There is a (probably apocryphal) quote often attributed to Michelangelo about how to sculpt an elephant. You simply start with a block of marble and then chip away everything that isn’t the elephant. Not to be overly grandiose, but a good digital marketing campaign works in much the same way. You start with the client’s raw catalog and slowly but surely chip away all the parts which don’t produce ROI. When Location Sound reached out to us they had never done a professional eCommerce PPC marketing campaign before. Over the course of the first few months, we were able to hone in on the products and strategies that eventually produced an over 10,000% return on investment!
eCommerce PPC Marketing
When Angelica Dewlow, Marketing Director at Location Sound, got in contact with 1Digital Agency about PPC marketing it was an idea she had been circling for some time. Location Sound is a B2B distributor of audio recording and production equipment to professional studios. In order to put together a PPC plan for their particular retail niche, Angelica sought out 1Digital Agency.
At first, the discussion was centered around Search Ads but quickly moved to Google Shopping. We often recommend Google Shopping Ads for our eCommerce PPC marketing clients as these ads allow you to use images, are cheaper than text ads and often yield better conversion rates. The only downside of Google Shopping is that it takes time and attention to maintain a feed. A feed is a collection of data from which Google can draw your product names, descriptions, images, etc. from in order to populate the Shopping Ads you’re bidding for. To get a Google Shopping campaign together for Location Sound, we would need to make sure the data was all in the correct order for a Shopping feed. “I’m a one-person shop in this marketing department,” Angelica said. “It was naturally a little intimidating at first, but fortunately most of the stuff was already set.”
In fact, Angelica had made our job a whole lot easier by getting her site optimized for SEO marketing not long before. While SEO and PPC are two different beasts, they’re interrelated. In this case, the fact that the product titles and other information had been formatted correctly to rank in Google also meant that they would match really well with the way Google populates their Shopping Ads. This would save us a lot of time in both setup and testing down the road. When asked what advice she would give to a merchant who is new to PPC Angelica said, “My overall advice is to make sure your site is optimized, otherwise the actual rollout of the buy will be delayed. Make sure you have the feed set up in advance because that can be a few weeks delay.”
Whenever we begin a campaign we need to do testing. In the first few months, we keep ad spend low in order just to test which products convert and get us into the profit zone. This will be different for every PPC client. Even two clients in the same retail niche might do better with different products. This is why we require that every client who signs up for an eCommerce PPC marketing campaign with 1Digital commit to at least 3 months to start. In order to perfect a Google Shopping campaign, we need to spend time testing and gathering data before we can make informed judgments on how to bid.
In the case of Location Sound, we had a speed bump during our testing phase. We began the campaign, and so were able to test for the first two months. Month 3, however, had been a historically slow month for Location Sound and they wanted to pause their ad spend during this time, feeling as though it would not do as much good. In this case, we would normally recommend a reduction in ad spend rather than a full pause. Not only does that help us continue to test for ROI positive keywords and products, but it also benefits your reputation with Google. While Search Ads are more like a tap, where you can turn the budget on and off at will, Google Shopping requires a little more interaction with Google because the merchant needs to maintain their feed. Given that Google relies on the merchant to hold up their end of the arrangement, you can get better placements at lower costs if Google considers you to be a reliable partner that keeps their house in order. In this case, we had been building our reputation with Google for two months, and that turned around when we shut off the spend completely. We had more data than when we began but in terms of our trust-level with Google, we were back at square one.
When we started back up in early Month 4 and we aimed to combat this by immediately placing heavy bids to signal to Google that Location Sound was back and they were serious. Fortunately, Month 4 also happened to be the month where all the research came together and the campaign began to click. We were able to zero in on the exact products to push and in Month 4 achieved a 1,900% return on ad spend creating an additional $11,000 in revenue that month. With our renewed focus on pushing high ticket items, we were able to pull down an 833% return on ad spend in Month 5 and a 936% return on ad spend in Month 6.
One of the things that really unlocked the Location Sound PPC campaign was the implementation of RLSA remarketing. RLSA stands for Remarketing Lists For Search Ads. It essentially allows you to track who has clicked on your ad in the past and then adjust your bid if they search one of your keywords again. The trick is that you need to run your campaign for some time before you can start using RLSA. Google requires that you have at least one thousand previous users in your list before you can begin. Once we run any PPC campaign long enough to start using RLSA, we upbid what we would normally pay for a click if it is a user who had been to the site before to see if it creates an appreciable effect on conversion. For Location Sound, it worked like gangbusters. In Month 5 we received a 10,639% return on investment for returning users that we remarketed to. We test RLSA on every PPC client we have and find that it works well for about two-thirds of the merchants we service.
When it comes to a successful eCommerce PPC marketing campaign, often it just takes time to get things dialed in. With Location Sound, we had a slower start to our testing than we would have liked, but when all was said and done, the research paid off better than even we had expected. If you’re running an underperforming Google Ads campaign, maybe it’s time to see what a few months of thoughtful, expert testing can do to affect your outcomes. Reach out to the eCommerce PPC experts and see what your campaign could like when all the right pieces get chipped away.
- Joe Chilson
- March 29, 2019