Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Chrismahanakwanza! Whichever holiday you celebrate, one thing is for certain – the end of November marks the beginning of the official holiday shopping season. As part of our week-long holiday shopping expose, today I’d like to share with you tips on laser-targeting potential customers with your bidding strategy! Whether you are assessing keywords and the buying cycle, or diving head-first into demographic targeting, there are plenty of ways to find customers who are past researching and are ready to buy right now.

Bid for the Buying Cycle

Understanding the buying cycle is an important part of any form of advertising. Your messaging changes with each passing phase, from research to shopping to the actual point of purchase. If the messaging changes, why shouldn’t your bidding strategy?

The basic gist is this – generally speaking the buying cycle follows the chain of keywords from the head through to the long tail. Customers who are researching will use general, non-branded keywords when searching (i.e. laptop computer). Those who are shopping may step it up and start using a particular brand (i.e. Apple laptop computer). And finally, when the customer is ready to BUY RIGHT NOW, they’ll start using brand names and product specific keywords (i.e. Apple MacBook Air Laptop). Your bidding strategy for the holidays should in essence follow this buying cycle. Your highest priority, and bids, should be on those keywords at the end of the buying cycle!

Know Thy Customer

Everyone talks about the phrase, “Know Thy Self.” That’s great and all, but when you’re trying to get people through your door on Black Friday, or through your online shopping cart on Cyber Monday, “Know Thy Customer” seems so much more important. Hopefully, you’ve already given this some thought. Who is the intended audience for your product or service? Men or women? Baby-boomers or teeny-boppers? Knowing who you’re targeting is half the advertising battle!

Now that you know who you’re targeting, it’s time to pull the PPC levers to make the magic happen. Both Google AdWords and MSN adCenter have tools for targeting searchers via demographic data. There are subtle differences between the two, which I will cover here briefly:

MSN adCenter

  • Microsoft utilizes demographic data as reported by Windows Live IDs and applies to traffic on Live.com, MSN.com and other search partners.
  • At the ad group level, you are given the opportunity to set incremental bids (percentage of current bid) which will increase your bid based on age and gender (or geographic/time variables too).

Google AdWords

  • Google’s demographic bidding option is a component of the Content Network.
  • Demographic data is reported via Ad Sense publishers (i.e. social media account info, etc.).
  • The demographic bids are a percentage above the current Content bid for each campaign.

Use these tools to really zero-in on your best customers – the ones that are the most likely to convert into sales. Be that in-store or on your website!

Hopefully, these tips will help you to better target your customers this holiday season – and in turn, increase revenue. Your bidding strategy should always be focused on delivering ads to potential customers who are ready to buy, but seasonality dictates that you stand up and take notice this month. Good luck!