Google Ads for eCommerce: An Introduction

Google Ads for Ecommerce
Google Ads for Ecommerce

Google Ads is complicated.

Once you get set up, it’s easy to just do what Google recommends and call it a day.

But, that approach eats up your marketing budget FAST. Instead, the real key to finding e-commerce success in the SERPs lies in the power of planning.

Creating a profitable campaign built for conversions can seem overwhelming if you’re just getting started. To help you out, we’ll go over some basic info that all e-commerce brands need to know before diving head first into Google Ads.

Free Download: A Quick Guide to Intent Keywords

Personas and Matching Intent

eCommerce advertising exists to drive sales. To be successful, you’ll need to figure out the best way to connect with your audience.

And that means you need to get inside their heads — what are your customers’ wants and needs? How do they talk? What do they care about?

You’ll need to know a lot about your audience if you want to create a successful campaign, but it’s hard to learn more about your audience if you aren’t entirely sure where to find them. Here are a couple of ways you can expand your reach to a relevant audience.

Use Google Analytics Audience Reports

If you’re familiar with Google Analytics at all, you might think “hey, this isn’t anything new. Google has always had an audience report.”

However, Google’s Audience Report is different than the audience overview. The new reporting tool allows you to easily review how your visitors perform on your website and let you know how successful your remarketing efforts are.

Before you can use this feature, make sure you enable the Demographics and Interests reports. This will allow you to collect data that helps you better understand the “why” behind your conversions and click-throughs.

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

From there, you can create audiences inside Google Analytics, then share those audiences with your Google Ads account. Google provides a handful of recommended audiences as well, which can be combined together or with custom audiences.

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

Export Facebook’s Insights

Regardless of how you feel about Facebook’s data collection policies, there’s no question that the platform’s insights are a real boon to advertisers.

Even better, you can use this information outside of the social network—including inside your Google Ads campaigns. As such, Facebook is a good option for advertisers who don’t have much data at their disposal.

A few benefits:

  • Develop audiences by combining demographic info, interests, and behaviors
  • Target people based on life events
  • Exclude people who don’t match your buyer personas
  • Create lookalike audiences based on existing customers  

To create an audience, navigate to the Audience Manager section on your Facebook Business Manager dashboard.

Facebook will ask you how you want to create your audience and you can choose from the following options:

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

You might choose to build an audience based on people who have engaged with your Facebook content or people who converted on your webpage. While Google Analytics will already have conversion information, you can create a lookalike audience in Facebook based on that data.

Once you’ve gathered the data you need, you can export your audience lists and add them to your Google Ads account.

Intent

Once you’ve got a sense of who your audience is and what they’re all about, consider the intent. On Google, you’re probably trying to catch people who are looking to buy a specific item. If you’re running Search Network campaigns, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about what kind of keywords you might type in if you were looking to buy a specific product.

The words you use in your ads need to match the offer people will find on the landing page. As you conduct your keyword research, make sure that you address each stage in the buyer’s journey. Click To Tweet

Ads must match the offer, intent, and tone found on the landing page–you’re trying to create a seamless experience, here.

In Shopping and Display campaigns, keywords won’t trigger your ads, but intent still comes into play.

With Display ads, you’re likely trying to reach past visitors or connect with a new audience. In this case, you’ll want to focus on creating a landing page that provides more information–and again, matches the offer promoted in the ad.

This is important both for driving conversions and making the most out of your ad spend. Google Ads will reward you for creating relevant content—resulting in a lower cost per click rate and more impressions for the same amount of money.  

Goals

Why is it that you are running this campaign at all? Are you trying to drive sales, increase brand awareness, get people to finally start reading your blog?

Defining your campaign goal should be the first thing you do, as this is what will inform the entire strategy of every ad you run. As of November 2018, Google has made it easier to set up a campaign based on your desired outcome.

When you set up a campaign, you’ll begin the process by selecting from one of the following goals:

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

If you select Sales as your goal, Google will give you a few recommendations that will best help you achieve that goal. In this case, it’s Search, Display, or Shopping.

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

At this stage, you need to be aware of how the campaign type you select aligns with your goal. We’ll go over these sales-driven campaigns in the next section.

Choose a Campaign Type

You don’t only need to who you’re advertising to and why, but also how.

As mentioned above, you can select a campaign inside Google Ads based on your desired outcome. But, it’s worth pointing out that the three options they offered up–Search, Display, and Shopping–are very different approaches.

Sure, all are designed around driving sales, but they speak to different stages, methods of measurement, and buyer intent.

Google Shopping Campaigns

Google Shopping Campaigns bring Ads and the Google Merchant Center together, allowing e-commerce stores to sell items directly on Google. Shopping ads appear in the SERP results, just like the text-based Search Network ads. However, they also include images, pricing, and customer ratings—which all work together to give searchers a clear picture of the offering.

Let’s say you’re looking for a table to put next to your couch. If you type “living room side tables” into Google, you’ll probably get something that looks like this:

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

The main benefit is, Shopping ads come with way more context than text ads. You’ll get reviews, pictures, descriptions–all elements that drive conversions. What’s more, Shopping ads appear above text ads, nabbing the top spot.

To become a Shopping advertiser, you’ll need to sign up with the Google Merchant Center. It’s fairly straightforward, and the process essentially exists so that Google can confirm your store is legit.

Unlike other forms of Google advertising, Shopping ads don’t rely on keywords. Instead, you’ll need to upload the following information for every product in your catalog:

  • ID
  • Title
  • Description
  • Link
  • Image link
  • Availability
  • Price
  • Category
  • Brand
  • GTIN
  • MPN
  • Condition
  • Item group ID
  • Shipping

With Shopping, the set up is a bit more involved than it is with other campaigns, but advertisers don’t create their own ads. Instead, Google indexes the product information you provide, then uses it to create a profile of your store.

The idea is, when a user searches for specific products, Google scans through its records to deliver relevant ads that match the query.

Search Network Campaigns

Search network represents the text-based ads you’ll see any time you type in a search query. If you’re wondering why you would choose to use Search vs. Shopping, the answer is that you’ll have more control.

Search still relies on keywords to determine which ads to display, which gives you an opportunity to place your ads in front of searchers looking for what you’re selling, rather than hoping your Shopping ad reaches the right people.

That said, choosing the right keywords depends on some pretty in-depth research. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner, as well as tools like SEMRush, Moz, or Ahrefs if you have the budget for a more sophisticated tool.   

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

Finally, you can double down on SERP visibility by running Shopping and Search campaigns simultaneously. By running two separate campaigns, you’ll have two opportunities to get clicks.  

Display Network

Google’s Display Network pairs advertisers with thousands of partner sites selling ad space. Display ads are visual ads that you see when you’re watching YouTube videos or reading a blog post.

The key benefit of display ads is, you’re able to target a huge market—consisting of about 90% of all internet users across 2 million websites and apps.

Display is tricky in the sense that, while the method is used to generate sales, you’re trying to capture the attention of users who aren’t necessarily looking to buy something. While you have the ability to reach more people than ever, that also means that you may be promoting your brand to millions of irrelevant users.

So, when should you use display? Here are a few times where it makes sense:

  • Building brand awareness
  • You sell products unlikely to be purchased right away
  • Products are visually appealing
  • You want to remarket to past consumers/visitors

According to Google, in-market audiences can help you connect with users just before they make a buying decision, no matter where they are on the web.

Measuring Success

E-commerce companies especially need to get it right when it comes to Google Ads, as you’re looking at a shorter sales funnel and fewer touchpoints from awareness to conversion.

This means that you won’t have the same “luxury” as a B2B brand that can use paid ads to promote different types of content from eBooks to case studies and webinars. As such, we generally recommend tying campaign goals to ROI over impressions.

You’ll want to get a sense of how much money you’re generating from your ads. Look at the total number of conversions, cost per click, and return on ad spend (ROAS). As you can see below, ROAS looks at how much you’ve spent on ads compared to how much profit was generated from a particular campaign.

Google Ads for eCommerce
Source

Connect Every Possible Data Source

Before you start using Google Ads for e-commerce, you want to connect all relevant data sources. This means that Google Analytics, Google Merchant Center, Google Ads, and Google Search Console should all be connected.

On top of that, if you’re using Shopify, BigCommerce, or another store hosting platform, you should connect that account, too. And, you’ll also want to make sure that all associated tracking codes are pasted into the backend of your site.

When combined, all of these tools work together to paint a picture of the customer journey, from beginning to end. The benefit is, you’ll be able to correctly attribute traffic and conversions to specific ads.

Wrapping Up

Google Ads and e-commerce are a match made in heaven, provided you know how to optimize your campaigns for the best possible results. Between setting up Shopping campaigns and using the Display Network to developing a keyword strategy that gets all the right clicks, Google Ads come with a high learning curve.

At Key PPC, we’ve got Google Ads down to a science. We’ve been through the Google Ads  trial and error process and know what works for ecommerce–so working with us means you can skip past the growing pains and go straight to profitability.

Contact us today to start generating more conversions.

Free Download: A bit of background on Intent Keywords and when to use them.