Guide to eCommerce PPC Management
Table of Contents
You can miss out on a lot of business if you don’t run shopping ads. This leads to a lack of visibility on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), and the loss of potential customers.
Our goal is to help you learn about eCommerce pay-per-click (PPC) management to prevent that from happening. By the end of this article, you’ll know the fundamentals of advertising on Google, Bing, and Amazon so you can get more customers.
When someone searches Google for a product they want to buy, they’re shown ads with possible options. Google will show them as one of the top choices of the SERP in a carousel format.
Companies that specialize in researching SEO have found that these ads account for about 75% of clicks during product searches. In fact, ads create close to 52% of clicks for eCommerce PPC services. Using Google Shopping is an excellent digital marketing tool for eCommerce businesses to utilize.
Setting Up Google Shopping
To create ads, you’ll first need to connect your account for Google Ads to the Merchant Center. This is an easy process that won’t take you too long. Once you finish, you then set up the data feed for your product, which details and organizes all the products in your catalog. The reason for this is so Google can make an index of the data it needs.
If your product catalog is small, you can easily set up your data feed. But if you have hundreds or thousands of products, using an automated feed solution will make things significantly easier for you.
Some of the information you’ll need to provide for each of the products in your catalog includes:
- Product IDs
- Product descriptions
- Product links
- Product images
- Product availability
- Product costs
- Product categories
- Brand name
- Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
- Manufacturer Part Number (MPN)
- Product conditions
- Item group IDs
- Shipping information
Google needs this information because it indexes the product data and creates a profile for your store. You don’t create your own ads; instead, as people search for products, Google will create relevant shopping ads based on the information you provide. You also don’t need to bid on keywords — for SEO, you’ll need to use targeted keywords in the product descriptions and titles. Providing this information gives Google what it needs to fill search results efficiently.
Google Shopping Campaigns
Once you’ve finished setting up, you can then start creating shopping campaigns. All the products you’ve entered into the system will be grouped into one list. You can then choose to regroup them into as many groups as you want.
Be careful about the groups you create because shopping bids are based on product groups. All the products in a group are given the same cost-per-click (CPC) bid, determined by their price, profit margin, and conversion rate. So you don’t want the group to have a large variance in these categories. In general, you want to bid on more profitable, well-converting, and expensive products.
To make sure a group has no variation is to place each product into its own group. This is a good strategy if you have a small catalog. But, if you have hundreds or thousands of products, this isn’t an option. In that case, it’s best to create groups containing as few variations as possible.
For example, let’s consider a reseller that is advertising athletic wear. They start by breaking their products into two different groups: men’s and women’s apparel. Then, these groups are broken down even further into clothing types: tops, bottoms, and sneakers. The reseller can keep breaking down each group further until all the groups are for a specific type of product, like women’s Puma short sleeve shirts. Each of these groups is what you would assign maximum CPC bids. If you’re selling many products and can’t give them each their own group, this is the best technique to make sure you’re not bidding the same amount on completely different products.
Once you’ve finished creating your groups and give them a bid, Google will then know what you’ll pay for someone clicking on your product advertisements. The amount you’re willing to pay partially determines how often your ad will appear in the search results for a product search. If the amount you can pay is higher, you can expect to rank higher.
The other thing that determines your ranking is your Quality Score. When an ad is created for one of your products, Google will assign it a Quality Score. Google considers a number of things when determining this score, such as:
- Product information: Google can match your products to search results better with the more information you provide. This makes your products more relevant to what potential customers want.
- Title and description: When these are well-targeted, the product is more enticing to people searching for something, which gives you a good click-through rate (CTR).
- Professional image: A sleek image improves your CTR and gives potential customers a seamless experience on your landing page. If users find your landing page easy to use, Google will give your ad a higher priority.
Optimizing Google Shopping Bids
When considering the bids for your products, you should base your decision on the products’ price, profit margin, and conversion rate. If you’re new to eCommerce, don’t worry if you don’t know your products’ conversion rate yet — just check out these bidding optimization tips to help you no matter your experience level.
The best tip we can give is to bid below your budget. This allows you to collect data over time to see how well your products sell. Then, after a few months with low bids, you can increase the offer on the products that perform the best and lower it for those that don’t perform as well. Regularly checking to see which groups are performing well and changing your bids based on their performance is a good practice for optimizing your bids.
Geographic Bid Modifiers
It’s normal for some products to sell better in different areas. After selling for a while, you’ll have the data you’ll need to see the regions where your products sell best. You can use bid modifiers to increase your CPCs when people in those areas search for products like yours. This improves your chances of getting the top sponsored spot.
Search Impression Share
This is the number of total impressions your ad has divided by the potential number of impressions it could have received.
If this number is low for one of your products, that means it doesn’t rank well. A low Quality Score can cause this, so make sure you provide as much information as you can. If you have a good CTR and your landing page is optimized, you may need to raise your bid.
As you might expect, Bing Shopping works similar to Google Shopping. As an eCommerce PPC company, Bing displays ads on the right of its SERP.
When it comes to search and shopping, Bing has a few advantages over Google, including:
- The auctions have less competition
- CPCs are lower on average
- You’ll have more control over ad groups and campaigns
- Searching has demographics-based targeting
- There are more options for device-based targeting
Setting Up Bing Shopping
To get started, you’ll need to set up in the Bing Merchant Center. Open your Bing Ads account and create a Store section through the merchant center. Then, you’ll create and optimize your product data feed. If you’ve used Google Shopping before, you can easily import that data directly into Bing. You can also set up recurring imports from Google so that when you update your product catalog there, it’ll automatically carry over.
Bing also indexes your product information so it can create ads when people search.
Bing Shopping has a cool feature called priority levels. This allows you to decide which campaigns are most and least important to the success of your business. Bing considers these levels when organizing search results. Use this feature to assign a high priority to products that perform well, a medium priority for products that sell okay, and a low priority for products that don’t perform as well.
Bing Shopping Campaigns
After you set up your product data feed, you can create a new campaign specifically for Bing or just import the ones you have from Google. By default, Bing will also create a group with your whole catalog. You should segment this list further based on product type, category, product ID, condition, or brand.
You’ll want to optimize your campaign structure by making groups that make sense for bidding. Ensure that the products in a group are similar to one another. If you choose to import your campaigns from Google, you should schedule imports for daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on what makes the most sense for you..
The last step in setting up your Bing shopping campaign is to make sure there aren’t any import errors. Check to make sure the data you imported is correct by checking the following:
- Bids and budgets: Bing has different minimum requirements for bids and budgets than Google. Any campaigns that don’t meet the criteria will automatically be adjusted to fit. You can change this setting, but a campaign that doesn’t meet requirements won’t be imported.
- Targeting settings: On Bing, the targeting options are vastly different. You’ll have to set platform-specific targeting settings.
- Keywords: Bing only allows phrase match and exact match instead of match negatives. If the data you import has negative keywords, Bing will change them to phrase matches.
Like Google and Bing, Amazon is also a search engine, even though many people don’t think of it that way. It takes what users enter into the search bar and produces results from product ads that match. These ads are displayed at the top of the SERP and on related product pages.
Amazon is an excellent option for an eCommerce PPC agency because of its large customer base and the vast data on consumer behavior. It’s a valuable tool to sell products even though it requires you to spend more money.
Recently, Amazon has become many peoples’ go-to place to search for products. Even though Google is a significant player in the product search market, it still isn’t as big as Amazon, which doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
Setting Up Amazon Advertising
Setting up Amazon is similar to Bing and Google. This site allows sellers to bid on specific keywords that show interest or need for their products to boost their visibility across the website. It’s simple PPC; whenever someone clicks one of your ads, you’ll pay your bid price to Amazon. These ads can be either self-serve or premium.
The self-serve ad is the one that shows up on the SERP and in product listings. They’re typical eCommerce ads with the product title, price, image, etc.
The premium ads are banners, displayed on the sidebars across Amazon. Premium ads are more about creating brand awareness than selling products. For this reason, we’ll be discussing the three formats of self-serve ads.
Sponsored Product Ads
This ad shows up on the SERP, and when it’s clicked on, the user is taken to the product detail page. Sponsored ads are displayed based on targeted keywords to set to a phrase match, broad match, or an exact match. There’s also an option to set a daily budget and campaign duration.
Headline Search Ads
Headline ads appear as a banner on the SERP above the organic and sponsored product listings. When clicked, these ads lead users to a branded landing page instead of the product detail page. These ads are also keyword-targeted, but they only use a phrase or exact match. It’s best to use this ad for three or more products instead of an individual one.
Product Display Ads
Product display ads aren’t keyword-targeted; instead, they’re shown when someone searches for a related product. You’d see this type of ad on product details pages, customer review pages, and the SERP.
Amazon Advertising Campaigns
Just like Bing and Google campaigns, Amazon campaigns are best when you break up your product list into categories and ad groups. Once you’ve created your groups, come up with at least twenty keywords for each one and start making your ad copy.
The way you structure your campaign can heavily affect its relevance. With a precise structure, you can better group your ads and keywords. This will make your ads more relevant when shown to Amazon shoppers, giving you more meaningful clicks. These clicks often convert to customers.
Optimizing Amazon Advertising Bids
Figuring out your cost per action (CPA) is essential to optimizing your Amazon bids; this is how much you pay to earn a conversion. It would be best if you had a clear goal for your CPA. To calculate this number, you need to divide your costs by your conversions.:
You can determine your costs and conversions by these formulas:
Clicks x CPC = Costs
Clicks x Conversion Rate = Conversions
If you’re just starting out, you can estimate the conversion rate for your ad groups by researching the average conversion rate for other advertisers in your industry. Or, if you have used Google or Bing and your groups are similar to the ones on those sites, you can use the conversion rate from them to estimate what you can expect from Amazon.
Remember that this is an easy way to set initial bids and that you should keep track of how your ads perform in the first few months. That should give you a better idea of how you should be bidding based on how well each product is selling.
If there are big brand names in your industry, you should bid on their names. You won’t bid higher than them on their name, so your ads attached to these keywords need to be optimized. You’ll need to do some split testing to see what earns the best ad spot, then copy that to your other ads.
For broad match keywords, it’s good to be skeptical. If you sell bikes and bid on the keyword “bike,” your ad can be shown with irrelevant searches, like ”bike tire pump,” which will lower your CTR. Negative keywords are essential so that your ads will only show in relevant search results.
As the eCommerce market continues to grow, there are more and more opportunities for you to be successful in selling your products online. More people are using Google, Bing, and Amazon to look for and buy products. Having a multi-channel eCommerce PPC strategy isn’t easy, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Article by Kristaps Brencans
I started as a project manager at On The Map Marketing in 2015 and now run the day-to-day operations as the company’s chief executive officer. In the last few years, I have overseen thousands of successful SEO campaigns in numerous industries, including lawyers, contractors, E-commerce, and other markets. I am also a proud dad of three divas and take a keen interest in running and calisthenics.