7 Ways to Get Your Google Search Campaigns in a Festive Mode

Have you tried setting up a Google Search Campaign around a specific holiday? How did it perform? Here are our true-and-tested tips for holiday-themed campaigns.

'Tis the Season to Promote Your Brand in Google Ads

I believe we speak for all Google Ads experts when we say that “All I want for the holiday are spikes in all the right places.” We’re talking about fantastic CTR, conversion rate, and ROAS.There will always be some things out of our control, like the ruthless paid search competition, increased CPCs, or unexpected bugs during the holidays (although let’s face it, when it comes to Google Ads, we are always prepared for those).However, Google’s advertising platform offers many hidden gems to help us get our campaigns into a festive mood.

After many, many holiday campaigns across the SaaS, automotive, educational, and eCommerce industries, Hop Online’s PPC team got our heads together and summed up our 7 favorite holiday Google Search Ads strategies to help you prepare for any festive season:

1. Plan Your Holiday Ad Campaigns Well Ahead of Time

If it’s beginning to look a lot like [insert any holiday], then you’re late to the party!When it comes to holiday campaigns, planning in advance is critical. Here is why:

  1. It gives you time to set up designated landing pages or discounts in the system.
  2. You need to get your ads uploaded, approved, and ready to launch before the start date.
  3. You get to run the holiday ad campaigns for a more extended period and gather enough data to make statistically relevant decisions on their effectiveness.

A common mistake is deciding to run a Christmas campaign on the 21st of December or launching a weekend-long promo for Saint Valentine’s day. Especially if your conversion window is longer than 24 hours or your keywords have low search volume, you definitely won’t get the reach you were hoping for.Prep every December a Google Ads Holiday campaign calendar for the next year and give yourself and your team enough time to make those campaigns really impactful.

2. Get Creative With Ad Copy for the Holidays

All holidays have one thing in common – we get more emotional! With a bit more spare time, we have the chance to reconnect with friends and family, treat ourselves to some great food, throw a party, or rekindle a crafting passion. Holidays are about making memories.This is why you can allow yourself to be a bit more creative with your Google Search ads copy. Creativity would help you connect better with your leads and potential customers, who already are in a festive modeр (or help them get there).

Forget about the standard Ad copy headlines and descriptions or generic calls-to-action. Use that ad real estate for making an instant connection with your customers, who are in holiday mode too.One best practice is to mention the coming up holiday in both Headline 2 (we all know Headline 1 is reserved for the ad group’s core keywords) and Description 1, and don’t be afraid of being cheesy or using puns.Let’s “fall in love” with this brand on Saint Valentine’s Day, “spearhead 2021” with that brand in January, or even offer “spooky discounts” on Halloween. Test it out for yourself and be ready for some scary good CTRs.

3. Everybody Loves a Holiday Discount

When it comes to promoting your products or services during the holidays, keep in mind that if your ads have the words “Sale”, “OFF”, “Discount”, or even a % symbol in the headlines, their click-through rate would surely improve.Especially during the fall and winter months, when everybody’s waiting for Black Friday, and it feels like the calm before the storm, customers will spot offers and discounts in seconds.

Of course, every niche is different, so do your competitor analysis. Check out what your main competitors are offering during the holiday, sit down with the team, and decide if you can match their sale prices or at least offer a symbolic discount to keep up with the holiday spirits!

4. Don’t Forget the Festive Keywords

To keep up with the changes in search behavior around any holidays, just duplicate your best campaigns and add +easter/+christmas/etc to the keywords, and here you go – you have a designated holiday campaign!Surely, the volume for +keyword +Labor +day might be pretty much nonexistent. Still, you should check Google Trends as well as the Keyword Planner for relevant keyword combos with any major holiday in your targeted locations.

Even if their volume is low, it is better to target them separately in their own campaign in order to make sure you maximize their search impression share & quality score and have better control over bids.

Also, it’s an excellent way to get your own data on customer behavior during the holiday period and measure it yearly. This will help you decide if your additional marketing efforts are bringing more festive searches each year with your brand or product name in them.

5. Take Advantage of the Extra Ad Space

One of the best new things for any holiday campaign in Google Ads is the Promotion Extension. It “came to town” in 2017, and while it’s currently available in all Google Ads accounts, it’s still one of the most underestimated tools for sale promotion on the platform.Lucky for us, promotion extensions have gotten several upgrades during the last few years. Now they offer the option to select a specific holiday that will appear in bold, add a promo code or minimum order value, and urge users to action with an end date (see the screenshot below).

Two essential things we’ve learned the hard way when using these promo codes:

  1. Make sure they are short and easy to remember because the promotional code space has a limit of 15 characters.
  2. Mention the promo code again on the advertised page, in a pop-up, or auto-populating it in the promo code section on the checkout page.

Often the developers who come up with the codes make them completely illegible or forget to add them on the relevant pages. And let’s face it, no one makes it a habit to remember all the content of the ad they’ve clicked on.

6. Create a Sense of Urgency

When holidays are a-coming, the clock on the ads starts ticking as well!In Google Ads, this is achieved with countdown customizers – they can be used with any search ad format (and even Responsive Display Ads!) and have a great option of either adjusting to the user’s timezone or to the one in the Google Ads account. Just write { in the ad copy headline and choose the Countdown option from the drop-down menu. Take a look at the different settings in our example ad below.

The fact is, every time we see an ad with a call-to-action such as “Hurry Up” or “Offer Expires Tonight,” we tend to pay more attention. It doesn’t help that, as advertisers, we realize that most probably the offer will continue expiring every “tonight” of this week... and maybe the next one.However, with countdown customizers, you can take it up a notch and increase the level of trustworthiness towards the actual offer expiration date.

7. When in Doubt, Test It

To decide if you want to have an “egg-cellent” or an “egg-splosive” discount mentioned in the ad headlines this Easter, use Google Ads Ad Variation tool. You can find it under “Drafts & Experiments” on All campaigns level.This feature allows you to do A/B testing on any ad copy element, with the vast flexibility to replace particular words/phrases in the ad elements or directly substitute one Final URL with another.Many advertisers wonder whether it makes sense to spend time prepping holiday-themed landing pages or just continue leading people to their website, with text or pop-up to announce any discount there. Google Ads Ad Variation tool can get you the answer. Simply test the campaigns long enough to get statistically significant results right there in Google Ads.

Another cool hack of the Ad variations tool is to use it for swapping Headline 1 and Headline 2. That’s a great way of finding out the best placement of a discount offer or sales announcement, or whether Google’s Law of the First Headline (always include the core keyword) is valid even when Santa is coming to town.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Extra Advice

There are many more strategies worth honorary mentions when we talk about holiday Google Search campaigns. Here are just a few more:

  • Adjust location bids and location extensions to drive more foot traffic to your store right when everybody’s out there looking for gifts.
  • Use remarketing lists for Search ads (RSLAs) to make sure your remarketing audiences see your “spiced up with discounts” ads at the top of the SERP.
  • Add pricing extensions in combination with the Promotion extensions to show your great offers.
  • Apply automated rules to help you launch the holiday ads without having to set the alarm for 00:00 on a workday and prevent any budget overspend.
  • Add relevant labels to all festive ads as well as the enabled standard ones you had to pause before them. This will make the transition “back to normal” after the holidays perfectly painless.

Holiday-themed Google Search campaigns can really pay off – try them and let us know how they worked out for you. Just remember, plan well, start early, and test.If you’re on a roll, see some tips on making high-performing Landing Pages, and browse for more thoughts on PPC.

Antoaneta Grigorova

Head of Paid Media

I use different online advertising platforms to help companies get their products& services in front of the right people at the right time and place.