No matter how many free tools crop up for ecommerce companies, a paid ad is sometimes the best bet for driving new traffic to your website. The problem is that other ecommerce and even brick-and-mortar competitors are using the same search terms and keywords you will. Not only do you need to know how to build a campaign through Google’s AdWords product, you also need to know how to stand out from the crowd.
We’ll start with the basics and then throw in some pro tips for good measure. By the time we’re done, you’ll be an expert! Here’s how it’s done.
Get an AdWords Account
Before you can do anything, you’ll need to visit the AdWords site and sign up for an AdWords account. This involves some financial information so that Google can get paid for each click, so be ready with all your banking credentials.
Once you have an account and you’re ready to go, click the Create Your First Campaign button.
Choose Campaign Type
Most would suggest starting with the “Search Network only” option, but you can change this as you learn and grow. Next, you’ll want to give your campaign a name so you can track your results. It’s a good idea to start with a naming system that you’ll keep using so you don’t get confused somewhere down the line.
Designate Geographic Area
Being an online shop does mean you’re less concerned about geographic constraints. It’s still not a bad idea to consider where, exactly, the majority of your audience lives. If you don’t know, then you may want to back up a step and consider your buyer personas first. Why spend money advertising to people in the Midwest if the bulk of your customers live in the Northeast?
You can also reach other countries, if your ecommerce company serves international buyers. Just be sure you’re prepared for any of the buyers who come your way as a result of your ads. You might pay a lot of money for visitors who can’t make a purchase if you’re not careful.
Set Your Budget
This is a pretty important step. You want to include enough money to make a difference, but you really don’t want to break the bank. You can manually set the bids for clicks, which gives you more control. This also means your ads will stop showing once your budget is spent. That means you won’t end up with a shocker of a bill later.
Once you have the hang of everything, you can go back and change your settings to automatic or maybe even apply for a Google credit line. These are best left to experienced users, because it doesn’t take much to completely empty a bank account just for paid clicks.
Write Your Ad
This is the most important aspect of your AdWords education. The copy you use is what will convince potential buyers to click. You want to attract plenty of people, yes, but you also want those people to buy. If they don’t buy, you pay anyway. So start with a great headline that uses search terms that will reach your niche. You only get 25 characters, so make every last one of them count. You might even need to use abbreviations, or you can search for shorter synonyms.
Then you get 35 characters for the second and third lines. Use this space to point on benefits. How will the product solve your buyers’ pain? Then on the third line you can capitalize on a feature. Be ready to change these if you notice your ad isn’t gaining a lot of traction.
Add Your Display URL
It’s important to notice the difference between the URLs you’ll use in your ad. The display URL is the one you want people to remember. It’s the home page to your website, the address people will type in if they visit without finding you through an ad first. This is what you want to display.
Add Your Destination URL
Now, it’s never a good idea to have a PPC ad that leads straight to the home page. You want a landing page that focuses on the products featured in the AdWords ad. If you send people straight to the home page, they’ll have to do another search for the products they want, and they’re not likely to stick around for that. This is why it’s so important to understand the difference between the display URL and the destination URL.
Add Your Keywords
Remember that you’ll be competing against many other companies for the same audience. Take some time to think of the keywords that will reach people who are ready to buy. For instance, instead of using “luxury shoes” in your PPC ad, you can use keywords such as “red leather heels.” Maybe you’ll miss out on people who are looking for shoes of all types, but you’ll snag those who have a particular shoe in mind. They’ll be more likely to make a purchase if your ad leads to a landing page with red leather heels, and that will more than pay for their click.
You can also use negative keywords and save a lot of money on your clicks. These tell AdWords what you don't want your ad to show up for. In other words, you can use keywords such as red leather heels not stilettos.
Bid On Your Clicks
Finally, you’ll need to tell Google how much you want to spend on your clicks. Remember that you’re bidding on visibility here. Those willing to pay more for clicks will show up more often in the searches. You really do have to spend money to make money, especially in the pay-per-click game. As long as you’re manually controlling your budget, you can go all out for clicks until your cash runs out and just replenish your budget when you’re ready to go again.
Double Check Your Double Check
It’s always a good idea to check over everything one more time before you set your ad in motion. Is everything spelled correctly? You’ll miss out on keyword searches if you typo one of them. Did you make sure to manually control the budget? You could end up broke tomorrow if you didn’t. When you’re sure you did everything correctly, then take a deep breath and launch.
Beyond setting everything up correctly, you’ll also want to A/B test your results often. Change headlines, introduce new features, focus on different benefits—and then take note of the number of conversions. There is always a way to make your ad perform better.
Originally published Jan 22, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated August 25 2017