Paid Search For E-Commerce: What’s Been working?
The performance numbers for our e-commerce clients have been frankly outstanding in the last 6 months. We have seen great increases in CTR, revenue, and ROI, with significant decreases in CPC. Believe me, it isn’t all us. It is a combination of our AdWords playbook, our clients having good products, our clients caring about their site, and our clients listening to landing page recommendations for conversion. From an AdWords standpoint, here has been an overview of what’s working:
1. Small ad groups – tight keyword matches. We are finding lots of success constructing very small ad groups, and using very tight keyword match types around product keywords. I bet in the thousand keywords we have been managing for various clients, we probably only have a dozen purposeful broad match keywords. And we are only using those in short run tests. Doing this has enabled us to write very focused ad copy, especially using keyword matches in our headlines. This has also protected us from displaying our ads in poor search queries. I like to call it reducing our keyword risk exposure. Yes – impressions and clicks may drop – but if done right cost should decrease and revenue should increase (last time I asked, clients like this). In order to be sure we are staying on top of query trends, we actively use the See Search Query Tool to mine for negative keyword opportunities, as well as any broader variations we may be missing. When using matching we also keep a close eye on impressions share per ad group to ensure we are on the mark with budget, bid, and quality. We most frequently use phrase and exact match types with success. If we think we are losing impressions share, we will widen out to both modified broad and broad keywords.
2. Ad copy tests. You always hear about testing in paid search. It isn’t just important – it is everything! We are constantly trying to find ways to test ad copy to maximize conversions. Often times search advertisers can get wrapped up into measuring conversions by keyword. While good, I think it is also important to measure how specific ads convert. There can be some major discoveries in looking at this data. Click through rate is important, but look at how your ads converted against each other as well. For example, was it better to use “Quality Products”, or “Lowest Prices”? We also do a lot of testing of using price within our ads. There is no across the board answer here – in some cases it worked – in other cases in bombed. That is why testing ad copy is important.
3. Ad extensions. I think ad extensions have been an extremely important development for paid search. Product extensions have greatly enhanced conversions for many clients. We are seeing product listing ads vastly outperform normal text ads for conversions in many cases. Sitelinks extensions have increased our click through rates over 35% in some cases. An important tactic to keep in mind is the usage of calls to action within your Sitelinks – such as Sale, Best Deal, and Limited Time Only. Phone extensions have given us another great lead and buy generation touch point for our clients to interact with buyers for less. We also use Google call forwarding for the $1.00 cost per call option, and to provide our clients with a call report. (Location extensions are important as well – if you have a local geographic footprint with your e-commerce site)
4. Landing pages and site layout. Beyond AdWords tactics – it still is a gigantic factor to work with the sites that you are driving traffic to. We always use the analogy – don’t drive people on nice roads to shacks in the woods – drive them on nice roads to mansions that they can explore and use. It is important to match query intent to content. If a user searches for black leather shoes – don’t bring them to the men’s shoes page – bring them to the black leather shoes page. Or, at least test it! When working with campaigns, we feel it is important to constantly be in communication with our clients on landing page tests and tweaks to maximize conversion. The best AdWords campaigns depend on sites that are positioned to convert. You still need to address product layout, content packages, visuals, and of course pricing. If you are not priced competitively, then any e-commerce campaign is going to suffer with conversions percentage.
That is an overview of what has worked in our world for e-commerce. Yes – there is a lot more to it. I didn’t cover bidding, conversion optimizer, Enhanced CPC, KPIs in the new Google Analytics, etc, but these are the high points for now. What’s been most effective lately in e-commerce for your site, leave a comment below.
Joe Ford: Managing Partner at Netvantage Marketing
Joe Ford is a Managing Partner at Netvantage Marketing. In addition to overseeing day to day business operations of Netvantage, he directs paid search strategy for over 14 paid search clients. Ford is on the Lansing Chamber Board of Directors, and the Executive Board of the Capital Area IT Council.