5 Tips on Seasonal Search Marketing

Jennifer Laycock has a recap on how to get the most out of your seasonal search marketing campaign, in anticipation of the upcoming holiday shopping season. She builds on the tips offered by the Yahoo! Search Marketing Blog.

Her advice:

If you haven’t given your site a tune-up in the last month or two, it’s probably a good idea to sit down and take a look at the status of your search marketing campaigns and your web pages. Double check your site using tools like Yahoo!’s Site Explorer or the Google Webmaster Tools and make sure you have no indexing problems. Take a look at your page titles and spend a little time with your analytics tool to see if there are any conversion problems you could fix.

Notice that none of those tasks are what we’d traditionally consider Search Marketing tasks, they’re more optimization or even web design tasks. That’s because it takes all three to achieve success. Basically one weak link in the chain and the campaign will fall apart.

Let’s look a little closer. I’ve been working on the SEO and Design functions for a campaign lately that’s being run by Kathy Lavrentios at Blitz Media (a great contact if you need SEM work done…). The end customer had contacted me about trying to figure out why his conversion rate was so low. In looking at the campaign with Kathy, we came up with a couple of things.

  • While the landing page for the campaign was good, the homepage for his site was utterly inadequate. Too much text, poor design, no call to action, etc.
  • The landing page that was being initially used was too technical. Kathy’s team came up with a new page that played more towards the call to action.
  • The call to action needed to be teamed with a simple contact form to allow tracking of inquiries. We suspected that we were probably missing conversions, as the chain relied on phone calls which are notoriously under tracked.
  • Base web site had abysmal Search Engine Optimization.

I’ve been told by people who’ve got the metrics to be able to back up their statements that having a top notch SEO effort will actually increase the returns from you SEM campaigns, and vice versa. I can’t back it up, but my general feeling is this: why wouldn’t you want to have both working for you?

The tips from Yahoo! are again ones to take to heart:

Engage the bargain hunters—According to the BizRate and Shop.org Holiday Mood Study 2006, nearly half of the consumers polled named “free shipping” as a primary motivator to purchase. Other shoppers named “online only sales” and “repeat buyer discounts.”

Keywords count—According to our internal data, “Christmas” was, not surprisingly, the most holiday-related search term in 2006 with more than three million average monthly searches. Other popular terms included “Christmas decoration,” “Hanukkah,” “holiday gift” and “gift for dad.” Make sure that your keyword selection includes holiday-related keywords and seasonal products and promotions.

Titillate with titles—Titles and descriptions can drive relevance and clicks, so it’s a best practice when creating specific holiday ad groups to place the holiday term prominently in both the title and the description, and include any special seasonal promotions in the copy.

Clear for landing—Make sure that your landing pages are relevant to your keywords, ad copy and any promotions. Nothing’s more frustrating for a consumer to click on an ad that says, “Get 10% off” something and then land on a page where that information is either absent or buried. Prices and promotions should be consistent with ad copy.

Combine search with display and offline advertising—Regular readers of our blog know that search is just one important part of your marketing mix. Make sure you include your keywords and consistent copy in your display and offline marketing material. If you haven’t already read them, check out two recent posts, one on combining search and display advertising and the other on integrating your online and offline campaigns.

Just “part of your marketing mix” – a great bit to keep in mind. Also note the importance of keeping on message the whole way through your chain of action.

If there’s one take away here, it’s this: SEM success often takes more than just SEM. If you’ve got a campaign that isn’t working, take a look at it holistically and think about both SEO and Design…

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