10 min read
Life, in a nutshell, is all about making choices. Mac or PC? iPhone or Android? Tacos or pizza? Which webinar software to use? The choices are endless!
The problem for ecommerce businesses is that when it comes to online shopping, customers have thousands of choices. This has led to a fast-growing industry. In fact, eight in ten Americans are now online shoppers.
The challenge is, despite steady growth in ecommerce sales, competition for ecommerce brands remains high. For every product or service you sell, there are likely dozens of other brands with similar offerings whether you’re selling wholesale or private label products.
How do you make sure your brand is a top contender?
In fact, the average company spends between $9,000 and $10,000 a month on PPC, according to WebFX.
For small to mid-sized businesses, that amount can be an astounding number. How do you make the most out of your PPC ad spend with Google Ads? The strategies below are designed to help you do just that.
Ramp Ad Spend Up and Down Based on Holidays
Ecommerce spending may be on the rise across the board, but most of that cash is still spent during the holiday season. For most brands, this is from Thanksgiving to New Years, when consumers spent a total of $126 billion in 2018.
To be effective, ecommerce brands need to adjust ad spend based on a promotional calendar, including the holiday season. Heading into the holiday season, you should allocate more paid budget than you do for the other quarters of the year — and not just for the obvious reason of gaining more sales.
Cost per click tends to increase around the holidays. This is because other companies are running more campaigns, which means you’ll need to bid higher for terms related to popular products.
In addition to raising your bids, create holiday-specific ads to target holiday shoppers looking for presents or, for example, winter weather gear.
However, the winter holidays are not the only time spending increases (though it is the most obvious.) Make plans to ramp spending up during other holidays important in your industry, which might include the back to school season, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Memorial Day.
Most importantly— be sure to readjust ad spend after the holiday season passes to avoid wasting ad budget.
Focus on High AOV (Average Order Value)
Many ecommerce brands focus their Google Ads on gaining new customers–which can be critical in the competitive online shopping world.
However, on average, ecommerce businesses spend $45.27 on Google Paid Search Campaigns to gain just one customer.
To make the most of ad spend, it can be far more cost-effective to aim at increasing your AOV, which is the average amount each customer spends per transaction at your store.
Calculate your company’s average order value using this formula:
Total Revenue / Number of Orders = AOV (average order value)
To increase AOV, you’ll need to convince customers to add more items to their order or select more expensive items. There are several strategies you can employ to increase your AOV through Google Ads.
For starters, consider recommending related products, as Amazon does.
You can also offer discounts (like free shipping) after a certain spend threshold or create packages of similar products, such as bundling a training course with a worksheet using the multi-file feature on Selz.
Or, you can use Google Merchant Promotions, a free feature that allows you to distribute online promotions within Google Ads. You do have to apply, and the feature is currently not available in all areas.
Another strategy is to focus promotion efforts on higher-cost items, then cross-promote lower cost items. For example, instead of promoting a wireless mouse, promote a laptop and suggest the mouse as an add-on item.
Align PPC With Your Email Marketing Efforts
Email remains one of the most effective marketing channels out there, with an average ROI of $38 per each dollar spent. While your ROI may vary based on how much you invest and your industry, email marketing should still be a top priority for ecommerce brands.
By aligning your email efforts with PPC, you can increase the effectiveness of both strategies. Consider this: once you have someone on your email list, you have a free method of contacting them. Rather than paying to promote a new product line, for example, you can send out email blasts to all your contacts.
Here are three strategies to align your PPC and email marketing efforts:
Use Google Ads to grow your email list
Many ecommerce businesses assume PPC is only useful for promoting products, but an email list subscriber has an incredibly high lifetime value–and you only have to pay for their attention once.
Use PPC to test Email Headings or CTAs
Heading into the holiday season or launching a new product? Use PPC to test headlines or CTAs before you send out your newsletter. Alternatively, you can use segmented email lists to test PPC copy.
Use the Customer Match Feature
Google’s Customer Match allows companies to target audience members right in their Gmail inbox, just above their email messages, as shown in the screenshot below.
Promote Content Rather Than Products
Google Shopping ads are an effective way to sell your products online. In addition to promoting physical products, consider promoting high-value content in your content marketing strategy.
An easy way to accomplish this, for example, is by starting a blog or podcast. By promoting content that your audience wants to consume, such as valuable eBooks, blogs, or podcasts, your brand can create a long-term dialogue that keeps your brand top of mind when the consumer is ready to make a purchase.
According to the State of Lead Generation study by Venngage, content is highly effective at driving not just brand awareness, but also conversions.
As you can see, social media content is up there as one of the highest converting mediums. The best part is, there’s still great organic reach on several platforms today.
This is great news for ecommerce stores with limited advertising funds. One powerful platform for brands is Instagram, and luckily there are many easy ways to grow your Instagram following organically.
At the end of the day, content builds brand awareness and drives sales, which can be far more effective than trying to sell to people who aren’t brand aware yet.
I like to call this “warming up your audience” as you move them down your value ladder.
If you want to take this a step further, consider adding a live chat function to your site so you can catch browsers while they’re hot and further engage them.
Just be sure to keep in mind these dos and don’ts of live chat – don’t over automate or leave your customers hanging.
Back to targeting…
Keep in mind that targeting the right audience is a critical factor in effectively using content promotion to drive conversions. Codeless, for example, found that promoting content to an audience based on previous engagements resulted in a higher CTR and a much lower cost per click.
When promoting content, you don’t always need to go for direct sales. Instead, you can promote top-of-funnel content that builds your brand and creates a loyal following, who are then likely to buy from you down the road.
For example, here’s a great post that showcases top of the funnel intent for building brand awareness, rather than direct sales. Check out this Hawaii guide from Adventure For Less:
Instead of going for the direct sale, Adventure For Less covers topics in their niche to gain traction.
Content is more than blogs and social media. For example, you could create and promote a podcast where you talk about topics important to your target audience. How do you monetize this traffic?
For starters, you can use affiliate marketing to promote products on your podcast, but you lose a portion of those sales. However, if you use your podcast to promote your own products, you get to keep all the profits.
Buzzsprout suggests selling access to online courses, membership sites, cheat sheets, or even in-depth webinars where you offer audience members more of the content they love.
Single Grain suggests promoting detailed guides, infographics, and video content to drive traffic, then use that traffic to sell products.
And while promoting content rather than products may result in a longer path to conversion, the costs to promote content is often much lower.
Not to mention, providing valuable content enhances the user experience, which can lead to referrals.
Segment and Target Mobile Users Separately
Mobile shoppers behave differently than desktop shoppers. They are more likely to browse, particularly when it comes to high-cost items, like home appliances. As a result, many companies choose to lower their bids for mobile.
This is a knee jerk reaction that can cause you to lose out on traffic and turn away customers who are higher in the funnel. For example, a mobile user searching for a specific model of a washing machine may be looking to purchase, but is just starting their research.
If you lower bids on mobile users, you could miss out on these shoppers.
Instead of ignoring those users, use mobile device targeting and create a granular list of negative key terms. To stick with the washing machine example, you wouldn’t want to target mobile users looking up terms like “repairs” or “manual,” but might want to target terms like “product name” + “free shipping.”
To better target mobile users, use a writing app to adjust your content for different tones and styles, then A/B test to see which approach works best on mobile devices.
Create Dedicated Landing Page Campaigns
When customers click on your ad, where do you send them? For further down the funnel ads, you might send them to a pricing page. However, if you are targeting higher in the funnel customers or seeing high click-through rates but low conversions, dedicated landing pages might be the way to go.
Landing pages are highly customizable stand-alone pages that can be branded and designed to cater to specific consumers with specific needs or specific stages in the buying cycle.
The point here is that whether you’re driving traffic from PPC campaigns or are relying on organic search traffic, the more targeted the landing page, the better. Read this article for more details on how to create a great landing page.
It’s an entirely different need and search inquiry. Just ask Google.
Plus, according to a recent study, creating dedicated landing pages can drastically increase page views, conversion, and average revenue per session… and it makes sense, right?
Let’s look at it from another angle. Have you ever thought about using your competitor’s name or keywords in your google ads strategy?
I’m guessing you’re familiar with task management software, like Monday.com or Asana. It’s a pretty competitive market with all the options out there to manage tasks across teams.
Two of Monday’s competitors, Pipefy and Asana, used this exact strategy to outbid Monday when searching for ‘Monday alternative.’ Talk about a cheeky way to come out on top and direct traffic to your site instead of your competitors’.
In another example, users are searching for Sealy but come up with the brand name Casper, the self-proclaimed “Internet’s Favorite Mattress.”
So, Sealy hit back by creating a dedicated landing page for their new ad, which offers a detailed comparison of the two mattresses.
By targeting a specific key term (another brand’s name, in this case), Sealy can predict what is holding the user back and address those issues directly.
Final Thoughts on Using Google Ads for Ecommerce Stores
Today online shoppers have more choices than ever before. Organic reach is down, and many ecommerce brands are turning to paid search platforms, like Google Ads, to attract customers. The challenge is, as more ecommerce brands begin using PPC, the average ad spend is on the rise. To stay competitive, ecommerce brands need to be strategic about how and what they promote through Google Ads.
Remember, not every strategy will work the same for all brands. Test the strategies above on a limited base first, and see what works well for your brand and your audience. Then, double down on what works.