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Q4 can be a wild and hectic time for any retail business, and with competition fiercer than ever in the eCommerce sphere, online retailers are looking to leverage any advantage to get their messages out. Amazon captures a staggering market share of online holiday shoppers, so competing on their platform is crucial for most businesses—but how can yours gain the competitive edge?
If you want to see great conversion rates and strong sales on Amazon during the holidays—and who doesn’t?—PPC is a critical part of the picture. Relying on organic search results to get your product in front of shoppers is quite risky if you don’t have a strong market share already established, so it’s important to let PPC be your “foot in the door” to help you get there. And even if you’re already doing well on Amazon, PPC can help you drive higher performance.
However, we all know that during the holiday season, things work a little differently, and PPC is no exception. These seven key strategies will help your business refine its PPC operations and make this holiday shopping season your best one yet.
1. Start your PPC campaigns before the holidays hit.
A great PPC campaign usually isn’t built overnight. Most will require some time to fine-tune keywords and bid strategies, so start early. The longer you have a campaign running for, the more eyes you’ll have gotten it in front of, and the more relevance you’ll have built up in your customers’ minds.
This is especially important for shoppers who start looking early. Whether or not they consciously remember the ad they saw when they searched for golf club bags at the beginning of October, when they see your ad again in December, it will communicate the message that your brand has an established presence and is probably worth a look.
One particularly effective way you can leverage this strategy is to start automatic exploratory campaigns using Amazon’s suggested keywords in Q3, then check their performance and zero in on your most powerful keywords later through manually targeted campaigns. This allows you to get the best of both worlds: refreshing your campaigns with new blood in the keywords while selecting only the most cost-effective and relevant terms.
2. Run A/B tests ahead of time to find the most effective messaging.
To avoid wasting time and ad dollars during a period when both are at their most precious, you should have a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t by the time the holiday shopping season starts. You can get a jump on this by running some A/B tests during Q3. Test your CTR, CPC, conversion rates, and any other metrics important to you on PPC points such as images and image angles, copy, which products to pair with which keywords, and so on.
Remember that you’ll need to optimize product detail page content as well, so don’t neglect it in your comparison tests. And if you’re dreading the process of testing each variable, using a professional Amazon PPC management service can make your A/B tests easier and more effective and take some of the stress off your marketing team.
Customers shopping during these periods are likely to have strong intent, even if they’re not sure exactly what they want yet. Whatever stage of the journey they’re at, these are some of the most effective times to seize your advantage by increasing PPC bids and offering coupons or Lightning Deals. Even if you’re not running big promotions during some of these periods, you’re likely to benefit from the increased traffic.
4. Tailor your content with holiday messages.
This tip is one of the easiest ways to do more with less. By adding a holiday theme to your PPC ad content, you can nudge the consumer toward associating your products with the seasonal thoughts that are already on their minds.
You can often make this work with just a few small tweaks—adding holiday-themed copy like “Makes a great stocking stuffer!” to your ads, targeting holiday keywords and pairing your best-selling items with them, or retooling your Sponsored Brand ads with holiday images can go a long way. Once you’ve established the link between your products and the holiday shopping season, you’ve created a mental “hook” that will help more customers find their way to your pages.
5. Prioritize Amazon in your PPC budget allocation.
You always want to put your ad dollars where they’ll count the most, but it’s even more critical during the holidays. Thus, think about why Amazon is often a better investment of PPC resources during the holidays. Shoppers are primed and ready to buy, and even when they’re still in the research stage, they’ll often do it with an eye towards buying by browsing Amazon listings. eCommerce is also a hot channel for impulse purchases, making Amazon the all-around most sound holiday PPC investment for many retailers.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should eliminate your Google and Facebook PPC ad presence—just that you should direct your resources to the platforms on which shoppers are most likely to convert. You can even expand on this by allocating more resources toward Google ads during times when shoppers are more likely to be at the beginning of their research (such as the end of Q3), then gradually shifting your focus to Amazon as buyer intent increases toward the apex of the holiday season.
6. Make sure your detail page content is in good shape.
PPC tactics can get your customers in the door, but great content is what drives conversions. To move your customers down the funnel efficiently, it’s important to optimize your product detail pages and fill them with appealing content that gives them both the information and the motivation they need to convert, such as:
Multiple colorful, high-resolution photos that show the product from every angle, as well as “lifestyle” images that show the product in use and build your brand. (This is another great opportunity to temporarily add some holiday-themed images.)
Critical product information that’s easy to find and organized logically—if the shopper has to spend more than a minute or so hunting for product specifications, they’ll probably move on to another listing.
Bullet points and product descriptions that are seeded with the critical keywords you’re targeting (but not keyword-stuffed or hard to read).
Enhanced Brand Content, customizable rich visual content that allows you to create website-like templates for your product and tell a next-level story.
7. Use the “Adjust bids by placement” feature to get a better chance at scoring front-page results.
Fortunately, Amazon’s PPC interface now includes an “Adjust bids by placement” option that allows you to maximize your ROI by automatically adjusting bids by up to 900 percent when your ad has the chance to appear in the Top of Search position. Using this option is a good way to double down on your best-performing and most profitable items. Since it can be costly, it may not be a tool you want to use year-round, but the holidays are when most Amazon advertisers will go all-out, and this option will help you stay in the race as you and your competitors sprint toward the finish line.
However you choose to go about it, remember that the ultimate goal of crafting a great Amazon PPC campaign is to deliver advertising that’s useful to the customer and helps them make the choice that will give them the happiest holidays. By incorporating these tips into your understanding of best practices in Amazon advertising, you can help make your holidays just as successful as your customers’.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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