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Ecommerce PPC – How To Manage Large Campaigns

Oliver Ewbank

by Oliver Ewbank on 9th July 2012

EcommerceRunning an ecommerce PPC campaign can be an extremely profitable way to sell a huge range of products. However, many online retailers fail to structure their account to make the most of this advertising platform. The following guide will help you manage large scale ecommerce campaigns, boost your Click through Rate and improve the profitability of your AdWords account.

Managing Your Products

Get Organised

First things first, you need to get organised. Your AdWords account needs to mirror the structure of your website. Don’t bunch all your products into one campaign with a couple of ad groups. Create a campaign for each product or even each product brand. For example, if you run an online sports shop make sure you have a separate campaign for socks and a separate campaign for hats. If you have a huge range of brands it will be worth drilling down further i.e. a campaign for ‘Nike Socks’.

If you have thousands of products and model types the last thing you want to do is manually type in each and every keyword and ad text. Thankfully there are a number of ways to get round this.

AdWords Editor

Google AdwordsAdWords Editor is a superb tool for managing large scale campaigns. You can download the tool free (Windows or Mac) and make multiple changes in a matter of seconds. This tool allows you to work offline with a number of features to make quick edits. For example, you can copy and paste campaigns making brand variations extremely quickly. I.e. you may have an ‘Adidas Shorts’ campaign and you want to create a similar ‘Nike Shorts’ campaign. Simply copy and paste the ‘Adidas Shorts’ campaign and do a ‘find and replace’ for the brand name you want to change.

Excel Imports

If you have thousands of products another quick way to load your data is through an excel import. You can simply export your product data into Excel and make sure they match up with the correct database fields. Once these match up with the AdWords Editor files for ad groups, ads and keywords you can load thousands of products at one time.

excel

Google Merchant Centre

If you haven’t signed up to the Google Merchant Centre then do it right away. The Merchant Centre is a place where you can upload your product data and make it available to Google Product Search. Better still you can link your Google AdWords account to your Merchant Centre account. This will enable you to display your products directly on Google search ads meaning the text will include up to date product information (more on this later).

AdWords Attributes

To make the most of linking to the Google Merchant Centre you can attach attributes to help campaigns perform better. For example the AdWords Grouping Attribute can be used for Product Filters to limit a campaign to a group of products or to vary bids for certain keywords.

Ad Text

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion makes it easier for you to create unique ads for a large number of keywords. To set this up you simply place a snippet of code in the ad text and it will automatically replace the code with the keyword that triggered the ad.

To use keyword insertion, you insert the following snippet of code in your ad text: {Keyword: Sunglasses}.

Dynamic Search Ads

While this feature is still only available as a limited beta, if you can get access it can save time and help control large campaigns. Instead of adding keywords to the account Dynamic Search Ads will automatically show your ad based on the content of your website. This is ideal for a website with thousands of products or listings that frequently change. The tool will help you show relevant ads while never wasting budget on products that are out of stock.

Product Listing Ads (.com)

One of the ad extensions you can include is to extend the ad with relevant details from the Google Merchant Centre. This extension gives you the option to add filters based on the fields in your feed. You can then use these filters to include products in your campaign.

Where appropriate it would also be worth adding sitelink, call and location extensions.

add to cart

Settings

Scheduling

A quick way to filter out irrelevant impressions is to adjust the ad scheduling of your campaigns. For example, an online golf retailer is unlikely to get conversions after 1am (yet if you have keywords on broad or phrase Google may still find a way to spend your budget). Stick to a time-frame that matches your market and bid aggressively at premium times. You can research when you make the most conversions by using the time segments feature. If you make more sales between 12pm and 2pm adjust your bids accordingly.

Networks

Historically an ecommerce campaign performs best on the Google Search Network. To start with I would stay clear of the Google Display Network and Search Partners. If you are going to use the GDN I would make sure this is done in a separate campaign so the data and low CTR’s don’t harm your quality score (more on this later).

Devices

50% of shoppers are said to now check prices online using their smart phone. An ecommerce campaign should certainly target desktops, mobile and tablet devices. To manage this effectively you need to split the campaign out into separate devices. For example, if you sell Wilson Tennis Balls you need a separate campaign for tablet, mobile and desktop. Why? If you are serving ads to a mobile device you will need to change your bidding structure as they only show the top two ads. Mobile specific ad text can also increase your CTR by up to 20%.

mobile ad

Optimisation

Automated Rules

Running an AdWords account with thousands of products can be can be extremely time consuming. Thankfully there are a number of automated rules you can use so save manually making a load of edits. Common ways to use the rules include:

* Scheduling ads to switch on and off

* Pausing low performing ads

* Pausing low performing keywords

* Altering bids

* Bid scheduling

* Budget scheduling

Automated rules are ideal for changing budget on peak shopping days or editing Max CPC bids based on CTR.  They can also be used to enable ad text directing users to promotional landing pages.

Conversion Optimiser

If you are limited by time the conversion optimiser tool can be an excellent way to increase conversions. This useful feature will use the historical conversion data from Conversion Tracking (or Google Analytics) to ensure that your ads show more often when you are likely to get conversions. For example, if a holiday website has received more online bookings from the geographic region of London and less from Sussex the tool will preserve the budget for London based searches (and vice versa).

To set up Conversion Optimiser you will need to work out your maximum CPA bid (Cost-per-acquisition) before using this feature.

Campaign Experiments

If you want to test some changes but don’t want to risk rolling it out across the whole campaign why not try ACE (AdWords Campaign Experiments). This tool is perfect for testing the water before optimising large accounts. For example, if you want to make changes to keywords, bids or ad groups you can select the percentage of the campaign you want to change,

Bidding

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC)

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) is a bidding feature that raises your bid for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a conversion. For example, if you sell phone covers and you’ve set your max CPC to £1 the AdWords system may bid up to £1.30 if it determines that the click may result in a purchase.

Bid Automation

Automatic bidding is the easiest way to manage your bidding options. This feature allows you to select a daily budget and AdWords will help adjust your cost-per-click (CPC) bids to receive the most clicks possible from your budget.  This will save you time as you won’t need to specify individual bids for keywords, ad groups, or placements.

Caution

If you are limited on time this can be a useful feature but if you have keywords on phrase or broad this could be a risky approach to managing your budget.

Conclusion

To start with, large scale ecommerce PPC management can seem rather daunting. However, the tools and processes above can make the process a lot more manageable. If you structure an organised campaign (using AdWords Editor), make the most of the automated rules and link the campaign to the merchant centre you will see remarkable improvements in the performance of your AdWords account.

Image Source

Shopping cart icon via BigStock

Oliver Ewbank

Oliver Ewbank

Working in new media for over 8 years, Oliver Ewbank has worked for a range of brands including eBay and SportBusiness.com on SEO, PPC and Social Media Management. He has won awards for his SEO work and been featured in a number of publications, including Virgin online.

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3 Comments

  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 13th July 2012

    Another thing I would add is the importance of integrating something into your AdWords campaigns that pauses ads for products that are out of stock.

    There are different systems that allow you to do this and it can save you so much money as you aren’t advertising on keywords for products that have gone out of stock.

    Reply to this comment

  • Anil 3rd August 2012

    If someone going to start a large PPC campaign for an eCommerce website, then these all the points will help them managing & structuring a better account. The 2 points which I really like is

    1- Use of Adword Editor- It make all the process very fast. Initially, I used it to find the duplicates, but it is more helpful in creating lots of new campaign due to Copy & paste feature as mentioned above. It also comes with keyword research option.

    2- second point is using Google merchant center & linking it to adword account.

    I expect similar article on managing an existing such account for eCommerce website.

    Reply to this comment

  • Oliver Ewbank

    Oliver Ewbank 6th August 2012

    Hi Anil,

    Thanks for the comment.

    AdWords Editor is an excellent tool. Linking the Merchant Centre is also very useful. We will provide more information on linking the accounts in the near future.

    Reply to this comment

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