Energize Your Paid Search Strategy

Need a boost to your paid search strategies? There are plenty of things that you can do as a retailer to improve your strategy with increased conversions and ROI, as well as ways to squeeze the most of your paid search advertising budget.


Boost Your Paid Search Strategy

Ensure a smooth landing – If your customers are in a buying frame of mind, don't put them off by making them click around your site searching for products they thought they had already found. Instead, take them directly to appropriate product category pages, or better yet, a relevant product.

Buy land – You can own more of the search engine results page (SERP) real estate by running text ads along with Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs). To optimize the performance of your PLAs, make sure to set a strategy for grouping your products so that they're similar across campaigns. Use a holistic ad-management tool to analyze and refine your product groupings, campaigns and bids.

Focus on ROI, not position – The top-ranking position may not necessarily be the most effective placement for your advertisement, but it will almost certainly be the most expensive. Focus on displaying your products in locations that will help maximize your ROI instead. By using a bid manager that optimizes for profitability and not position, you can ensure your clicks are making money.

Explore off-road – Google's AdWords might be the biggest pay-per-click (PPC) network – but it's not the only one. The conversion rates and cost per click on Yahoo and Bing Ads can be very attractive; and while their traffic may not be as impressive as Google's, about a third of all web searches aren't conducted on Google , so there's still a sizable market to explore.

Don't waste your promises – Only promote items you have in stock or that you can be sure to deliver in good time. Advertising out-of-stock items is a waste of the customer's time and your money, and it will ultimately damage your seller reputation.

Adapt to change – User query behavior is constantly evolving. Keyword management requires continually improving your list of converting terms. Keep an eye on converting traffic from other sources such as organic search and comparison shopping to make sure your keywords include words that performed well there. A tool that collects this data and identifies which queries are missing from your paid search accounts can make this activity efficient for any search marketer. 

Keep it relevant – Ensure your advertising message is relevant to the keywords that it triggers. Leaving holiday messaging, keywords or landing pages from the previous year looks unprofessional and diminishes consumer confidence. Additionally, if someone is searching for an "Apple iPad Air," they are more likely to click on an advertisement that advertises an "Apple iPad Air" than a general "We sell electronics" ad.

Turn a negative into a positive – Filter out window shoppers clicking on your links and costing you money with no promise of return by using negative keywords at the campaign level. Keywords like “free,” “review” and “photo” will often attract shoppers conducting research, instead of shoppers who are ready to buy. These are good examples of negative keywords to use in your campaigns.

Go for the upsell – Some items you sell might have accessories or complementary products that make good add-ons after a consumer has made a related purchase. For instance, a consumer electronics retailer might consider chargers, cases or other items to complement a larger holiday gift. Monitor your top 20 best-selling items from last year and choose a few accessories for each to capture the upsell.

Get "the look" – Ad extensions featuring third-party reviews and seller ratings differentiate your ads, establish buyer confidence and promote your brand. Increased click-through rates will improve your Google Quality Score and lower your cost per click (CPC). Don’t underestimate the impact of these distinctive ad extensions on overall performance. 

Take advantage of the long tail – Exploit the long tail by creating detailed keyword lists for all of your products, experiment with misspellings, product reference numbers or manufacturer part numbers and closely associated keywords. Limiting your keywords, in turn, limits your sales potential.

Protect and survive – Protect your brand by including language like “official site” in your brand campaign ad copy.


Squeeze the Most Out of Your Paid Search Spend

With the growing number of selling and advertising choices available to online retailers, it can be tempting to devote the majority of time and focus to emerging, shiny methods of garnering attention for products. The e-commerce industry charges ahead to the tune of innovation and change, but there are a handful of tactics that are recognized industry-wide as necessary pillars to any successful online retail business. Paid search is one of them, having proved itself as a tried and true digital marketing strategy for retailers. The question, then, that arises for retailers is, “How can we get the most out of our paid search budget?” To help you maximize returns from paid search, here are some low-hanging-fruit strategies that you can implement fast to drive relevant traffic and squeeze the most out of your budget.


Use Ad Copy More Effectively

One of the most effective ways to improve conversion rates is to qualify click-through traffic with carefully selected ad copy. Focusing only on discounts and promotions can drive clicks, but bounce rates may skyrocket as this language can tend to attract shoppers who are still in the price-comparison stage of the buying cycle. Instead, communicate a unique value proposition, a sense of urgency or a clear call to action to attract customers who are closer to making a purchase. Examples include:

  • Unique Value Proposition: Free Returns & Exchanges, Money Back Guarantee, The #1 Rated Luggage Retailer Online
  • Sense of Urgency: $50 Off Today Only, Sales Ends 12 AM Tonight
  • Call to Action: Buy Today and Get Free Shipping, Send the Perfect Gift in 10 Minutes


Use Bid Popping When Launching New Keywords

"Bid popping" refers to a trick of the trade used to test the effectiveness of new keywords. When bid popping, advertisers bid high on new keywords for a short length of time. This launches the ad into a position where the click-through rate will be high, enabling retailers to establish a high Quality Score. This will decrease cost per click (CPC) in the long run, and quickly provide insight into whether traffic in converting. Once enough data has been gathered to develop an idea of how the new keywords will perform, advertisers can scale bids back based on performance until the optimal bid to balance conversion volume and cost per acquisition is achieved.


Eliminate Bad Keyword Mappings

In recent years, search engines have become rather generous, serving up ads more often, in more places, for a broader set of queries. Retailers often find that product ads are triggered for irrelevant queries, which means they are essentially throwing dollars to engines for matching them to uninterested searchers. Therefore, a cornerstone of any revenue-driving pay-per-click (PPC) strategy is the implementation of negative keywords. Listing a negative keyword in an account will prevent ad campaigns from being triggered by that irrelevant search query.

For instance, a retailer of girls' clothing that specializes in adolescent styles could eliminate "baby girls clothing" or "toddler girl clothing" queries from triggering ads by listing them as negative keywords. Advertisers have tools at their disposal from each respective engine to assist with this; for instance, Google's Search Query Report can help you identify related by irrelevant terms. Be sure to use all the tools at your disposal to make sure you're only paying for qualified clicks. The Negative Keywords Suggestions Report (part of ChannelAdvisor Digital Marketing) uses historical account data to identify queries that are driving more cost than revenue and enables advertisers to quickly take action, adding negative keywords to accounts across search engines from a single interface.


Drive Traffic to Tailored Landing Pages, and Verify Them Regularly

Driving traffic to functional and relevant landing pages is often overlooked by advertisers. The goal should be to develop a closely coupled relationship between the messaging of the ad and the content of the landing page it leads to. Taking it one step further, promotion, product-line or product-specific landing pages can improve conversion rates by connecting shoppers immediately to more information about the message that drove them to click the ad in the first place.


Analyze and Optimize Performance at the Device Level

Mobile devices play an important role in product search and discovery. With Google Enhanced Campaigns, advertisers can easily compare mobile versus desktop and tablet performance, and adjust spend accordingly for each campaign. Be sure to keep an eye on mobile performance as bid adjustments and device targeting will rarely be one-size-fits-all across your entire account, and may vary based on seasonality, product category and a number of other factors.


Use Long Tail Keyword Expansion

It's often the case that customers come to a search engine knowing exactly the product they're looking for. While they might not know the UPC of the item, they'll search things like "purple long-sleeve blouse in plus size." In the AdWords interface, the Search Query Report can be used to determine what keywords are triggering your ads and sort them by conversion performance. Identify the long tail keywords that shoppers are using and increase your bids for those items.


Recognize "Death by a Thousand Cuts"

Our paid search experts frequently talk about the "death by a thousand cuts" phenomenon, which is a byproduct of the long tail keyword strategy. This occurs when you have thousands of keywords each costing you very little but, in aggregate, they amount to a significant portion of your overall ad spend. The way to identify "death by a thousand cuts" is by pulling a keyword report, bucketing everything by campaign (or product category) and then by clicks (or cost), and looking at overall performance. After identifying under-performing keyword segments, adjust bids accordingly.

Paid search advertising is crucial for engaging customers throughout the shopping journey and across devices. Generating paid search ROI is crucial to your long-term success. Use the tips above to make the most of your paid search spend!

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