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Growing Online Sales During The Holiday Season With Google

In 2020, global holiday sales topped $1.1 trillion, with 45% of spend taking place on Cyber Weekend alone. With so much change in the industry and the world, as well as the increases in difficulty of predicting consumer behavior in the ever-changing eCommerce space, BVA’s Google team took away some key learnings from 2020 to set client’s up for success this year. Some of the factors we looked at for successful planning included:

  • Using trends and tools to inform holiday strategy
  • Investment planning to unlock total opportunity
  • Achieving your goals this holiday season with Search and Smart Shopping Ads

We’ll be diving into these specifics to give you the information you need to set your Paid Search efforts up for success this holiday season.

A Look Back At Google During Holidays 2020

With global holiday sales topping $1.1 trillion last year, we also saw Black Friday 2020 have 30% sales growth YoY, and Cyber Monday with an 18% lift.

Knowing this, we also gained some additional data insights that showed holiday shopping started much earlier in 2020:

  • Pre-Cyber Week - +83% sales growth
  • Cyber Week - +36% sales growth
  • Post Cyber Week - +53% sales growth
  • Midseason - +39% sales growth
  • Pre-Christmas - +65% sales growth
  • Christmas/Boxing Week - +67% sales growth

Overall, eCommerce led the way during the 2020 holiday shopping season, with global digital revenue growth up 50% from Nov-Dec 2019.

How To Be Prepared for Google Search During Holidays 2021

Preparing for holidays 2021, it’s important to note that we saw that Search demand was unprecedentedly high last year. It is still vital to continue to invest online this holiday season, even if you are seeing specific category demand decline YoY, as the role of online and in-store will continue to blur:
  • 85% of shoppers plan to shop in-store this year
  • 58% of shoppers say they will shop online more than in previous years
  • 40% of consumers are still using digital to assist their in-store shopping

Here is our overarching advice for your 2021 holiday Google Search strategy:

1) Preparedness is key. 23% of shoppers start looking for gift ideas 3-6 months prior to the holiday season. Also noteworthy, 81% of shoppers globally say they discovered new brands online during the pandemic.

2) Your Holiday goals may look different this year, but be cautious of using 2020 as a baseline. Many brands will look to increase volume to make up for lower demand in the first half of the year. Most are looking to drive volume or growth at a different efficiency. And as always, every merchant will want to increase profit and ROI.

What This Means For Your Business

Prepare your website for holiday traffic.Grow My Store by Google is a free tool which helps retailers improve their online customer experience. You’ll want to perform:
  • Assessment of website
  • Consumer insights and country benchmarks
  • Solution suggestions to capture full potential

Plan Ahead for Key Dates. Get ready by testing automated strategies and checking feed health. In October, promote and refine, and opt in to value based bidding. In November - December, focus on capturing demand by adjusting bids and budgets.

Do investment planning for the Holidays. Evaluate previous holiday period performance by adding impression share columns to your Google Ads account. Use impression shares lost due to rank and budget to evaluate the percentage of time that your ads weren't shown. Also, consider your competitive positioning using the auction insights report in Google Ads.

Optimize your bids and budgets by using the planning tools in your account like Performance Planner. Optimization score also surfaces relevant optimization recommendations and estimates the impact of their implementation on campaign and account performance.

How to use Performance Planner to capture seasonal demand:

  • Plan ahead to ensure your investment is sufficient for reaching your seasonal business objectives
  • Refresh your forecast closer to the plan start date to implement optimal budget and bid settings
  • Plan optimal budget and bid settings regularly throughout peak season
  • Forecast key metrics at different CPA or ROAS targets to capture increased demand. Adjust forecasts to account for expected future performance changes
  • During seasonal times, consumer intent can be higher, which can lead to a significant uplift in conversion rates

How to Leverage Google Ads Automation to Win This Holiday Season :Use optimization score for real time optimization advice in your Google Ads account.

Top optimization score recommendations for holiday readiness:

  1. Bids: Bid with Target ROAS to fully automate your bidding strategy and focus on performance. Keep an eye on suggestions to Set a ROAS target or to Adjust ROAS targets for your existing campaigns.

  2. Budgets: Keep ads running on your busiest days by Increasing budgets and stay ahead of seasonal trends with the Raise budgets for upcoming traffic increases recommendation.

Closing Thoughts

Check off the following action items to make sure your Google Paid Search strategy is set up for success this holiday season:
  • Confirm what updated client objective is for 2H 2021 given the changes in the market.
  • Focus on Impact. Sizeable opportunity to scale, focus on the strategies that are easiest to implement and drive the highest business impact.
  • Variable Demand: The market is going to be different than in the past. Recommend flexible strategies that enable us to capture that demand.
  • Measure Business Success: Agree on what success looks like for the business and then align on which KPIs show that success.

Now that we’ve given you a lot to chew on for the remainder of Q4 and the holiday season, our Google Paid Search and Google Ads team are here to help! Reach out to us here to schedule time with our team.

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Farewell Broad Match Modifiers, Hello Expanded Phrase Match How Does Google’s New Maximize Conversion Value Smart Bidding Strategy Work? How To Optimize Your Online Store For Google: eCommerce SEO Tips For The Holidays