Ecommerce companies know this to be true, but it bears repeating: the holiday season will be on top of you before you know it, and it’s time to start getting your Q4 plan ready.
There are many reports and analysis you can pull and put together to develop our Q4 plan. Use the summer’s relative slowness to audit your accounts to see if there is anything to improve before the busy season comes. In this post, I’ll walk through five SEO reports that can help set a plan for Q4:
- YoY (Year-over-Year) Comparison
- Search Query Report
- Impression Share
- Top Products/Top Movers
For many ecommerce companies, the holiday season brings higher volume and spend to your paid media efforts. It’s important to allocate enough budget to keep up with demand on the high-volume days, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, etc. The first report I pull to start serious holiday prep is a YoY comparison by day for 2017 to 2018 to see what campaigns and dates were the most successful.
It’s never apples to apples, of course; last year, you might have tested a new campaign or strategy that wasn’t tested in 2017, allocated spend across a different number of channels, etc.
Questions that you want to consider with this pull are:
- What did performance look like on high-volume days?
- Could you have spent more to get more return?
- What was the makeup of search, display, and shopping campaigns?
- Should you use your marketing dollars differently this year?
- Did you have holiday-specific keywords, products, campaigns, etc., that need to be reactivated this year?
Search query reports
Google has recently made changes to close variant matching. I have noticed some shifts in matching and budget allocation across different campaigns and a wider range of irrelevant matches. Search query reports will help to identify irrelevant matching to find keywords to negate and opportunities for new keywords to build out before the holiday rush.
Impression share reports
It’s important to understand what your impression share looks like currently and what it looked like over the last holiday season. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see competitors come in and out of the auction during different points of the year, and you’ll see competition increase during Q4. Impression share reports from the 2018 holidays will help you anticipate potential competitors as budgets increase. Note that Google has introduced additional metrics for impression share now that average position will be sunsetted. These metrics include absolute top impression share and top impression share. Current impression share reports will help you understand and prioritize areas where you should increase impression share, both now and going into Q4.
To accommodate the upcoming spike in search volume, spend, and conversions, you have to be armed with a large inventory of your top products, including last holiday season’s top products, your current top products, and any highly seasonal products. I recommend that you pull Shopping performance of top products by item id in the Google Ads UI or pull a report in Google Analytics to understand top products across all platforms.
Google has rolled out a new product to all accounts that will help find areas of opportunity and easy wins to keep accounts successful as the holiday season rolls in. OptiScore provides recommendations to advertisers to include bids and budgets, recommendations for keywords, and recommendations for ads and ad extensions. I’ve generally found these to be helpful – at least worth testing! – and make a habit of checking every week or two to get new suggestions.
OptiScore can be found under the Recommendations tab in the Google UI:
This is an easy way to make sure that accounts are set up for success; it will alert you if you have ad groups that aren’t serving because they don’t have active ads or keywords, provide budget suggestions, and give you an anticipated number of conversions with an increase in budget. It is very easy to apply the suggestions with a click of the button, which saves you time during the busy season.
You can get lost in a sea of reports if you’re trying to find levers to use this holiday season. It’s important to prepare by understanding historical performance to anticipate this year’s performance by looking at efficient campaigns and areas from 2018 and pulling back in inefficient areas.
Make sure to spend time auditing and optimizing accounts now: pull SQRs, make sure all campaigns have ad extensions, and double-check active ad groups for active keywords and good copy. With the correct preparation and plan in place, your Q4 will be less chaotic and more profitable.
Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.