The holiday season is fast approaching, and whether you’re creating your first paid search campaign or you’re a certified Google Ads wizard, you know that now is the time to get laser focused on your marketing campaigns.

But where do you start, and how do you prioritize all the different campaign optimizations you’re looking to implement before the busiest time of the year?

Read on for a few quick and helpful tips to get your paid campaigns in tip-top holiday shopping shape!

Test, Test, Test

Now is a great time to get creative and have fun with your site and ads. It’s always best to run a few different versions of your ads at a time so you have the ability to A/B test, and the holiday season provides a great opportunity to be festive with your ad copy. Test out a few different versions of your ad, but don’t stop there. Consider different calls to action and different landing pages for your ads as well. Sometimes making even a minor, seemingly insignificant change in ad copy or headline text can produce huge results. Look at every aspect of your ad experience, and consider which elements or variables are worth testing out.  

On a similar note, get creative with your promotions and your site itself. Make a holiday product bundle at a discounted price, or create different promotions to see which performs better. For example, do your shoppers respond more positively to a flat $10 off, or are they more enticed with a 15% coupon code? Dress up your site pages with fun new visuals or banners, maybe even create whole new pages on your site specifically devoted to showcasing and calling out your holiday sales. 

Increase Your Focus, And Your Budget

It’s pretty common knowledge that Q4 is make or break time for many small ecommerce businesses, and that during this time companies of all sizes stand to make huge returns. As such, it stands to reason that the advertising landscape will be much more fierce, with increased marketing budgets and new competitors entering the space. So during this crucial time, it’s important to stay extra focused and make a plan. 

Create audience lists months in advance. Look specifically to identify users based on shopping intent, creating different lists for shoppers at different stages of the sales funnel. In addition to a list of all visitors, look to create separate audience lists for people who viewed a product, added an item to their cart, completed a purchase, or visited a particularly important page on your site. Use remarketing ads using these audience lists to engage with potential buyers, creating different ads based on which audience you’re dealing with. Someone put an item in their cart, but didn’t complete the purchase? Maybe include a special coupon code in your remarketing ad that’s only for cart abandoners. 

Unfortunately, the reality of the Google Ads Auction system means that when other businesses increase their marketing budgets, it creates a more competitive landscape for all other advertisers as well. As such, it’s probably in your best interest to review campaign bids and budgets, and to increase spend where you’d like to be more competitive. This influx of competition can also serve as a good opportunity to do your own research, however. Identify a few main competitors and see what kind of deals they’re offering. See which ads show up next to you on search result pages and compare your ads to theirs. All’s fair in love and advertising, after all.  

Automate Where You Can

It’s important to make sure your paid search campaigns are getting all the attention they deserve, and are never put on the dreaded “set it and forget it” mode. At some point, though, you’re going to be too preoccupied filling orders and managing other aspects of your business to be able to dive too deep into your ever growing Google Ads campaign. When this happens, it’s a good idea to look into utilizing tools like Google Ads Editor, which allows you to make bulk changes to existing campaigns, even while offline. 

Taking things a bit further — if you’re comfortable with implementing javascript, then the world of campaign automation really opens up. Google has a great list of free scripts for everything from bid adjustments that trigger when certain conditions are met, to automated campaign reporting. There are also a few tools within the Google Ads interface that can help with automation. By utilizing a mixture of location, time of day, and device bidding, you can optimize your campaigns and feel confident in letting them run to your specifications.

One last tactic to test out would be running a Dynamic Search Ads campaign. This type of campaign works a little differently than you may be used to, using on-page content to match your ad with relevant search terms. This type of campaign can be a good way to gather keywords to bid on in your other campaigns, and generally helps to ensure all aspects of your site are captured and utilized in your marketing efforts. 

Get Started Early

The holiday season is fast approaching, and while it may seem like there’s still plenty of time to spare, but a recent report by Google itself reveals that people are more and more likely to browse and purchase over a longer period of time, and not necessarily only look for those blockbuster sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Additionally, a majority of people prefer to conduct research ahead of making their ultimate purchasing decision, so make sure your campaigns are in tip-top shape and that you’re reaching your targeted audience while they’re in information gathering mode.