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Proven Tips to Better Optimize Your Ecommerce PPC Campaigns

Ecommerce PPC can be a complicated endeavor for even experienced advertisers. Fortunately, there are a few specific features that can offer the data and insights needed to make intelligent improvements.

Below we delve into 5 tips that can help you optimize your ecommerce PPC campaigns for dramatic improvements. Let's dive right in.

1. See "Search Terms" & Pinpoint Potential Negative Keywords

One of the most revealing features in Google AdWords and Bing AdCenter is information that can be viewed under the Dimensions tab (specifically "Search Terms".) Open the Search Terms for any particular ad group. This will show data surrounding exactly the queries that users have searched to trigger your ads.

AdWords Dimensions Search Terms

If you notice certain keywords that are not relevant or aligned with your bidding objectives, then:

  • Your keyword bidding strategy needs to be improved (often using more precise matching [see next tip below]).
  • You may want to pinpoint unwanted keyword variations and implement them as negative keywords (i.e. "polypropylene wetsuits" and "polypropylene wetsuit repair " - add "repair" as negative keyword.

Dimensions can offer a world of insight to better optimize your ecommerce PPC campaigns. Play around with various views and see what data you can turn into actionable strategies.

2. Improve Your Keyword Bidding Strategies

After looking at the Search Terms used in various ad groups, there may be obvious indicators to improve your keyword bidding strategy. For instance, if you notice a lot completely unrelated queries (i.e. your bidding on full-sleeve wet suits but Search Terms shows that your ads are showing for full-sleeve prom dresses,) you're probably using broad match bidding.

In short, never use broad match keyword bidding. Based on the example above, Google's broad match mechanism will assume "suits" is close enough to "dresses" to trigger your ad. It's a pretty lofty relationship, but it's how Google makes a lot of coin off amateur AdWords users.

Instead, always opt for more precise keyword bidding strategies, like +modified +broad, "phrase," and [exact] match. If you're unfamiliar with the various keyword match types, take 5 to read this nice post at WordStream.com.

3. Leverage Google Analytics to Assess Post-Click Activity

ecommerce PPC Google Analtyics Behavior

An often overlooked aspect of ecommerce PPC is assessing landing page effectiveness. This approach is more aligned with conversion rate optimization (CRO), or improving landing pages and the overall conversion funnel to prompt desirable action more often (i.e. greater sales, for ecommerce PPC advertising.) 

A good place to start when embarking on this Analytics journey is the "Behavior" tab in the left navigation. "Site Content > Landing Pages" will offer behavioral metrics as to how visitors are interacting with your most popular pages. "Content Drilldown" can help you see how visitors navigate your site, which can provide insights as to whether or not your conversion funnel is working as you intended it to.

Likewise, "In-page Analytics" is a fun feature that enables you to see just how visitors are interacting with each page and the distribution of how often certain links and buttons are being clicked. With these features, you might find it worth while to experiment with new calls-to-action and landing page variations. Each case is unique, so it's up to you to explore the data and devise CRO strategies and tests to make improvements.

4. "Peeling & Sticking" Keywords Into More Relevant Ad Groups

Ecommerce PPC - Peel n StickAd groups typically perform optimally when they include a very narrow grouping of highly similar keyword targets.

One of the biggest faults many ecommerce PPC advertisers make is cramming far too many keywords in a single ad group. Attempting to cover several different keywords with one ad results in a number of inefficiencies. When this is the case, keywords can often be further segmented into new or more relevant ad groups. In other words, under-rated peel n' stick strategy can be employed.

Coined by marketing specialist Perry Marshall, peeling and sticking involves taking poor performing keywords and putting them in other more relevant ad groups (or creating new, dedicated ad groups.) Solid opportunities for peel n' stick are typically with keywords with low quality scores.

For ecommerce PPC, this might be a keyword that represent product variation (i.e. "full-sleeve wet suits" and "sleeveless wet suits" in one ad group for "Wet Suits"). In the latter example, these two keywords should be in their own dedicated ad group, as they probably have unique landing pages. Additionally, you can often write more targeted ads. Often times when a weak keyword is placed in a different yet more relevant ad group, the quality score and click-through rate can increase.

5. Never Stop Split-Testing Ad Creative

Split-testing ad creative is an often overlooked practice to better optimize an ecommerce PPC campaign for better performance. Not only can the copy of your PPC ads impact quality scores, but ad copy also influences how well users respond to your ads (measured by click-through rate or "CTR"). For this reason, it's important that you split-test several ads per ad group.

Try running 3-6 different creative variations, depending on how many impressions a certain ad group is receiving. If you ads are getting a lot of exposure in little time, it might make more sense to split-test 4 ads, as opposed to just 2. In most cases, by including the primary target keywords in the ad copy, the ads' contextual relevancy can improve which helps to increase CTR and quality score.

PPC Split TestingFor this reason, it's beneficial to use all or some of the keyword phrase in the copy. Trying using multiple variations in your ad copy. One effective strategy is using Dynamic Keyword Insertion (shown in the middle ad in the image.)

Using this strategy will help improve the keyword relevancy of you PPC ads by having the headline of your ads to replicate what the users searches.

When using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), you include a unique string in the headline like so: Ad Headline = {KeyWord:Kids Army Uniform} If a user's search query is more than 25 characters long (exceeding the headline's character limit,) the alternative phrase "Kids Army Uniform" will be displayed.

This strategy is highly effective in improving both CTR as well as quality score, especially for ecommerce PPC campaign management. Just be careful using this strategy, for your competitors maybe doing the same thing. This is particularly common for competitive, product-related keywords where there's a number of big budget advertisers.

What Say Ye?!

Tell us, what are some of your favorite PPC optimization tips and techniques? Let us know in the comments below!

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