Ecommerce PPC Strategies

This week Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk) led us on a fast paced, entertaining, chat while Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) took a nap. He came up with a great question set titled “Ecommerce PPC Strategies.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Poll: Do you work primarily in Ecommerce OR Lead Gen accounts?

  • Lead gen. But we have a couple B2B ecommerce clients now. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Lead Gen – which is why I’m so happy to be lurking ominously today. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • If I had to say one I’d say ecom. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • I’m currently roughly 60% ecommerce, and 40% Lead Gen PPC. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Lead gen, but e-commerce accounts are always fun (and challenging in a different way). – Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
  • Formerly ecom, now mostly lead gen. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Mixed bag. I’d say 60/40 lead gen. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • 75% lead gen, 25% ecomm. But has fluctuated through the past. – Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
  • I’m about 50-50 between them. – JD Prater (@jdprater)
  • Time spent, 70% lead gen, 30% ecomm. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • 60/40 ecom. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • 100% ecomm atm. – Lauren Frankel (@frankly_lauren)
  • Primarily lead gen, but a few ecommerce here and there. – Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
  • Primarily lead gen. – Kim Thomas (@PPCkimpossible)
  • E-commerce. – Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
  • We are 100% leadgen stemming from the fact that our clients are soleley B2B. – Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
  • Our B2B acct has transitioned from lead-gen to ecomm over 12mos. Bonus: We also grew leads this way. – Matt Lukens (@tunadonut)

Q2: Like having to choose between your 2 fav puppies, Tory and Fluffy, do you prefer Ecom or Lead Gen? Why?

  • I prefer a mix – keeps things interesting and facilitates testing of many different campaign types, strategies, etc. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • I prefer ecom since I really enjoy working with Google Shopping! – Gil Hong
  • I prefer ecomm because it is easier to measure performance closer to the bottom line. – Chris Haleua
  • Both have their advantages. Ecomm is great because direct impact on sales, lead gen can also be fun with longer cycles. – Michael Knight
  • Hmmm, I prefer any business with a solid and attractive offering (and a quality website). – Margot da Cunha
    • Agreed. Anyone who’s willing to test and learn! But I work at a B2B agency so mostly lead gen by default. – Melissa Mackey
  • Ecom. bc at a high level you can directly measure how much you’re spending and how much revenue is tied to the outcome. – Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
  • Ecomm. So hard. I just like the finality of money being handed over. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • prefer Ecom PPC. Seeing verifiable $ & ROI = instant gratification. LG “tends” to be longer sales cycle. – Kirk Williams
  • Anything that’s bespoke as it’s responsive to good copy + creation of good offers. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Ccommerce, a lot easier to show ROI. – Chris Allbones (@cmallbones)
  • Prefer lead gen, practically all my experience in that realm & where our clients are. Would like the opp to dabble in ecomm tho. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • I prefer ecomm bc addtl data (revenue) allows you to make well-informed decisions. I also like playing around with shopping. – Lauren Frankel
  • eCommerce, I choose you! Consumer trends, holiday season, determining profitability. Just a lot of fun to me. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
  • Ecommerce b/c of instant gratification. Ad #1 brought in $___ of revenue. No waiting to see what a lead eventually becomes. – Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
  • Ecommerce. It’s nice to easily see direct impact on bottom line. – Amanda Sides
  • Why choose? Sponsored search for ecomm, display and remarketing for lead gen. – Matt Lukens
  • Love the data you get with Ecomm but most of my actual experience is in lead gen. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • E-commerce. Allows me to use solid data to make good decisions. – Amy Valleskey
  • IMO Ecommerce is usually about the big picture, lead gen more about the details. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
  • Much easier to prove ROI initially with ecom. – Joe Martinez

Q3: What is the biggest difference(s) between lead gen PPC and ecom PPC?

  • Direct vs indirect sales (lead funnel vs direct revenue). – Michael Knight
  • Ease of conversion measurement! – Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
  • Customer lifetime value and attribution! – Gil Hong
  • Shopping campaigns! – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • Really knowing what is working and the return. With Leadgen, it’s an equation unless you have really good backend tracking. – Amy Bishop
  • Not sure what is the biggest but here are some: 1. Bigger product count on ecom 2. Longer sales cycle on lead gen. – Richard Fergie
  • Lead gen is keyword targeting, nurturing, etc and e-commerce shopping ads, categories, transactions occur faster. – Margot da Cunha
  • Shopping! Huge outlet here to expand non-brand reach where lead gen may not be able to tap into. – Lauren Frankel
  • I think primarily length of sales cycle & diff campaign types. Sales cycle drives a lot of the other differences IMO. You’re primarily focused on getting *that* visitor to convert in ecom, where LTV is a much bigger part of lead gen strategy. – Kirk Williams
  • Ecomm customers likely searching for a product. Lead gen is more searching for answers to a problem. – Mark Irvine
  • Ecommerce relies more on whole site, lead gen mainly a decent landing page with a contact form. – Chris Allbones
  • Also different consideration points between leadgen & e-comm. Features vs. Price/Shipping, etc that come into play w/ conversion. – Amy Bishop
  • Harder to get accurate est of “cost” and “value” from client, with lead gen. They so often never thought of “value of a lead.” – Theresa Zook
  • Revenue, shopping are biggest diff in ecomm vs. lead gen. No ROAS in lead gen either. – Melissa Mackey
  • Ecomm more complex because of many products. Competition can be more brutal for lead gen eg insurance w/ fewer differentiators. – Chris Haleua
  • eCommerce PPC can reach searchers when they’re lower in the funnel. With lead gen, there’s often nurturing before you get there. – Maddie Cary
  • Audiences & strategy are different too. Also LPs & CRO. – Melissa Mackey
  • Many times LeadG sale only starts with the conv, hard to get actual results tied back to paid search. ECom, sale ends @ conv. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Lead Gen is liable to clients moving goal posts (user quality) and is more LP-dependent than Ecom. LP can KILL leads. – Steve Plimmer (@SPlimmer_ESV)

Q4: What Ecommerce PPC aspect, like Judge Judy’s stenographer, is important but undervalued?

  • Depends what you’re selling. Is it brand items, or bespoke items? If latter, then sales copy is usually weak spot. – Steve Gibson
  • Single CTAs in the ad and on the landing page. – Matt Lukens
  • Specific product knowledge and expertise? It’s easier to sell something you know a lot about. – Dave Rosborough
  • Probably RLSA. Hard to manage at scale with lists at the ad group level. Would be much easier at campaign level. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Understanding customer needs during and beyond the sale. Cross sells, up sells, and future sells! – Gil Hong
  • The ability to use ad customizes to create a sense of urgency by highlighting sales, special offers, countdowns etc. – Margot da Cunha
  • Any kind of assisted conversion insight. You know they’re specifically shopping around, but few are bringing that front of mind.- Mark Irvine
  • Accurate Analytics + Ecommerce tracking. So many people can’t/won’t set aside time to get it right. – Amanda Sides
  • From what I’ve seen, I think a comprehensive Shopping strategy is not as common as it should be in ecom PPC. – Kirk Williams
    • I agree. Shopping campaigns are awesome but they are only as good as their structure/strategy. – Amy Bishop
  • Using call out extensions to extend your ad copy text with key benefits and features. – Chris Allbones
  • Dynamic remarketing. For too long I focused only RLSA but Matt Umbro’s reminders motivated me to try feed-based retargetsing – Chris Haleua
  • Utilizing merchant promotions. – Lauren Frankel
  • DSA Also works pretty well form e-comm and we often find clients haven’t tried them. – Amy Bishop
    • Yes, DSA often has a bad rap, but I’ve seen it be extremely profitable in some ecom PPC (not all). – Kirk Williams
  • It always amazes me how people can be in business without knowing (or, at least, guessing) this number. – Steve Gibson
  • Applies to more than PPC but really understanding your client(s), their goal(s), their challenge(s), etc. – Lauren Frankel
  • Moving beyond gross revenue and basic ROAS. Too few ecomm advertisers push towards profit through COGS. ROAS Santa is not real. – Chris Haleua
  • It’s easy to overlook certain kws even though they might have really strong assist power. – Amy Valleskey
  • Kinda depends on vertical. But Remarketing, and the finer points of this tool, is often overshadowed and undervalued. – Steve Plimmer

Q5: What are some challenges you face with ecommerce PPC CRO? What do you do to combat these challenges?

  • Character space limitations on that last one. For those just getting into PPC, CRO is Conversion Rate Optimization. – Kirk Williams
  • Sluggish websites, lack of mobile, poor search navigation. Awareness is the first step to addressing these problems. – Gil Hong
  • Main challenge is stopping myself using site conv rate as an excuse. Good PPC is about fitting into whatever conv rate the site has.- Richard Fergie
  • Main challenges are updating shop pages & checkout process. Harder to get access and make updates. – Michael Knight
  • Clients not being able to action changes / or see the value. A lot of client education is usually key. – Scott Wright (@TheScright)
  • Finding a great landing page that aligns with ecommerce user intent. – Kirk Williams
  • Product page challenges, including making customers into returning customers. – Margot da Cunha
  • Nowhere does it say that all leads have equal value. If they can define what a lead is, they should have estimated value. – Steve Gibson
  • Depending on product size, ever-changing sales/offers can make ad or landing page updates a frequent task. – Joe Martinez
  • COGS. Not all products yield same profit. Truly maximizing Rev takes the need to account for COGS. – Josh Kelson
  • Non mobile friendly sites and less than optimal site search/structure. – Lauren Frankel
  • Products that are semantically similar. One of few cases I’ll really use ad group level negatives rather than campaign. – Mark Irvine

Q6: How do you choose the best Landing Pages for your Ecommerce Ads aside from going all Oprah on the site?

  • Start by at least validating the LP already selected are not hitting 404 errors or “no products found” if using internal search. – Chris Haleua
  • I’ll usually choose a specific product page and have one ad to split test another one. Rinse and repeat. – Scott Wright
  • To start – trying out specific products or product categories based on kws and intent. – Michael Knight
  • I start with the obvious pages, then a/b test. Hardest part is splitting traffic for low volume products. – Josh Kelson
  • I try to match user intent with LP. If general query, more general LP. If specific product query, take them to that product. Eg if advertising microwaves, test sending both to Top Selling Specific Microwave Product Page & to general “microwaves” cat page. – Kirk Williams
    • This is sound strategy but also worth considering what you can guess about the user. E.g. are they wo/man? – Richard Fergie
  • Have to make sure you are always reviewing new sales and offerings for relevant landing pages. – Amy Valleskey
  • Plenty of free and paid solutions for URL validation out there. many can also scan for text on LP like “product unavailable”. – Chris Haleua
  • Being as specific as possible with intent. Sometimes product specific, sometimes category. Also use a 404 script checker! – Gil Hong
  • I’ve had to down-bid mobile by 100% because pages weren’t mobile friendly. But Google is pushing mobile friendliness now. – Hanna Johnson (@MarketingHannah)
  • Usually start with the product page (esp if variations like color/size), if more broad, category page. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • You would weep if you knew how much money is wasted by overwhelmed enterprise retailers on clicks for pages with nothing to sell. – Chris Haleua
  • Also sitelinks for general and closely related product pages! Cover all bases. – Scott Wright
  • Look at the products with best ROI and decent profit margin and start from there depending on search volume. – Chris Allbones
  • Send specific products/categories to those pages. analyze top LPs (not just PPC) and make recco’s to utilize if it aligns. – Lauren Frankel
  • Apply pareto principle and create dedicated landing pages for most profitable products. – Chris Haleua
  • A category/search page isn’t always the best LP, even for general queries as sometimes people get overwhelmed by choices. – Kirk Williams
  • Also always try to use the “view all products” view whenever possible. – Lauren Frankel
  • Find Davis Bakers slides from HeroConf on framing your messages and landing pages to make your messages more appealing. – Joe Martinez
  • If you have it as an option, I like to sort the page by most relevant product at the top based on what search prompts the ad. – Amy Valleskey
  • It’s ironic how under used the search bar is on a landing page by SEMs. Not ideal, but a fine solution to a # of CRO problems. – Mark Irvine
  • Data led decision. Also, very site-dependent & how many products/offerings there are & how aggressive the CR target is. – Steve Plimmer

Q7: What role does Shopping currently play in your ecommerce PPC strategy? Do you see this changing?

  • Shopping only seems to grow stronger. Depends on the client, though. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Shopping has continued to grow into a significant part of my clients’ ecom revenue. I believe this will only grow as more real-estate is given to PLAs, less to Text Ads in SERPs. – Kirk Williams
  • Shopping is a big part of eComm – as long as feeds are updated & optimized. Having the right shopping campaign strategy is key too. – Michael Knight
  • Images > Text I don’t see that changing any time soon. – Gil Hong
    • Also, prices are nice to see right in the SERP. – Kirk Williams
    • Remember, however, text/copy influences images, rather than the other way round. – Rohan Ayyar
  • It’s integral for non-brand. importance will cont to rise as visual elements play more crucial role in buying process. – Lauren Frankel
  • A quick config of Shopping for most accounts is a given. In future, optimize images better & watch out for extensions. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • Seems to be used as an addition to the main campaigns, but definitely growing, as long as stand out images to go in ads. – Chris Allbones
  • Definitely an important chunk of real estate. I see the need for overall product inclusion increasing in the next few months. – Amy Valleskey
  • PTSD of sad early PLA days when ecomm clients thought it was optional. Most budget now goes to GSC. Same thing now in HPA & cars – Chris Haleua
  • It’s one of the few places SMBs can fully compete literally alongside big brands and win. – Mark Irvine
  • Sadly, I think google hates lead gen/bespoke prods. Loves PLA. It’s the future. – Steve Gibson
  • Key for any ecom client we have. Crucial to fill in KW gaps & get more SERP real estate. This is now a must for retail. – Steve Plimmer

Q8: What is your go-to advice for running a successful Shopping campaign?

  • Optimize feed first, then create a shopping campaign structure around feed & labels for performance. – Michael Knight
  • I think I just saw an article that the Goog is testing larger images in serps anyways. Shopping ads have those qualities already. – Amy Valleskey
  • Since avg pos is unavaialble for GSC, make sure to pay closer attention to impression share along with ROI / ROAS. – Chris Haleua
  • Group products into similar ad groups/campaigns. Use priority settings/negative kws to direct traffic. – Kirk Williams
  • Don’t forget all the cool segmentation tricks you learned for keyword ads. – Richard Fergie
  • Making sure the feed is structured properly so can properly split products into groups, especially with large cost differences. – Chris Allbones
  • Look at the images in the SERP you’re going to bid on, and make your image stand out from those already in there. – Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
  • Structure by both category/product line & margin – bidding is simpler to manage. Don’t be afraid to be selective in what’s live. Also, good and interesting images can make a difference! – Steve Plimmer
  • Modify/customize every product image. Have the latest (lowest) prices on your feed. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Ad Group products by price and margin. Be hyper vigilant looking at your SQRs. – Matthew Poldberg (@NotSpamIpromise)
  • Take a look at what your surroundings are on shopping ads and make sure you can comply and differentiate in a good way. – Amy Valleskey
  • Optimizing the feed is equally as important as campaign structure. – Lauren Frankel
  • Avoid overlap in targeting so that each product targeted by one group. Use priorities to control exceptions for SKUs on sale. – Chris Haleua

Q9: What do you think of Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA)? Like it/love it/hate it? Any advice on it?

  • I like RLSA. We don’t always get along, but when we do, its a great time. Utilizing new ad messaging & detailed segments is key. – Michael Knight
  • Love it. Super underused. Limited reach but so worth it. – Mark Irvine
  • Get creative – make your copy creepy (in a funny way) to catch attention. – Rohan Ayyar
  • RLSA so far hasn’t been a huge source of traffic for me, but usually results are good. Worth a try if expanding an account! – Kirk Williams
  • RLSA marks the shift to “identity” marketing. Segment early, segment often (as possible), and write relevant copy. – Gil Hong
  • Love it. Getting some really good results. – Steve Cameron
  • Great for sites with long time to conversion to stick in customers mind. – Chris Allbones
  • Definitely worth a test but have seen mixed success. make sure to use appropriate match types, look at SQs, and adjust bids. – Lauren Frankel
  • I like RLSA. Still exploring what potential there is. No good for Long Tail. Most useful for bigger brands in Short Tail. – Steve Plimmer
  • Love it. Have to use it correctly meaning your message needs to be different in RLSA than your other search/remarketing ads. – Joe Martinez
  • Love RLSAs. Excited for BingAds to get more traction with UET so we can do it on their platform too. Conditionally fire google retargeting pixel through DMP container tag to push towards more advanced RLSA. – Chris Haleua

Q10: Do you use Dynamic Search Ads? Why or Why Not?

  • Yes – as a mop up. – Richard Fergie
  • DSA – Always hesitant with something Google Automates for me, especially ad copy, so it hasn’t been a main strategy. – Michael Knight
  • Sometimes DSA means you open the floodgates of traffic/cost so people are scared away. I’ve seen it work awesome for some retailers. Definitely worth testing as long as you set it up correctly. IMO it’s Essential to exclude all live KWs in your entire account from your DSA campaigns to prevent traffic cannibalization. – Kirk Williams
  • Still having mixed feelings about this. Sometimes it covers something you miss, but haven’t seen great success. – Amy Valleskey
  • Seen it used well for searches for specific products especially model numbers etc but lot of room for error. – Chris Allbones
  • Correct DSA implementation is key! add all your existing kw’s as negatives and check the SQR often. – Gil Hong
  • Have not because i don’t like giving Google MORE control. – Laurent Frankel
  • Yes. DSA are powerful when they are an extra catch-all instead of a lazy replacement for smart SQR and relevant KW. As long as DSA is combined with extra vigilant updates on negatives, DSA can help you access queries you never would have seen. – Chris Haleua

Q11: What is the one thing you would warn a new Ecommerce PPCer about when beginning?

  • Shopping feed setup is a nightmare. – Melissa Mackey
  • Get your structure right. Be humble enough to learn from others…you don’t know it all, and it will take time. – Josh Kelson
  • Just because you “see” immediate numbers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still keep the long-view in mind. Eg: IMO Shopping camps can act like Jumbo Jets. They take off slow, but as opts happen, soar higher & farther than ever- Kirk Williams
  • Set realistic expectations/fees for feed management! – Gil Hong
  • Also, devote time to learning GSC and RLSA. – Josh Kelson
  • Keep a close eye on cost per conversion per campaign not just overall, better to have fewer campaigns to start with and monitor. – Chris Allbones
  • Don’t get too caught up in individual metrics, make sure the overall health at a kw, ad group, & campaign level looks good too. – Amy Valleskey
  • If you’re going to focus on ONE thing, make it shopping. and definitely look into feed management software to keep you sane. – Lauren Frankel
  • Setting arbitrary budgets. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Realize you have many options for feed providers. Although GSC setup can feel like a nightmare at first, tech can help a ton. – Chris Halleua

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More PPC Chats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPC Chat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
• Chris Allbones (@cmallbones)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
• Hanna Johnson (@MarketingHannah)
• Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
• JD Prater (@jdprater)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Kim Thomas (@PPCkimpossible)
• Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
• Lauren Frankel (@frankly_lauren)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Matt Lukens (@tunadonut)
• Matthew Poldberg (@NotSpamIpromise)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Scott Wright (@TheScright)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Steve Plimmer (@SPlimmer_ESV)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Ecommerce PPCChat Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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