Feel the Web
More and more people are shopping online, and advertising platforms have taken notice, giving more on-page real estate to retail-related ads. If you’re in the retail industry, chances are you’re already using some form of online advertising to promote your products, but there is most likely room for improvement.
If you thought online shopping was going away anytime soon, think again. According to Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report for Q1 2017:

  • Clicks on retail-related Product Listing Ads increased from 48% during Q4 2016 to 51% during Q1 of this year.
  • PLAs accounted for 75% of clicks from non-branded retail searches.
  • Spending on Google Shopping increased by 32% during Q1 compared to last year, which is much higher than the 12% increase seen for text ads.

So how can you ramp up your own PPC ecommerce campaigns to take advantage of this growth? In this post, we will cover six helpful tips.

1. Consider where to advertise

Just as with search or display ads, there are plenty of options when it comes to PPC ecommerce ads. The two most popular (and fastest-growing) platforms you should be using are Google Merchant Center and Amazon Advertising.
We’ve already talked about how Google shopping ads are growing. Amazon is another great option if you’re able to host your products there. A recent report from Slice Intelligence found that spending with Amazon accounted for 43% of all US online revenue in 2016, while the company itself accounted for 53% of all online sales growth in the US. Google has even taken notice of Amazon’s success, with the company recently testing running Amazon shopping ads on Google.

2. Keep Your Shopping Feeds Up to Date

For this tip, we’re going to focus on Google Merchant Center, which uses shopping feeds to pull information for your AdWords ecommerce campaigns. You should already have your Google AdWords and Google Merchant Center accounts linked, but if you don’t, this is the best place to start. Connecting the two accounts will allow you to advertise your products in the form of shopping ads in AdWords.

Your shopping feed in the merchant center is what Google will ultimately use to advertise your products. AdWords Product Listing Ads pull all of your product information – including brand, price, availability, etc. – directly from your shopping feed. Google Merchant Center in particular is very finicky about the rules regarding your shopping feeds. A simple omission of required information or failure to keep up-to-date with their fast-changing policies can get you a data suspension warning.
#Google Merchant Center: A simple omission of required information can get you a data suspension warning.CLICK TO TWEET

3. Setup Proper Ecommerce Tracking

This is a very important step and one that is often overlooked by ecommerce companies. In order to truly track the revenue being generated by your PPC ecommerce campaigns, you should install Analytics ecommerce tracking. As long as your shopping feeds are set up with the proper item prices, Analytics ecommerce tracking will give you great visibility into the specific items that are selling, how much revenue you’re making from each sale, and where those sales are coming from. This will make it easier to optimize your PPC ecommerce campaigns as well.

4. Optimize Your Shopping Ads

Similar to search or display ads, there are lots of ways to optimize your shopping ads:

  • Diversify the types of ads you’re using for ecommerce. Both text ads and Product Listing Ads can be useful when it comes to selling products. Text ads allow you to highlight more specific prices and features in your headline and description, while PLAs allow you to compete with the ever-growing online shopping industry. Having both in place will allow you to partake in the best of both worlds.
  • Figure out how you want to structure your shopping campaigns. Depending on the type of products you’re selling, it might make more sense to break the campaigns down by broader category or brand name, or by more specific product types or specific item IDs. If you’re not sure which way will work better, you can A/B test different campaign structures against each other to see which will generate more cost-effective sales.
  • Add negative keywords. It’s just as important – if not more important – to add a comprehensive list of negative keywords to your shopping campaigns. Since bidding higher on PLAs simply opens your products up to more types of searches rather than moving them to a higher position, having the right negative keywords in place will allow you to bid higher and still prevent unwanted search traffic.
  • Create Ad Extensions. There are some ad extensions that are especially useful for ecommerce campaigns. Structured snippets allow you to showcase specific brands and types or styles of products.
  • Price extensions allow you to highlight competitive prices. Review extensions can make all the difference when it comes to getting someone to purchase from you over another store.

Diversify the types of #PPC ads for #ecommerce: both text ads and Product Listing ads can be useful.CLICK TO TWEET

5. Focus on Quality Content

As is the case with any type of advertising, the ad is only part of the equation. It’s not enough to get people excited enough about what you’re selling to click on your ad, you also have to give them a great landing page experience. In this day and age, that means a simple product page usually won’t cut it. To stay competitive with the bigger brand-names that are probably also selling your products, you need to have an enticing landing page that not only includes product specifications and information, but engaging videos, photos, and user reviews.

6. Stay Competitive

It’s important with PPC ecommerce campaigns, moreso than any other type of campaign, to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Prices can rise and fall and sales can come and go so quickly that if you’re not paying attention, you might miss out on an opportunity to get more sales and revenue. If you’re not paying careful attention, before you know it, you’ll notice your sales for a specific brand name or product dropping below normal levels. Typically in these instances, a competitor is advertising a lower price or taking advantage of a sale, and in turn is taking customers away from you.
#PPC tip: watch out for competitors advertising a lower price & turning customers away from you.CLICK TO TWEET

If you’re advertising on Google Merchant Center and have an AdWords account connected, you can use the Auction Insights report to see which competitors are outperforming you in terms of impression share and rank. This can be extremely helpful in determining who your biggest competitors are and seeing if someone suddenly started participating in more auctions, affecting your sales.

BONUS: Ramp Up Remarketing

Finally. having a good remarketing campaign in place can make all the difference when it comes to your PPC ecommerce campaigns. Most searchers start out in a research-minded phase, scouring the web for products they might be interested in buying. This means they might come to your site, look around, and leave before making a decision. If you have the proper remarketing tracking codes in place, and a good remarketing campaign running, you can make sure you stay in front of these searchers so that you’re still top-of-mind when they are ready to make a purchase.
As your ads continue to reappear to the searcher, they should contain new and enticing information, and land the searcher on a different page than their last search. This might mean creating some additional bottom-of-the-funnel content to help guide them through their decision-making phase.

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