Practical Tips To Prepare For Cyber Monday & Beyond

Cyber Monday is one of the most important (if not the most important) day to paid search professionals in America, and I’ve got some great tips and tricks to share on how to make the most of it. But first, I thought I’d share some history of the term I found at Wikipedia: The term […]

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Cyber Monday is one of the most important (if not the most important) day to paid search professionals in America, and I’ve got some great tips and tricks to share on how to make the most of it.

But first, I thought I’d share some history of the term I found at Wikipedia:

The term “Cyber Monday” is a neologism invented by, part of the U.S. trade association National Retail Federation. It was first used within the e-commerce community during the 2005 holiday season. According to Scott Silverman, the head of, the term was coined based on research showing that 77% of online retailers reported a significant increase in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2004. In late November 2005, the New York Times reported that “The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.”

But is it actually the biggest spending day of the year? Some claim the term is inaccurate and just a clever marketing strategy.

From Business Week:

Contrary to what the recent blitz of media coverage implies, Cyber Monday isn’t nearly the biggest online shopping or spending day of the year. It ranks only as the 12th-biggest day historically, according to market researcher comScore Networks. It’s not even the first big day of the season.

For most online retailers, the bigger spending day of the season to date was way back on Nov. 22, three days before Black Friday. What’s more, most e-tailers say the season’s top spending day comes much later, between around Dec. 5 and Dec. 15.

Interesting…Regardless of what Cyber Monday actually represents, the reality is that the holiday season is upon us and, as paid search pros, we need to be prepared to take advantage of this highly lucrative e-commerce period.

I spoke with Chris Lien, CEO of the SEM management platform Marin Software, to find out what tips and tricks they’ve been sharing with their customers on how to do paid search correctly for the holidays.

Q. So, what does Cyber Monday mean to you?

Chris: It’s when consumers begin their heavy holiday shopping on the Internet–the official kickoff to the online holiday season.

Q. How do you think online sales will go this year?

Chris: Well, due to the economic environment we’re in, I think we’ll see a lengthening of the online holiday promotion period in order for retailers to get every last dollar they can from consumers. I noticed Macy’s has already started some pretty aggressive advertising and it’s only mid-November.

Q. Studies show that over half of people begin researching gifts before Thanksgiving, but the majority of purchases don’t occur until mid-December. How does that affect paid search pros?

Chris: Make sure to take these “early researchers” into account. Set your tracking cookies to 30 days or more to capture delayed conversions.

Q. Are there any specific keyword expansion tips you have?

Chris: Make sure you’re not just running on the same terms you have all year. Include holiday terms as well. Some 69% of shoppers plan to purchase gift cards this year (according to Google research) so don’t forget to promote gift cards in your search campaigns. Examples of potential keyword ideas to add include: “electronics gift card,” “best gift for dog lovers,” and “great gifts for under $25.”

Q. Yikes! I bet “gift card” terms just spiked in the engines. So there will be more volume on most search terms for the next six weeks, what can search pros do to make sure they don’t spend on inefficient terms?

Chris: Negative match is an important tactic to utilize. Use query mining early in the holiday season to see what unrelated searches might be triggering your ads so you can make good optimization decisions. For example, a retailer might add “gift registry” to their campaigns, but then needs to exclude the most popular registry searches which are for “Windows,” “Software,” and “Cleaner,” each of which have nothing to do with the holidays.

Q. Okay, got it. How does all of this affect bid strategies?

Chris: Historical data shows that users are much more likely to convert during the holiday season. Be prepared for increased conversion rates, and use insight to bid accordingly. Try using year-over-year data from the last few holiday seasons to understand how users will engage your keywords, ads, and sites. Of course, watch your accounts early to see what’s happening so that you make good decisions throughout the campaign.

Q. That’s good to know. Any last things to think about?

Chris: Everyone knows they can find great deals starting December 26th. So make sure to create sale-specific campaigns, keywords and creative ahead of time and schedule the campaigns to launch automatically on December 25th at midnight.

Great tips and tricks, Chris. Thank you for you for sharing. I think the biggest takeaway here is to make sure to scrutinize your paid search accounts much more often than usual during this holiday push. You want to take advantage of positive trends you will find as well as weed out inefficiencies. For many web retailers, the upcoming six weeks represent more than half of their sales, so it’s important to win now more than ever.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Josh Dreller
Josh Dreller has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. Josh is currently the Director of Content Marketing at Kenshoo.

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