8 Ways to Optimize Your PPC Ads After the Holidays

The holiday season is wrapping up, and with it has gone the effectiveness of your holiday PPC tactics. But no worries—that just means it's time to dive back into your Google Ads account, make some strategic tweaks, and get your campaigns in top shape for the new year. Here are our top suggestions for helping your ads ring in the new year with success.

1. Analyze your holiday performance.

Before you start on a new campaign, take a moment to look back on the performance of your holiday ads. Since they've been shown to many users very quickly, these ads have accrued a ton of great data on what does and doesn't resonate with your audience. Look at product performance, but also see if you can find any copy similarities between successful ad groups. Once you've identified some common characteristics of top-performing ad copy, you can integrate them into your new ad copy strategy.

2. Decrease your daily budgets.

During the holidays, it's common for businesses to increase advertising budgets to compete for visibility in search engines. Now that the season is over, however, you'll want to reevaluate your spending. Although a higher budget does mean your ads will be seen more frequently and by more people, it doesn't guarantee that they'll be shown to the right people. When it comes to the traffic you get from your ads, quality trumps quantity every time, so decrease your budget while you re-strategize for the new year and slowly work back up once you determine what is most effective.

These can include—but are not limited to—keywords such as "gifts for mom," “christmas gifts,” etc. With the holiday season over, a majority of this traffic will disappear on its own. However, it’s important to remember that every time someone clicks on your ad, it's coming out of your pocket. Chances are that your target audience already knows what they want and how to search for your products, so take your money and spend it on visitors who know what they want rather than those who may or may not be interested.

4. Review duplicate keywords across ad groups and campaigns.

Duplicate keywords can accidentally find their way into your PPC accounts during basic optimization or keyword research. While they often go unnoticed, they can wreak havoc on your advertising budget by reducing Quality Scores, which in turn may drive up your cost per click. Use Ads Editor, Google’s free offline editing tool, to identify and remove duplicate keywords without having to manually sift through individual keyword lists and view statistics for your campaigns.

Most advertisers tend to focus on the perfect keyword lists and bidding strategies while leaving their ad copy alone. Learn from their mistakes and review all enabled ads in your account for any copy specifically related to holidays or gifts. Old promotions can deter users from following through to your site, and they can also cause unnecessary spend by users clicking through and not finding the information or sales promised.

6. Review landing page content.

Now is a good time to evaluate landing page performance by seeing if there are specific categories or product pages that outperformed the rest. We recommend evaluating landing pages individually per ad group to make sure users are being sent to the best pages on your site thanks to tightly-themed keyword lists. Google incorporates landing page value and relevance when calculating Quality Scores, so having high-quality landing pages is key. Many other factors are impacted by poor quality landing pages as well, like cost, impressions, and clickthrough rates.

7. Identify top holiday sellers.

Find your top-performing holiday products and consider creating new ad groups around them—these products clearly piqued the interest of your target audience, so playing them up can maintain sales momentum achieved over the holidays. Creating new ad groups can increase focus on that category or product, allowing for more in-depth optimization and greater control over search queries and ad copy testing.

8. Utilize (or update) remarketing ads.

Remarketing campaigns are a great way to identify and customize advertisements to visitors based on specific pages they viewed on your site. Take advantage of remarketing ads by implementing a custom remarketing tag assigned by Google and building audience lists by creating rules specific to visitors you’d like to capture.

One great audience list to build would be those who abandoned their shopping carts. By creating a custom rule to include users who reached the shopping cart or check out page but didn't reach the order finish page, you can customize specific messaging to target them. Try using specific calls to action such as “Don't forget to complete your purchase” to capture the user's attention and encourage them to come back to follow through with their order. Additionally, offering a unique discount to specific audience lists can further engage your customers and promote additional sales.

A note about post-holiday traffic and performance

As the holiday season concludes, you may notice a drop in performance and traffic volume. Don’t panic—this is normal for many advertisers. Right now, there are significantly fewer people shopping than just a few weeks ago. Without holiday pressure, both traffic and conversion volumes tend to fall during the first few weeks of the new year. With that in mind, use the suggestions above to focus your strategy on the quality of visitors coming to your site instead of the quantity, and you’ll begin to find conversions stabilize over the next few weeks.