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12 Holiday PPC Optimization Tips



This year is coming to an end and we are almost through the holiday season. Here are some holiday PPC optimization tips you can make in your account right now. Some of these tips will help you reduce wasteful spending and improve ROAS.


It was not too long ago that Google expanded their keyword close variant matching. Microsoft Ads has also expanded its close variant matching. The search engines did this to help you show up in more searches. This also affects However, by that very design, it is a good idea to review your search query report (SQRs) weekly or bi-monthly at the minimum. You can also create a shared negative list to that can be applied to all accounts in all engines. Do not forget to check your Brand search queries too.

Tip: It is a good idea to look for keywords that frequently show up in phrases to identify the term that should be excluded.


If you are only targeting the United States in your campaigns, you could be missing out on some quick ways to optimize by locations. Sometimes we forget to drill down into the locations and identify areas of opportunity to reduce wasteful spending. In one campaign, we can see Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia have lower conversions rates and higher cost-per-lead (CPL). Bidding on all states will allow you to apply negative modifiers to these locations to reduce spend in these areas. You can also apply positive modifiers to the top locations Texas, New York, and Illinois.

You can also create and save a filter that will help you easily find locations with no conversions, higher CPLs, or low ROAS. In the future, these filters will help you quickly find areas with poor performance to apply negative modifiers.

Tip: Check your user location report to see if you are showing in other countries. If you are using the advanced location settings to target ‘People in or regularly in your targeted locations’, then you may want to add some location exclusions to reduce wasteful spending.

Ad Schedule

Depending on the account, there are sometimes specific days that do not convert as well as other days. In this account, we typically find that weekends do not typically have the best conversion performance. Since these days show decent conversion volume and conversions rates, I was a little more conservative with the negative bid modifiers at -15%.

If your campaign has enough volume, you could review the hours of the day performance. For example, in this account, we see that performance is not as good on Tuesday and Wednesday, but performance improves between Friday – Sunday. Reducing bids on hours of the day that are not performing well is a great way to reduce wasteful spending.

Tip: You can be more aggressive with negative bids, but it may be a good idea to be conservative with your positive modifiers.

Keywords Bids/Keyword Expansion

During the holidays, there can be fluctuations in the competitive landscape that may affect your Search Impression Share (Search IS). Check your top-performing keywords to ensure you are not losing out on Search IS due to rank. Additionally, are there keywords that have been converting well in your search query report that you could potentially add to your account? You can also review your top-performing keywords in your Shopping campaigns to find keyword expansion opportunities.

Bid Caps

If you are using any automated bid strategies in your account, it is a good idea to add bid caps to control spend. You can set-up max bid limits for Target CPA, Target ROAS, and Maximize Clicks bid strategies. You cannot set bid limits for Maximize Conversions, so keep an eye on these campaigns. In one account, they were using the Maximize Clicks bid strategy prior to onboarding with Hanapin and they did not have max bid limits set. The cost-per-click was as high as $45 per click for extremely long-tail keyword phrases. The campaign average CPC was $2.54, but there was no reason for them to have paid this much per click unless they are a lawyer.


Promotion Extensions

Do you have a promotion available on your website? If so, you can add a promotion extension to your account to let your searchers know about this offer. In one account, there was an 80% increase in revenue during the promotion compared to the previous time frame.

If you add promotion extensions, don’t forget to set the displayed promotion dates and the dates when the promotion should be eligible to run. It may not be a good idea to show your promotion until the promotion is active. Showing a future promotion may cause searchers to postpone ordering until the date of the sale. The promotion schedule can be found under advanced options.

Ad Copy

Is your current ad copy relevant? Have you made any changes to your website that need to be updated in your ad? You may have ad copy with outdated messaging that is no longer the same as your website. Did you update the prices on your website and this change is not reflected in your ad copy? Do you have more than one ad per ad group in the account? It also can be a good idea to add Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) to your top ad groups. It is a good idea to check on the performance of the RSAs, in some accounts, the CPL ended up being lower and in others, it was much higher.

Placement/App Exclusions

If you are running any campaigns in Display, it is a good idea to regularly perform a placement analysis. Create a filter to find underperforming placements and apps to exclude from the campaign. If you have placements with mobileapp::mobileapp::2 these are apps. You cannot exclude these at placement level, but you should be able to exclude the app category if these apps have poor performance.

Demographic Bids

Another quick way to save some money is to review your demographic performance. Are there any age groups that are not performing well in the account? Does one gender perform better than another? Are there clear differences in household income level performance? In one account, we can see that males have a much higher CPL than females and unknown. Adding negative modifiers to males can help reduce the campaign CPL.

Device Bids

You can also check out your device performance to determine if there are any opportunities. In one account, we recently added click-to-call tracking and our conversion volume improved by 30%. Now our mobile CPL is significantly lower than desktop for one campaign. Our previous +20% bids on desktop are no longer necessary and can be removed since it has the highest CPL at $85 compared to mobile at $58.

Audience Targeting

If you have not added audiences to your campaigns, this something worth testing in your account. Recently, we added the Homeowners In-Market audience to one account. This has quickly become one of the top audiences with the most conversions and a ROAS of 430%. The All Visitors and Similar to All Visitors have a higher ROAS. To improve performance, we have increased the Homeowners to 25% and left the other bid adjustments the same.

Ad Extensions

Another quick win is to make sure you have included all available ad extensions in your account. You should have at least 4 sitelink extensions at account-level or per campaign. Do you have structured snippets and call out extensions in your account? If you have a physical store location do you have location extensions in your account? If phone calls are important you will want to have Call Extensions in your account.


Hopefully all of these tips can help you make some optimizations that can improve your ROAS or reduce wasteful spending. If you are looking for some other tips you can check out this whitepaper about the newest ad features to try in your account.  You can also check out some PPC un-resolutions for next year.

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Unveiling our first MarTech Intelligence Report on email marketing platforms



Matching email content to customer needs

Woman smiling while reading emails in a digital-first experience

Email has always held a special place in my heart, perhaps because it seems so taken for granted in the digital marketing world. It’s been around too long to benefit from “shiny new object” syndrome, yet its true believers are fully appreciative of its power. What else delivers an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent, after all?

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to download this free buyers’ guide that looks at today’s email marketing technology and walks you through what you should consider before adopting a new platform or making the switch from your current provider.

Email marketing platforms and financial activity

The big marketing cloud providers, Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce as well as Acoustic and Zeta made investments in email by acquiring standalone players – some more recently than others.

Though the email category is well established, there are still plenty of investors who believe marketers are looking for innovations. In the last few years, many players in the space have attracted venture funding, while mergers and acquisition activity shows how email increasingly works together with other marketing technologies.

Venture funding

In May of 2021, Klayvio closed $320 million in Series D financing at a $9.5 billion valuation, just six months after its Series C of $200 million, according to Techcrunch, which says the next-gen email provider has taken in $675 million in all.

ActiveCampaign has received $360 million in VC funding through three rounds, Techcrunch says, with the most recent round of $240 million (at an over $3 billion valuation) coming in April 2021.

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Iterable’s latest funding round occurred in June of 2021, which was reported to be $200 million. In total, Techcrunch reports the company has attracted $342.2 million in financing.

Meanwhile, Sendinblue’s latest funding round, a reported $160 million, occurred in September 2020.

Prior to that, the latest period of significant activity in the email space was 2018, when Braze brought in $80 million in October and Cordial took in $15 million in June.

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Mergers and acquisitions

Consolidation activity has been even higher in the past few years. The biggest blockbuster deal was Intuit’s acquisition of Mailchimp for $12 billion, announced in September of 2021, though Mailchimp is more focused on small and medium-sized businesses than enterprise customers.

In the same space, and also that month, Constant Contact finalized a deal to acquire email automation provider SharpSpring, following that up in January of 2022 with an agreement to acquire Australian SMS and email platform Vision6, a deal expected to close later in 2022.

Other recent big news involves the CM Group’s merger with Cheetah Digital, announced in October of 2021 and finalized in February of 2022. CM Group is also the parent of Campaign Monitor and Emma, among other related marketing technology brands like Sailthru. CM Group is majority-owned by Insight Partners.

For its part, Zeta Global acquired surveying tool Appness in October 2021. In 2019, the company purchased AI and content classification company Temnos in January, data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform (DSP) Sizmek in April. It snapped up location data company PlaceIQ in July.

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Validity acquired email analytics and deliverability provider 250ok in February 2020, cementing its deliverability and data quality capabilities. The company has previously acquired Return Path (2019), BriteVerify (2018), CRMfusion (2019) and AppBuddy (2019).

In our new MarTech Intelligence Report, you’ll learn more about these companies and their technologies, so you can determine which solution best meets your business’ needs. Download it today!

2022 MarTech replacement survey2022 MarTech replacement survey

About The Author

Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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