Every ecommerce business owner wants to take advantage of the holiday rush, but the savviest marketers start November with a game plan to beat the competition and grow sales. With these simple steps, you can anticipate the moment that clicks and conversion rates will begin to increase, and get ahead of the game with some timely bid adjustments.

Game Plan

In Q4 2014, global retailers increased spend 30% over the same period in 2013, according to Kenshoo’s 2014 Global Online Retail Seasonal Shopping Report. During the same time period, revenue increased 21% and CPCs increased 12%. eMarketer anticipates increased ecommerce spend again this year, which means even higher holiday CPCs. If you don’t adjust quickly to these changes in buyer behavior by increasing bids, you will lose impression share and average position, and ultimately miss out on revenue.

To prepare for competition increases this year, your best resource is last year’s account data. Here are five steps to use last year’s account performance data to build a plan for 2015.

1. Set a Goal

Pull monthly data for 2014 and check if your account hit its goals. If you exceeded your ROI threshold, then you know that you can make more aggressive bid increases this year.

2. Size Up the Competition

Pull quarterly data for 2014, and compare the percentage differences between average CPC and average position for Q3 and Q4. The increase in Q4 will help to estimate how much competition to expect. I recommend evaluating non-brand efforts separately, especially if you have a well-known brand name.


The advertiser above saw a 56% increase in CPC with only a 5% improvement in average position, which demonstrates the immense increase in competition in Q4.

3. Write Your Playbook

Pull monthly data for Q4 2014, and review the monthly percentage changes for average CPC and average position.


For the advertiser above, competition begins to increase in November and steadily rises through December.

This data shows that bid increases should start in November. Since average position got worse last November, I reviewed performance to see if the account hit its goals. In this case it did, so I will increase bids 20-25% this year to improve average position and increase overall traffic to the site.

The largest overall competition increase is in December, with CPCs rising 67% and average position only improving 5%. Beginning in December, I should be much more aggressive with my bidding. For this client, I will increase bids 60-70%, and monitor how this affects average position. Since average position was 2.88 in 2014, I still had opportunity to bid up to appear higher on the page. If your account hit its December goals in 2014, you might want to make even more aggressive bid increases this year.

4. Set a Date

Pull click and impression data by week to identify the specific week when you should increase bids. Look at the percentage differences between weeks and identify a 15-20% increase. This is when you should start increasing bids and budgets in 2015.

This advertiser should aim to increase bids the first weekend of November, since search volume increased 44% from one week to the next. Since I already know that CPCs increase 17% from October to November, and I also know that I could have been more aggressive last year and still hit goal, I will increase bids 20-25% beginning in the first week of November. If your account hit its December goals in 2014, you might also want to make even more aggressive bid increases in December of 2015 as well.

You should also increase bids to capture more traffic whenever you are running a sale and you expect that conversion rates will increase during the sale period.

5. Stay Flexible

Now that you have a solid timeline of account performance for last year, you will want to remain flexible and adapt based on what you’re seeing this year. The search landscape is always evolving, and competition is always changing, so you should expect variations from year to year. Check your accounts on a daily basis for changes in average CPC and average position. For example, if you increase bids 25% in November and are still losing position, you should increase bids more aggressively.