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How to Set Realistic Targets for Your PPC Campaigns This Holiday Season


Written by

Brooke Osmundson

How to Set Realistic Targets for Your PPC Campaigns This Holiday Season

Cover image for the article, a woman working for a small business

Ready or not, the holiday season is already among us.

Are your PPC campaigns in tip-top shape for the busy season? Whether you’re an E-Commerce brand with booming Q4 sales or a B2B company with declined seasonality, it’s important to understand how your campaigns can stack up to your target goals.

Not sure where to start when setting goals? I’ve outlined five tips to help supercharge your PPC campaigns for holiday growth.

Tip #1: Analyze Your Prior Year Data

If the year 2020 taught us anything about consumer trends, it’s that users flocked online and E-Commerce is here to stay.

Because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, last year’s data can be a good indicator of this year’s performance. Users are buying more and more online every day.

Now, what type of data should you be analyzing? Here are a few quick tips I’ve put together to help you start asking the right questions.

  • Did CPCs increase from Q3 to Q4?
  • Did competition increase from Q3 to Q4? 
    • Pro-tip: You can find this by reviewing the Auction Insights report in Google Ads!
  • How did our onsite metrics differ in Q4 compared to Q3?
    • Did Conversion Rate increase/decrease?
    • Did Revenue or Average Order Value increase/decrease?

Why is this important? By answering some of these questions, you’ll be on your way of setting more realistic targets for your PPC campaigns. This can also help uncover opportunities for growth.

For example, say in Q3 you have a $5,000 monthly budget and your average CPC is $2, that’s roughly 2,500 visitors to your site. If Q4 shows increased competition and your CPC has now increased to $2.75, but your budget is still the same. That same $5,000 now only gets you 1,818 visitors. That’s a 27% decrease in visitors!

By analyzing your prior year data, you may find that you need more budget in Q4 to just maintain your current website traffic. Analyzing throughout the year will help you realistically forecast what’s needed to hit your targets.

Tip #2: Study Your Seasonality

Along with prior year analysis, seasonality is important to monitor no matter what type of brand you are. 

For example, I’ve seen many B2B companies have lower volume of leads in Q4, compared to E-Commerce or consumer brands that showcase higher-than-average revenue due to the holidays.

Why is this important? Part of setting realistic goals is to understand your market. If your leads historically dip in Q4, it wouldn’t be realistic to set a 15% goal increase for leads this year.

The goal is to understand the hills and valleys of your Marketplace, when they take place, and structure your goals, spend, and competitiveness accordingly.

Tip #3: Give More Budget To Top-Performing Campaigns

With many brands, every dollar is crucial. Especially during the pandemic, marketing dollars are watched and protected fiercely. 

Q4 is also the time where online competition skyrockets. Everyone needs to get in front of their customers. Some of your competitors may have an open checkbook, even!

If your brand has lofty goals this holiday season, it’s important to review your top-driving campaigns. What makes them so successful? Ask questions like:

  • What is my Share of Voice in this category?
  • What campaigns are performing better than the KPIs?
    • KPIs can be anything that is important to your business, such as Conversion Rate, Cost Per Lead/Sale, etc.

If your budget is limited this season, put more emphasis and budget towards your top-performing campaigns. It’s ok to turn off non-performers to not spread your budgets too thin! Just be sure to review cross-channel performance before making any changes (we’ll get to that in tip #5).

Tip #4: Ease Up On Ad Scheduling

These days, it seems that we go from one screen to another throughout our days. If your day looks like mine, it looks a little like this:

  • Computer → TV → Phone

What does this mean for your campaigns? 

Opportunity, that’s what!

Because users are on multiple devices each and every day, you have more opportunities to expose your brand to them.

If you typically have ad scheduling on your campaigns, try reducing it (or even removing) this holiday season. With the holidays and family gatherings, working from home, users’ schedules are far from the 9-5 we’re used to seeing.

Perhaps a mom is trying to get in some late-night online shopping after the kids are asleep. If your ads are typically off between the hours of 10pm-5am, you may miss an opportunity to reach those late-night shoppers!

Do you typically pause your ads on the weekends? It may be worth loosening up that restriction this season. The goal is to meet your customers where they are (as long as you have the data to back it up!)

Tip #5: Evaluate Cross-Channel Performance

Data has shown that user attention span has decreased over time.

Because of this, it may take more touch points than previous for a user to resonate with your brand.

Historically, the default-model for attribution has been “Last Click”, and still is for many companies. What this means is that no matter how many times a user interacts with a website, the last channel that they come in on before they make a purchase/sale is the one that gets all the credit.

All hope is not lost, though! There are different reports in Google Analytics to help you tell a better story with your data.

One of my favorite reports to visualize is the “Top Conversion Paths” report in Google Analytics. This can help showcase how many touchpoints it takes for a user to get to your website.


A lot of these tips involve heavy analysis before making any decisions. By reviewing data from a more strategic approach, you’ll be equipped to:

  • Create realistic budget forecasts
  • Start a project plan to implement
  • Communicate effectively with stakeholders based on data

By taking these measures, you can make sure that your holiday season can be more successful and less stressful.

A report showing how many touchpoints it may take a user to convert.

This report above shows just how many touchpoints it may take a user to ultimately convert. While some conversions have just a few channels, it still may take them multiple touchpoints (sometimes within the same channel!) before they end up coming directly to the site.

After seeing this, it becomes clear that some credit should be given back to PPC efforts.

If you have some PPC campaigns that seem to perform “worse” than others, try running this report for your brand. You may find that certain campaigns are “Awareness-Drivers”, and while they don’t lead to the initial sale, that doesn’t mean it didn’t influence your customers!

The goal here is to get a better picture of your user’s online interactions. Before you start pausing campaigns or are quick to write-off a “poor performer”, use this report to understand if it actually does play a part in the user journey to purchase.

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