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How To Prepare Your PPC Campaigns For The COVID-19-Affected Holiday Season


Written by

Amber Dawson


15 MIN

How To Prepare Your PPC Campaigns For The COVID-19-Affected Holiday Season

Now autumn is upon us, so is the holiday season! Amazon Prime Day just ended, bringing with it $3.5 billion for SMBs in the US. With Halloween, Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the advertising world is set to go into meltdown as brands battle to bag shoppers’ attention.

But there is something very different about this year – no prizes for guessing what. COVID-19 has changed buying habits forever and those who would usually be banging on shop doors to grab a bargain may be more hesitant.

Data also shows that more than a third of UK shoppers who normally shop in store for Black Friday saying they won’t this year. And it goes further than just impacting one holiday, with 61% saying the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for all of them.

Knowing that things will be different this holiday season helps us to prepare for it. Here are some new holiday shopping predictions and how you can ensure your business is ready.

New habits

In order to cater to shoppers’ new habits, we first need to identify what they are. New doesn’t have to mean worse. In fact, now is a time full of opportunity for physical stores to combine their online and in-store strategies. By embracing change, businesses can thrive during this recession like many have done before.

Online shopping is set to be even more popular than ever before this season; with masks, queues and one-way systems to contend with, ordering things from your sofa is a much less-stressful alternative.

Let’s take a look at new holiday predictions:

1. Online browsing set to soar

It won’t just be online purchases that see a significant boost but the number of people discovering gifts online. As people feel less comfortable browsing in-store, over 70% of shoppers say they’ll be browsing virtually rather than in person.

2. More reassurance needed

Shoppers will be utilising online stock levels to add an extra sense of safety to their trips to physical stores: to avoid any unnecessary risk, 65% of users will go online to make sure what they’re after is definitely available before making a special trip.

3. A change to ‘peak times’

As crowds are now feared, shoppers who do want to go into stores are expected to go at off-peak times. However, as this seems a popular idea, it will create ‘new peaks’ – 68% of shoppers now intend to go earlier in the day.

4. Grab and go

When people do venture in-store, it will often be to pick up reserved items and leave. 80% of people plan to consolidate their shopping into fewer trips than they have done in previous years to reduce risk; 63% will choose stores that offer contactless shopping. With priorities changing, physical store interactions will also be reduced to functional exchanges that minimise contact with others.

5. Type of business

There’s a lot of opportunity for small businesses with 67% of shoppers saying they plan to shop more locally; people are keen to stick closer to home this season with searches for ‘available near me’ having grown globally by over 100%. Whilst giants such as Amazon will, of course, continue to line their pockets, SMBs will see increased support if they make themselves noticeable.

Find the right Amazon marketing agency for your business with Adzooma Marketplace.

An online-first strategy

These new habits aren’t specific to one holiday period – they’re here to stay. But what should you change in your marketing strategy to reflect this?

  • Be aware – what would usually make you stand out from the crowd may not be what brings customers in this year. As contact-free and availability become top priorities, it won’t just be those who put on the best deals who’ll win customers.
  • Be smart – make your strategy cater first and foremost for online users. This makes you more accessible to all types of customers and will help to future-proof your business. If you’re an SMB owner with a physical store/s, read our article on how you can benefit from the surge in online shopping.
  • Be flexible – whilst shoppers always love a bargain, they won’t be as keen to queue for it this year. If your business doesn’t have the capacity for delivery, consider curb-side pick up slots. This would take relatively less effort to organise but provides a streamlined way for customers to feel safe.
  • Be an industry leader – shoppers may be willing to spend a little more in exchange for convenience. Through being smart and understanding what people’s new priorities are, you can establish yourself as an industry leader.

A very Google Christmas

Just because we’re in unprecedented times, it doesn’t mean old data can’t point us in the right direction. Last year’s festive figures show that:

  • 71% of British Christmas shoppers used 3+ channels to buy gifts
  • 57% of British Christmas purchases were made online
  • 86% of shoppers looked online ahead of in-store purchases
  • 38% of British Christmas shoppers say they use their smartphone while in-store during the season

The long and short of it is that before COVID-19 the festivities were highly reliant on the search engines. All the trends point in one direction: online is just getting bigger and bigger. So now is the time to expand your online offering to get noticed.

Consider advertising channels that you may not have ventured into. One which is likely to be a good long-term investment is Youtube Ads. This is because video is storming to the top of the ROI charts – 60% of brands deployed pre, mid, or post-roll ads across social and digital platforms last year making it the most popular format.

Don’t discount things as being outside of your remit without at least doing some research – you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get things done. If you don’t feel confident doing things in-house, think about outsourcing to industry experts for a polished finish.

How to get your ads seen

1. Get your ads in early

More and more companies begin advertising around the holidays which means there’s a huge influx of ads and approval times can become a lot longer, especially on Facebook. It’s important to get organised so you know your ads will be live in time to bring in your best customers – don’t leave things until the last minute.

2. Use automation

Because of the sheer number of ads, ad placements become ridiculously competitive. With limited spaces, it can be more expensive and difficult to bag the premium ad spots. By turning on automatic placements and giving platforms like Google and Facebook the power to display your ad where they see fit, you can ensure your ads are agile enough to still get eyes on them.

Whilst these new placements may be out of your comfort zone, the AI-driven recommendations will help to keep a steady stream of customers even if your favourite spots are taken. You can also use custom automated rules to manage your campaigns 24/7 so you don’t miss a thing.

3. Test your campaign

The most successful campaigns are those that are planned really well. If you’re trialling something new, create a test campaign the week before and keep it in your drafts. Go through it and make sure you’ve ironed out any problems that could arise in the customer journey. You want to present offer-hungry users with polished, helpful ads rather than lack-lustre campaigns which you don’t have a handle on.

4. Tighten up your audiences

Now is the time to be going after those who are already receptive to your products; create audience lists of warm leads to maximise your chances of making more sales.

From this, use Facebook’s lookalike audience feature to target shoppers similar to your best type of customer. By spending a little time making your lookalike audiences super specific you’ll give yourself the best shot at bagging those high-value wins.

5. Check your maximum budget

If you know your target CPA and lifetime value of a customer, you shouldn’t shy away from bringing in as many new ones as possible. As long as you know your maximum capacity numbers, the holiday season should bring in some much-needed extra business.

Take the time to revise your maximum bids and maximum spend figures so that you’re not capped unexpectedly. Similarly, with holiday ads typically costing more per click, you’ll need a little more budget behind your campaigns than usual.

6. Find opportunities to improve

Take your PPC ads to a whole new level with free software like Adzooma. With a built-in Opportunity Engine, our platform analyses your account for ways to improve your ads. Any aspects that need improvement can be actioned in just a few clicks, leaving you in a good position to blow your competitors out the water.

Look for new ways to bring in new customers

With so much change to users’ buying habits advertisers need to make some adjustments too. Your strategies need to be agile, predominantly online and focus on the new concerns that shoppers have. Previously, sanitation and proximity weren’t even on people’s list of priorities; today, they are what makes people turn away from a brand.

Holiday shopping is no longer just about who has the lowest prices. A streamlined, organised approach is necessary to reassure customers that their safety is paramount. Whether your business is online or in a physical store, don’t be afraid of trying new ways to bring customers in. Those who are innovative in hard times are the ones who see success. Change doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities out there to make a profit this holiday season – it’ll just look different to last year.

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