The holiday season is a chaotic time, with shopping activity reaching a fever pitch. Holiday shoppers aren’t just looking for the best deals, they’re also looking for the retailer that provides the most hassle-free path to purchase. Read on for 8 tips you can apply now to earn the business of this year’s throng of savvy gift givers, wherever and however they are on the web.

Be where the shoppers are.
53% of consumers plan to do more holiday shopping research online this year than they did in 2011. It’s essential at this point in the season to double-check that your search and display ads stand out from the rest.

1. Make basic changes for big impact in your search ads.
Using a longer ad headline may result in higher clickthrough rates, and also creates a better experience for users by highlighting more information in the ad. We also recommend helping shoppers see the exact products you offer before they even reach your site with product ads.

2. Convert browsers to buyers with remarketing.
Now that you’ve gotten shoppers to check out your site, use remarketing to keep engaging them. Win back that potential customer who placed their favorite fruit cake in their shopping cart, but did not complete the checkout process. You can show that fruit cake -- now with free shipping! -- to that shopper as they browse other websites.

3. Reach people even when they’re not searching.
Gift givers consult myriad sources online looking for all the help they can get, from blogs to product review sites to the most niche sites you can imagine. Take advantage of every opportunity to tell them that you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for. At minimum, we recommend running a campaign on the Google Display Network, which lets you place ads on millions of sites across the Internet. Consider tools like interest categories and demographics to effectively reach people who are interested in what you have to sell -- even if they don’t already know you exist.

Be useful and engaging.
Once you’ve earned a shopper’s consideration, don’t squander it. Don’t just be informative -- bend over backwards to make it as easy as possible for someone to buy from you.

4. Help people quickly find, visit, and call your business.
Start with your search campaign. Use location extensions to dynamically attach your business address and phone number to your search ads and location targeting to show ads to customers in a specific geographic area. Then, build a mobile site or app that, at minimum, helps shoppers easily find the nearest store, a “click-to-call” phone number, and your holiday hours. Stay ahead of the pack by including which stores are carrying specific products, and how to buy online if it’s not available nearby.

5. Keep your ads fresh.
There are few things that will turn a potential holiday customer away more than clicking on a display ad on a website they trust -- only to find that your advertised product is out of stock. Consider using Keyword Contextual Targeting, which lets you tailor your display ads based on inventory levels. For example, if you're out of a specific product, you can pause a keyword and turn it on when it’s back in stock.

6. Bring your print catalog to the tablet.
The print catalog has been an invaluable shopping tool for years. Bring yours to the next level by creating an interactive, tablet version of your catalog. Shoppers can tap to view products, create a collage, share ideas with friends, or visit your site to make a purchase. And with the new lightbox ad format, you can bring your online catalog to new users, who can then browse and buy right from within the ad. The best part is that you only pay when shoppers engage with the ad.

Be the winner.
Oftentimes, one ad or even five isn’t enough to convince someone to buy from you. Strive to close the deal at multiple points in every customer’s personal journey towards a purchase, both online and offline.

7. Appeal to bargain hunters.
Turn perpetual comparison shoppers to buyers by offering discounts, gift cards and coupons on smartphones and tablets. And make it easy for them to redeem these offers at your store.

8. Make the sale with in-store shoppers.
Make it easy for people to use your mobile site or app as a companion during their shopping trip. For example, you can offer QR codes that enable shoppers to scan out-of-stock products and purchase them from your site. Shoppers also love to use your mobile site or app to make shopping lists, view expanded product details, watch product videos or compare customer ratings.

We hope you found these tips helpful. Happy holidays -- and happy optimizing!

Posted by Erica Sievert, Product Marketing Manager, Google Display Network

* Holiday Consumer Intentions 2012