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7 Impactful Ecommerce PPC Strategies

Managing a PPC campaign for an ecommerce site can be a cumbersome endeavor. In addition to keeping everything organized, ecommerce advertisers battle a lot of clutter in the paid search arena. With big budget retailers dominating the playing field, it's now more challenging than ever to stand out in the SERPs.

Building a well-structured campaign and employing the right ecommerce PPC strategies is paramount for success. Regardless of your business type, budget size, and overall competition, there are a number of techniques to make your ads more effective. Below we highlight seven effective strategies for ecommerce PPC advertising.

Peel n' Stick

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 Pay Per Click advertisers make is cramming far too many keywords in a single ad group. Attempting to cover several different keywords with one ad results in numerous inefficiencies. When this appears to be the case, the keywords in an ad groups can be further segmented, or in other words, peel n' stick can be employed.

Coined by marketing specialist Perry Marshall, the peel n' stick strategy involves taking a poor performing keyword and putting it in another more relevant ad group (or creating a new one.) Good peel n' stick opportunities are typically found in keywords with low quality scores.

For ecommerce PPC, this might be a keyword that represent product variation, such as a specific model that's worthy of a new ad group. Often times when a weak keyword is placed in a different yet more relevant ad group, the quality score will increase. Similarly, a new, more targeted ad can be written.

Split-Testing

Ad copy is an often overlooked component when optimizing a PPC campaign for better performance. Not only can the content of your PPC ads impact quality scores, but ad copy influences how well users respond to your ads (measured by click-through rate or "CTR"). It is thus important that you split-test several ads per ad group.

Try running 2-5 ad 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 makes more sense to split-test 3-5 ads, as opposed to just 2. By including the primary keywords of an ad group in the ad copy, the improved contextual relevancy helps to increase 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, 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 AdWords 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.

Ad Copywriting

Successful PPC ads will include three important elements to promote greater click-through rates (CTR). These include:

  • Offer - what's the product you're offering
  • Value - why buying from your ecommerce store is beneficial
  • Proposition - what kind of action the user should take

The offer is almost always a given and is typically included in the copy naturally. The value and proposition of the ad are the elements that most often go overlooked. The proposition is simply a call-to-action, or a verb of some kind. A few of the most common for ecommerce PPC is "Shop," "Buy," and "Save." Get creative and try more appealing verbs like "Discover," "Gain," or "Realize."

Express value in your ad copy is one of the greatest challenges of copywriting. Paid search ads have limited character space which makes it difficult to sum-up the unique benefits and qualities. Some of the most obvious and over-used examples are "Free Shipping" or "100% Money Back."

In some instances, taking a more emotional approach can be highly effective. Take the time to learn about the product your advertising and its target market. Knowledge is the best sources for great ideas for ad copy.

AdWords Ad Extensions: Product Extensions

A powerful PPC advertising strategy that can significantly help improve CTR is using ad extensions in Google AdWords. Ad extensions are simple enhancements that can greater improve the presentation of your paid ads.

Keep in mind that ad extensions influence an entire campaign (not per ad group,) so any ad extension you implement will impact all ad groups within that campaign. One of the best ad extensions for ecommerce PPC is product extensions. Using this extension will show an image for the specific product being advertised.

For competitive keywords, this strategy can really make your ads stand out from the clutter. In fact, eye-tracking studies have shown that product extensions are among the most effective techniques to capture the attention of Ecommerce PPC Product Extensionssearch engine users.

To use product extensions, you'll need to set-up a Google Merchant Center account. This is basis for Google's shopping results which display in the top right side of the search engine results. After this account is established, you can sync your AdWords account with your Google Merchant Center account to start using this excellent extension.

AdWords Ad Extensions: SiteLinks

Ecommerce PPC Sitelinks Extension

Another effective ad extension is using Sitelinks. With this extension you can include links in your PPC ad that take users to specific pages of your ecommerce site. Not only can this help make your ads appear more prominent in the search results, but sitelinks can help facilitate conversions on broad keywords like "triathlon wetsuits."

In a campaign like this, you ad sitelinks to men's or women's wetsuits or perhaps certain brands. Utilizing the sitelinks ad extension can also contribute to greater usability by minimizing your conversion funnels.

Keyword Bidding

PPC Keyword Bidding StrategiesA great method to make your paid advertising more efficient is employing keyword bidding strategies like modified broad match. Unlike broad, "phrase," or [exact] phrase match bidding, modified broad match uses a "+" symbol in front of keywords that must be included in the user's search query for your ad to appear.

For instance, if we bid on the keyword phrase +access +control +systems, those three words must be used in a user's search query for our ad to be shown. (So the keyword phrase "access control systems for banks" would trigger the ad, however "security access system" would not.)

This bidding strategy can help ensure that you ads are being shown when users search long-tail keywords or phrases with greater detail. Another advantage of using modified broad match is that the cost per click (CPC) for some keyword combinations is significantly lower.

You can try using creative bidding strategies like security +access +control. By leaving "security" as a broad match (no "+" symbol,) our ad may display for searches like "surveillance access control" because "security" and "surveillance" are closely related with respect to Google's broad match standards.

Remarketing via the GDN

Have you ever visited a product page on an ecommerce site (did not make a purchase) and later while browsing other websites (or even watching a YouTube video) noticed ads being served of that same ecommerce store?

That's called remarketing, or advertising to market segments that may have had some previous contact with your brand. However, instead of using Google Search, the most effective remarketing channel is using the Google Display Network or GDN. 

Remarketing via the GDN is a bit unique compared to traditional paid search advertising. As an advertiser, you need keep in mind that those individuals being served display ads are not actively shopping like they are using Google search.

Remarketing is the strategic process of serving a follow-up ad to someone who has already connected with your site. This practice, although very powerful, can sometimes appear intrusive, so it's important to use this approach in moderation. Google has recently unveiled some new features in Google Analytics for remarketing.

In essence, Google has made it more efficient to create highly targeted customer lists and run ads to these individuals.

Summary

Depending on the size and nature of your online store, ecommerce Pay Per Click advertising can be a complex undertaking. In addition, to properly structuring your campaigns and ad groups, developing effective strategies for ecommerce PPC is essential to thrive amongst your competitors. We hope that these seven strategies will help you stand out from the crowd and start realizing greater return on ad spend.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Ecommerce SEO Specialists here at ClickCentric SEO.

Visit Tyler on Google+

Optimizing Landing Pages for Greater Conversions

The landing page (also known as the "lead capture page") is where visitors land after clicking on an online advertisement or link. The landing page is the first impression visitors have of your website and what you have to offer. It is thus very important that your landing page is optimized for exceptional usability and conversion orientation.

Ecommerce Landing Page OptimizationWhen it comes to ecommerce Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, landing page optimization demands constant testing. It is only through split testing where we able to determine which design concepts and page layouts are working, and which are not. The optimization and testing of landing pages is not rocket science, however having the right resources and experience is key.

In addition to analyzing data for testing (typically via Google Analytics,) other skill-sets that accompany landing page optimization are copywriting, web design, and usability. Before we dive into the fundamentals of optimizing landing pages, we must underscore the importance of landing page dedication. That is, it's best to get as specified and targeted as possible with landing pages.

In most cases, especially for ecommerce sites, this will call for the design of dedicated landing pages per advertisement (or ad group from a Google AdWords perspective.) Having dedicated landing pages can not only increase the consumer relevancy and conversion potential of your advertising efforts, but having highly focused landing pages can also increase your AdWords quality scores (which can help to reduce cost per click.)

Understanding Consumer Behavior

The purpose of the landing page testing and optimization is to determine the best ways to influence buyers’ behavior. Understanding the human nature of consumers is a key consideration. A framework that describes stages of customer behavior and interests was pioneered by Elias St. Elmo Lewis back in 1898, and the same concepts are still used today. These four stages, commonly referred to as AIDA, may sound like marketing 101; however each emphasize a stage of customer behavior and can offer insights for development of landing pages.

  1. Awareness: The first stage is the realization by the customer that there are several possibilities/actions available.
     
  2. Interest: The consumer shows preference and selects one of the possibilities/courses of action.
     
  3. Desire: The enthusiasm of the customer grows in the course of action chosen.
     
  4. Action: The customer acts and begins to enjoy the benefits of the option/course of action chosen. There should be flow and continuity in the landing page decision making model so that the progression of the visitor is properly supported through all the steps. In essence, you want to get to know you target market as best as possible to determine how they proceed through each step. For that reason, the stages of AIDA must be aligned with certain visitor types.

Know the Nature of Visitors

The different visitor types are:

  • Browsers: These are people with unmet needs, but are not quite certain what they truly want.
  • Evaluators: These are people who are searching for more detailed supporting info and who know enough to compare different options.
  • Customers: These are people who have completed transactions in the past and whose satisfaction level has to be maintained until they come for another transaction.
  • Transactors: These are people who have already decided what they want to buy and who are now in the process of making the transaction.

The marriage of AIDA and visitor type can also apply to different time frames and scales of tasks. A potential customer may interact with a site several times before making the final decision. On the other end of the spectrum are is short-duration decisions or micro tasks that take a few seconds only.

Fortunately, Google AdWords now enables marketers to see and assess such data to determine the various touch points that may contribute to sales. In summary, visitors should be given what they want when they reach a landing page.

Define key visitor types of you target market and define the most important conversion tasks (or desired action) for each type. Ideally, you'll want to dedicate conversion oriented landing pages to the ads at hand (as well as consumers.) As a result, your ecommerce PPC efforts can flourish.

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