How does PPC advertising work for eCommerce? What are its benefits?
💡 Quick Answer: PPC advertising for ecommerce is targeted, cost-efficient, and very flexible, with tremendous scope for success. You need the right keywords, bidding strategies, and ad design to make the most of PPC ads for your brand.
Advertising has been around since Before the Common Era, thousands of years ago. Some remnants were discovered in Pompeii and Arabia, where Egyptians seem to have used papyrus to advertise their products and services.
In the digital age, large international corporations and ecommerce businesses leverage various strategies to reach their target audience through paid ads on social media, email, and the many corners of the internet.
In this guide, we break down the ins and outs of Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and how best to use it to your advantage.
What Is Pay-Per-Click advertising?
First, let’s define PPC advertising—it means exactly what it sounds like. It is an advertising model where a company or advertiser only pays a fee whenever a person clicks one of their ads.
In traditional advertising, you pay a large sum of money to have ads published in newspapers and magazines or released on broadcast media. You hope that people within your target audience will read, hear, or see your ad. But whether they do or not, you have already shelled out a huge amount for the advertisement to be published before its release.
With PPC, you only pay when a prospect interacts with your ad.
Because the internet provides tremendous scope for versatility in terms of content, so does PPC advertising. It can be in the following formats:
- Any combination of the three
They can also appear as consumers browse on regular websites, search engine results, social media, and other platforms.
Reasons why companies are turning to PPC advertising
Global spending for internet advertising is expected to be around $190 billion in 2024, and PPC advertising takes a large chunk of that.
Here are some practical reasons why:
With traditional advertising, you just hope that your target audience is watching TV as your advertisement comes on. But with PPC, you set the parameters of which types of consumers will see your ad, so there is a higher chance of engagement and a potential sale.
It’s difficult to track the performance of traditional ads unless you survey all of your customers and ask if they purchased a product because they saw your ad on a billboard or on TV.
With Google Ads and Google Analytics, you can easily track your ad’s performance based on previously identified key performance indicators and adjust your strategy accordingly.
As earlier mentioned, PPC can be in text, image, video, or a combination of the three formats. This flexibility means there is a lot of scope for creativity and an opportunity to grab a broad audience across different platforms.
Traditional advertisements are expensive. A TV commercial takes a lot of time and money to produce, and purchasing a commercial spot is expensive, even if you don’t have a prime time slot. Radio commercials and print ads can be out of your budget, too. But with PPC, you only shell out cash when someone clicks on your ad. The cost efficiency is incomparable to other forms of marketing.
With all of these advantages, along with billions of people spending hours online, it’s no surprise that companies are turning to PPC for their advertisement needs.
The cost of PPC advertising
There is no generic cost for PPC advertising as it depends on many factors, such as the nature of your business. Some industries are more expensive than others—this list shows the average cost per click:
- Arts and Entertainment - $1.55
- Attorneys and Legal Services - $9.21
- Beauty and Personal Care - $2.89
- Finance and Insurance - $4.01
- Health and Fitness - $4.18
- Home and Home Improvement - $6.55
- Real Estate - $1.55
- Travel - $1.63
Types of Google PPC ads for ecommerce
There are many different types of Google PPC ads for ecommerce. Let’s discuss four of the most popular:
Perhaps the most popular type of PPC ads, search ads can be found on top of the search engine results page (SERP). The ads only appear in searches for a particular keyword or phrase. And, as previously mentioned, you don’t need to pay for the ad “spot” unless somebody clicks on it. The creation or production of the ad is an entirely different payment process.
Google Ads is the most popular PPC platform. Businesses bid on keywords to show their ads on the page when someone looks up specific phrases on Google. So, if you sell health and fitness products and target a phrase like “health products to lose weight,” your ad will appear.
Keyword length and specificity are crucial here because you want to capture people who are most likely to buy your products or sign up for your services.
Here are some tips to help you choose the best keyword or phrase to use on search ads:
Use relevant terms
Your chosen keywords must be relevant to your brand, product, or service. The point of paying for search ads is targeting—the people who look up these phrases are most likely your target clients.
Use long-tail keyword
The term refers to the use of specific key phrases in search ads. Instead of using generic terms like “health” or “fitness” as the search keyword, you could use “health and fitness” or something more specific.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, targeting “near me” can bring more foot traffic—many consumers look up products and services locally.
Refine keywords regularly and adapt to trends in your niche. Don’t keep using your original keyword phrases you used because they were successful for some time. Closely track what your potential customers might be searching for and adjust your keyword strategy to be more effective and expansive.
Search ads are typically text-based as they are integrated with organic results on search engines. Display ads are more visual in nature, so you need top-notch graphics to be effective. They are often referred to as banners because they appear on the page just so.
Display ads appear on websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. They must be visually appealing: the goal is to capture the attention of anyone who may be browsing. Moving images, videos, and interactive elements are significantly more compelling and will engage the viewer.
Instead of cost-per-click, display ads are paid through a cost-per-impression (CPI) or cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) model. It means that brands or advertisers pay after the ad has been displayed a certain number of times.
Here are some critical design considerations for your display ad:
Use a combination of text, images, and color schemes that will attract people’s attention without compromising the delivery of important information.
Banners come in different forms and types, so you can be versatile with your designs. Don’t just use one display format or static elements, or else viewers will easily ignore your ad. Experiment with various color palettes, engaging elements, and phrases that will grab people’s attention.
Make sure your custom image is relevant to the product or service you are advertising. Your ads across various platforms must be cohesive and representative of your overall brand identity.
Shopping ads are similar to search ads, except they display specific products. This way, consumers get a showcase of related items they may be interested in based on the keywords they looked up.
In this case, companies upload a spreadsheet or showcase with product images and information related to the keyword. This ad model uses the CPC bidding system, where you are charged only when the ad is clicked.
How are shopping ads different from search ads?
Search ads are heavy on text as they appear like regular links with other search engine results. Shopping ads are visual, with images of the products on display along with their descriptions. They appear on the search engine’s Shopping tab.
Brands bid on specific keywords for their search ads. There is no such system for shopping ads.
Shopping ads are only for product promotion. You can’t promote services or the brand as a whole.
Video ads are often seen on YouTube but also appear on other platforms. On YouTube, viewers are served multiple ads while watching content—before their chosen video begins and at multiple points in the middle. TikTok serves ads to audiences after they scroll down a certain number of videos—there is significant scope for success on that platform, too.
Videos can also be part of display or banner ads or as standalone traditional ads shown on other platforms. They are tried-and-tested ad formats because they are very appealing to broad audiences across all demographics. Especially so in the so-called TikTok age, where more and more people prefer to engage with video content.
Here are some tips for creating video ads that will set you up for success:
- Know the platform’s user base and create content according to their preferences.
- Make sure your content is mobile responsive as millions of people prefer to browse on their smartphones and mobile devices.
- Repurpose content to capture audiences across different video platforms. For example, thorough, long-form videos are great for YouTube, and you can cut down the most engaging bite-sized snippets for TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.
Keyword research and selection for ecommerce PPC
Keywords are crucial in ecommerce PPC. It is a complex process of selecting phrases that would generate the most clicks, improve overall visibility, and rank high on SERPs.
And the work doesn’t end when you identify a few effective phrases—it is an ongoing process that must be refined as consumer behavior and online habits change. It takes a lot of work to maintain maximum visibility and continuously attract the attention of your target audience.
How do you identify the best keywords to bid for?
1. Know your audience
Every brand should already have key data on its target market. It’s about taking it to the next level by determining what specific keywords audiences use to look up related products or services.
For example, if your business is in the fashion niche, what could potential consumers be typing in the search box to find the best products?
- Affordable fashion items
- Fashionable products for women
- Fashion apparel near me
The options for target keyword phrases can seem endless, so you need to develop the skills to choose the most effective ones. It may take a bit of trial and error, but you will get the hang of it.
You can also leverage online tools to streamline keyword research.
2. Use keyword research tools
Use keyword research tools to find the most relevant phrases for your brand, product, or service. They use autocomplete systems from various search engines—all you need to do is enter information about your target audience and items to list potential keywords.
Some popular examples of keyword research tools include:
- Google Trends
- SE Ranking
3. Choose multiple keywords
Ideally, you should have at least three main keywords for every product category. If you sell clothing, you should have multiple phrases to cover tops, bottoms, shoes, etc.
You can easily look up high-performing keywords by performing a search yourself. Type a relevant keyword in the search box, and you’ll find various ideas for long-tail keywords. The titles of articles will show you what prospects are looking for.
The “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections can also help you formulate effective keyword strategies.
Short-tail vs long-tail keywords: which is better?
More people use short-tail keywords when they look things up online. However, those who use long-tail keywords are more purposeful and are much more likely to click on the ads they see. They are also likely to be ready to purchase.
This is why long-tail keywords are essential to your overall strategy: those who use them are high-converting prospects.
In addition, long-tail keywords are easier to rank.
Budgeting and bidding strategies for ecommerce PPC
One of the best advantages of PPC advertising is its cost-effectiveness. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be prudent with your budget. You still need robust ad strategies because you need to bid the appropriate amount to maximize the advertisement model.
We’ve established that there is no standard amount spent on PPC ads. The best thing you can do is to start with manual bidding to truly understand the process. Change the bid amount whenever you need to, and monitor it closely. In time, you will understand the best amount to bid for a particular campaign.
It’s not wise to focus on just one keyword. You must try out and monitor the performance of different keywords, and you will soon notice that some convert better than others. Simply adjust the bids for high-converting phrases for a more successful campaign.
Once you have figured out the system, you can automate your bidding for a more streamlined process. Bidding tools will also help you adjust your bids in real-time based on estimated results.
Here are some effective bidding strategies for PPC advertising for ecommerce:
The goal is to increase clicks on ads, which usually leads to site visits. A good strategy for maximizing clicks is automatically setting up your bid so you can have the most clicks based on your budget. You will never exceed your set amount, which is great for startups and small businesses with limited ad funds.
Cost per acquisition
Simply referred to as CPA, the goal of this strategy is to increase conversions within your bid budget. Google Ads allows the search or display bids to help you get as many conversions with every target CPA.
Enhanced cost per click
With enhanced CPC or ECPC, Google will adjust your manual bids automatically so you can maximize conversions.
Return on ad spend
ROAS is calculated by dividing the ad campaign’s revenue by the cost, multiplied by 100%. Begin your campaign with a target ROAS and try to reach it with your ad strategies.
Ad design and optimization
Advertisements are all about catching people’s attention and hoping they will read or listen to what you have to say about your brand or product. You need to optimize your PPC ads for the most people to notice and click on them.
First, you need to craft compelling copy that is grammatically correct, brief, and actionable.
Second, it should have top-notch visuals. It goes without saying that the images used must be relevant to the product being advertised. When creating graphics for ads, you must know what your target audience wants and responds to. Leverage these elements to attract them and urge them to click.
Third, you must test your ads. The best way to do this is with A/B testing, where you present different copies of the ad to your test group: ad A, B, or more. Google Ads supports A/B testing of PPC ads where you set up two ads that will be served to random users. At the end of the testing period, you will see which ad garnered the most clicks—one that will perform better for your audience.
Tracking and analytics
Remember, many businesses and marketers prefer PPC ads because conversions are a breeze to track. Everything you need is on your Google Analytics account.
The admin screen on Google Analytics allows you to create goals that you can monitor. These goals will be tracked so you will know if the campaign has succeeded.
But don’t let the tool do all the work for you. The marketing team needs to sit down and analyze the results. While Google Analytics helps you track conversion ratings or clicks, your report will ultimately provide in-depth details of the success or even failure of your ad strategies.
If the ad is not tracking positively, you need to pivot. Continuous improvement and optimization are always the key to success.
Make data-driven changes to your campaigns for the following results:
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Better use of resources
- Speedy issue resolution
- Enhanced personalization
- Enhanced customer insights
Challenges and common mistakes
What are the most common challenges and mistakes brands make with PPC advertising?
Use of “wrong” keywords
Technically, there are no wrong keywords in PPC advertising—after all, billions of people look things up on search engines, and thousands of variations of phrases are being typed each day. However, not all keywords are successful in terms of conversion and cost efficiency. Some are better than others.
Avoid high-cost keywords with low conversion rates. If the phrase is not doing well in terms of conversions, then you have to find other related keywords. The change could be as simple as making a short-tail keyword into a long-tail one.
Avoid bounce rates
Bounce rate refers to the speed at which a person leaves your page after visiting it. If they leave shortly after the page loads, it means there was nothing of interest to them, or they are repelled by some element.
You want the bounce rate to be as low as possible. If you have a good amount of clicks but the bounce rates are high, it simply means your site needs improvement.
Deal with shopping cart abandonment
If your website maintains healthy traffic levels, this is a good sign. However, you want people to purchase your products. And if your prospects put items in their cart and end up abandoning them, you have work to do.
Shoppers abandon their carts because of the following:
- Products are not up to par
- Customers changed their mind
- Negative brand perception
- Website user experience is not great
- The shipping fee is too high
Identify the crux of the problem and make changes to eliminate or reduce shopping cart abandonment.
The fact that visitors are actively shopping on your site means the PPC ad campaign was successful. The issue is at the end of your funnel.
Ecommerce businesses should take advantage of the many benefits of PPC advertising. It is cost-effective and easy to manage. The best part is that through constant tracking and monitoring, you can improve your strategies to maximize clicks and conversions.
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