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adwords optimization tips for ecommerce

It takes a lot of things to have a successful e-commerce site/store. One of the most important ingredients is getting traffic to your site. Most importantly – potential customers! Search marketing is typically a great place to start because you have the ability to reach potential customers while they’re actively looking for what you’re selling rather than interrupting them with advertising.

Sounds simple, right? It isn’t. Organic search results are difficult to achieve and AdWords ads on search results pages are competitive, can be expensive, and the ecosystem is complicated. But if you can master it, AdWords can generate a really high ROI / ROAS. Here’s a few tips & best practices for e-commerce advertisers on AdWords.

Google Shopping Campaigns

Google offers an ad unit specifically for e-commerce called Product Listing Ads (PLA), which are a feature of Google’s “Shopping Campaigns”. E-commerce advertisers need to incorporate Shopping Campaigns into their program or miss out on a valuable opportunity that Google continues to expand upon. Recently in the Google AdWords New Feature Announcements on May 6th, Google stated that they would be investing more into this vertical throughout 2015.

“And with mobile searches driving in-store commerce, we’re helping businesses measure the full impact of their campaigns. “ – Google Inside AdWords

google adwords shopping ads pla example for e-commerce

Tips for Optimizing Google Shopping Campaigns

  1. Dayparting: analyze your performance data and find the best times of day and days of week for your ads. Ramp visibility up or down to make the most of your ad spend.
  2. Competitors: Use the Auction Insight Tool in AdWords to discover your percentage of impression share and uncover ad spending habits
  3. Take advantage of Google Shopping Offers / Merchant Promotions
    1. Offers/promotions function just like a coupon on your own site with a “Special Offer” tag in text that stands out appearing with your listing.
    2. Include a MOTIVATING EXPIRATION DATE and a code for your customer to enter at checkout.
    3. There’s no extra charge for this function, and it is shown to increase Click Through Rate (CTR) and decrease Cost Per Click (CTC)
google shopping offer / merchant promotion example for e-commerce

Example of a Google Shopping Offer/Merchant Promotion

Optimize Your Product Feed

All of the products in your feed should have fully optimized data and content. This becomes less feasible as the number of SKUs you offer grows larger, so it’s best to get in on the ground floor with this.

Start by optimizing the title:

  • Add the brand name and product category qualifier in the product title. This will assist in qualifying search queries to match to user intent.

Completely fill-out your product feed columns:

Once you have a strong product title, use all of the available columns and populate them with the correct data – this is key to optimizing your feed:

  • Follow the rules by adding in standard naming conventions in color, material, size.
    • For example – you might use more general sizes like “large” instead of “55 x 40,” that are more likely to be searched for.
    • Plus, as an added benefit, you can add up to two additional colors to the product’s primary color.

“For example, a black shoe with green accents should have a color value of ‘Black / Green’.” – Google Merchant Center

  • Sales Price: If you’re running special promotions, make sure that you list the current value in the Sale Price column along with start and end date of the price reduction in the Sale_Price_Effective_Date column, as both are required for sale pricing.
  • Custom Labels: You will only have 5 of these per campaign, so make sure they’re well chosen. You can make separate bids for different labels, so by choosing labels like “high profit margin” and “low profit margin,” you can optimize ROI on your spend for the campaign.

Google adwords shopping feed custom labels - e-commerce optimization

  • Product Type: These are different than a Google “Product Category” attribute, and should follow the same naming convention and path as the merchant categories on your site. While they won’t affect impressions, they will help better classify your shopping campaigns when building them out.

Examples of Product Type

Furniture > Living Room > Sofas > Sleeper Sofas

Furniture > Living Room > Sofas > Sectionals

Furniture > Living Room > Sofas > Love Seats

  •  Availability: Avoid a frustrating customer experience and reduce costs due to click waste by leveraging “Automatic Items Updates” for product availability and pricing. There’s nothing worse than finding that you can’t get what you want.

Target by Demographics & Location

adwords targeting by location

Make your ad spend as efficient as possible and target exactly the right people with your ads. You can use your target audience personas as well as data collected from other marketing efforts and testing in AdWords and GDN (Google Display Network) to proportionately target your ad spend by your most valuable demographics. You can target by:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Household Income Percentage
  • Location

Ad Extensions for E-Commerce

adwords ad extensions for e-commerce example / types

Ad extensions are an easy way to get better data and functionality out of your PPC campaigns and make your ad stand out in search results.

Here are some of our favorites for e-commerce:

  • Download Your App: Perfect for mobile campaigns, it allows click-through straight to your app in the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Site Links: This allows you to add more direct links to pages in your ads. With dynamic sitelinks, a link might have more compelling anchor text directly related to the search query.
  • Store Location: These will show your business’ address, phone number and map marker along with your text ad, and on mobile it will even link directions to your business. This also helps with geo-targeting your ads.
  • Reviews: Highlight positive third-party reviews right in your ads for a great boost in CTR.
  • Callouts: These un-clickable links are used to highlight benefits such as free shipping, new arrivals, sales, and more.

Display Select Keywords

When you’re showing your AdWords ads in the Google Display Network, you can increase your market share by using Display Select Keywords (formerly known as Search Companion ads). These allow you to reach searchers based on intent, not just exact keywords. They make a great way to expand your Display advertising campaigns.

adwords display select keywords for e-commerce example icon

Measure: Know Your Attribution

Learn the different types of Attribution Models available in Google Analytics. Get familiar with the different models and analyze your campaigns to make sure you aren’t under or over-valuing your efforts.

Each model has its advantages and disadvantages and some are better suited to e-commerce than others. Find the right fit for your product/service and the type of sale or the sophistication of your campaigns:

attribution models

Google has announced that they’ll support a data-driven attribution model sometime in the near future – but until then, here’s all about Attribution Models.

About the Default Attribution Models

Attribution Modeling Overview

Like these tips? Want more? Download our Digital Marketing Guide for e-commerce!

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Dell Monson

About Dell Monson

Dell Monson is a Sr Account Director at Add3.

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