You’re in ecommerce to make money.
So it makes sense to strategize your spending on pay-per-click or PPC.
You need to make sure you’re not paying more than what you’re actually earning from sales. This means you should pay close attention to your Return On Ad Spend or ROAS.
The best way to ensure your ROAS is to squeeze a sale from every click.
Below are seven steps to optimize your campaigns to get the most from every penny that you invest in advertising.
1. Target the right audience
Your persuasive chops don’t matter when your audience aren’t in the market for what you’re selling.
The sooner you get your product in front of interested shoppers, the better.
How do you do this?
By using the right keywords in your ad copy.
Keywords reveal intent and help you show your shopping ads to receptive, if not engaged, eyeballs. For instance, a user who searches for “wedding guest dresses” is much more likely to be actively looking to buy a dress than someone who types in “what to wear to a wedding.” The former’s search phrase hints at a goal-oriented behavior while the latter points to a user still in the research phase.
This is why it’s important to use the keywords that matches the intent you want in your headline and copy. By doing so, your ad appeals more to shoppers with strong buying intent as opposed to top-funnel visitors.
2. Choose your ad platform wisely
If you’ve been in ecommerce for some time, then you’re probably familiar with Google shopping ads. Google, after all, is synonymous with ‘search.’
However, that also creates a big disadvantage for ecommerce advertisers: not everyone who searches on Google have commercial intent.
In contrast, people on Amazon are usually there with the specific goal of buying something. In fact, Amazon continues to hold the biggest market share in US online retail sales and accounts for more than half of all US e-commerce sales in 2016. This makes advertising on Amazon a no-brainer for ecommerce businesses. Companies with tangible products would benefit from running Amazon shopping ads given the lower cost-per-click and better conversion potential on this platform.
Aside from Google and Amazon, you should explore other platforms with enough potential for your niche.
PPC expert Robert Brady makes a case for Bing advertising, citing the results of comScore study from November 2016 which showed that desktop users were more likely to select Bing over Google when searching for apparel, consumer electronics, flowers and gifts, and toys. Bing searchers were also bigger spenders with a higher likelihood of spending at least $500 on jewelry, women’s clothing, home furnishings, toys and non-computer games, consumer electronics, and cosmetics.
Given the lower CPC and steady growth of the Bing Network audience, Bing advertising is worth a try if you’re operating in these segments.
The key is to find out which your most valuable customers usually come from and to spend your advertising there. You can even put your money into social media ads (eg. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) if your data says it makes sense to do so.
3. Ensure proper ecommerce tracking
One of the biggest mistakes that ecommerce companies make is overlooking the importance of properly setting up performance tracking for their PPC campaigns.
Most PPC campaigns are only set up with traffic-focused metrics which focus on click volume, click-through rates, and cost per clicks. This isn’t to say these data aren’t valuable, but they only tell you the traffic aspect of the story.
What you really want is to know is how much sales and revenue you’re generating from your PPC campaigns. For this you need to be able to measure conversion actions that result from click-throughs. You can do this by ensuring that conversion tracking is set up and running on your website and landing pages.
Conversion tracking for PPC ecommerce can be as simple as inserting a code snippet on your thank you or order confirmation page and enabling ecommerce tracking if you’re using Analytics.
With conversion tracking in place, you’ll have data to see how your PPC efforts are paying off in terms of specific product sales, but also get ideas on how you can further optimize your campaigns conversions across product categories.
4. Look out for underperforming keywords
Stiff competition for top performing keywords and placements can drive up the price per click. This won’t be a problem if you’re generating large enough sales from in-demand keywords.
When sales don’t keep up, however, you should do something about poorly performing keywords, ad groups, or even entire campaigns that are causing big leaks in your PPC budget. The easiest way to do this is by pausing these problematic keywords and placements.
Before you pause suspect keywords, ad groups, or campaigns, however, be sure to thoroughly review performance based on different traffic sources, schedules and networks. This way, you can avoid wrongly pausing a keyword that maybe performing poorly on one channel (which pulls down overall performance) but is actually generating decent returns for your company on all other channels.
5. Review your negative keywords
Irrelevant clicks are another source of PPC budget leaks you should watch out for.
You could be spending a lot on clicks coming from undesirable websites. If you’re in an industry with very competitive PPC rates, even a few unwanted clicks can cost you a lot of money.
Be vigilant of these leaks by reviewing your negative keyword strategy from time to time. Run a search query report to find out which keywords are responsible for your ad clicks. You can also run a placement performance report for display campaigns to learn which of your placements are getting clicked on. You can use both reports to identify undesired keywords and placements that are bringing irrelevant clicks, thereby causing unnecessary increases in your ad spend.
Once you’ve identified the bad keywords and placements, add them as negative keywords and placements to stop your ads from showing on these search terms and/or websites.
6. Display price in your ad
Most advertisers don’t show product pricing in their ad copy.
This is a missed targeting opportunity.
By showing the product price in your ad copy, you weed out visitors who aren’t a good fit with your pricing strategy early on. This not only increases more relevant clicks from your target visitors but it also decreases your costs from people who can’t afford – or are unwilling to pay for – your price point.
7. Improve quality score with relevant landing pages
Landing page quality and relevance is one of the factors used by Google to determine your quality score. A higher quality score means you get higher ad rankings and lower PPC costs.
Creating highly relevant landing pages is all about maintaining the information scent. Everything on the landing page – from the headlines to the main content – must deliver on the promise of the PPC keyword and ad text that visitors clicked on.
A relevant landing page not only bolsters your quality score but also increases the chances of visitors converting.
On the flip side, failing to maintain the information scent negatively affects both your quality score and conversion rate. When the landing page fails to maintain the information scent, visitors can feel deceived and be frustrated enough to bounce right off the page.
Ready, Set, Optimize!
Ecommerce PPC isn’t something you just set and forget.
You need to refine your targeting strategy, closely track and monitor your ad performance, and continuously test your ad copy and landing page experience. Follow the seven steps above so you can optimize your paid campaigns for what counts in ecommerce: conversions, sales, and revenue.