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Navigating the Holiday Season: The 2019 Checklist for Success on Amazon

In the blink of an eye, the holidays are already somehow right around the corner, and demand is greater than ever. The National Retail Federation estimates an 11-14% increase in online sales this season with 40% of consumers beginning their holiday shopping journey by November 1st. Earlier this year, Amazon’s Prime Day was crowned the largest shopping event in Amazon history. Event sales surpassed 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined, giving us a taste of what to expect in the remaining peak months of 2019. Are your accounts ready?

Most of the heavy lifting comes with prepping, but don’t fret! We’ve consolidated Merkle’s best practices to ensure your Amazon accounts are set up for success this holiday season. Here’s our comprehensive checklist for both vendors and third-party sellers:

Pre-Holiday

1. Review last year’s holiday performance:

  • Use last holiday’s daily trends to inform budget planning and allocation. Keep in mind that Thanksgiving is later this year, so there’s less shopping time between it and Christmas.
  • Review keyword performance for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ads that were active last holiday to understand what worked and what didn’t.
  • Review ad copy used last holiday as a starting point for this year.
  • Review audiences and inventory placement performance for DSP buys

2. Define your program goals for holiday, which may include raising awareness, maximizing revenue, or selling through a particular product. Identify which KPIs to track goals against and define targets.

3. Set budgets through the end of the year, increasing your daily campaign budget caps and portfolio budgets to prevent ads from capping out and pausing during the day.

4. Identify which products to prioritize with advertising and ensure that inventory levels will be sufficient through holiday.

5. Check product detail pages for optimizations:

  • Inform shoppers with robust, descriptive titles, multiple high-quality photos, and attribute-rich bullet points.
  • Check and update shipping times to minimize returns or customer complaints.

6. Create holiday product campaigns early and prepare existing campaigns:

  • Build out new holiday campaigns and creatives early so they can gather performance history to inform bids and strategy. 
  • Ensure that advertised products are retail ready. Amazon recommends advertising products with at least a 3.5 star rating, 15 reviews, and optimized product detail page content.
  • Utilize an array of ad types (Sponsored Ads and DSP buys) to increase overall presence and maximize conversion potential.

7. Update your stores page or, if you haven’t yet created it, make one!

  • Showcase priority products and holiday deals on the homepage of your store.
  • Utilize the dynamic deal tile to highlight sale products on various pages.

8. Leverage Display advertising to grow ASIN remarketing pools and use in-market audience features.

Peak-Holiday

1. Actively monitor your campaigns:

  • Check that your ads are active and delivering properly.
  • Ensure that portfolio and campaign budget caps aren’t being hit early in the day. 

2. Search for your ads in the wild throughout the days to verify your ads are showing as intended and understand what your competition is doing and where it is showing.

3. Keep a pulse on sales performance:

  • Third-party sellers should utilize business reports and total hourly revenue.
  • Vendors should use Hourly Sales by ASIN in Amazon Retail Analytics.

4. Once you’ve made it through the peak Holiday rush, you’re almost done! There are a just few more steps you should take to close out the season and ensure your accounts are ready for the new year.

Post-Holiday

1. Step down bids and frequency settings as demand decreases.

2. Revert daily budget caps and portfolio budgets to pre-holiday levels.

3. Pause holiday-specific ads and switch out seasonal creative.

4. Update your stores pages to replace holiday creative and expired product deals.

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