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How to make a holiday shopping campaign for low budget accounts

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As an advertiser, it always feels like the holiday season is abnormally long. It starts in August when I’m initiating conversations with our clients about the upcoming holidays and what it means for them. The majority of my clients are small businesses with small budgets, making this an important time of year. Not only do we have to be careful with our spend, but the revenue that is generated during this season is crucial. A lot of the accounts I work with will feel a strain in their business if they don’t earn enough during the holidays to help them make it through the slower months.

The unique constraints that small businesses face with advertising carry over to the holiday season, which is why planning your calendar, knowing what you’re measuring and being intentional with your budget are so important.

Calendar 

One of the challenges of running a small account during the holiday season is planning out exactly which campaigns you will run when. There are three main ways I approach the calendar.

Use historical data

First, use all the data you have access to in order to identify what worked last year and what didn’t. We have a client that is in the hospitality space and has been with us for three holiday seasons. We have a lot of data about what has worked in the past, and we use it to identify the platforms we want to use as well as similar campaigns that we want to run every year. If you don’t have data from last season, use what you do have to make an informed guess.

A caveat here is to ensure you aren’t looking only at last-click data or return on ad spend at the campaign level. Looking at purchase path and assisted revenue is important when identifying what you deem successful. If a specific campaign plays an important role at the beginning of the purchase path, cutting it is going to affect overall revenue.

Another important item to keep in mind is any major changes in your audience or offerings over the course of the year. Ask yourself if you can really make the assumption that what worked last year will likely work again if there have been major platform or audience changes. This also applies if a new competitor is in your space.

Trim it down

Chances are, you don’t have the budget to do everything that you want to do. It is the reality with small accounts, there isn’t enough money to go around. The last thing you want is to end up with a low performing holiday campaign because budget was spread too thin.

There are three things to keep in mind when trimming your campaigns down – budget, capacity and creative.

First, score your ideal campaigns according to priority. For us, high priority campaigns are those that have played the biggest role in affecting the overall bottom line – a combination of direct and assisted revenue. Look at costs from the season last year, take into account rises in cost-per-click (CPC) and the typical length of the season for the business. Some of our clients only run holiday ads from Nov. 11 through Dec. 10, and others run from mid-October through December. You additionally want to take into account any extra budget you may need for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, assuming you participate. Assign your campaigns their ideal budget alongside their priority and look critically at what does and does not fit.

Second, look at the business’s overall capacity. We have clients who are two-person businesses, and although demand exists we know that once they hit capacity, they physically cannot create or sell any more stock. Take this into account when allocating out what you will and will not run. Is there a point where this will happen for you during the season? 

Finally, there is a chance that some of your top-performing and ideal campaigns will require new creative for this year, or even midway through the season. Some creative can be reused year-over-year, but you generally want something new to avoid ad exhaustion, as small businesses can have small audiences. If a high scoring campaign that you really want to run needs new creative, chances are something else will have to go, especially if creating that asset costs additional budget.

Chart it out 

Once you have a plan ironed out, create yourself and your team a GANNT chart with details about execution. We have clients that add our digital marketing component into their larger GANNT charts and while it is excellent to see where digital fits in the overall picture, we find it extraordinarily helpful to maintain our own copy.

This is also important as with smaller clients, they will typically have one point of contact, one team member who is going to be helping with their whole holiday campaign. I’ll hop in for strategy discussions, but the implementation and actual running of the campaign is up to a single person. That can leave a lot of room for error, and an individualized GANNT chart combined with Asana tasks detailing starts/stops/finishes helps us run smoothly throughout the season.

To recap: 

  • Use historical data to figure out what campaigns you want to run 
  • Look at overall contribution to revenue, not just last click ad spend
  • Trim it down according to budget, capacity or creative 
  • Chart and task it out

Analytics 

When evaluating the success of your campaign, we stick with the metrics that were used the year prior in order to evaluate year-over-year growth, which is our biggest KPI within the holiday season. While we will look at return on ad spend (ROAS), increases in overall revenue generated is our primary goal. There is an exception to this, we will use ROAS as a success metric if a client sells out of inventory each season. If we helped them sell out faster while spending less on ads, then that is a success.

One note about analytics is that it is so important to tag and name your campaigns properly. Use UTM tags that align with not only the platform and type of ad, but the holiday season. You’re doing future you a big favor by tagging your campaigns and naming them in a way that allows for easy future comparisons.

To recap: 

  • Stick with similar metrics year-over-year
  • Look at overall growth/revenue increase instead of campaign level ROAS metrics 
  • Tag and name your campaigns properly to save future you a headache and allow for easier reporting

Budget

Budgets are a hot topic these days. From stories about Google Ads not respecting their own twice a day budget rule to increasing CPCs across the board, there’s always something to be thinking about.

Audience

One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t spend all your budget is focusing on smaller audiences that you hypothesize will drive revenue. If you have a limited budget for the season, focus spend on proven remarketing and email lists. This is especially important during the sale periods, where customers who know you and have previously engaged with your business are more likely to purchase. This is a great way to approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

You can also use lookalike audiences of people who have purchased in past years to narrow down your targeting for top of funnel campaigns.

Know your best performing days

If you have historical data from last season, use it to determine the start time of your holiday sprint. If you’re seasonal, when did traffic return last year? When did purchases rise? Are there certain days of the week or hours of the day that are more profitable? To maximize your budget, look at all of this information and determine when to start your holiday campaigns, whether or not to advertise seven days a week, and where you should be using bid adjustments to maximize revenue.

An example of a seasonal client analytics is below. The holiday traffic came to their site this year earlier than we anticipated. We were going to run ads beginning Nov. 12 but looking at the rise in organic traffic in early October, we decided to run an early bird campaign and have seen a jump in year-over-year revenue as a result of paying attention to the early spike.

Use a script to help you manage

The final budget tip for the season is to avoid that pesky overspending in Google Ads by using a budget script. This piece of advice comes from Duane Brown of Take Some Risk, who recommends this script to limit overspending. The one caveat is that you do have to remember to re-activate what gets paused the next day, either through another script or a rule.

Using a script to ensure your daily budgets don’t get out of control is a helpful way to maximize results throughout the season and prevent Google Ads from taking away your budgetary control.

To recap: 

  • Limit big sale days to your most qualified audiences 
  • Know what days and times you should be loading your budget for 
  • Pay attention to seasonal traffic and adjust accordingly 
  • Use a script to prevent overages

Season recap

One of the best things that you can do for your future self is to make notes as you go. What worked, what didn’t, what UTM tags you used, your GANNT charts, and why you made the choices you did.

We always think we will remember what we did with our calendars, how we managed success and what budgets we used and why, but instead of starting over every season, keep notes so that when you’re planning your 2020 campaigns you have something to refer back to.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Amalia Fowler is the director of marketing services at Snaptech Marketing. She manages a team of strategists who develop holistic digital marketing strategies for clients. Passionate about testing, marketing psychology and digital strategy, Amalia speaks frequently at industry conferences and events. Outside of marketing, she’s a coffee, paddleboarding and Vancouver enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter @amaliaefowler for all things marketing related.



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How to increase organic traffic: 14 Practical tips

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30-second summary:

  • Organic traffic is the best shareware way to attract visitors who already want to make a deal. You should conduct a good SEO analysis and take care of the quality of your site to increase it.
  • You can get more organic visits if you develop a strategy, eliminate technical errors of your site, use its good mobile version, make correct external and internal optimization, optimize URLs, update the site content regularly, develop a blog with unique content, analyze competitors, and promote your site through social networks, press releases, newsjacking, emails, and messengers.
  • The correct implementation of the above-mentioned tasks will provide a long-lasting result for you.

Ordinary users trust SERP more than advertising and links marked as “ads”. Correctly performed optimization, troubleshooting and the use of promising channels will quickly bring a good result.

14 Practical tips to increase organic traffic

You can get organic visits using a set of working methods, tools, and recommendations. The best 14 ways are summarized in the review below. 

1. Developing a strategy to increase organic traffic

The solution to any problem begins with the development of a strategy to leave room for financial and time planning. Strategy development is carried out in stages:

  • You should set goals and objectives at first
  • Then, identify weaknesses using a comprehensive site audit and analyze the competitive environment
  • As the next step, you can eliminate identified errors and problems
  • Also, you need to select priority methods to attract organic traffic and increase the position of the site in SERP
  • Then, map the work and budget, prepare a content plan (golden rule for a content plan – 60/30/10 – third-party content 60%, unique content 30%, advertising 10%)
  • If you need, you should select specialists and form technical tasks
  • As the last step, perform tasks, analyze results using Google Analytics

Attracting organic traffic is a rather lengthy process that distinguishes it from contextual advertising. Ads start working immediately after launch. However, organic traffic will work for a long time without any additional investments. 

2. Elimination of technical errors of the site

You can identify and eliminate technical errors of the site using the following methods:

  • Surface self-check
  • Comprehensive site audit with the help of professionals
  • Usage of paid and free services. It’s an optimal solution for those who want to get a quick result with minimal financial investments. Services allow you to identify SEO errors and ones in other key positions. The best of them are Semrush, Ahrefs, and SEOptimizer

You should eliminate identified errors by yourself or with the help of professionals. It’ll make your website more attractive to users and search engines. After the site audit, you can get rid of duplicates, speed up the download of the site, identify affiliates, and solve other problems. 

3. Mobile version of the site

More than 65% of internet users prefer to select and order products from mobile devices. You can’t lose such a huge audience and should take care of your site mobile version. It allows you to increase target audience coverage several times, increase sales and subscriptions. You can create a separate mobile version or use an adaptive design of your main site. In the last case, there will be an automatic adjustment to the screens of different devices. 

4. Correct external and internal website optimization

External optimization

It’s aimed to obtain links from third-party sites. External links that aren’t protected from indexing transfer a part of a donor weight to the acceptor site. When working on building an external link mass, you should consider:

  • Donor site trust, spam level of backlinks. The first index should be high, the second one – low
  • Rules of posting links. It’s recommended to surround them with content
  • Donor site topics (should be related)
  • Frequency of placement. You should increase the link juice gradually. It’s especially important for young sites that have a low level of trust in search engines. A sharp increase can lead to the pessimization of the acceptor site

Internal optimization

It helps to make the site relevant to those queries you carry out the promotion. It consists of:

  • Keyword list collection
  • Keywords grouping
  • Preparing and publishing content optimized with LSI and SEO
  • Formation and optimization of meta tags: title and description, headings and subheadings, image tags
  • Creation of robots.txt files and sitemap.xml (if it’s not generated automatically)
  • Interlinking and other related work

It’s important to ensure that meta tags and content are supplemented with relevant keywords but are not spammed. Otherwise, you can fall under search engine filters.

5. URLs optimization

You can complement URLs with keywords. It makes them more understandable for website visitors. When optimizing URLs, it’s recommended:

  • Use from three to five relevant words, longer links will be cut off in the SERP
  • Use hyphens rather than underscores
  • Take into account spam indicators. Keywords from URLs are added to the overall frequency on the page

Optimized URLs look more attractive so visitors click on them more likely. 

6. Regular content updates

Content updates are a rather important factor which influences on ranking. We speak about updating previously posted materials as well as publishing new ones. It helps to keep pace, increase credibility, have a positive effect on indexing. 

You should carry out updates regularly following the content plan. It allows you to work with new keywords and attract organic traffic from search engines. 

7. Blogging

A blog is a valuable resource necessary for attracting organic traffic not only for commercial but also for information requests. We used to carefully choose the goods before the deal. A blog with interesting and relevant content increases chances that after reading the review, the visitor will perform the target action.

On the blog, you can publish news, information materials, as well as infographics, video reviews – everything that can attract attention and encourage visitors to make a deal. When writing articles for a blog, you can use the links to the catalog. So that the client can immediately buy the product they like without spending time searching the site.

8. Expertise and uniqueness of the content

Usage of non-unique content is a deliberately losing thing. As a result of it, you can get a claim from the copyright holder. Therefore, it’s necessary to create and optimize your content that will provide organic visits. This rule applies not only to texts but also to photos, pictures, videos. In the case of publishing someone else’s content, you must obtain the permission of the copyright holder and give a link to the source.

There is one more caveat – expertise, which plays an important role in ranking issues. Search engines don’t focus on quality optimization but on the semantic uniqueness and benefit that the content of the site can bring to the visitor. The content should answer the question that the user enters in the search bar. If the materials contain outdated, uninteresting, or knowingly untruthful data, the visitor will leave the site. An increasing number of failures will hurt ranking.

9. Promotion in social networks

Social networks are an effective tool with which you can manage opinions and drive traffic to your website. You can create a group for communication with potential customers and publish their announcements, information about promotions, discounts, updates of the assortment, and other content that encourages them to click on the link. Before starting the campaign on social networks, you need to analyze groups of your competitors, look at the situation with ordinary user’s eyes. If the posts are interesting, the subscribers will start to like and share them. This will provide additional free advertising and reach.

10. Competitive analysis

To be the first, you should know what is happening in the competition. To solve this problem, you need to use an audit which will help:

  • Define a keywords cluster
  • Keep abreast of all events, updates and new products introduced by competitors
  • Form advertising budgets and solve other strategic tasks

For audit, you can use online services, questionnaires, secret shoppers, newsletter subscription, analysis of social networks groups, and other tools. You can use the information you’ve got to improve and optimize your website.

11. Press releases on third party resources

Regular publication of press releases on popular sites will help to solve several problems. The first one is traffic attraction, the second – external optimization. News sites visitors click the links willingly. The only negative aspect is that it’s difficult to place such publications. You should make the most of your efforts to get a positive result in outreach and lead generating.

12. Using newsjacking

Newsjacking is one of the varieties of guerrilla marketing that provides unobtrusive advertising. The latter is served against the background of an important event not being a priority. The plus is that users will often visit the site using both search queries and aggregators or news portals. The main rule is to link the offer with a really interesting and important event. Otherwise, the tool will not work. 

13. Email marketing setup

From year to year, newsletters demonstrate their effectiveness. They allow you not only to communicate with customers but also to receive visits to the site. To configure the newsletter, you must have your contact base. To collect the latter, you need to place a simple registration or subscription form on the site consisting of a minimum number of lines. After that, you can establish communication with customers, notifying them of promotions, catalog updates, and other important events.

14. Mailing in messengers

Mailing in messengers is similar to emails. However, messages in Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, or WhatsApp have a higher percentage of opening. A smartphone is always near the person, such messages are more familiar and convenient. Therefore, you should not ignore the potential of this channel. Before starting such mailing, it’s necessary to ask the client whether he/she doesn’t mind receiving advertising materials. Otherwise, the sender (you) may be blocked.

To round up

Correct external and internal optimization, work in social networks and messengers, competitive analysis, technical errors eliminating, and usability improving is priority tasks to increase organic traffic. You can perform some tasks on your own. Other ones will have to be entrusted to professionals. The correct implementation of these tasks will provide a long-lasting result, an increase in organic traffic, sales, and an influx of hot customers.



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Bing Maps API, Google and YouTube ads and targeted SEO

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