Eight most important PPC tips for online retail


With the share of digital ad spend at 29.9% in 2015 and expected to increase to 39.3% in 2019* the digital advertising marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive for ecommerce retailers.

With this in mind, optimising paid search should be a priority for all retail marketers in 2016. Let’s take a look at some of the most important pay-per-click tips for online retail:

1) Segment Campaigns

Google Shopping and AdWords allow you to bid at product or keyword level, however, this is a feature that many advertisers fail to adopt. It is particularly important in online retail to segment your Google Shopping campaigns to the finest level possible, because your inventory may be seasonal and individual items have different bidding values.

Let’s take ‘women’s clothes’ for example. You could easily just create a single ad group containing all women’s clothes ads; however, this could easily lead to poor performance. It would be a much better decision to segment your products into groups such as ‘blouses’ ‘jumpers’, ‘trousers’ ‘shorts’ etc.

segment paid search

Doing so will allow you to have much better control over bids and bid according to seasonality for example. However this could be taken a step further: it is actually possible to bid for each individual product, so if you know that yellow shorts sell better than the green ones, you can adapt your bids accordingly.

2) Focus on environmental factors

When reviewing your campaign performance, it is tempting to focus on the reasons why you are not making sales, but perhaps you should also be looking at when your campaigns are performing their best?

By looking at the reasons for “good performance,” you may find that your sales can be influenced by environmental factors such as the time of the day, the user’s device or the weather, to which you can also adapt your bidding strategy.

3) Use geographic bid modifiers

For both AdWords and Google Shopping campaigns, consider implementing geographic bid modifiers. Do you only deliver to a certain region? Restrict who can see your ads. Are there some areas that convert better than others? Bid up!

geotargeted ad buying

4) Use ad customisers

Resubmitting ads for review can take time and, as the saying goes, ‘time is money’. Ad Customisers, however, allow you to create an ad template containing variables from where a feed automatically updates the template without going through the approval process.

5) Find your unique selling point

The description text in AdWords gives you the opportunity to add a little something extra to your campaigns.

While many advertisers tend to focus on the product or category at hand, you can also focus on your unique selling point (USP) to stand out from your competition. Free delivery is almost a standard feature these days, so consider focusing on shipping times for example.

6) Add negative keywords

Adding negative keywords is an important part of campaign management. Not only does it help you to refine your audience and ensure that you get more qualified clicks, it can also help to revise your bidding strategy.

Using negative keywords to separate brand and non-brand traffic, for example, allows you to bid higher on branded products and therefore on users that are higher up the conversion funnel.

negative keywords

7) A separate strategy for campaigns on desktop

You can make an exact copy of your existing desktop campaign and set it for mobile. The first one will be -100% mobile bids, meaning that it is purely for desktop and tablets, while you set mobile bids in the second campaign.

Tip: Experience shows that ads on mobile tend to be a bit cheaper than those on desktop, so it may not be necessary to bid so high.

8) Provide a personalised experience

While RLSA has been available in AdWords for some time, this feature was only added to Google Shopping in October 2015. This is great news for retail advertisers as personalisation is becoming a necessary part of PPC strategies.

In particular, recent research from Quantcast shows that 37% of consumers expect adverts received on mobile phones to be more relevant than those on other devices. This means that it is advisable to use RLSA to target different audiences: cart abandoners, users that viewed specific products or pages, purchasers etc.

Personalisation in particular is becoming an important aspect in optimising PPC campaigns for ecommerce. However with a lack of knowledge and time as serious set-backs for a large amount of online retailers, advanced solutions are helping them to not only provide a personalised experience, but to do so in real time, according to a user’s different stages in the buying funnel.

*research from eMarketer.

Mark Haupt is UK Sales Director at Twenga Solutions and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

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