How to Maximize Search Engine Marketing ROI This Holiday Season

Fact: late November and December comprise 20% of the entire yearly profits of most retailers, making this holiday season one of the most important times of the year for businesses. Seeing as 2014 has been the most connected year so far in terms of communication across various devices and channels, businesses and industries are expecting to see a business boom both online and in store. Online shopping has become part of daily life. But thanks to this, the competition in online marketing has also heightened, moving companies worldwide to innovate their strategies and come up with better ways to attract consumers and improve ROI.

Businesses with online marketing strategies may need to refocus and double up their marketing efforts this holiday season so they don’t miss that ROI. So, what can you do to improve ROI this holiday season?

#1 Dress up your website

Change your website banners or images to suit the holiday theme. You can also group your holiday sale items in one temporary tab or page.

Psychologically, people associate the holidays with merrymaking, happy times, parties and good vibes. Reminding them of these feelings while they browse your website may help them associate your website and your products with these feelings, encouraging them to spend some money.

For example, instead of the usual picture of a mobile phone for sale, add a Christmas tree icon, a coloured background, etc. Take a look at how ebay has added some Christmas cheer to their site:


christmas-blogImage Credit: coarchitect, engadget, floranext

#2 Know your holiday shoppers

There are different types of shoppers, generally. But there is another sub-category for Christmas and holiday shoppers. Know these people and start tailoring your marketing strategies. Here are some customers you might come across:

  1. Loyal Customers (stays with you, holiday or not)
  2. Bargain Hunters (the come and go customers, usually only there for a sale and holiday discounts)
  3. Early Birds (shoppers who start buying before December)
  4. Decemberist (shoppers who buy just before the rush, usually the first two weeks of December)
  5. Last Minute Shopper (shops during late December)

Analyse the types of customers you attract and you can start programming your holiday strategy before November.


#3 Choose promotions wisely

You can’t just offer a discount on everything because it’s December, that will create chaos. Choose the best items to put on sale, depending on the day and depending on consumer demands. You can put items on sale if they are overstocked or they have your best profit margins. You can also start marketing things that are in great demand. What do people generally need in December? Christmas Trees? Ham? Utensils?


#4 Create Holiday Landing Pages

Your landing pages matter. They can help customers decide whether they want to purchase or not. Since it’s the holiday season, try to use this theme while still including keywords. Your landing pages should be unique and should translate what your company is all about.

Your landing page should be something different than what your audience is used to; add an addition detail, more holiday colors, etc.

targetImage credit: target

#5 Start your SEM campaign months before

Start pushing the limits three months before the holiday rush. Maximize your online marketing power even if it means a bigger budget. Start putting aside additional budget for outreach and link building. Use PR buzz to create awareness and excitement among customers. A good starting month is September. In this month you can start planning and testing. You can then start to optimize in November.


#6 Make your campaign mobile friendly

Mobiles are now overtaking desktops in terms of devices used for internet access. If you’re still betting on desktop campaigns alone, you’re not going to see much ROI. Even the latest Google Hummingbird algorithm is quite keen on the issue; going mobile is the main reason behind this current roll out.

According to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 61% of visitors that encounter a mobile “unfriendly” site will move on to the next possible site. That’s a huge amount of possible leads wasted.


#7 Revamp your email efforts

Your email list is important in your marketing strategy. Use caution though; make sure your holiday pitch doesn’t sound too spammy. Keep it simple like your usual emails but offer that little bit more. Include your holiday offerings and some special discounts exclusive to email subscribers.

macys-christmas-emailImage Credit: RetailWire

#8 Do not overwhelm customers with too many offers

Don’t overwhelm your customers, be it on your website, your landing page or on your social media accounts. Try to stay minimalistic and provide the most necessary information. Showcase a few of your products so customers will not lose focus on their goal – buying something! In your Emails, choose only 3-4 products to showcase, preferably based on the past search query of the costumer. You may need to apply content personalization strategies here.

Categorize your offerings on your landing page and keep it simple.


#9 Have on-page optimization

Choose the right holiday terms and hit elements that are expected to be visible to your visitors on SERPs. Have them optimized and bank on your CTR. Give attention to your headers, body texts and internal site linking. On-page optimization has been proven to give better ROI.


#10 Ramp up your social media efforts

Social media is a goldmine of possible ROI. So make sure you don’t underestimate its possibilities. Spend a bit on your social media advertising, such as “boosting” your posts on Facebook. This would generate huge exposure for a cheap price.


#11 Run contests

No matter how small the prize, there is something great about winning a contest. Contests serve as reinforcements of your brand and they motivate a consumer to come back to you for more. So post a contest on your site and across your social media accounts. For example, you can ask customers to tag their favorite product from your company on Facebook and Instagram. The person with the best photo could win a product you have on offer. On Twitter, have someone tweet something #yourcompanyname or #holidaycompanyname.

Make these contests feasible; don’t ask for too many things or else you won’t have anyone entering to win. Keep it simple yet entertaining and make sure it’s able to generate some healthy competitiveness among your followers.

qatar-airways-reflections-photo-contest2Image Credit: Maharba

#12 Offer free shipping

The word “free” always attracts consumers. Offer free shipment on specific days or for reaching a specific order amount. Most of the time, shipment fees hinder people from ordering things since it’s an additional expense. If shipping is free of charge once in a while, customers get the impression they’re getting a bargain!



The holidays are fast approaching, so instead of sticking to your old SEM efforts, try to get updated – inject the holiday atmosphere into your product and site and you’ll be maximizing your ROI in no time.

Keep in mind that most customers will be expecting post-holiday sales. You might as well give it to them and extend your new SEM strategies!


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