How To Use eCommerce PPC To Skyrocket Your Revenue (+ Leave Competitors In The Dust)

If you’re an eCommerce marketer or business owner who wants to grow your store’s revenue, the answer is simple — turn to eCommerce PPC.

Why do we say so? Well, if you insist on reaching out to consumers exclusively through organic methods, you’re essentially stunting your growth.

Get this: statistics show that PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic visitors; on top of that, consumers who click on an advertiser’s Google search ad prior to visiting a store spend over 10% more, on average.

If you’re new to the world of eCommerce PPC, and you don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • Why PPC is important for eCommerce companies
  • The 3 best eCommerce PPC strategies that will bring you results, and
  • Setting up your eCommerce tracking

By the time you reach the end of our guide, you’ll be an unofficial expert in eCommerce PPC. Pinkie promise 😉

Why is PPC important for eCommerce?

The way we see it, there are two camps of eCommerce marketers or business owners:

  • Those who believe that PPC is crucial
  • Those who believe that SEO triumphs all

We can’t tell you how many eCommerce business owners we’ve met who say: “Well, I’ll rather focus on my SEO strategy, and drive visitors to my site organically.”

Now, we’re not going to dispute the fact that SEO is important — because it is! But what we’re saying here is that you should use a multi-faceted approach, instead of putting all your eggs in one basket.

Consider this: firstly, SEO is a long-term strategy, and it’ll take a long time for your results to show.

How long is long? Generally speaking, most business owners only start seeing any meaningful increase in their organic traffic after 6 months or so.

That’s assuming you get everything right from the get-go, by the way. If you chose to focus on, say, on-page SEO first, and leave off-page SEO for later, you might take even longer to get your organic traffic up.

Check it out:

In the meantime, how are you going to sustain your store? Where does your cash flow come from? From the PPC ads that you run!

On top of that, another important thing to keep in mind is that eCommerce PPC tends to bring you traffic that’s more qualified, and has more buying intent.

In comparison: the organic visitors that you get might be interested in your products, but they may or may not want to buy immediately.

Why is this the case? Well, when you run eCommerce PPC campaigns, you’ll probably be bidding on keywords such as “buy socks online”, “buy wool socks”, “buy <insert the product you’re selling here>” etc. People who search for these keywords have high purchase intent, and they’re easier to convert.

When you create content for SEO, however, it’s not feasible to optimize your content around keywords such as “buy socks online”. These are highly competitive keywords that a ton of people are targeting, and you’ll find it hard to rank for them.

To get around this, what marketers do is to optimize their content for long tail keywords (that are less competitive!) instead. For instance:

  • Wool socks vs cotton socks
  • Best wool socks for men
  • Funky socks for men

The advantage of utilizing these keywords is that it’s easier to rank, but on the flip side, people searching for these keywords are probably not as far along in their Buyer’s Journey.

Take the first keyword — wool socks vs cotton socks — for example. Someone who’s searching for this term might simply wants to read up about what type of socks works best for them.

You could get them to join your newsletter, and nurture them till the point where they’re ready to make a purchase… but if your goal is to get them to buy from you immediately, well, don’t hold your breath.

Last but not least, even if you’re the Queen or King of SEO, and you’re ranking on the top organic spot for all your search terms, using PPC for eCommerce will still help you get more clicks and conversions.

Why? If you look at the typical SERP, chances are, all the real estate that’s above the fold is dedicated to ads. Here’s an example:

above the fold ads

And: if the searcher sees a relevant ad right up top, chances are they’ll check that out first, instead of scrolling down and looking at the organic results.

Here are some numbers to back that claim up:

On average, 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page.

Google AdWords results receive 65% of clicks that start with buying keywords, while organic results only receive 35%.

Plus, just put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a second. If you searched for “buy socks online” and saw all these listings…

What would you be drawn to? The colorful ads (complete with pictures and pricing details), or the more generic text-based ads?

Yup, that’s exactly why PPC for eCommerce sites is so powerful.

3 Best eCommerce PPC strategies

Now that you understand the importance of eCommerce PPC, we’ll move on to discuss the 3 best PPC strategies that you can use to boost sales and revenue.

We won’t be teaching you exactly how to set up these ads (because that’s too much to unpack!), but we will link you to resources that do that.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

eCommerce PPC Strategy #1: Shopping ads

Shopping ads are basically product ads; every ad platform has their own version of these.

For instance: Facebook has Facebook Product Ads, and Google has Google Shopping Ads. Most folks start off with Google Ads, so we’ll be predominantly talking about Google Shopping Ads in this section.

The first thing you need to know?

In the context of an eCommerce store, you should always favor Google Shopping ads over their traditional text-based ads.

Like we’ve mentioned earlier, Shopping ads are a LOT more eye-catching than text-based ads.

Because Shopping ads also allow you to feature elements such as pricing and promotions, they’re also more relevant to your target audience.

To learn more about setting up a Google Shopping Campaign, read Google’s guide.

Once you’ve set up your campaign, and you want to maximize your results that you’re getting, check out our higly-read article on Advanced Google AdWords Shopping PLA Structure.

When you’re setting up your campaign, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • First, make sure that you’re using high-quality, compelling pictures.
    • This one’s pretty straightforward: if your pictures are grainy and/or aren’t particularly appealing, then you’ll lose out to the competing listings which do have better looking pictures.
  • Next, be as specific as possible with your product title.
    • Here’s a negative example: Wool Socks For Men
    • And a positive example: Navy Blue Ralph Lauren Men’s Wool Socks, Size 9, Machine Washable
  • Next, make sure that you’ve got your prices right.
    • If the prices that you list on your ads don’t match up with the ones on your website, Google won’t run your ads. Pay particular attention here, especially if you deal in international currencies and you need to convert prices back and forth.
    • On a side note: when pricing your products, be sure to check out the prices of competing listings as well.
    • If you’re selling the exact same product (and you’re using the same thumbnail!) as eCommerce store X, Y, and Z, and all of these stores have priced their item cheaper than yours, then you won’t be getting many clicks on your listing.
  • Last but not least, milk your ad extensions for all they’re worth.
    • There are a few ad extensions that you can play around with, but one that you should definitely use is the promotions extension.
    • With this extension, you can add promotional text (eg: Free shipping for the next 24h) to your ad. This helps your ad stand out, and increases your click through rate!

eCommerce PPC Strategy #2: Retargeting ads

To supercharge your Shopping ads, you can also run a retargeting or remarketing campaign. These are basically the eCommerce industry’s bread and butter.

You know how they work…

Shopper A comes to your store, looks at three pairs of boots, then quickly exits your page when they realize they’re running late for work.

When Shopper A opens up the Facebook app on their phone during lunch, pow! They see the exact same products they viewed, tempting them to revisit your store and complete their purchase.

If you want to run retargeting ads on Facebook, you’re after Dynamic Ads. Here’s a guide that will walk you through how to set up Dynamic Ads on Facebook.

If you want to run retargeting ads on Google (more specifically, on the partner sites that are registered on the Google Display Network), you have a few options to choose from:

  • Standard remarketing
  • Dynamic remarketing
  • Remarketing lists for search ads
  • Video remarketing
  • Customer list remarketing

To learn more about these ads, read Google’s remarketing guide.

Bing also has its own version of remarketing ads — you can learn more on this Bing resource.

Now, regardless of whether you want to run your remarketing ads on Facebook, Google, or Bing, keep in mind that the people you’re reaching out to here have a high likelihood of converting.

After all, they’re already familiar with your brand, and they were browsing specific products on your site. This means that they probably have some sort of buying intent.

So, make sure you capture these conversions by:

  • Giving your shoppers added incentives (eg featuring a promo code in your ad), or
  • Increasing your bids / budget for remarketing campaigns

On the flip side, you might also want to consider lowering your budget or bids for visitors whom you’re not as confident of converting.

Got it? Great!

Let’s move onto our final eCommerce website PPC strategy — using negative keywords.

eCommerce PPC Strategy #3: Negative keywords

What are negative keywords? In a nutshell, they’re keywords that you tell your ad platform to NOT show your ads for.

For instance, say you run an eCommerce store selling baby and infant products. (In other words: items that you use to deck out a kid’s nursery).

After creating your Google Ads campaign, you realize that you’re getting a lot of hits for nurseries as in plant nurseries, and this is obviously wasting your ad budget.

Simply add the keyword “plant nurseries” and any other related keywords you’re ranking for in your negative keywords list, and Google will stop showing your ad for these searches.

Now, there are a few ways in which you can build up your negative keywords list.

  • First, start with the standard categories of negative keywords that you should always exclude from your campaigns.
    • These include employment-related keywords, education-related keywords, and information-related keywords.

For instance, if Forever21 were running an eCommerce PPC campaign, they might exclude the following keywords:

  • Forever21 job opportunities
  • Forever21 careers
  • Forever21 case study
  • Forever21 company background
  • Forever21 company details

By the way — we have a comprehensive list of universal negative keywords, so go ahead and check that out.

  • On top of that, you can also look at your data to see what irrelevant keywords you’re ranking for, and add these to your negative keywords list.

If you’re running your ads on Google, you’ll want to check out the Search Terms Report. If you’re on Bing, they have their own Search Terms Report as well.

Note: negative keywords only apply to Google and Bing campaigns. Advertisers don’t bid on keywords in Facebook (yet), so there’s no such thing as negative keywords in a Facebook campaign.

Setting up your eCommerce PPC tracking

When it comes to eCommerce PPC, tracking is key.

Remember: If you don’t track and analyze your campaigns, you won’t be able to optimize your ads properly. This, in turn, means that you’ll be stuck running campaigns that aren’t as profitable as they could be!

Now, one question that we get a lot is: can I just use Google Ads to track my conversions, or do I need to set up my Google Analytics to track these as well?

Generally speaking, most advertisers use BOTH Google Ads and Google Analytics for tracking.

While you’ll be able to view all your PPC stats and metrics within your Google Ads dashboard, Google Analytics allows you to have a high-level overview of how all your marketing channels are doing (so: it pulls data from Google Ads, plus any other channels that you’re using).

To find out more about Google Ads vs Google Analytics for tracking, here’s a handy guide by Lovesdata.

If you want to learn how to set up your Google Ads and Google Analytics tracking, check out this guide by MonsterInsights.

For those of you who are using Facebook ads, you’ll have to make sure you’re tracking your results accurately as well. To do this, you’ll have to create a Facebook pixel, and then install it on your eCommerce store.

Here are a couple of resources to help you out:

Assuming you’re using an eCommerce platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce, setting up your pixel will be a piece of cake.

With Shopify, for example, you can simply copy your pixel code (from Facebook) and plug it into your Shopify dashboard. Go ahead and check out the links we’ve included above, and follow the steps accordingly.

Finally, for those who want to use Bing ads, you’ll have to create a Universal Event Tracking (UET) tag and place it on your website.

To learn more about this tag (and how to set it up), read Bing’s guide on tracking sales and other conversions.

A final word on using eCommerce PPC to skyrocket your revenue

Alright, that’s all we’ve got for you in this eCommerce PPC guide!

We know that it’s pretty intimidating to set up your first PPC campaign, and venture into eCommerce PPC management…

That said, we hope this guide helped to demystify eCommerce PPC, and make you feel more comfortable with it.

Now, you don’t have to go the whole hog and set up your first campaign today. Your first step is to simply decide which ad platform you want to use for a start, and set up your ad account.

Here are the links for easy access:

Once you’ve done that, calculate your target Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) or Amazon PPC Ad Cost On Sales (ACoS), and take it from there.

Remember, with every day that you procrastinate, you’re leaving money on the table. Take your first step today, and we’ll see you on the other side!


P.S. If you need help with setting your first campaigns up, check our PPC Coaching program out. If your PPC account is already rolling and you want an extra set of eyes for improving it, don’t forget to request a proposal.

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Andreea Popa

Andreea is an enthusiastic full-stack marketer. She enjoys connecting multiple facets of a business. She's mixing and connecting data from multiple channels, from PPC campaigns to content creation, audience engagement, and different inbound strategies. She'd like to have more time for writing about PPC.

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