5 Tips for Running Promotions in Paid Search

Properly promoting sales offers both opportunities and challenges to PPC teams. They are a great way of attracting new customers and revenue, however when improperly managed, promotions can result in a lot of wasted spend. Useless traffic and high CPCs, combined with lowered margins can lead to losses. So, when approaching promotions, keep the following in mind:

1. Don’t just throw money at a promotion.

Depending on the message and expected interest in the promo, additional budget might be needed to promote the offer. “20% off everything” will generate more interest and revenue than “10% off selected beauty items 24 hours only”. However changing budgets in big steps week on week will not be beneficial for long term account efficiency. It is important to align on the expectations for the promos in terms of traffic and profitability with your merchandising team and base actions on the expected impact.


2. Communication is vital to avoid mistakes.

When preparing promos it’s important to have consistent and clear communication before the promo starts. Merchandising teams usually have a very clear idea of what they want to promote when and how the message should look. To facilitate this process a promo calendar, where different offers and timeframes are clearly visible, is a huge advantage. This should be updated regularly so offers are prepared on time, and should be editable and viewable in real time in order to plan ahead but also react quickly to changes.



So let’s say Clothey.com, selling mid-range own brand clothing, has a promotion lasting one week but the offer changes in different markets. A calendar is a clear method of communicating when and what should happen, to avoid mistakes common from hunting through emails.


3. Know the right tools and extensions to use.

Time periods and messaging indicate how the offer needs to be promoted. For promos like sales on all products or sales that go on for a longer period of time it can make sense to promote them via Ad Copies. However, sale ads will take time before they perform on a par with existing ads and CPCs will rise. Ad customizers are useful for tackling this, as they can be used multiple times with different messages.


Remember that the person searching is already looking for a particular product. If the promo period is very short or only valid for limited products, promoting via Extensions is a better choice than Ad Copies to get the message across. However, Extensions don’t guarantee that the message will show with every impression, so choose wisely!

What about Clothey.com? Certainly an extension should be used for the offer, but they will have to test their Ad Copies to find out. In fact, the question about ads could come down how the offer is presented. Which leads me to my next point.


4. Messaging is more than just showing the offer.

Who is your target and how do they purchase? If you have a high-end retailer offering 10% off, you don’t want to attract people looking for bargain-basement deals. Filling your Ad Copies with multiple mentions of percentages might not attract the right long term traffic. One clear message via Ad Customizer and maybe a callout or Site link will get the message across and keep the brand image intact.

Clothey.com, are quite brand sensitive and don’t want to be associated with cut price deals, however they would like to promote their current sale to new customers. They have decided against running sale heavy ad texts like this one:


Low Relevance, needy ad, filled with unnecessary repetition of the offer makes Clothey.com look cheap.


Instead they have gone a slightly more subtle route using Ad Customizer which allows them to show their sale message while staying on brand. It is a more Relevant Ad, but still delivers the message of the promotion, and an Ad Customiser in the description line makes this Ad relevant for the right audience.


Keywords should be used strategically:

Sale specific keywords such as “Black Friday Sales”, “Mid-Season Sales” have high competition, expensive CPCs, and low intent to buy. But that’s not to say that combined with specific categories they aren’t worthwhile.

For Clothey.com it might make sense to bid on long tail keywords like “red jeans black Friday sales”.

Trust in your account, if your coverage is already strong, people will find you.


Key Takeaways

Two elements are paramount:

  • Communication: make sure you and your merchandising have proper channels of communication and quick and clear ways to implement promotions, especially across multiple markets with different offers and languages. A shared calendar, editable and viewable in real time allows you to prepare in advance, but react to short notice changes.
  • Understanding your target: Use the right messaging and tools and know that sometimes, less is more.

With these key ideas, you should avoid the pitfalls many make during promotions. If you’d like to add to the discussion, please comment or tweet us @crealytics. Sign up for our newsletter to keep receiving thought pieces from industry experts right in your inbox.


James Richardson

James is a PPC expert at crealytics since summer 2015. With a passion for data, he is a UK market expert working for our leading international ecommerce customers within the fashion retail industry.