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e-Commerce AdWords newbie? Start with Product Listing Ads

From brick and mortar to e-Commerce

Yes, you read that right. Precisely. What if your first Google AdWords campaign, ever, was a Product Listing Ads one?

If you’re expanding your business online, or turning your brick and mortar shop into a pure online presence, I say that Product Listing Ads is what you should start with.

But why? It sounds so … strange

Yes, it does. But everything revolves around your products. The way you organize and decorate your real shop, and the way you do the same with the online one. Everything is supposed to lead the potential customer to the product(s) she might be interested in. You don’t build websites to showcase your designer’s work or to share cats pictures. You do it to sell your products. Period.

So why worry, at this stage, about keywordsmatch typesnegative keywordsad rotationconversion optimizer and all sorts of other AdWords terms that make your head spin?

Why think about which text ads would sound more catchy, whether to bid for more general or more specific terms, or where exactly on your website should you land certain search queries / ad combinations?

Let’s make things clear: if you’re selling stuff online, and if you’re doing business in a country where Google Merchant Center has already launched, you’ll have to create Product Listing Ads (campaigns) anyway.

You’ll have to do it because:

  • Your products are the core of your business
  • Product Listing Ads attract a whole lot of attention, with those nice pictures of theirs
  • Your competition already does it and if they do, you won’t be able to counter them with text ads

Nice product listing ads with images

So how about using PLAs as a quick way of getting your product inventory online and also as a way to learn how your potential customers search for your products and interact with your website?

All you need to know about setting it up is here. In a nutshell, you’ll have to:

  • Create a file which holds a list of your products either in XML format, or if it sounds too complicated, tab delimited text. If you cannot do that, you can ask whomever manages your website to do that for you.
  • Create a Google Merchant Center account, upload the compliant feed, and wait for it to get approved.
  • Link the Merchant Center account with an AdWords account, and create your first campaign.
  • Open a Google Analytics and a Google Webmaster tools account if you did not already and link them to AdWords and between them.
  • Set your campaign budget and your bids (you can even do it at product level, if you want, by creating one ad group per product and assigning only one product target to it).
  • Launch your campaign and let it run for a while.

Another good reason for starting with Product Listing Ads and not text / display ads is the following: if you want to manage your first AdWords campaigns yourself, chances are that you’re not too familiar with all the ins and outs of the AdWords system.

Disclaimer: If you’re among the 5% who study hard before diving deep into advertising, congratulations, and sorry for wasting your time. This article is not for you.

But if you’re not, I think it would be great to learn how people search for your products.

You’ll be amazed to see, by looking at their search terms, how they mix brands, product categories, SKUs and color variations, in ways you would have never imagined.

And from that stream of search terms you’ll select

  • your negative keywords
  • new keywords for different campaigns

You’ll also see that sometimes people search for a specific model, land on the right landing page and yet don’t buy from you. Some of the reasons for that behavior may be that they don’t trust your website, or because your price is not right. And you’ll learn about your website’s performance that way and you’ll take steps to improve both the website’s functionality and your offer.

And if you create separate ad groups for each of your products, and if you use a solid naming convention, you’ll also be able to see how you’re doing at brand level, or at product category level. Therefore you’ll know where to invest more and where to cut your costs. Where to try and get a better deal from your supplier and which brands or product categories you should forget about.

And terms such as conversion rate, cost per conversion, etc. will be easier to grasp when thinking about a product, whose margin per sale/conversion you know, and where you can see how many clicks it took to convert and what the average cost per click was. You’ll see that if you make 10 bucks per sale and pay 25 cents per click, and if shipping costs you 5 bucks, you can only afford 20 clicks to sell one item, and therefore you need a 5% conversion rate to break even.

And that’s because you’ll focus on the right things: your products and your website, and not let all the other bells and whistles, dials, buttons and levers distract you.

Because that’s what Product Listing Ads are all about: your website and your inventory. A huge chunk of your e-Commerce business.

Image source: Pixabay.com

About Calin Sandici

Father of two and husband of one, at the crossroads of Google AdWords, Analytics and E-Commerce.