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How to Succeed with Holiday Promotions in PPC Ads

holiday ppc ads image
With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to talk about how you’re going to optimize your PPC ad copy to draw holiday shoppers to your site. Promotions and sale messaging are widely utilized to compete with the rest of the paid ads listed on the same results page. However, if you’re going to offer a great discount, it’s important that you follow all the best practices for ensuring your promotion results in more sales.
It’s not just about using sale messaging in your ads. For performance to be at its best, it’s extremely important that you remember the entire PPC visitor’s path. The promotion should be easy to understand and follow them through the site so they know they’re getting the proper discounts. Follow these steps to ensure your visitors understand the discount and know they are getting a great deal on the items in their basket to prevent them from abandoning!
Provide a Very Clear Offer
Because you have such little space to work with in paid search ads, it’s best to use deals that are very easy to explain. Deals like “20% Off Your Order” are very effective in paid search ads because the description is short and simple and there’s little room for confusion for the user. They don’t need more details to understand that it’s actually only 20% off of a certain category of products or that there is a certain threshold they need to hit.
Example offers that tend to work best:

  • X% off your entire order
  • X% off a category of products, as long as you explain in the ad (ie. 15% Off All Kids’ Shoes)
  • Free Shipping

promotional ppc adspromotion ppc ads

Incorporate Similar Messaging on Landing Page
Make sure to reiterate the discount on the landing page to confirm to the user that it’s still a relevant and legit offer. This can be done through a banner or boutique that provides discount information, or with sale prices on the products that reassure the user that the discount is in place.
A landing page is a good option if your offer does require a lot of additional information, but make sure it’s still easy to navigate to what they want. Banners are the best option so you don’t need to change where your users are landing. Remember you still want to land them on the most relevant page to find what they’re looking for.
Steer away from simply updating the home page and sending all PPC users there if there are more specific landing pages you would normally use. Adding additional navigation to the user’s experience can hurt conversion rate.
Use Short Promo Codes
Promo codes themselves are great for PPC ads because the capitalization tends to be attention grabbing and increases CTR. However, keeping your promo code short provides more space for better messaging in the ad copy. Choosing a code like DECSALE2015 instead of SNOW means you have 7 less characters to use in making your ad as user friendly and attractive as possible. You’re wasting valuable ad space with a promo code. Also, the simpler the code, the easier it is to remember, and the better the user experience when it’s time to use it.
It’s also helpful to avoid characters that can cause confusion. Users can easily mistake the letter O for the number 0, or a capital I for the number 1, etc. Keep this in mind when choosing your promo code.
Depending on how your business works, it might be beneficial to give your PPC audience a different code than your catalog or email audience in order to track results. By tracking the use of that code in your order systems, you can get a better idea of how impactful that promotion was overall. Watching CTR and conversion rate of the PPC ads is one thing, but that only tells you the click and purchase performance of the visitors that clicked through that ad. It doesn’t tell you whether or not they even used the code in their purchase. It also doesn’t tell you about the users who might see the code in your ad but then go directly to your site and use it instead of clicking through your ad.
Create Sense of Urgency
Since many companies tend to use sale and discount messaging in their ads by default already, you want to stand out by indicating that your offer is only available for a limited time. You can do so by mentioning the holiday the promo is for, giving a time frame like “this weekend” or “this month,” or flat out just give them the promo deadline. Here are some example phrases that increase the sense of urgency in users:

  • This Black Friday, Save 20% On All Online Orders
  • Shop Today for Free Shipping
  • Save 15% On All Books This Labor Day Weekend
  • To Celebrate Valentine’s Day, We’re Giving You 15% Off
  • Save 10% On Your Order With Code SNOW. Ends 11/25.
  • Jeans Are Buy One, Get One: Limited Time Only

Test Your Ads
Sometimes, even when you offer a great promotion, the ad still just doesn’t work as well as your generic ones. Maybe the message you used didn’t stand out; maybe the offer didn’t make sense. Whatever the problem, your CTR may suffer as a result.
To limit the potential for damage, it’s good to keep your best performing ad live and run a promo ad against it. This also helps you test to see what differences there are between your typical ads and your promotional ones. You can directly compare click-through rates and conversion rates to see how much they impact performance.
If you get enough traffic, it’s also a good idea to test ad messaging within two promo ads. Run two at the same time to determine which layouts work best. Is it better to place the promo code in the first line or second? Is it better to say “Free Shipping on Orders Over $50” or “Free Shipping Available”?
When thinking about the offers you use in your paid search ads, it’s important to remember the mindset a searcher is in. They are looking for something specific and they’re going to click on the ad that is most relevant and enticing to them. Mention what it is they are looking for in your copy and use deals that will interest them. Further, it’s vital that this discount messaging follows them to the website so they are confident they’re getting a good deal. Keep the user in mind and you will be successful!

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Kelsey Cadogan

Kelsey has been in the digital marketing industry since 2010 with experience working both in-house and agency-side. Her specialty is in paid search marketing although her experience also includes search engine optimization, content marketing and social media marketing. When not in the office or relaxing at home, she can be found at the nearest volleyball court.

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