10 Steps to Optimize Your eCommerce Paid Search Campaigns

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

ecommerce paid search

In the competitive world of retail, more brands than ever are turning to paid search to compete with the likes of Amazon and Walmart.  Not only do eCommerce paid search efforts create opportunities to compete with big names outside of SEO, they are also effective.  Unbounce reports that paid search visitors to retail websites are 50% more likely to make a purchase than organic shoppers.  For some eCommerce brands, paid search is the primary source of sales and promotional options.

Whether you’re just getting your feet wet in the world of paid search campaigns or have active campaigns that you want to improve, follow these 10 steps to optimize your eCommerce paid search performance. 

1. Break Down Your Mega Ad Groups

Experts recommend limiting each ad campaign to 10-20 keywords, but some people grow their ad groups to dozens (if not hundreds) of words and phrases. What’s more, the vast majority of the time the ad is only served on a few keywords, rendering the rest of them useless.

Look at your ad groups and find opportunities to break them down. This is particularly important in the world of eCommerce. Your customers aren’t afraid to put in long-tail keywords to get exactly what they want, and you should consider developing your ad groups with their needs in mind. Some paid search professionals even go so far as recommending a unique ad group for each keyword. While this may be a little drastic for your needs, it highlights the importance of microtargeting your customers instead of blasting one ad to keywords across the web.

2. Look for Keywords That Aren’t Performing Well

Breaking down your ad groups is also an easy way to see what keywords are performing well and what words aren’t. For some, Google’s Keyword Planner tool is a gateway to irrelevant and cluttered ad groups. Some people add any keyword or phrase that Google suggests without considering the intent behind the search.

Use your ad group breakdown to conduct a keyword purge. Look at keywords or phrases that aren’t getting clicks despite their impressions — or are getting clicks but not conversions. You may need to adjust the ad copy or remove the words entirely.

3. Make Sure Your Feeds Are Optimized

Google is quick to pull the trigger and stop your ads if your feed is outdated — after all, it’s in the search engine’s best interest to offer a reliable product without pricing or inventory mix-ups. We recently discussed the importance of having an optimized feed and how you can tailor it for Amazon and Google. Check out our data feed guide to add extra features that can increase your exposure, and therefore your sales.

4. Check Your Conversion Tracking

Targeting click traffic is great if you operate a lead generation website and are primarily trying to gain exposure for your brand. However, if you operate an eCommerce business, you need conversion tracking. This is as simple as adding a code snippet to your confirmation page that can pick up the items, value, and time of purchase.

As you work to improve your ad campaigns, you can better understand what ads and ad groups are driving sales with this tracking. You might be surprised when you see what products are moving and generating revenue.

5. Sort Your Campaigns By Gross Margin

Your ad groups aren’t the only part of your eCommerce paid search performance that need an upgrade. It may be time to completely retool your campaigns based on performance and profit to the company.  

Many eCommerce brands sort their campaigns by department. For example, a home improvement store would create the following campaign:

  • Plumbing — Toilets — Toilet Flappers

Instead, you may want to prioritize your campaigns based on the gross margin of your products. This way you can bid more aggressively on brands and products that provide a higher ROI for your business and bid down on items that don’t benefit your company.

Let’s continue to use the home improvement store as an example. The store might realize that their Craftsman tools have a particularly low ROI. While they sell well in paid search, the company breaks even by the time they consider shipping, ad cost, and other expenses. However, the same company might have a significant gross margin for private label tools. By promoting these private label brands, they can make more money for the company.

Private label brands also tend to have less competition than national brands, which means CPCs are lower and your ROI is already naturally higher. That’s as good of a reason as any to create unique campaigns and bid more aggressively for them.

6. Find Opportunities to Lower Your Bids

There are some terms that you are going to win and others that you can’t compete with. Terms like Disney and Nike are incredibly competitive, which means you could be paying several dollars for clicks that may or may not sell profitable items.

More than 40% of clicks come from the top three ads on a page, which means your brand may benefit from targeting third position or even fourth position, in the ads. You could still get the clicks you want, but your CPCs could be lower because you’re not bidding as aggressively.

Remember, your eCommerce paid search campaign is a portfolio of ad groups and keywords. You need to look at each segment individually to make sure it’s profitable.

7. Focus on Your Quality Scores

Some eCommerce paid search managers get so obsessed with bids and competitors that they forget about the soft tactics they can apply to save money. Google assigns a Quality Score to your keywords that tells you how close your ad and landing page experience matches what your customers want. The closer your score is to 10, the greater the chance that you are creating a positive traffic experience.

There are multiple ways you can improve your QS. Start by creating ads that are closely related to your keywords. (This is another argument for creating ad groups with just a handful of keywords: you can develop better ads.) Google also looks at the landing page experience, so consider building landing pages for certain brands of making sure customers land exactly where they want to go. If you’re driving all of your eCommerce paid search traffic to your homepage then you’re doing something wrong.

With a higher QS, Google is more likely to lower your CPCs and increase your average position — meaning you’re getting more for less. This is worth it to Google (because they get a click) and helps you grow your sales.  

8. Take Up As Much Real Estate As You Can

Google creates opportunities for you to add a bunch of extensions and additions to your ads — take advantage of them. Google’s extensions include customer reviews, callouts, structured snippets, local addresses, and your phone number. These extensions increase your credibility and convince people to click. However, they also have an added bonus: the more extensions people see on your ad, the more likely they are to ignore others.

Real estate is limited in the SERPs, and you should do everything you can to take up as much space as possible.  

9. Invest in Retargeting for eCommerce Paid Search

If you’re not remarketing to your customers then you’re significantly missing out in eCommerce revenue. You could win more than 15% of your customers back who were considering buying from your website, Invespcro reports. Retargeting makes it easy for people to remember your brand when they have already visited your website and they can spur them into action with an added coupon or deal.

Website visitors who see retargeting messages are 70% more likely to convert than those who don’t. You’re already hitting your customers in the research phase of the sales funnel. Now it’s time to make them convert with retargeted ads.  

10. Import Your Google Ads Into Bing

Everyone likes to make fun of Bing as the oft-ignored platform compared to Google, but there is real value using their search campaign. Bing ads are easy to create because you can import your campaigns directly from Google, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with this new channel. Plus, there are significant, tangible benefits to using this platform.

The cost of Bing ads is typically 33% cheaper than Google ads. Demand is decreased from Google, so prices are more affordable. This makes it easier to hit your target ROI goals with the help of affordable Bing traffic.

Bing is also not the small search engine you think it is: it’s the default search engine for Mozilla, and many people don’t want to switch to Google. You can still reach 20% of the market through Bing. Consider your demographics as you invest in Bing, you may find that it’s more profitable than you realize.

Your eCommerce paid search campaigns can bring a steady stream of income and traffic to your website. However, if you’re having a hard time growing your ROI or notice underperforming products and ad groups, it could be time for a tune-up.

Contact Trinity Insight and ask for a free digital marketing review to identify waste and find ways to adjust your campaigns for an increased impact.

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