That special time of year is upon us once again: Q4. While many people may find their thoughts wandering to the holidays, online retailers have to attend to a more practical concern. Q4 is the most competitive and profitable time of the year.
It may only be one quarter of the year, but Google estimates that 40% of online purchases will take place during Q4, and 39% of shoppers have already started their holiday shopping. A proper digital marketing strategy can ensure a record series of months, while fumbled efforts can lead to the year’s biggest wasted opportunity.
We’ve got your back with four simple tips to make sure that you’re getting everything you can out of the most wonderful (and lucrative!) time of the year.
1) Don’t be afraid to reallocate budget
It’s common for a business to set aside an annual budget for advertising and then try to pace it out throughout the year, spending evenly month after month. While this does provide some stability in the performance of paid search campaigns, businesses often fail to take advantage of the increased volume and conversion rate that comes with Q4.
If you’re a business that sees an increase in conversion rate during the last quarter of the year (like most e-commerce businesses) then you should be sure to allocate extra budget for the last portion of the year. Cost-per-clicks may creep up slightly from increased competition but a higher conversion rate essentially ensures that you’re getting more out of every dollar you spend.
In short, capitalize on the increased ROI as much as you can.
2) Seasonal keywords are actually a gift for you
Alright, no shame here. Who has ever typed a phrase like ‘gifts for Dad?’ into Google? After all, you’re stumped! He already has everything! Anyone know where I can get him a more creative son?
As you might expect, these keywords become extra valuable during the tail end of the year when most Americans scramble to find the perfect (or at least acceptable) gift for their loved ones. So, if you have a product that matches a particular demographic, don’t be afraid to have your digital marketing team test a seasonal campaign.
If you’re able to provide an appropriate answer to people who are frantically researching a gift, there’s a great chance that it could lead to a conversion. Don’t just expand your budget at the end of the year, test enhanced targeting, too.
3) Set your business apart with promotional offers
Of course, the amount of value that Q4 provides means increased competition. You won’t be the only business eager to take advantage of the increase in consumer activity.
It’ll become increasingly important to set yourself apart with unique product offerings and limited-time promotions. Not only do these play extremely well in ad copy, but they can also further increase your conversion rate.
If you’re leery of decreasing your margins by offering a promotion, we suggest offering free shipping on orders above a certain amount. The promise of free shipping often gets users browsing your site, and the desire to avoid paying for shipping can drive your average order value up.
The cost you’ll pay for shipping will be offset by the increased number of orders with a higher average order value. As always, create promotions with a testing mentality. If they don’t work, you can always stop them. But if they perform well they become a powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal.
4) Keep an eye on the competition
As we’ve mentioned, you won’t be the only one trying extra hard to push their products in the upcoming months. As budgets inflate and bids increase it can be helpful to keep an eye on the competition.
Fortunately, AdWords has the answer. Your digital marketing team can use the “auction insights report” in order to keep an eye on the competition and have an understanding of how their auction landscape is changing. That way, your team won’t just be blindly raising bids in an effort to keep up with the competition, but rather you’ll be keeping tabs on the trends.
Your campaign should have a high “position above rate,” as ads below the top 3 tend to suffer a dramatic decrease in CTR and conversion rate.
However, don’t burn through your budget chasing the top position. If your competition is willing to pay an exorbitant cost to be on top, let them. It’s often more economical to settle for a spot lower in the top 3 and enjoy lower CPCs.
‘Tis the season
While everyone probably feels like the best time to prepare for Q4 is three months ago, it’s never too late.
It’s obviously a lot of work to get new keywords, enhanced budgets, and competitive bids set up – but putting in the time can pay big dividends. If you’re unsure about tackling these optimizations alone there’s a Chicago PPC agency that’s perfect for the job. (‘Tis the season for shameless plugs!)
Any questions on how your business can make the most out of Q4? Tweet us at @Perfect_Search.
Want more of Benn’s expert advice? Check out why your site needs to take advantage of local and personalized search?