Succeeding in eCommerce doesn’t merely involve selling quality products. True, that’s critical (you won’t have many loyal customers if your products don’t offer actual value, after all), but it’s not the only way you can boost sales. In a competitive marketplace, you need to stand out in the crowd by running pay-per-click ad campaigns through Google and similar advertising platforms.
You also need to apply tested strategies that align with user behavior. Consider the following examples. If you’re trying to grow an eCommerce business with a PPC ad campaign, these tips will help you achieve your goals.
Let’s get the obvious tactics out of the way first! Different types of ads offer different features and serve different purposes. Google Shopping Ads allow you to showcase your products and directly encourage users to purchase them. They also have a relatively strong chance of showing up as sponsored links when users perform relevant Google searches. Naturally, they’re ideal for eCommerce.
Depending on the nature of your business, some of your products may be more popular among customers during specific times of year. For example, if you’re marketing an apparel brand, you shouldn’t expect your winter coats to typically sell best in summer.
That’s a basic example. The main point to keep in mind, though, is that you want to be prepared to leverage seasonal trends instead of scrambling to make seasonally-appropriate ads at the last minute. That means even when it’s not winter, you should be developing ads for the products that sell best in winter. You can always make minor changes later before publishing them.
Most marketers understand the value of using the right keywords when designing ads for Google. However, while including the “right” keywords in your descriptions and ad copy is important, it’s also smart to specify any negative keywords you wish to associate with your ad.
Negative keywords help you boost sales by telling Google’s algorithm what you’re not offering. This minimizes the chances of users with little interest in your products seeing your ads, thus allowing you to optimize your budget.
For example, maybe you’re selling physical desk calendars. As such, your target audience doesn’t consist of people looking for online or downloadable calendars. Make sure you’re not wasting money advertising to them by including “online calendars” and similar terms in your list of negative keywords.
That said, you should keep in mind that just as making a list of keywords involves some trial and error, so does deciding which negative keywords to specify when creating ads. Monitor your campaigns’ performance regularly and update your list of negative keywords whenever you come up with new ideas.
With each year, it becomes increasingly common for online shoppers to browse eCommerce sites and make purchases via mobile devices. Remember this when designing your ads. At least some of your ads should be designed specifically for customers shopping on smartphones and small tablets.
There are various ways you can incorporate mobile-friendly elements into your ad designs. The specific choices you make will at least to some degree depend on what you’re selling. In general, ads that are designed to look impressive and clean on mobile devices strike a balance between catching a user’s attention with vibrant imagery without overwhelming them. For example, an ad featuring a large chunk of text may be somewhat difficult to read on a small mobile screen. Mobile-friendly ads should instead be designed to convey essential information efficiently and clearly. As always, you should also A/B test different ads to get a better sense of which yield higher levels of engagement with mobile device users.
You may already appreciate the importance of creating ads to highlight sales when you plan on running them. A general rule of thumb that tends to hold true states that when potential customers are told they can save money if they act fast, they’re more inclined to make purchases.
However, along with buying items when they’re on sale, your customers may be able to save money in various other ways when buying your products. Perhaps if they spend a certain amount of money they’re rewarded with a discount. Maybe you offer discounts to users when they sign up for your email list. Or, you might have a customer loyalty program that allows repeat customers to save money.
When planning campaigns, review the products you’re selling and make a list of any promotions, discounts, and other such money-saving options that may be associated with said products. Whenever it makes sense to do so, touch on these money-saving opportunities in your ads. You’ll likely find that sales increase accordingly.
Additionally, even when an item isn’t necessarily available at a discounted price, it’s still often smart to mention its price in the title of an ad anyway. While this isn’t a universal rule, as there are instances when mentioning the price in the main ad copy may feel forced, in many instances it’s wise to let a potential customer know how much you’re charging for a product right away.
The fact that a lead considered buying one of your products but ended up not actually making a purchase doesn’t always mean they’ve decided for good that they’re not interested in buying a product. There are many, many reasons online shoppers don’t make purchases right away when browsing items. Often, they’re simply distracted. When they click away from a product page, they might tell themselves they’ll complete a purchase later, only to forget to actually do so.
Luckily, these potential sales are by no means lost forever. You can use Google’s Dynamic Remarketing features to show relevant ads to users who engaged with your brand or products in the past when they visit sites within the Google Display Network. This is an easy but effective way to improve your ROI.
Segmenting your audience and creating different types of ads to appeal to different types of customers is one of the most well-known ways to improve a PPC ad campaign. That said, some eCommerce marketers make the mistake of only segmenting their audiences once, then never returning to make adjustments based on what they’ve learned from their campaigns.
This deprives them of an opportunity to squeeze more profit out of their ads! When you monitor your campaigns’ performance, consider if you can glean any new insights regarding audience tastes, behaviors, and other such factors in order to segment your audience even more effectively.
For example, after reviewing a campaign’s performance, you might find that leads who live in one particular city respond (whether positively or negatively) differently to certain ads when compared to those from a different city. If this was a behavior you hadn’t predicted when first segmenting your audience, now that you’re aware of it, you can segment your audience even further to boost sales.
Another mistake that’s too common in marketing? Only creating new ads when you “need” them.
For instance, you’re well aware of the fact that you should create new ads when promoting new products, when running sales, and when your existing ads are stale and simply need to be refreshed. However, it’s worth remembering that there is no such thing as a truly “perfect” ad. Even if you’re not completely sure how right now, it’s almost certain that each and every one of your ads could be improved upon in various ways.
Constantly creating new ads should be one of your top priorities. True, you can’t devote all your time to generating ads, as doing so will prevent you from focusing on other important business tasks, but you should probably focus on creating new ad content when you have the time to do so more than you currently are.
Creating new ads naturally gives you more chances to test them. The more ad variants you test, the more you’ll learn about which strategies are most effective. That said, even when you aren’t actively running all the news ads you’ve recently generated, consistently engaging in the ad generation process will ensure those creative muscles remain strong.
Additionally, it’s helpful for very practical reasons to have a large number of ads available on the backburner. When you reach a point where it is necessary to incorporate new ads into your campaigns, you’ll already have plenty of unused content to experiment with.
The Internet is brimming with potential distractions. Again, the list of distractions that could prevent an otherwise interested lead from making a purchase is extremely long. When a potential customer clicks on one of your ads, you typically have a very limited amount of time to make a sale.
Keep this in mind when reviewing your current ads and generating new ones. Your ads should send leads directly to a product page (or other page from which they can easily make a purchase) right away. If there are too many steps between the point when someone clicks on an ad and the point where a purchase is complete, you’re losing out on sales.
Researching your competitors’ keywords and using them in your own ads (when it makes sense to do so) is generally a smart strategy. That said, there are certain keywords the competition may be using that you should not incorporate: branded keywords.
It may be tempting to use a competitor’s branded keywords in your ads not because you want to deceive a potential customer by making them think you’re selling another brand’s products, but simply because you want to target customers who are interested in brands similar to your own. For instance, maybe you’re selling a more affordable alternative to a popular product, and you want to let potential customers know about how much money they could be saving if they bought an item from your brand instead of the competition.
The problem is, branded keywords tend to only be valuable when used with the relevant brand’s ads. The attention your ads receive when you rely on the competition’s branded keywords will primarily come from low value leads who are probably already planning on buying an item from their chosen brand. You’ll have little success convincing them to buy your products instead.
Properly incorporating branded keywords into your ads in a way that’s ethical is also, well, hard. Even if your intentions aren’t malicious, if a competitor finds you’re using their branded keywords excessively in your own ads, they can complain to Google or any other advertising platform you’re using. The consequences may include account suspension, cease and desist orders, and more.
Some classic eCommerce PPC tips will always be relevant. Some grow even more relevant over time.
For example, today’s online shoppers tend to be very savvy when it comes to their understanding of advertising tactics. Your potential customers know that just because you’re describing your products in a way that makes them sound desirable and valuable, that doesn’t necessarily mean your own description can be trusted.
Surveys often reveal that online shoppers are increasingly prioritizing customer reviews when determining whether to buy products. They may not trust a company to honestly describe a product’s benefits, but they trust other customers.
You can appeal to that trust by including language from real customers reviews in your ads. You don’t need to do so with every single ad you create, but you should highlight customer reviews at least to some degree from time to time.
However, while these tips absolutely will improve the effectiveness of your eCommerce PPC ad campaigns now, remember that best practices are always evolving and changing. You need to ensure the success of your eCommerce business by continuing to read blogs like this one. Staying on top of the latest best practices is one of the simplest yet smartest ways to remain competitive.