holiday search strategies, holiday consumer shoppingThe holiday season is a crucial one for search marketers regardless of which products you are promoting. Shopper interest is at its peak and traffic is spiking, and because of this, all aspects of a search strategy must be fine-tuned in order to maximize the potential audience that you are looking to reach. This blog post aims to help brands plan a successful holiday search strategy.

The first step to a successful holiday search campaign is coming up with a strategic plan.  Google and Bing recommend an earlier approval process for holiday copy and extensions to ensure swift changes to support your strategy and drive results. The sooner budget, goals & promotions are set, the more you will be able to adapt and pivot based on emerging trends as the  peak holiday season approaches.

Here are a few key takeaways that you can implement into your search strategy for the 2019 holiday season to set you up for success.

Upper funnel traffic during discovery phase

Year after year, Rakuten Marketing receives reports from Google & Bing showing that interest in Cyber Week has increased and shifted to earlier in the year. Google Trends makes it even more apparent:

Yellow – 2016

Red – 2017

Blue – 2018

Black Friday and Cyber Monday related queries can start gaining traction as early as the 1st week of November. Knowing this, our Search efforts do not simply revolve around capturing the demand on these shopping holidays. Frontload a percentage of your search budget to drive traffic 3-4 weeks prior to Cyber Week when people are browsing for holiday gifts but not necessarily buying. That way, when the sales start to hit and people are in a buying mood, you are top of mind and your chances for conversion increase.

Rakuten Marketing in 2018 found that 48% of shoppers worldwide had started their holiday gift shopping by mid-September. This means that holiday strategies must start early in order to capitalize on initial interest and nurture interested shoppers through the sales funnel over the last two months of the year.

How to optimize delivery during Cyber Week

Preparing the promo calendar during this time can be the holy grail or a nightmare. How do you make it work for you? Based on our experience, the key is in the timing of promotions and messaging:

There are similar trends with regards to performance with Cyber Monday and Black Friday generating the most sales. Including more days with updated messaging and potentially different promotions can assist in keeping interest/driving more sales during the days in between, before or after.

Targeting last minute shoppers and getting them to convert in person

Not only is it important to maximize Cyber Week & peak purchasing days, it’s also imperative to have a clear online to offline strategy to round out the holiday season. Last minute shoppers are everywhere and capturing the demand in the last few days before the holiday is the cherry on top.

Below are 3 testing opportunities that can all use the store visit conversion action in Google to gauge performance:

  1. Location Extensions – Simple & based on how updated your Google My Business account is set up. Is an ad extension that shows alongside a typical Search text ad
  2. Local inventory ads – Can feature store locations and availability on a product listing ad based on the inventory feed for any given Shopping campaign
  3. Local campaigns – Feed based on your Google My Business account where ads can serve across 5 entities: Search, Maps, Place Pages, Display & YouTube. The main KPI is foot traffic in store.


Ready to learn more about how Rakuten Marketing can take your search marketing to the next level? Get in touch with us today.