I can’t tell you how frequently I hear things like “I can’t afford pay-per-click” or “Social media doesn’t work.” These business owners have done some light experimentation with the channel and formed an opinion that is now used as a blanket for all forms of pay-per-click or social media. What I wanted to cover in this article is not just that each of these channels have viable marketing merit to them, but a little bit of how to make that channel work for you.
More important than the list of tips I give throughout the article is the thought process I’ll try to describe for each channel. Marketing is not following a list of tips, it is learning a thought process that allows you to analyze and adapt. So, without further adieu, let’s analyze and adapt!
Paid Search (PPC)
SEO or PPC? That is the question! Well, not really, here’s the answer for nearly every eCommerce site: a mix. Paid search has a bidding component and a management component to it, and usually, if you sell a product and do a good job of it, you can find a good ROI somewhere in the mix. Can you necessarily afford to hold a high average position on a really competitive keyword? Maybe not. But, there is often some value you can find in a good PPC campaign. Here’s some tips to help you run a well managed account:
Exact and phrase match to start: If you’re struggling to see an ROI with an account, you should only be using exact and phrase match keywords. This gives you significantly more control over what search queries your ads are typically showing for. A lot of do-it-yourself paid search types are unaware of keyword match types and it has a massive effect on your ROI. Here’s a couple examples of each match type at work:
- [exact match] – this keyword would only serve for the search query ‘exact match’.
- “phrase match” – this keyword might be triggered by a search query like ‘best phrase match’ or ‘phrase match reviews’. The main keyword stays in tact, but additional words can be added to either side of the keyword.
- broad match – this keyword might be triggered for a search query like ‘broad keywords matching’ or even ‘broad keywords’. Which search queries this ad would appear for are largely in Google’s hands. They’ll substitute synonyms or plurals. Mature accounts can use broad match to expand their reach to even the obscure searches online, but it does make controlling the ROI of the account much more difficult.
For more info on keyword research, here’s an article I wrote that explains the match types and other keyword factors more in depth.
Create tightly knit ad groups: Google recommends that you have about 25 to 30 keywords in an ad group. If you’re struggling to see a return on investment or are just starting out, I recommend less. You’ll consider 3 things when asking yourself “Should I make a new ad group?”
- Language – does the language of the keyword change the searcher’s intent? If I’m looking at 2 keywords: eCommerce services and eCommerce strategy. They sound similar, but those looking for services are looking to pay for some kind of service, while those looking for strategy may be looking for advice. Use your ad to specifically address the language used in the search query.
- Value - with the example given above, if the intent of the searcher changes, its likely to effect the value. Its easier to treat these in separate ad groups.
- Landing page - ads can only be served by ad group, therefore if you want to send the searchers to a new landing page, you’ll need a new ad group.
Create highly targeted ads: Now that you’ve got some tightly knit ad groups only including keywords with similar intent. You can write a really strong ad to ensure a high click through rate. Here’s some tips:
- Include the search query in the headline. Words from the users search query are bolded and will stand out.
- Put punctuation at the end of description line 1. If the ad is served as a top ad, line 1 will then appear with the title if there is punctuation. Here’s 2 examples below.
- Keep the whole ad addressing the search query.
- The overall ad should leave the searcher feeling “this is exactly what I’m looking for.”
Bid down - Its a common misconception that you need to be bidding what Google tells you is the average cost per click. If you’re having trouble seeing the ROI, keep bidding down and lowering your position. Even if you’re average position is 6, there’s still money to be made from that traffic.
Don’t forget Bing: Bing’s search advertising obviously hits a much smaller audience than Google, but because of this, they sometimes get forgotten. I’ve often been able to drive a better ROI from Bing than Google just due to lesser competition. Bing now has a tool to import your adwords accont. Pretty convenient.
Comparison Shopping Engines
Just like paid search, this is typically done on a cost per click basis. Sites like Nextag, Shopping.com, or Shopzilla are prominent comparison shopping engines. Its a good way to drive highly qualified traffic to your eCommerce site. Here’s a couple tips to succeeding in this channel:
- Changing your bids won’t do much on these platforms. You have 3 options when it comes to changing bids on these comparison shopping engines:
- Bid the rate card – standard visibility.
- Bid $0.01 – you really won’t be appearing unless they need product listings.
- Pause the product – if its not converting, take it out of the mix.
- The way to optimize these listings is through the feed you provide. The keywords in your product title and other data you provide is what’s driving your listing. Make sure its filled out with all recommended data fields if you want to get the most mileage out of your listing.
Google shopping, previously free, is now pay-to-play. In addition to appearing on the Google Shopping page, these shopping ads can be configured to appear on Google searches as well. They appear like this in search.
Unlike the other comparison shopping engines though, you can manage your Product Listing Ads with negative keywords, bid changes, and even segmenting your products. Add the field adwords_label to your product feed and you can target specific products with an ad group. I usually mimic my site’s category structure. Different products have different values and should have different bids
Whew. Ok, I’m spent, your turn. What’s the marketing channel you struggle with the most? Where are you seeing the best return for your money? Have questions about your own site and want me to take a look? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t have an eCommerce site? That’s ok, what I covered here can be applied to most sites. How do you use digital marketing to generate demand for your products or services?
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, I’ll be covering SEO and Social Media!