PPC & Media

The 2012 Guide to Successful Holiday Marketing

Be smart with search this holiday season.

If you haven’t thought about your digital marketing strategy this holiday shopping season, you better start now. According to a study conducted by Google, most people start their holiday shopping around November 5th and are finished well before Christmas Eve, 37% of people say search is their source for gift ideas, and 4 in 5 people use their mobile phone or tablet for holiday shopping. To help you be more prepared this holiday, we outlined the most important elements of a successful holiday marketing strategy. (Google, “Holiday Consumer Intentions 2012”)

Run Google Shopping Ads

To get the most exposure this holiday you should be on every paid advertising platform, which now includes Google Shopping. On October 17th Google Shopping, a retail focused search engine, transitioned from free to paid. Google claims they did this to improve user experience, but we know they did it to make even more money. For the basic information on Google shopping, check out our latest post on Google Shopping.

Let’s get real; the basics are not going to cut it during online shopping’s busiest time of the year. To be ahead of the game: make sure your product listings have as many extra attributes as possible, your photos are mouth-watering, and your ad groups are completely optimized. Product listings Ads appear when a shopping search query matches the content in your data feed product description, so make sure your product descriptions are filled with as many keywords as possible. Finally, make your product listing ads stand out by adding your promotions. For more information on how to add promotions, one of the newer features, visit the Google Retail blog.

Capture Everyone, Everywhere with DSA and Remarketing

Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic search ads show your ad based on the content of your website. If you leave out a keyword in your AdWords campaign, with the right bid your ad will still be eligible to appear. This feature comes after a successful year of beta testing, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be taking advantage of it. It is as simple as creating a “dynamic search ad” campaign, targeting all pages or a subset of pages, and writing a few ads. To have more control over your DSA campaign create separate ad groups for different categories on your site. This will allow you to write more relevant ads based on that category and attract more qualified customers. Learn more about Dynamic Search Ads on Google’s Blog.


Remarketing is essential. You have taken all of the appropriate measures to attract customers to your desktop, tablet, and mobile site, now it is time to keep them coming back for more. By adding a small piece of code, the remarketing tag, onto your site, you can track everyone who came to your site and left without completing a desired goal. These visitors are then added to a “remarketing list” which you can send targeted ads to. There are two ways to go about remarketing, using adwords or using analytics. We’ve outlined below reasons why you would choose one over the other.

Adwords Remarketing

The only reason to use adwords remarketing would be because you do not use Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Remarketing

Apply one simple change to your current analytics tag.
Deliver targeted ads based on specific customer segments that are not available in adwords. i.e. time on site, users who placed an item in shopping cart and didn’t purchase etc.
Richer analysis and customer analysis

Optimization Tips

  • Start tagging visitors now – Your remarketing list must have at least 100 users before you can send ads to them.
  • Include an incentive in your display ad, “Free Shipping!” “Take 10% off your purchase with coupon code: —- “. Don’t forget to create a landing page if the offer doesn’t exist elsewhere on your site.
  • Use all ad formats
  • Test different ad designs, incentives, colors etc.

Dynamic Remarketing Ads With Your Product Listing Ads

Dynamic Remarketing is only in beta testing right now, but is definitely something worth signing up for. This new feature allows you to target anyone who has clicked on a product listing ad and did not purchase. To apply for this feature, fill out the Beta form with your adwords ID and Merchant center ID.

Remarketing is one of the best ways to match the right content with the right customers, so win the moments that matter this holiday with Remarketing.

Be Mobile Friendly

Mobile shopping is set to exceed $20 billion in 2012. With that said, if you don’t have a mobile friendly site you should rethink. Here are a couple ways you can go about creating your site if you haven’t done so already.

Separate Mobile Site

Design your mobile site to fit your business needs. That could mean either keeping it simple by showcasing only your best sellers or making it complex and including everything on your site. Whatever the case, creating a separate site for mobile gives you more flexibility and customization options.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is a way to design your site so that it will reformat itself to be friendly on any device. In my opinion this is the way to go, although it does take more technical resources which are not always available.

Mobile site examples worth taking a glance at:

Fedex.com, Hilton.com, mercedesbenz.com, Proflowers.com, Macys.com, Ticketnetwork.com



Now that your site has been created, Advertise it.

Make sure your mobile campaigns are separate from your desktop and tablet campaigns. By doing so you have more bidding control, and the option to customize ad extensions and ad copy accordingly. For example, on a desktop ad you include “Buy Now” as a site link whereas on a mobile ad you would include “find a store near you”. Check out the Macy’s ad copy. You’ll see their ad copy includes “Shop Macy’s on Your Phone” this is a great way to grab someone’s attention.

Finally, don’t forget to properly track your mobile site. Read about Measuring App Usage to learn more on how to track your Mobile site.


Get Savvy with Social

Google Plus

Google Plus currently has over 400 million users. It is easy to set up and navigate and has been proven to increase your CTR, increase your Search Rankings and increase your number of customers. Google is the powerhouse of search, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a Google plus page. To learn more about adding Google plus read our blog post. Plus, when someone searches for your site, the right hand side of the results page will feature your Google plus content, as seen here:


In the past, Facebook has shown to be a key influencer when it comes to holiday gift buying. Not only do people turn to Facebook to share and interact with their friends but they use Facebook for gift ideas as well. Now you can capture all of this action by sending targeted ads. Advertise to everyone on your email list, target ads based on the mobile apps people use, and my favorite, send ads to people based on where they checked in. There is no reason why you shouldn’t leverage this powerful social platform over the holidays.


Free, simple, yet powerful. That is why you should be on Pinterest promoting your products. Visit our recent Blog Post on Pinterest to learn more.

Final Tips and Techniques to Expand Your Brand This Holiday

Now that you have all the resources to launch your 2012 holiday digital marketing strategy here are some of my personal tips along with questions for you to keep in mind.

Don’t forget about last year’s data.

Which products did shoppers buy in 2011? Do you see any trends? What dates last holiday did you bring in the most revenue? Do people tend to buy more on a specific day of the week? What are your peak hours? Make sure to use all of this data wisely including to target and segment your adwords campaigns, or schedule your email promotions.

Be competitive!

Are your competitors offering free shipping and you’re not? Keep in mind that the most common promotions are “Free shipping” and “the more you buy the more you save” deals. For example: Spend $50 save 10%, Spend $100 save 20%!

Testing, Testing and more Testing

Site content, Ad Copy, etc. – Make sure your A/B testing is in full force.

Keep your content fresh.

Don’t leave an ad for free shipping running if that promotion doesn’t exist anymore. Constantly promote your newest deals.

Engage with your users.

Don’t forget to engage with your customers on all social media platforms. Most people want to be heard!

Make it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for.

Don’t hide products in the corners of your site. Make sure you have relevant keywords in your product descriptions.

Track everything

Lastly, make sure you’re tracking your data correctly! You have created a holiday marketing campaign guaranteed for success, make sure you’re data shows it!

There are so many ways to boost your sales this holiday season. Start by implementing your digital marketing strategy ASAP!

After all, you dont want to get left in the cold this winter.


Katie Olson

Katie Olson - Sr. PPC & Media Specialist

Katie loves Boston sports, ice cream, chardonnay & re-arranging furniture. She is as real as her Twitter followers.

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