The holiday season can either be the busiest time of year for online advertisers, or it can be one of the quietest; it all depends on your sector – B2C or B2B. While some B2Bs may run holiday-focused promotions, most kick back and take this opportunity to sail through to the new year.
Although many of us may be tempted to completely relax our PPC efforts during the holidays, the last month of the year presents a great opportunity to plan for 2015. This will make it easier for your brand to hit the ground running in the next quarter, while your competition might still only be in planning mode.
Look at Year-Over-Year Performance
Take some time to look at everything from the overall campaign level to the ad groups, all the way down to the keyword level. What did you learn? Where are the opportunities for fixes and optimizations that could help you improve in 2015?
Consider also that you have a full year’s worth of data. Compare 2014 with the data from 2013, and note where things improved and where they maybe got worse. From there, you can work your way down the line, and map out a plan for the coming year.
Perform a Thorough Account Audit
Part of your analysis should include an audit. You may know audits are important, but they are time consuming. That’s why this is the perfect time of year to do a complete account analysis.
Back in January, I wrote a post for Search Engine Watch about managing PPC operations at every level; now might be a good time to review the tips included there. It touches on the regular tasks you should perform to keep account management running like a finely tuned machine.
Here are some basic steps in an audit:
- Manage negative keywords
- Review ad positions and manage bids
- Manage Google Display Network
- Review click-through rate
- Audit sitelinks
- Investigate Quality Scores
- Monitor keyword trends for program development
- Consider remarketing and Shopping campaigns
- Refine and test ad copy
- Audit the settings
- Look for geographical “hot spots”
- Do a search partner review
- Perform a competitor review
- Check campaigns against delivery for certain times of the day or week
If you’re a global business, you may also want to audit the process of collaboration between your branches. In October, I discussed the particular challenges of international PPC at Search Engine Land, and how important it is to conduct global PPC team reviews and meetings in order to break down barriers, and align everyone as part of the same brand.
In the following previously published posts on the Group Twenty Seven blog, we delve into more details on how you can make your campaigns run effectively:
- The Two Minute PPC Landing Page Audit: These two actions can help you determine how well your PPC landing pages are working for potential customers, and they each take just one minute.
- 3 AdWords Campaign Settings You Don’t Want to Miss: These settings can quickly give you more control over spending, ad delivery and more.
- Global PPC – 3 Things You Can Fix Now to Boost PPC: Addressing common keyword mistakes, poor account structure and lack of extensions can boost your global PPC right away.
Learn How PPC Can Support Stakeholders in 2015
Speaking of collaboration, now is a perfect time to look within, and discuss what’s on the horizon with various team members in your organization. Gather the sales team, the product team, and any others to find out more about their plans, or hopes for how things might improve in the new year.
Anything they see coming down the road is up for discussion. Some points that may come up are new products or services, and what PPC can do to support those efforts.
Also, don’t forget about budgeting to match those needs, and planning for where PPC dollars will go. This could require some strategic thinking, and a demonstration of the year-over-year data we talked about earlier.
In fact, this time of year is when we like to approach clients and ask what the budget is for the coming year, and talk about goals for testing new ideas.
For more on understanding goals, your competition, and staying on budget, check out this post on optimizing your PPC program with the 3 “Cs.”
Create a Workflow and Hit the Ground Running
Finally, create a workflow for how you will get this done. Prioritize the tasks you believe will have the most impact, and with all hands on deck, you could reasonably have everything complete by Jan. 1, 2015. Giving your brand a head start in Q3 2014 can help you outrun the competition in Q1.