The Executive’s Guide to Paid Search Ads for Ecommerce Sites

This post is a continuation of our series for ecommerce executives. Whether you’re an ecommerce business owner, corporate-level executive, or ecommerce manager, it’s important to have an accurate, high-level understanding of what’s going on across the business. Many of these things will not be “your” area (such as marketing), but you still need to know what a healthy growth strategy looks like in each area so you can guide those who are executing in each area.

That being said, you don’t have time to get caught in the weeds of tactics, technology, and jargon, which can be especially prevalent in the marketing world. We’ve discussed areas such as growth marketing in other posts, but today we’ll take a more specific look at paid search advertising.

Why? Paid search is not the same as other marketing channels; in fact, it’s very unique. But those who are not experts tend to view it the same as their other marketing channels, which can lead to misuse and lost momentum.

In this post, we’ll explain how paid search advertising is different from other forms of paid advertising, 7 things to keep in mind when running paid search ads, and how to know if your paid search strategy is working.

How are paid search ads different from other paid advertising?

Paid search advertising consists of ads on search engines, such as Google, Bing or even YouTube (which is used as a search engine these days). The ads that appear are based on the user’s search query. For that reason, we put these ads in the “intent” category of ads as opposed to ads that interrupt a user or attempt to build a relationship.

Advertising to users with intent, meaning they are searching with the intention to solve a problem or answer a question, is much different than interrupting a user mid-Instagram scroll or mid-episode on Hulu. In some ways, advertising to someone on a search engine is the best time to advertise because he or she will be much more in the mindset to investigate and purchase.

7 Things to Remember When Using Paid Search in Your Marketing Strategy

Here are seven simple, effective reminders to keep in mind when incorporating paid search advertising in your larger marketing strategy.

1. Use paid search!

Simple but true. Paid search ads are an important, unique piece of the overall marketing strategy. If you’re not using these at all, you are absent from a critical step in a customer’s journey.

2. Value is more important than price.

Paid search ads can be more expensive per click than other forms of advertising, yes. But they also tend to be more valuable per click. This goes back to paid search ads being more than just an interruption in someone’s social media feed. If you’re lucky enough to get a click on Facebook or Instagram, the user is likely just checking you out and then will go back to what they’re doing. But if a user clicks on your ad in a list of search results, it’s with higher intent and the hope that you can be what they’re looking for in that moment.

3. Don’t trick people.

Some sneaky marketers or brands try to run paid search ads that trick users into clicking on their ad by claiming to sell something they don’t, offering a discount that’s no longer valid, etc. We just talked about the higher cost and higher intent with search ads so you should know now that tricking users will only hurt you and your budget!

4. Paid search does not have infinite volume.

In some ways, advertising on social media can feel infinite. You can spend as much as you’d like as long as your return on ad spend remains steady. Paid search advertising is not that way because it is capped by the amount of search volume for the terms you’re bidding on. If a term is doing well for you, that’s great. But asking your ad specialist to crank up the budget for that term will only get you so far.

5. Buy branded terms.

Branded terms can refer to your own brand name (for example, Revision Skincare), but it can also refer to unique product names you sell (such as Nectifirm). This differs from what we refer to as non-branded terms (for example, neck cream for women).

Why should you buy your own name on Google if you already show up in the organic listings? We dive into this in another article here, but here is an overview:

1. Branded terms are typically inexpensive. There are not as many people bidding on your brand name as there are bidding for non-product terms you want to rank for.
2. They are high-converting. The return on ad spend we see for branded terms is typically very high because those who are clicking are ones who are intentionally looking for your site.
3. There is limited search volume for your branded terms, so you want to be there to capture those who are looking.
4. You must be present to defend your brand! Sure, you may appear within the first few organic listings, but if you do not show up at the top with the other ads, you are giving your competitors a prime opportunity to steal your potential customers’ clicks.

6. Advertise on Google Shopping

If you run an ecommerce business, it’s important for your products to show up not only in the search results (paid search ads), but also in Google Shopping listings. This maximizes awareness, provides people more opportunities to shop with you, and keeps you present among the competition. Plus, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to get Google Shopping set up.

7. Advertise on YouTube

People do use YouTube as a search engine. In fact, it’s the second most popular search engine after Google. With that in mind, YouTube ads present an intent-based marketing opportunity. Even if you just run YouTube’s in-stream ads, which interrupt the user mid-video, these are a great awareness opportunity. Those viewers will likely Google your brand name later, where you can show up with a Google search ad.

How should you measure the success of paid search advertising?

With so many metrics to keep an eye on inside of Google Ads manager, it can be difficult to determine which are most important and which are indicative of the ads “working”. If you’re looking over your Google Ad expert’s shoulder for a read on how campaigns are doing, focus on these metrics to help measure success:

  • ROI: Return on investment. This is different than ROAS.
  • Conversion rate for paid search. (Google Analytics can help you determine conversion rate by channel.)
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Google Trends: As your awareness marketing increases thanks to paid search ads, you’ll likely see your Google Trends rankings increase.

Is Your Brand Ready to Tackle Paid Search Ads?

Paid search ads are different from the rest of your paid advertising, and they’re a critical piece of a healthy ecommerce marketing strategy. Don’t get caught up in the technicalities or hyper-focused on one campaign that’s performing best. All of the campaigns work together, as the entire paid search channel works with the rest of your marketing strategy.

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