Yes, it’s that time of year again. And every year it seems to come a little earlier. The Macy’s and Walmart in my area already have their Christmas decorations and displays out, and Walmart has even slashed prices on their toys to drive holiday sales. And I’ve heard rumors that other businesses will be following suit.Don't be left alone in the cold this Christmas!

So what’s an online advertiser to do? I say, get ready.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to slash your prices right now, but instead take this time to get ready and plan your online marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising strategies. The competition will be fierce this year and people, now more than ever, will be looking for the best deals. Do your homework and decide your plan of attack – unless you have a niche product, people online will expect sale prices, free shipping, free gifts with purchase or other incentives. The greatest thing for shoppers (and the bane of ecommerce) is the fact that it’s so easy to price shop – you can check out five or six websites and see who has the best price or offers the best deal before you buy.

Use this time wisely to decide your offer and what’s economically feasible for you, when and how you’ll showcase it on your website, when to start advertising it in your PPC ads, and what your cut-off date is. Make sure you have a clear, mapped out strategy, but be ready to deviate as necessary. Something else you’ll need to consider is your PPC budget – are you able to increase what you’re willing to spend in order to make sure you capture all impressions? What about your position? Are you willing to spend more to be in the top three if you know you are competitive?

I also just did a quick totally unscientific poll of some staff members here at JumpFly: of the 10 people I asked, a few are going to be spending less this year, one will be spending more, and most will be spending the same, but the key thing is that more of them will be using the Internet to find the best deals when they know what it is they want. And several of them have already started shopping so they don’t end up spending lots of money all at once.

So this is the time to get ready, because it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and when it arrives, you don’t want to be left aloneĀ in the cold.

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From the Google AdWords Blog – Retailer tips and tools for maximizing holiday sales