiday PPC prep work we’ve discussed and see where your campaigns need some extra help. The buying frenzy will be here before we know it. 
Need help getting your campaigns ready for the 2021 holiday season? Get in touch with us here.