In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the most important factors that make up a great Google AdWords strategy for an e-commerce business, both in terms of how to design your ad campaigns as well as how to optimize the site itself for maximum conversions.
1. What Gets Measured Gets Managed
Sorry for the clichÃ©d wisdom. But if there’s one basic metric that every advertiser should keep top-of-mind, it’s return on investment.
In Google AdWords, the best way you can measure your ROI is to track conversions along with your costs. Don’t think that click-through rate alone is the king of all PPC metrics: if you aren’t making sales with all that traffic, you’re losing money.
- Set up conversions tracking–preferably for all ecommerce transactions–in your Google AdWords account.
- Enable cost attribution in your linked Google Analytics account, if necessary.
- Monitor how much profit your ads and keywords are driving, and whip your fast horses.
2. Transactional Keywords
The most lucrative keywords for an ecommerce business are those based around transactions. If a prospect comes to your site to research a product, see what it looks like and understand what it does, that prospect is not worth nearly as much as a different prospect who visits with the intent to purchase. Your bidding strategy should reflect this fact.
Who is more likely to buy: someone who searches for “best bicycles” or someone who searches for “bicycle stores in San Francisco”?
Set up different ad groups for different keyword sets, and adjust your bids and ad language accordingly.
3. Ads That Sell
Well-designed ads can work wonders for your AdWords campaigns. Proper word or image choice can lead to increased sales as well as higher CTR–which, by increasing your ads’ quality scores, will often lead to lower CPC, better placement, or both. Over time, this can lead to a snowball effect where you see your entire campaign start to perform much better based on a few simple changes you decided to try out.
And “try out” is an important idea to keep in mind. You won’t know what wording or design will perform best, so you should test many versions of the same ads and then thin the herd. I’m not going to mention mistreating horses again, but you know what to do.
Different niches and keywords call for different types of ad copy and images, but it usually pays to use active language, focusing on the benefits and unique selling proposition (if there is one). Google and Facebook give us two examples of this:
Notice how, in only one line of text each, Google and Facebook lay out the entire unique selling propositions of their respective advertising platforms–with the benefits implied therein. On Google, customers search and find you. On Facebook, you can reach the exact audience you want. These examples aren’t particularly exciting, but you can bet they work.
When using text ads, another great ace up your sleeve is dynamic keyword insertion. Be careful not to overuse it, but if you can deliver on the implied promise of the keywords you’re bidding on, it can be a powerful tool to increase your CTR.
4. Ad Extensions
For most e-commerce sites, the most important type of ad extension to try is product extensions, which display images, titles, and prices of relevant products based on your Google Merchant Center account. But depending on your particular business, it’s worth trying seller ratings, ad sitelinks, and call extensions as well. (If ad extensions are new to you, check out Google’s Adwords help center page about them for a quick overview.)
5. Custom Landing Pages
For each ad group, it’s a good idea to have a landing page specifically picked out for a) that group of keywords, and b) the text of your ads.
In other words, if you’re running an AdWords campaign for an ecommerce website and pointing all your ads to the homepage, you’re doing it wrong.
You don’t have to design a new landing page for every ad group, but you do need to make sure every URL you choose is the most relevant page on your site for that ad and keyword combination.
If the ad is targeted at keywords related to “running shoes,” don’t send your prospect to the homepage or even a general “shoes” category page. Show them your top-selling running shoes and cross-trainers. It helps to make the display URL something simple and topical, too: “yoursite.com/running” is better than “yoursite.com,” even if the actual URL the ad points to is much longer and uglier.
6. Reduce Friction
Whether you’re selling just one product or you carry thousands, one of the most surefire ways to increase sales is to decrease friction. That goes for free permission-marketing assets, too.
It seems obvious: the harder it is for your prospects to buy (or convert in general), the fewer of them will do so. But it’s amazing how many e-commerce sites out there clog up their sales funnel by requiring a ton of information from their customers up front.
When it comes to information requirements and forms, remember these guidelines:
- Ask for as little information as possible.
- Make it possible to order from you without creating a username and password.
- If you need to ask for a lot of information, do it in steps instead of all at once. A shorter or two-step registration can drastically increase registration rates.
- When in doubt, take it out. (Or use an analytics tool like ClickTale to help you see what’s making people leave.)
Zach Thompson is a partner at RYP Marketing, a firm that specializes in white label SEO and SEM.