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The holidays are arguably the best time of year – sleep-ins, delicious food and the time spent with loved ones. It’s also the time when purse strings loosen and people start to treat themselves and others to gifts for Christmas, I know I’ve already started. This also means your Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) will also rise.
According to Google, Australian shoppers spent $50 billion between 15 November and 24 December last year.
The festive season is the ideal time to attract new customers and re-engage old ones, whether you’re a B2B or B2C business. The purchase journey is not linear and digital plays a huge role in the entire process. This includes looking for ideas (awareness), researching reviews (consideration), getting the best deal (decision) and making the purchase (purchase). In fact, Google reports that almost 81% of Australian shoppers are influenced by or use digital channels to make their Christmas purchases.
An effective and economical way of reaching your customers is through search engine marketing (SEM). Unfortunately, most of your competitors feel the same way. This means lots of choices for customers (yay!) and lots of competitions for you (not so yay!).
To put it simply, your advertising costs will most likely increase. You may notice this is an increase in your average cost per click (CPC) or your average cost per acquisition (CPA).
The amount you pay per click (CPC) and consequently, per conversion action (CPA) depends on several factors, one of which is the amount of competition in the marketplace. This is not surprising as most PPC search advertising functions like an auction. This means that if another business decides to bid for a keyword that you’re targeting, then you may be required to bid a higher amount to show your ad instead. While there are always businesses competing for your keywords, ad positions and customers, this activity becomes more intense during the holiday season.
Another way to visualise this is by imagining a supply and demand curve. If the demand for the opportunity to show ads to a customer or the #1 ad position on a SERP increases but the supply remains the same, the price that each marketer pays increases.
It is important to mention here that search advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Bing Ads do take into account factors other than your bid. These include ad relevance and landing page experience. This introduces an element of merit into the auction creating a level playing field for all advertisers, regardless of their spending capabilities.
Well, you can’t stop it! But here are a few tactics to help you make the best of it.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. The difference between success and failure can often come down to planning. If you’ve been in business for a few years, you already know whether the Christmas season is important for you, and you know it will be competitive. Plan for it 3, 6 or even 12 months in advance.
This could be as simple as preparing effective holiday-themed copy for your ads or allocating more budget for this time of year. Or it could be as complex as adjusting and optimising bidding strategies on all your keywords and phrases to ensure you spend your budget wisely and get the most bang for your buck.
Recent data from Google suggests that 21% of Christmas shoppers shop before November. Another interesting observation from Google is that 80% of shoppers are likely to return to the same websites and stores that they shop from during the year. This suggests that your customer’s buyer journey can start at any point during the year.
Examine your historical data at your disposal and deploy your marketing efforts before any of your competitors have a chance to hit the market.
If you are working with a limited budget be selective in your choice of marketing channels. Don’t run after the flashiest or the most popular thing on the advertising shelf. Instead, identify where your audience is most likely to engage with you. Ask yourself where your customers get their information, who they ask for advice from and how long it takes them to make a choice. This information is vital in spending budget wisely.
Rather than allocating tiny amounts of budget to a barrage of channels, prioritise the channels based on their importance, relevance, effectiveness and feasibility.
If you’ve planned ahead and set aside a budget for the Christmas rush, then you can edge out the competition by diversifying the channels and tactics you are using. Take the opportunity to experiment with Bing Ads, Gmail Ads or Instagram or try shopping campaigns and local inventory ads.
If these channels aren’t popular with your competitors, then you could potentially corner the market, acquire customers cheaply and balance out the high costs that may be unavoidable on more popular channels.
Irrespective of whether your Christmas marketing efforts this year are successful or not, put in place a mechanism to collect relevant data from your activities.
According to PwC’s 2017 Total Retail Report, businesses that are committed to collecting and analysing shopper data, are winning at being more personal, more relevant and more responsive to their customers.
Learning from your failures as well as your successes will help you refine your marketing, ensuring that your efforts are profitable and achieve better results in the future.
The demand for products has only increased each year and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future, as will competition. Customers are spoilt for choice and you have to compete for not only your customer’s attention and interest but also for actual space on their screens as more businesses increase spend in their digital channels.
If you need a hand allocating budgets or optimising your PPC search ads heading into the Christmas period, contact us today.
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