End-of-Year PPC Surprises, Proposals and Omissions

Over all the years I’ve been running my PPC agency, I’ve noticed something about this time of year: weird things come up.

And by weird I mean (1) good/bad surprises, (2) indecent proposals and (3) blinding omissions.

How clients choose to deal with these surprises, proposals and omissions can have a huge influence over how they’ll finish the year, and how strongly they’ll start the next one.

PPC surprises

So in the interests of helping you and your marketing team spot these issues on the horizon—and deal with them ably—allow me to walk you through them.

A Good/Bad Surprise: You Have Extra Budget!

It’s not uncommon for us to get an email from a client on December 15 (or thereabouts) saying they have another $20K (or even $50K!) to spend on PPC. This most often happens with larger clients (especially those in B2B) who realize they haven’t spent their full budget allotment for the year.

Your first reaction might be “Awesome!” Your next reaction will be “Oh damn!”

How can you make the most of this unexpected windfall? While it might be tempting to simply plug it into something (anything!), this is actually a prime opportunity to do some testing—especially if you didn’t have budget to do it before.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Try some broader terms.

Now that you have the budget, you can afford to get a bit more experimental—and it will often bring you valuable intelligence.

For example, last year we used some extra budget to launch an ad group for a client using the keywords “garage storage racks” Pretty broad, right? Well, after only a couple of days we uncovered two strong performers: “garage ski storage racks” and “garage bike storage racks.” Both these search phrases proved valuable, and we quickly added them to the client’s campaigns.

2. Play with your Google Display Network (GDN) settings.

GDN is notorious for draining budgets quickly, so it’s been our practice to lockdown those campaigns tightly. But with extra budget in hand, this could be a time to loosen things up a bit.

For example, if you typically tie two targeting options together (such as topic and keyword), try adding a new ad group with just one of these parameters (such as topic) and see what happens.

3. Explore video ads.

While about 30 to 40 percent of our clients use video advertising, some clients remain reluctant, largely to do budget concerns. But with extra budget, this could be a chance to give it a try.

If you don’t get great results, then so be it. But if you do, then you may have opened up a whole new marketing channel.

An Indecent Proposal: Shut Down Your PPC Over the Holidays

Okay, maybe indecent isn’t the right word, but this proposal does make me cringe. Shutting down or pausing your PPC over the holidays is almost never a good idea, for many reasons:

1. Prospects use this time for research.

Yes, the end of December and early January is a quiet time for many B2B businesses. But when not stuffing turkeys or shoveling snow, many of your prospects will use this time to get caught up on work—and that often means conducting research.

True, your sales might not skyrocket during this period (especially if you’re in B2B), but you can bet that people are looking. So don’t you want your ads out there?

Also, keeping your campaigns up and running will set you up well for January, when people are ready to apply their research findings and make some purchase decisions.

2. You’ll probably spend less.

If you’re not persuaded by the above argument, then consider this: B2B clicks tend to decline during this period. As a result, you’ll probably spend less than usual.

Also, we typically find that when we turn off a campaign, the restart can be sluggish. And who wants to chance a sluggish period in January, which is typically a strong month for those in B2B?

3. Some customers will wait for you.

Some clients argue they should shut down their PPC over the holidays because they won’t be fulfilling orders during that time. But that assumes customers aren’t willing to wait a couple additional weeks (at the most) for fulfillment.

Of course some won’t. But others will. So wouldn’t it be better to communicate the delay and give customers the option—rather than losing them completely?

PPC surprises and the holidays

Keep PPC Accounts Running Over the Holidays

4. People shop between Christmas and New Year’s.

While business may slow down during this period, that’s not always the case—especially in B2C. Plenty of folks don’t celebrate Christmas and many others use the time to get caught up on their shopping. This is no time to pull your ads.

A Blinding Omission: Start the New Year Without Examining the Old

With all the hype surrounding New Year’s, it’s tempting shove the old year into a drawer labeled “done.”

But it’s important to reflect on the past year, and use what you’ve learned to inform your marketing in 2017. Ask yourself and your marketing team questions such as:

  • What worked well? How can we capitalize on it?
  • What didn’t work well? How can we do better?

Armed with this knowledge, get out your 2017 calendar and start plotting monthly goals for your programs.

This article wraps up our blog posts for 2016. From everyone here at Group Twenty Seven, we wish you a peaceful conclusion to 2016 and a prosperous and successful 2017.

See you next year!