Thinking small in PPC for the greatest return
Written by Alex Shepherd, Commercial Director at eCommerce agency, Space 48.
As Google continues to grow and dominate our lives, it is no surprise that most brands, merchants and even small businesses are increasingly reliant on them as a channel for driving their business, however many are missing some simple tricks.
While there are many highly established PPC experts out there, busy people / agencies ignoring the finer details can cost a company a significant amount of money. This is particularly important for eCommerce retailers who may have the challenge of low margins to contend with. Here are some of the areas of PPC which you may be currently overlooking but could make a real difference to your bottom line.
Cost effective conversions
While I am sure that most of us are aware that ‘Head’ terms such as ‘LED TV’ will offer the greatest volume, we are also aware that they are very expensive. Terms such as this will likely be at the start of the research cycle so it may be some time before people are ready to make the purchase.
For advertisers only targeting head terms, The combined effect of high CPC (or cost per click) and low conversion rate could turn advertisers away from PPC as a channel. We need to think about the terms that will convert at a more cost effective rate. These longer tail terms can turn a completely unprofitable PPC campaign into a highly efficient channel, as we have seen for many of our customers. So, instead of bidding on ‘LED TV’, you might find that, while volume is lower for the search term ‘LG 42IBJ561V’, the cost per click is considerably less and because the customer has decided which TV they are after and is thus further down the purchase cycle, the conversion rate will be far higher therefore relating on a considerably lower CPA (or cost per acquisition).
The above example is a simplified one but the approach is very well established and can make a huge difference to the returns on your PPC campaign. Examining and identifying the most effective longer tail terms in order to leverage the volumes you can get from head terms, is a very time consuming process but it is invaluable and will pay dividends.
The right message
When looking at the longer tail (or indeed any area of your campaign), think carefully about the ad copy. This needs to be relevant, appealing, targeted and specific to the users search query. Trial mentioning price, discounts, offers, product details, free postage, etc. Anything that might make people not only likely to click but more importantly, purchase. Look at the offers the competition have and make sure your ad is as/more appealing.
Above all – test! While we can guess what may drive the most clicks and sales, ultimately there is no substitute for cold hard data so ensure that you have a mix of ads in rotation, optimise to the best, remove the worst and then start again. Trial ‘Free Postage’ versus ‘Free P&P’. It may look the same to you but one may offer a noticeably better CTR (click through rate) or conversion. This process should be a constant evolution.
Send them to the right landing page
It is also very important that we think carefully about landing pages. While you might want to drive the customer directly to a product page on which they can purchase the product, think about the search terms. This might be right for many searches but if you are faced with a more generic search such as ‘green hunter boot’ – rather than sending them to the ‘Classic’ green hunter boot product page, you might want to send them to a Hunter boot category page, because they might actually be looking for the Balmoral hunter boot in green or even for a children’s green Hunter wellie.
This can make an immense difference to bounce rate, however just as with the ad copy, it is important that this is tested and you do not apply generalisations. Be as granular as you can. This will require a very specific account structure which will take time and effort to establish but it will pay dividends.
The even finer details…
Geographic bid adjustments are also often overlooked. The key is in the data, but looking at every last detail may expose areas of opportunity. Are there certain regions that deliver noticeably higher basket sizes or more repeat custom? If so, this might warrant higher bids. Are there regions that simply do not convert? Are there areas where you have a store presence? You should bear all of this in mind, not only with the bid strategy but also with the ad copy.
Google shopping is another area that relatively few retailers/etailers are currently exploiting but, when set up and managed properly, this can deliver the best returns of a PPC campaign. Many of our clients see circa 75% of their adwords volume coming from these (and they are delivering circa 95% of account efficiency).
When advanced campaigns appeared in 2013, this forced adwords users to consider mobile. According to Google, the 4th of December 2015 will mark the day that mobile search queries will equal desktop, so with this in mind, it is critically important that we consider both the bid strategy for mobile devices and the user experience on their eCommerce site. Conversion data should inform the strategy although with cross device reporting becoming available, we need to consider the part that these mobile searches are playing in each conversion.
PPC for eCommerce
The truth of the matter is that this article has barely scratched the surface. While some say that there is no real difference between PPC for eCommerce and that for lead generation, I would argue that PPC for eCommerce is less forgiving. As margins are often tighter, the strategy needs to be considerably more evolved and every last detail needs to be examined to ensure that the account is driving the most efficient volumes. This really should be considered when selecting the right Google partner to work with.
Alex Shepherd is commercial director of Magento Gold Solutions Partner Space 48 and works with brands such as Better Bathrooms and Charlotte Tilbury.