While many locations are exiting lockdown restrictions and business has been allowed to resume, the realities of the pandemic mean that many people are still unable or unwilling to shop in person. But that doesn’t necessarily mean demand is lower.
Enter e-commerce: the reigning champion of helping businesses make money through the internet.
This week on PPC Town Hall, Optmyzr CEO Frederick Vallaeys spoke to a couple of the world’s sharpest minds on the subject:
As always, you can view this week’s episode as well as previous editions of PPC Town Hall right here.
Here are 5 tips from this week’s panelists on how e-commerce done right can make more money for your clients and your business.
1. Build a robust product feed
Every digital marketer knows that e-commerce success begins and ends with the product feed, so it’s paramount to get this in order before even trying to get creative with placements or extensions.
“We’ve seen big e-commerce stores come in and do really well with a feed where the titles are optimized for organic traffic. At the same time, we’ve seen time and time again that if you take the time to really build out the rest of the feed values so that your feed is as good as it can be, it can drastically improve Google Shopping results over time,” Andrew shared.
“The problem is this improvement doesn’t happen from one day to the next. With some of the stores we’ve worked with, where the product feed was very weak and where we optimized the feed (added keywords to the titles, etc.), it took months for it to actually show overall great results.
“My takeaway from this is that the feed really has a quality factor to it; we can’t see it, it’s not listed like Quality Score, but there is a component that determines how many searches you get shown for. It won’t necessarily boost your rank for a single keyword, but how far and wide Google can and will spread your product exposure.”
2. Give your products visibility
On the other hand, building a good feed means nothing unless you utilize it the right way.
“The vast majority of our clients are on Shopify, but we also work with businesses that are on WooCommerce and Magento as well. One of our clients on WooCommerce uses their app, and we used a supplemental feed to augment/change the product titles. It was easy to do because they only have 74 SKUs, so I was able to build out what I wanted in 5-6 hours. We push clients until they make the changes we want,” Duane shared.
“We’re not going to do subpar work, so if you’re not going to let us use Feedonomics, we don’t want you as a client. We don’t have time to waste building out feeds when we can think more strategically about how to use that feed to make our clients more money.”
3. Know when to use Smart and Standard campaigns
If you’re listing your products via Google Shopping campaigns, you have a choice to make: control the parameters yourself via a Standard campaign, or let Google use its machine-driven Smart campaign to optimize things for you.
“My recommendation depends on who you are. If you’re an in-house marketing coordinator and need to run your Google campaigns because you’ve had a bad experience with several agencies, Smart Shopping usually outperforms anything average PPC managers can do by themselves,” Andrew said.
“If you’re on the agency side or have a lot of experience, then you can usually utilize more of the complex structures to generate better results than Smart Shopping can. That said, I think it’s one of the best things to come out of Google in a long time.”
Duane had a word of advice for anyone leaning toward a Smart campaign.
“You can only use Smart Shopping if you have enough data in your Standard campaigns, so you can’t just launch a Smart Shopping campaign on day one even if you wanted to. I would recommend hitting a consistent 75-100 conversions per month before moving to Smart Shopping.”
4. Look beyond Google
While Google offers many effective ways to advertise, over-reliance on one platform can be limiting.
“I love Google, but sometimes people get so focused on Google and forget that there’s so much other opportunity in the world,” Duane said. “This article from Modern Retail talks about Levi’s doing a test with TikTok — an app that’s very big with influencers, celebrities and content creators. They have shopping ads now and around 200-250 million users in the US; so does Snapchat with its 229 million users.”
Duane knows other opportunities exist — and he’s already taking advantage of them.
“We’re making shopping work on Google; where else can we go? Does it make sense to go to Snap? It’s not just for people under 18; a good 15-20% of users are above the age of 25 and have disposable income. We’ve had clients sell products on there with an average order value of $100-150, so there’s money there. TikTok only launched shopping ads a few months ago, but it could work for brands that have a lot of video content.”
5. Track profit, not revenue
While it’s almost standard practice to track return on advertising spend (ROAS) as the defining financial metric, simply keeping score of revenue might not account for the actual goal of advertising: to make more money.
“Tracking profit over ROAS enables you to be more dynamic in the way you work with bidding,” Andrew observed.
“PPC marketers and businesses try to figure out what the optimal ROAS should be, and it all comes from analyzing margins on products; some work on a category basis and identify the ones that have higher margins than others. But this misses the point completely, because some brands have high margins and others have low ones. And if you’re running a sale, your margin is severely limited.
“During COVID, we worked with a client who had trouble getting inventory for a specific category — one we’d had problems with for a long time. We increased prices by 25% and all of a sudden, we started turning a profit. The profit margin earlier was so low that we couldn’t compete; with the new and improved conversions, we could own Shopping for that category.
“We’ve had other instances where we tracked profit over ROAS and the profit had doubled, or increased by 50-80%. When we looked at the analytics and measured ROAS, nothing had changed. It all comes from changing which products we’re actually pushing, because we can see which ones are selling well and turn a better profit instead of having empty revenue going through the stream.”
Nothing hurts an e-commerce program like a strategy in disarray. That’s why it’s critical to treat every step of the process with care.
If you’re an in-house marketer or a business owner, you might not have the time or resources to get it right every time. Tools like Optmyzr can make it easier to streamline and automate large parts of your PPC efforts, just as they help agencies achieve efficiency at scale.
You might also be completely new to e-commerce, in which case it’s not a bad idea to speak with an expert.