It’s hard to believe that we’re on the home stretch to the biggest month of the year for retailers and advertisers alike. How big, exactly? According to the National Retail Federation, up to 30% of annual sales occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you haven’t started planning your SEM holiday strategy yet, don’t fret! This checklist will take you through all of the necessary holiday planning steps for you and your client, just in time for your Black Friday.


¨ Send November & December budgets

¨ Share November & December promotional calendars

¨ Provide promo codes & corresponding dates

¨ Send landing page URLs if there are custom Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale pages

¨ Share Christmas shipping deadlines (cutoff dates for standard shipping, express shipping, etc.)

SEM Team

¨ Perform holiday-specific keyword research

¨ Write promotional ad copy

¨ Write promotional sitelink and/or callout extensions

¨ Create promotion extensions

¨ Create holiday campaigns & copy, then upload in advance as paused

¨ Implement negative keyword mapping to send holiday keywords to the appropriate campaigns

¨ Set up scheduling for sale-specific ads, landing pages, and extensions

¨ Set up automated rules to expand daily budgets over Thanksgiving weekend

¨ Do a final QA of all holiday ads, campaigns, and settings before sales start

¨ Double-check account alert settings to make sure the team gets emailed if technical issues arise


There’s definitely more you can do – segment audiences for RLSA, establish countdown ads, etc. – but the above list is essential to lock down before the tidal wave of traffic hits. Good luck!

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Karen Hays
Karen Hays joined 3Q Digital in the summer of 2016. She is an Illinois native; she grew up in the suburbs and now lives in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2014 with a BS in Advertising, Minor in Business, and Public Relations Certificate. She has worked on accounts in a variety of industries from finance to ecommerce, specializing in Search Engine Marketing. Her interests include, but are not limited to, dogs, cycling classes, biking along Lake Michigan, yoga, and Netflix binges.