In the hustle to prepare and present holiday offers to capitalize on this critical spike in seasonal online spending, ecommerce companies can overlook one critical piece of the puzzle: Paid search.

According to research from Google, 82% of shoppers said online research would “significantly or moderately impact” which companies they would buy from during the holidays. Additionally, iProspect’s 2012 Retail Blueprint: Holiday 2011 Findings and Guide for 2012 Success notes that paid search “continues to be the key driver in supporting online sales,” and that trend only takes on more importance during the holidays.

So how can you make sure you are leveraging paid search to maximize traffic and sales during the holidays? Here are a few of the steps iProspect recommends for success:

Start early. iProspect’s analysis of the 2011 holiday season found marketing teams that began their efforts in October, and used branded search to start driving traffic, got the best results. Their recommendation: Make sure your holiday promo calendar spans 90 days or more.

• Keep your finger on the pulse of search. Google and Bing modify their rules, algorithms, and account structures regularly, and it’s even more critical to stay on top of those changes during the holiday season. Be on the lookout for targeting options and new features from these search behemoths that’ll help optimize your efforts.

• Ramp up offers on key shopping days. Pairing exclusive one-day deals with general website sales promotions can have a major impact. One iProspect client went this route last year, and it had a huge payoff. The company gave its marketing team an unlimited budget to work with on these special promo days, and that made it easier for shoppers on the hunt to find those offers. That led to an increase in impressions and “some of the strongest results of the season” for the company.

• Think about the time of day. iProspect found it was critical to pace offers properly during the holiday season, as evening spend was twice that of purchases during the morning hours. Two moves that might help capitalize on that trend? Evening flash sales and dayparting your search campaigns.

Want to find out even more about how to prepare, develop, and deploy campaigns for this holiday season?

Attend the free webinar, “Trends and Tactics to Get Ready for the Holidays,” featuring Sucharita Mulpuru, Vice President, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, and Monetate CEO David Brussin on Wednesday, August 22 at 3 p.m.