How to prepare your digital agency for the holiday season!

written by Jari van Gaal

November 30, 2019

Holiday season is almost upon us again, and hopefully it’ll bring you the chance to relax, eat, and spend time with your loved ones. 

Unfortunately, the Google Ads campaigns of your clients don’t get that luxury – in fact, this can be one of the most demanding times for accounts, given that budgets, scheduling and bidding often differ greatly in December from other months. The stakes are high for clients relying on Christmas business, challenging agencies to find ways to balance managing team over the festive season, with the 24/7 nature of Google and what our clients deserve from us. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a break, trusting that your client accounts are safe and kicking goals? Good news; we have your back! Just follow the three steps below and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the stress free holiday you and your team deserve. 

1. Set Up Automated Critical Alerts

2. Prioritize KPIs, Team Communication & Strategic Automations

3. Plan Your December Budgets

1. Set Up Automated Critical Alerts

As part of your regular account maintenance, it’s wise to have a range of regular, automated account health checks and alerts running over your accounts. Over the holiday season, it’s vital to stay on top of any critical alerts to ensure the stability of your client accounts. We suggest:

  • Spend alerts: Setting up spend alerts during the Christmas holidays is really smart.  Overspending can be dangerous, but underspending can be disastrous! Building a custom spend alert for the holiday season can give you confidence that your budgets are pacing correctly without you needing to constantly check in on them.
  • Hungry keywords: Watch out for keywords that start to chew up a large portion of your budget but are not converting very well.
  • Products ready to serve drop alert: For e-commerce clients, knowing if there is a large decrease in the number of products that are ready to serve, can prevent significant downtime and subsequent drops in revenue for your clients products in Google Shopping.  
  • 404 error alerts: There is nothing more wasteful than sending paid traffic to a broken website or landing page, so buy yourself peace of mind by running a daily check for this.
  • Search impression share loss (rank) alert: If it is important for your clients to retain high visibility through the holiday period, then you might need an alert that advises you if their competitors start bidding more aggressively and cutting into your impression share.
  • Impression drop alert: An alert that fires upon significant or total impression loss should be a standard critical alert. But over the holiday season you could run a modified version that doesn’t check impression drops on days where you have significant spend reductions planned.   

For teams, we would recommend sending the critical alerts to a centralised email inbox that’s accessible by appropriate team members. Make a schedule to ensure that at least one person is available to check and respond daily. For sole operators, we recommend setting up critical alert emails with a subject line that can easily be identified as a critical alert. You can even set-up an SMS alert when a critical email is received (we can show you how to do this of course!).

2. Prioritize KPIs, Team Communication & Strategic Automations

It’s common, of course, to manage different KPIs for different clients. We see agencies struggle to manage across many KPIs so as part of your pre-festive season planning, spend time with your team prioritising the non-negotiable KPIs that should be monitored. 

Whatever the non-negotiable KPIs are, ensure you’ve set up good workflows and automations for them. Further, use strategic automations to monitor the account and make adjustments in response to potential or anticipated account behaviours. An array of strategic account automations will enable you to remain focussed on delivering outcomes that prioritise KPIs for client accounts, while you’re passing the potatoes. 

But remember, to get the best out of your agency over the holiday period, ensure that the team member monitoring the communal inbox understands the accounts and their goals and how to respond to any account issues you foresee arising.

3. Plan Your December Budgets

If your clients stock products that sell well during the holiday period December will be a critical month for them, and if so, they will most likely benefit from allocating budget differently compared to other months. Why? We all know the search behavior and purchase patterns of people can differ remarkably during December when compared to other months. 

Given that people shop heavily prior to Christmas you’ll likely want to skew budget for pre-25th December. You may want to drop budget on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve (too late for postage!) and for New Years Eve. How could this look? As a hypothetical example, given a $1000 client budget, you might decide to allocate your spend as follows: 

  • 1-23 Dec – $900
  • 24&25 Dec – $0 
  • 26 Dec – $80
  • 27-30 Dec – $20
  • 31 Dec – $0

Strategic budget design gives you the best ROI potential for your clients. Indeed, it could perhaps even be argued that it’s your responsibility to do so, given how critical this sales cycle can be for many businesses. However, in the above example, who in your office is logging in on Christmas Eve to turn budgets off and then back on again on the 26th? And for every client? T’is the season to log-in and manually manage campaigns and budgets? Additionally, many clients will launch new campaigns for post-Christmas sales that need to be activated at midnight on Christmas Day. 

Use an automation to set up a strategic budget in advance, so you can relax in the knowledge that budgets are taken care of for your clients. You can also use PPC Samurai workflows to turn certain campaigns on or off on certain days, which is fantastic if clients have differing pre/post Christmas promotions. Further, you might want to use automation to turn off your campaign budget from the 25th to 31st of December in response to stock levels or simply if extended shipping times will affect purchaser experience. 

This is all in addition to the many automatic critical alerts you have running on accounts (as discussed in point one) and the responsive account automations you have running as a result of the array of strategic workflows you’ve implemented. 

So.. to recap!

If you want to enjoy your vacation (and you want your team to enjoy theirs!) while still giving your client accounts the love they deserve over the holiday period, then we suggest starting by focussing on these three things: 

  1. Identify your critical problem alerts, then set up automated checks to monitor for these.  Make sure these alerts are sent to a shared inbox, and appoint someone in your team check this inbox regularly (or even link them to an SMS message service) 
  2. Prioritize the critical KPIs that should be monitored over the holiday season and work out the automations you need to implement for those. 
  3. Identify the spend pattern you would like to employ for your clients, and set up specialised budget rules to auto adjust in accordance with your plan. 

If you have critical alerts covered, budgets covered, KPI management covered, and team communication covered then you can close your computer to spend time with those that you love, safe in the knowledge that your client accounts are getting the best of your skills while you enjoy the best of the festive season. 

Now… please pass me the pudding!

liked that? here are some related articles