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Holiday Ad Copy & How to Schedule Holiday Ad Tests

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For the final installation in this month’s PPC Hero series on strategizing for the holiday season, we’re going to review the best and most effective ways to optimize ad copy to drive higher CTR’s and conversion rates. There will hopefully be some interesting tips you hadn’t thought of in terms of actual copy changes, but we’ll also take a look at a potential ad testing schedule for the season to make sure you’re taking advantage of as much of the traffic increases as possible!


General Copy Changes

When it comes to ad copy, you’ve likely figured out some content that converts well for you and your product/brand. I would encourage you to care for your ad copy during the holiday season almost completely separate from the remainder of the year. Reason being, motivation for purchases during this time of year are much different than the rest of the year, usually with a much more speedy demand. Thus, the benefits and value of your brand to the consumer should be adjusted to grab their attention based on this change in motivation. What do I mean?

Perhaps during the “normal” 10 months of the year, your customers do not respond well to incredibly blatant calls to action (i.e Shop Today! or Buy Now!). However, those kinds of phrases let holiday shoppers know they can find what they are shopping for right now, especially when backed up with a promotion end date. All of these changes to copy will entice action and expediency to push sales sooner rather than later. Additionally, letting shoppers know how many more shopping days they have to guarantee product deliver (aka: shipping times) before the holiday has shown to be heavily successful in terms of encouraging a click/conversion today instead of next week.


Destination/Display URLs

Again, you’ve more than likely completed some testing to see which of your destination or display URLs tend to convert best on a category and product-level. I’ll go back to my previous point on motivating factors for purchases during this time of year, and you could see success with sending users to your shipping schedule page for appropriate ads for the holidays (with dynamic links for your products available for purchase by category, etc. from that shipping page).

Additionally, try out some display URL extensions you may not use during typical months, but could entice greater CTR’s during a shopping-heavy season. Some good examples are: or


Ad Extensions

Most PPC accounts have implemented some version of ad extensions (sitelinks, call extensions, product listings, etc.) but for the holidays, you should consider changing around your sitelinks to the reflect the new or holiday-optimized portions of your website. For example, if you don’t usually run a sitelink to your shipping schedule page, throw that in. Another idea to give thought to is setting up specific landing pages for the particularly popular shopping days (i.e. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.) and set a sitelink for those pages and their specific promotions.


Split Test

I hear all the time when account managers are preparing for the holiday season that they have various copy to run from date A through date B, but then when asked if they’ll be running multiple messages per ad group…they freeze up. “Well, it’s just a couple months of traffic, so I just write one solid copy for each ad group.” Wrong. I mean…not super wrong, as the season is short-ish, but you can never be sure you’re running the best copy unless you split test. I suggest still having two variations of each ad copy to run against one another, so in case a particular message/benefit order begins showing high CTR numbers, you can focus later copy on a similar format, etc. While we’re talking testing during the holiday season…


Holiday Ad Testing Schedule

As I just finished preaching, the holidays are no time to give up on your usual ad testing habits. The biggest thing to remember is that you are, in fact, looking at a shorter timeline, so you can’t necessarily wait for full statistical significance to start the next test. First things first, pick the initial copy you’ll run with and, as mentioned above, write a similar but slightly different message to run split against the first. Then follow this schedule:

  • Week 2 – Headline change
  • Week 4 – More prominent call to action
  • Week 6 – Last minute shipping call out
  • Week 8 – New/final promotion

Of course, if your traffic is moving really rapidly, you can speed up this testing schedule and throw a new factor in each week, rather than every two.

The bottom line is that ad copy is a necessary, if not the most important, evil when it comes to taking advantage of the season’s influx of online shoppers. What are your methods for tackling holiday ad copy? How about in terms of testing copy during the season? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below and good luck this holiday season!

About the Author

Kayla Kurtz

Kayla Kurtz is currently the Paid Search Consultant for Hanapin Marketing, with vast experience as an Account Manager with the agency before taking on her current position. Her account work includes ecommerce and lead generation, with accounts spending between four and six figures monthly. Kayla is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington who frequently uses her Education degree to teach her peers the ins and outs of paid search marketing. When she's not working, she enjoys Colts football, White Sox baseball, Hoosier basketball and wine. Find her on Twitter @One800Kayla or on her Google+

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