Black Friday has become a major annual retail event.  Crazy people like me will stay up all night after a day of stuffing turkeys (and ourselves), standing in a line that wraps all the way around Kohl’s. We don’t even mind standing next to the dumpster in the back if we can grab that half-priced, name-brand [insert item here]! Americans are now so enthusiastic about hunting for the best deals possible that retailers are stretching the duration of their Black Friday sales.  This year, more large chain stores will be opening on Thanksgiving Day than ever before.

However, brick-and-mortar stores may not see as many people waiting in line as they have in years past.

Just yesterday, Nielsen released a Holiday Spending Forecast that estimates that only 13% of shoppers intend to actually visit a physical store.  This number has seen a steady decrease since 2010, when about 20% planned a shopping trip on Black Friday.

Fortunately for the owners of e-commerce sites, the decline of bodies in stores means an increase in the number online shoppers (and sales!).  This year, 51% of shoppers say that they will be shopping online rather than in stores.

On top of that, the National Retail Federation predicts that 2013 will see a 13-15% increase in online sales that are likely to total at around $82 billion.  Clearly, if you are an e-commerce business owner, you want the biggest piece of this pie that you can fit on your plate.

But wait- Black Friday is no longer the only significant shopper’s holiday. Now you’re probably thinking of Cyber Monday. In actuality, there are two more days to which online companies should pay close attention.

Allow me to introduce Green Monday and Free Shipping Day.

Green Monday falls on the second Monday of December (this year, December 9th).  Many retail companies find that it is consistently one of the most profitable days of the year.

Free Shipping Day takes place about a week before Christmas Day; in 2013, it will be Wednesday, December 18th.  On Free Shipping Day, online sellers offer free shipping on their orders and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.  Desperate last-minute shoppers make this day quite lucrative for retail business owners.

Green Monday is a day for online sales that is certainly not to be ignored.  Because of the enormous potential that all of these retail holidays hold for Internet businesses, truly successful digital marketing campaigns at this time of year require planning and intentionality.

So how do you get that big piece of pie? Below are seven tips for making the most of holiday search engine marketing.

  1. Create a promotion calendar. Your PPC ad copy will then be tailored to match your site promotions; for example, a “Black Friday Extravaganza” sale would have ad copy that contains the promotion name and primary details like “Everything 30% Off”.  It is absolutely vital that you run a promotion for each of these major retail holidays: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, and Free Shipping Day.
  2. Register your business as a participating merchant on the official Free Shipping Day website.  Those who do shopping research in advance will be more likely to purchase from you.
  3. Be sure that your PPC accounts have mobile ads and mobile landing pages whenever possible. A Google Survey says that 76% of smartphone owners intend to use their phones to browse holiday deals this year and 25% of those people plan to purchase on their mobile devices.  Take advantage of call extensions and mobile calls-to-action.  Remember, to be visible on a mobile device on most SERPs, your ad must have an average position of at least 1.5, so keep those max CPCs high enough to consistently stay in that range.
  4. Create holiday-specific keywords by adding seasonally relevant keywords to your base keywords. Use words like, “gift, delivery, free shipping, Black Friday, etc.”
  5. Make online shopping easy for anyone who accesses your site. Many consumers place high value on details like free shipping (68%), easy returns (47%), and quick, trackable shipping (65%).  If the ordering and delivery processes are pleasant, you’ll have happy customers who are more likely to leave positive reviews on your site.  More WOM for next year!
  6. Implement call tracking for all PPC campaigns for quality control and to count call conversions during hectic order rushes.
  7. More investment in PPC means more results, so consider reallocating some of your other advertising/marketing budget to digital.  The potential for huge ROI is well worth it.

Don’t lose a great opportunity for revenue and exposure during the most optimal sales time of the year for most retail businesses.  Use these tips to meet holiday shoppers where they’ll be this year and when they’ll be there- browsing search engines on the biggest online sales days of 2013.  Next year, if you need help, call Cardinal!


Brown, Matthew. “Green Monday Results and Holiday Season Growth.” PFSweb. N.p., 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Lee, John. “PPC Isn’t Just For Ecommerce: Holiday Trends For the Rest of Us.” Search Engine Watch. N.p., 9 Dec. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Snider, Mike. “Nielsen Forecasts Smaller Black Friday Crowds.” USA Today. Gannett, 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Tabeling, Jason. “3 Key Themes From Q4 Paid Search.” Search Engine Watch. N.p., 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.