The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce PPC
Marketing Intelligence

The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce PPC

by Sarah Mehlman , Sr. Marketing Intelligence Specialist 8 Min.
August 14, 2022 | Updated September 5, 2022

If you want to succeed as an ecommerce retailer, you need to invest in the right types of marketing for your audience. Is it social media marketing? Maybe. Is it SEO? Could be. But, should it be PPC? Well, you’ll only know the answer to that if you know how to do PPC for ecommerce. PPC drives traffic and sales, but if you also want it to boost your ROI, you need a designated strategy to ensure you’re doing it right.

Here’s your cheat sheet to getting started with PPC for ecommerce.

What is PPC for Ecommerce?

For an ecommerce business, PPC can be one of the top traffic drivers to your online store. It’s a form of digital advertising where you pay each time someone clicks your ad. If nobody clicks, you don’t pay. 

On most ad platforms, you choose who to target with your ads and how much you are willing to pay for a click. Ad platforms then display your ad to relevant audiences who are likely to click. Ecommerce PPC is all about getting your store or products in front of highly targeted potential customers who are likely to buy. One example is retargetting potential customers who visited your ecommerce store but dropped without buying anything.

Some of the most popular ad networks for PPC include:

  • Google
  • Microsoft Ads (aka Bing)
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Taboola
  • Outbrain

How does ecommerce PPC work?

With ecommerce PPC, you create advertising campaigns based on your specific goal. It works like this: 

  • Set your goal 
  • Pick your keywords and ad network
  • Develop your bidding strategy 
  • Design your ads and creatives
  • Start your PPC campaign
  • Monitor your performance
  • Pay per click
  • Optimize, optimize and optimize some more

The goal of your ad will determine which platform you use, how much you are willing to pay per click, how long your ads run, and who your audience is. So, it’s no surprise that the top three factors you should consider are:

Placement

Your ad placement refers to the  ad platform itself and the ad type you choose to show. 

The most popular PPC platform today is Google Ads, which holds an 87% market share of all PPC advertising. But, remember, Google isn’t th eonly platform. Consider running your ecommerce PPC ads on Microsoft Advertising, Amazon, or social media networks with niche audiences.

Each ad platform offers multiple different ad types you can run. With Google, for example, you can run search ads, which are the most basic PPC ad which shows your ad in the Google SERP.

For ecommerce PPC, shopping ads are very useful. These ads target searchers with high commercial intent, meaning they are looking to buy–a perfect match for your online store looking to sell.

PPC SERP ads

Pro tip: Each ad platform has its own criteria of what you need for your ad. You’ll design your PPC ads based on what placements are best for reaching your target audience

Targeting

Next step? Decide who you want to see your PPC ads, aka, strategize your targetting. You can target specific keywords that people type into Google, or define audiences that would be relevant for your ad.

Most PPC platforms have a ton of flexibility when it comes to targeting. You can target people by location, time of day, browsing history, and other behaviors.

Bidding

One of the great things about PPC is that you can decide your budget and what you’re willing to pay for a click. How? When you create PPC ads, you bid for ad placement. This means bidding on keywords or keyword groups related to your ad. 

When an ad placement opens up, the ad platform hosts an instantaneous auction with all the bids that are relevant for the spot. The ad with the winning bid will be displayed to the viewer, but, the advertiser will only pay for the placement if the viewer clicks the ad. 

Here’s a little secret. The auction winner does not pay their maximum bid amount – they pay one cent above the second highest bid. 

Your bidding strategy should be designed to get maximum clicks for the lowest cost. How do you do that? We’re getting there…

Why use PPC for ecommerce?

1. Target the most relevant potential customers

Advertising is only effective for the right audience. With PPC, you have a lot of flexibility to target the right people at the right time. 

For example, you can define the characteristics of your audience based on who your customers are. You can define specific locations or times of the day for your ads to be displayed. You can also target people based on their previous browsing history and behaviors, ensuring that everyone who sees your ad is the type of person who is highly likely to be interested in your store.

2. Beat your competitors

It’s very likely your top competitors are already using PPC. If you want to compete with them and gain market share, you have to be running your own advertisements. 

Pro tip: PPC is the best way to get your ecommerce website to the top of a SERP and the spoils, aka hoards of traffic, that go with. 

3. Get data for optimization

Data from PPC campaigns is a hugely powerful tool for you to get to know your target audience and understand their browsing and buying habits. When you run PPC campaigns, you’ll get invaluable information about what types of people are clicking your ads. It’s your job to take this information and use it to improve your ecommerce and advertising activities.

4. Hop on trends

Topical events like Prime Day, Valentines Day, Halloween and other calendar events are big traffic drivers. Trust me, you want to appear in the top of SERPs for these topics. PPC lets you do that.

Best practices for your ecommerce PPC strategy

If you want to be successful in your ecommerce PPC efforts, you need to create and execute a winning strategy:

1. Identify your competition

Before you get started on your own PPC activities, understand the arena in which you are competing. This will help you benchmark so you’ll know what to expect and how to determine how successful your PPC activities are.

You should identify the top competitors and analyze their landing pages, targeting, and engagement metrics.

Pro Tip: Similarweb’s Search Leaders tool helps you identify the top competition in your industry. You can analyze your competitors for organic and paid traffic and get deep insights into the quality of their traffic.

PPC search leaders.

2. Understand your position

Perform a full internal benchmark so you know your baseline, track your progress and see how you compare to the competition. It’s important to understand your ecommerce store’s engagement metrics and traffic share so that way you’ll be able to attribute the effects of any changes you make.

Pro Tip: Similarweb’s Website Performance tool gives you a full picture of your own website’s metrics, alongside those of r your competition’. You can analyze engagement metrics, traffic sources, and metrics related to different marketing channels.

How to benchmark with Similarweb.

3. Pinpoint your best-performing keywords

To find your target keywords, we always suggest sticking with what you know: your SEO strategy. Although your SEO keywords and your PPC keywords may differ they can and should inform each other. Think about the keywords that are bringing you organic traffic, imagine what they could do if you throw a little money behind them, and it works. 

Once you’ve developed a list of your best-performing keywords, you should analyze them for organic and paid results. You should see which websites are targeting these keywords, their search volumes, and how much traffic they are responsible for. Note, PCC and SEO keywords should inform each other but shouldn’t be identical. 

Pro Tip: Similarweb’s Keyword Analysis tool can help you pinpoint your best-performing keywords and analyze the competition for each one. You’ll discover who is gaining traffic from each keyword, which ones are trending, and which are ripe for your PPC strategy.

keyword overview

4. Find long-tail keywords

Now that you know your top-performing keywords, you need to build a successful strategy around them. But you don’t want to just throw large bids at your top keywords. This could lead to extremely high costs-per-click and a low return on ad spend (ROAS).

Instead, you want to find more targeted (and cheaper) keywords that are related to your top ones and likely to bring in relevant traffic. These are called long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are more specific keywords that might have a lower search volume and therefore less competition. You’ll invest less money for clicks while getting views from more targeted potential customers.

For example, let’s say you found one of your best-performing keywords was “bikes.” There are probably thousands of websites targeting this keyword, meaning high competition and high costs-per-click. Rather than focusing your strategy on “bikes,” target “safe children’s bikes” or “mountain bikes for kids.”

Pro Tip: Similarweb can help you find long-tail keywords related to your top keywords. Our Keyword Generator tool can suggest thousands of keywords related to your top keywords and help you prioritize them effectively and efficiently for your PPC strategy. You can analyze each long-tail keyword’s metrics and decide which would be best for your ecommerce store.

Keyword generator

5. Get inspiration for your ads

Your campaigns should strike a balance between standing out and matching the search intent of a user. Check out your competitors for inspiration. Do you see a theme in the types of images your competitors use? Or maybe some commonality in their texts’ tone of voice

If your competitors are all doing something similarly, there’s probably a reason for this (and the reason is that it works with your customers.) So, do what they do… but better. It’s critical to strike a good balance between what is proven to work and what will make you stand out. 

When you create your own ads, you want to follow suit and use the themes and motives that work with your audience, while highlighting your brand’s uniqueness.

Pro Tip: Analyze all of your competitors’ ads with Similarweb’s Search Ads and Creatives tools. The Search Ads tool shows you all the text ads your competitors are running in SERPs so you can see what type of language speaks to your audience. The Creatives tool shows you display ads so you can analyze images and messaging that your competitors are using in PPC campaigns across multiple ad networks.

6. Track and optimize

Once you’ve started running PPC campaigns for your ecommerce store, you’ll have  invaluable performance data. Use this data to optimize your PPC campaigns so you can get more exposure, more clicks, and lower your costs.

Optimizing your ecommerce PPC campaigns might include changing your ad copy, updating your landing page, researching new PPC keywords, adding or removing keywords to target, and adjusting your bids.

To get the most out of your PPC campaigns, you need to continually track and optimize. You should set up a routine for yourself to review PPC data daily, weekly, or monthly to see how your metrics improve.

Boost your ecommerce with PPC

PPC is a major revenue driver for ecommerce and should be part of your digital advertising strategy. Once you get started, you’ll see more traffic coming to your online store and more sales. If that sounds appealing, Similarweb can help you develop a strategy optimized for your brand.  Similarweb’s Digital marketing Intelligence is designed to improve your ROI and lead to ecommerce PPC success.

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