Home | Blog | PPC for eCommerce: The Ultimate Guide for 2017
PPC is a fast-changing and, sometimes, confusing and frustrating search marketing tactic. Trust us, we know. That’s why our PPC team put together this guide to PPC for eCommerce online merchants and retailers. We will cover everything you need to know as an eCommerce manager, director, marketing manager, or business owner who wants to stay informed about the best PPC tactics and trends in 2017 and beyond. Each section will cover a different subcategory, tactic, or trend in PPC, with a focus on Google AdWords.
Low Search Volume
The “Low Search Volume” designation in Google AdWords has evolved over the past couple of years but hasn’t really been talked about much. Google has started deeming more and more keywords as low search volume—meaning that not many people search for them, making them ineligible for ad auctions on Google. So, what does all of that mean? Basically, if a keyword is deemed low search volume, it won’t serve ads.
Recommendation for 2017: So, how do you overcome this? First, test out keywords when you are building campaigns. This helps you get an idea of which types of keywords are going to be low search volume so that you can make informed decisions regarding account architecture. You also want to be as creative as possible when you are selecting your keywords. You should get as granular as possible, while still avoiding the low search volume designation.
Also, it is worth noting that just because a keyword is deemed low search volume doesn’t mean that it will always be ineligible. If that term becomes searched enough over time, then Google will serve ads. It is important that we don’t just throw out these low search volume keywords permanently and, instead, monitor them intermittently.
Google gives you a lot of room to play with as to where you want to target your ads geographically. You can target cities, states, and countries, or even select a radius around certain geographic areas.
Recommendation for 2017: Things for eCommerce stores to consider, when setting geo-targeting, are shipping implications and the probability that a shopper will convert. If shoppers pay a premium for shipping to a particular region, you may want to consider excluding that area. In many cases, online retailers will only want to target the United States, because shipping overseas is so expensive relative to domestic rates.
Even within the U.S., businesses should consider whether it makes sense to serve ads in Hawaii and Alaska. If the probability of converting drops off significantly for shoppers in Hawaii and Alaska due to shipping fees, you might not want to pay for clicks from these states.
If you do want to serve ads in the U.S., you can opt to target every state individually, rather than setting your campaigns to target the whole country. This way, you can set bid modifications on the state level, depending on how those states perform. For example, if your return on ad spend in Arkansas is below goal, while other states are at or above goal, you can easily bid down that state. We recommend gathering data for at least 6 months before setting geographic bid adjustments.
Also, many advertisers don’t realize this, but Google doesn’t always do a good job of preventing traffic from outside of your targeted region. If you notice impressions and clicks from areas that you would never want to target—i.e., overseas—then you might want to specifically add them to your list of exclusions. This will help minimize click costs from irrelevant places.
Conversion and Revenue Tracking
For eCommerce merchants, conversion and revenue tracking are among the most important aspects of running a successful PPC campaign. You want to be able to see the performance results of your campaign. This is especially important for eCommerce advertisers to be able to easily determine their return on ad spend. However, it’s surprisingly common to find businesses that aren’t maximizing measurability. In fact, many of the accounts we take over have improperly implemented conversion and revenue tracking.
Google offers two ways in which you can report conversion and revenue tracking within AdWords. The first way is to add the AdWords conversion script to your website. The second is to import the conversions from analytics.
Recommendation for 2017: In our expert opinion and experience, it is best to only pick one method so that you don’t run the risk of double counting conversions/revenue. We recommend adding the AdWords tracking pixels to your eCommerce website and tracking conversions that way.
Also, check the conversion settings. Don’t count calls as conversions unless it makes sense to do so. If you do choose to count calls as conversions, keep in mind this could throw off some metrics, such as average order value. Also, set the appropriate conversion window. 30 days is standard, but some businesses might decide it makes sense to extend that window.
Remember, tracking implementation is not complete without testing. Test your ads to make sure the conversion shows up in AdWords with the appropriate amount of revenue associated with that conversion.
Google Analytics and AdWords are two of the main tools that are used to successfully manage PPC campaigns, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that you can link the two together to help you better analyze your data. By doing so, you are able to see your Google Analytics data in your AdWords reports, import Analytics remarketing audiences, and import Google Analytics smart goals. You are also able to see more metrics, such as bounce rate, pages per session, average session duration, and percent of new sessions within AdWords.
Recommendation for 2017: We definitely recommend linking your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts together. Because of the increased visibility of metrics, you should be able to better analyze your customer activity and, therefore, be able to continuously improve both your ad campaign and your website.
To do so, go to settings > linked accounts > Google Analytics. Make sure auto-tagging is enabled, and link the appropriate Analytics account.
Match Types and Campaign Organization
There are four basic keyword match types:
Recommendations for 2017: We classify exact match, phrase match, and broad modified in one group, and broad, or “straight broad,” as we call it, in another. We recommend what we call a “3 & 1” account structure, also called alpha/beta. Within this structure, straight broad match keywords never live in the same campaigns as exact, phrase, or broad modified.
So, there are 2 campaigns containing the same keywords—one campaign contains these keywords in straight broad match, while the other contains the same keywords as the other 3 match types.
This match type allocation allows for apples-to-apples ad testing, clearer visibility into keyword performance, and maximum control for intelligent bid optimizations. Generally speaking, you’ll want to place lower bids on straight broad keywords, rather than on exact, phrase, and broad modified keywords.
In addition, you can add the exact and phrase match keywords from the “alpha” campaigns as negative keywords, in the corresponding straight broad (beta) campaigns. We refer to this strategy as “negative keyword funneling.” This will prevent straight broad match keywords from pulling in searches that are better off matching out to their exact, phrase, and broad modified counterparts.
With keyword match type segmentation and negative keyword funneling, you will have more transparency and control, which will improve optimization capabilities and management efficiency.
A big factor in quality score is keyword relevancy, which refers to how well the keywords match the words in your ad copy, and, ultimately, on the landing page of the ad.
Recommendation for 2017: When architecting the account, we recommend that you have a very tightly knit group of keywords for each ad group. Generally, this means that you should have about 25 keywords or fewer per ad group, and these keywords should not vary greatly between each other.
For example, “xl knee brace” should not be in the same ad group as “waterproof knee brace” because they are too different. Instead, “xl knee brace” might be in the same ad group as “xxl knee brace” or “knee brace xl.” The granularity of ad groups depends on the complexity of the account, search behavior, and various other factors. It’s important to find the balance between granularity and manageability.
Recommendation for 2017: The good news is that you don’t have to know Java or coding in order to implement these scripts, though it does help to have a basic understanding. Look for AdWords Scripts that seem like they would be advantageous for your accounts, and implement them. Afterward, you’ll want to monitor them closely to make sure they are working properly and aren’t breaking anything.
In a general sense, Automated Rules are a dumbed-down version of AdWords Scripts, but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. They can be a very powerful tool for account management as well. Like AdWords Scripts, they are automated tasks that you can create within the AdWords interface but without the need for coding or Java. These, too, can be used to do anything from bid modifications to performance notifications—you just create the rules based on certain conditions.
Recommendation for 2017: Whether or not to use Automated Rules is really up to the account manager. In our accounts, we set up Automated Rules to execute a variety of actions, like scheduling email notifications for when ad groups or campaigns are performing poorly, adjusting placement bids in display campaigns based on performance parameters, and bidding to a certain average position for keywords in search campaigns. Just make sure to periodically check back in on the Automated Rules you create to determine if it still makes sense to run them.
Bid management is the core of optimizing PPC campaigns. In short, there are two ways to approach bid management—manual and automated. Really, there’s a 3rd approach that we use—a blend of automation and manual management. We’re heavier on manual bidding, as it has always created the best results for our clients.
In case it’s not clear, manual bidding refers to manipulating bids directly in the interface or in a desktop tool, such as the AdWords Editor or Microsoft Excel. This means a real person analyzes data and physically changes bids.
Bid management can be automated through third party software, AdWords Scripts, Automated Rules, and the featured bidding strategies that AdWords offers in the UI. We discussed Scripts and Auto-Rules above. Third-party bid management platforms are also popular. These platforms have direct API connections with Google and offer a variety of bid management tools.
Also, AdWords currently offers the following automated bidding strategies within the UI:
Target Search page location
Target outranking share
Advertisers can select these strategies on the campaign level within the settings tab.
Recommendation for 2017: We’ve seen mixed results with Google’s automated bidding strategies. In most cases, manual bidding has created better results. It’s important to know that when you select any of Google’s bidding strategies you’re giving up some control—and when things go wrong, they tend to go very wrong.
When it comes to bid management, our best advice is to make sure that you find the right balance between automation and manual bid management. There are going to be some accounts that are not conducive to automation and which require a personal touch. Also, some third-party bid management suites can be very expensive, so you have to decide whether or not the efficiency outweighs the cost.
If third party software doesn’t make sense for you, then we recommend using a combination of AdWords Scripts, Automated Rules, and manual optimization. This blended approach keeps account managers in touch with their accounts and the nuances that demand manual attention.
Dynamic remarketing takes traditional remarketing to another level. Like traditional remarketing, dynamic remarketing serves ads to previous website visitors as they browse other sites on the internet (within the Google Display Network). However, these ads dynamically populate images of the specific products that the shopper was looking at while previously on the site.
These campaigns pull product data from a merchant’s product feed in the Google Merchant Center. Therefore, having a product feed established is required for this feature. This can be a powerful campaign type for eCommerce businesses, as we have seen outstanding performance across industries.
Recommendation for 2017: Dynamic remarketing starts with the product feed. Just like you would with Google Shopping, you want to make sure that your product data is optimized, accurate, and updated regularly. In order to utilize this, you will need to add the dynamic remarketing tag with parameters to all pages of your site. In most cases, this requires a web development person/team, and, sometimes, even a Google tag implementation specialist might need to get involved.
Once you have the tag in place, you will need to wait for it to gather an audience. You can troubleshoot tag issues in the AdWords UI under Shared Library > Audiences (look for “tag details“ in the “remarketing tag” box in the upper right corner. To see the audience list size, go to Shared Library > Audiences, and you should see a list of audiences, such as Product Viewers, Shopping Cart Abandoners, and Past Buyers … and their corresponding sizes.
To create a dynamic remarketing campaign, click +Campaign > Display Network Only, and then follow the steps from there. Once you have created the campaign, we recommend creating separate ad groups for various audiences like the ones listed above.
Google Display Network
Advertising on the Google Display Network is a whole different ballgame from advertising on the search network. Generally speaking, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROAS are lower on the display network. This doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked, though. While the display network might not be right for every advertiser, it is a big traffic opportunity and, with the right strategies, you can maximize performance on this channel.
Recommendation for 2017: You want to create high-quality image ads in every size that Google accepts for the GDN. We recommend testing two versions of each ad for each size. You want to make sure that you do not create ads in Flash format, as some browsers will block these by default.
There are many different ways to set up Display Campaigns in AdWords. You can target keywords, website placements, web page placements, topics, interests, affinity audiences, in-market audiences, remarketing audiences, demographics, or any combination of these.
For Display Campaigns utilizing contextual keyword targeting, you only need to include broad match keywords, as Google claims the other match types are not recognized when matching out on the display network. However, like search campaigns, you will want to make sure all ad groups contain very closely related keywords.
We recommend starting with campaigns that target keywords, but with topics, interests, and demographics layered on top. When you do this, set the targeting settings for keywords to “target and bid,” and set the targeting setting for everything else to “bid only.”
Although we don’t recommend it in search campaigns, it’s okay to set one bid at the ad group level, leaving all keywords with the same bid. Otherwise, traffic will often just shuffle to the keyword with the highest bid. The key to this display campaign approach is to focus on website placements from a bidding perspective. As you gather data on placements, place higher bids on the better performing placements, and either bid down or exclude poorly performing placements.
In addition, when creating a display campaign, it’s important to implement high-level exclusions. Consider excluding certain site category options from the start. We recommend excluding categories such as parked domains, error pages, sexually suggestive content, and GMob mobile app non-interstitial, among others. You will also want to add negative keywords and exclude placements as you gather data.
For a little-known tip, if you want to make sure that you exclude mobile app traffic, you will need to add a placement exclusion for adsenseformobileapps.com. Overall, we recommend bidding down mobile 100% to start. You can experiment with allowing ads to serve on mobile over time.
Negative Keywords/Search Query Mining
With shopping taking over, it can be easy to rely on Google to match out search queries with products in the shopping feed, but there is still a need to monitor search terms and mine that data for terms that are wasting money. Likewise, traditional search campaigns need the same search-query-mining love they always have.
Recommendation for 2017: Within shopping campaigns, at a minimum, every couple of weeks you should run a search query report.
For newer campaigns, you should be doing this even more frequently, as in daily or weekly. To do this, click on a shopping campaign and go to the keywords tab (even though there are no keywords in a shopping campaign). There, click on search terms. You can export the data into Excel from this screen.
One trick to this is to add the “keyword” column before you export the search term data. This column will not populate data in the UI, but it will show data in the export for which products triggered search terms. Once you have the data exported, you can analyze queries and create a list of negative keywords to add to the shopping campaign.
In traditional search campaigns, follow the same process. Campaigns containing broad match keywords especially need attention. By weeding out phrases or terms irrelevant to your business, you can prevent lots of wasted spend, increase click-through rates, and, ultimately, increase ROAS.
Inventory Driven Search (IDS)
Data feeds can also be used to create traditional search campaigns. We utilize a special software that transforms product data into keywords and ad copy. These text ads will display the product price, which dynamically updates daily without having to create any new ads. Furthermore, as products go in and out of stock, ad groups will be paused and created automatically.
This allows for maximum product coverage and a robust buildout of highly targeted product level keywords. IDS campaigns are a great way to supplement product listing ads and take up more real estate on the search results page. This software is also compatible with Bing Ads.
Recommendation for 2017: Call Visiture for additional information on this opportunity.
Dynamic Search Ads
Google AdWords offers a type of search campaign that features “Dynamic Search Ads.” These campaigns originally rolled out a few years ago with negative reviews, but they have since been improved.
DSA campaigns do not contain keywords. Instead, Google automatically determines relevant search queries based on the advertiser’s website content. By crawling the site, Google matches out to search queries, dynamically generates an ad, and lands the searcher on the most relevant landing page.
DSA campaigns are similar to IDS campaigns but with much less control. As mentioned above, the advertiser does not determine the keywords to target, so a lot of the control is left up to Google. Furthermore, the ads are based on what is on the site rather than what is in the data feed. The new and improved version of DSAs can close gaps in keyword coverage with relative ease in workflow.
Recommendation for 2017: Determine whether or not you are a good fit for DSAs. Here are some elements to consider:
Generally speaking, DSAs are better for eCommerce sites than Lead Generation.
They are good for advertisers with a thousand products or more.
They mesh with a diverse product offering.
They work for those with frequently changing inventory.
They fit for those with seasonal products that have regularly shifting inventory and demand.
eCommerce sites that are properly optimized with relevant and descriptive title tags and H1s work well.
It is important to keep in mind that you want to use DSAs as a supplement, not a substitute. You’ll want to build out standard search campaigns with keywords for as much of your product offering as possible. Try DSAs once it is time to close gaps in keyword coverage.
Make sure that you monitor DSAs closely. You’re giving a lot of control to Google, so you’ll need to keep an eye on these campaigns. Mine your search queries and add negative keywords vigorously.
We also recommend that you bid low, in the beginning, in case Google matches out too broadly. Google attempts to give keyword-targeted campaigns precedence over DSA campaigns when competing in the same auction, but this is not an exact science.
Also, make sure you select which pages Google crawls for query parsing. Some elements that you can base this on are:
Words in the page title
Words on the page
Words in the URL
Select categories to target, and then organize your campaign around them. Google automatically matches your site content to certain product categories. You can opt for which ones you want to advertise and set bids accordingly. Also, include ad extensions just as you would with a standard search campaign.
In today’s technology-saturated market, more and more consumers are switching to their smartphones in order to find information and purchase products. Google has even stated that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries,” including the United States. This momentum toward mobile has big implications for eCommerce retailers. In 2015, mobile commerce sales totaled $104.05 billion—a 38.7% increase from 2014. We predict that the numbers will continue to grow for 2017.
First and foremost, we recommend transitioning to a mobile-friendly website if you haven’t already. In 2015, Google announced that they were giving preference to mobile-friendly sites within organic search results. We speculate that this carries over into paid search results as well. So, get your site mobile-friendly ASAP.
Another thing to consider is that you can adjust mobile bids on the campaign and ad group level. Not all campaigns and ad groups are going to perform equally, so keep this in mind. For example, if you have a campaign dedicated to your brand name, you might want to keep mobile bids at the same level as desktop, whereas for campaigns with broader general keywords, you might want to decrease mobile bids significantly at first. From there, you can tweak mobile bid modifiers based on performance data.
Another mobile feature AdWords offers is device preference for ads. You can create “mobile preferred” ads within the same ad group as regular ads, and Google will give these priority when the ad is triggered from a mobile device. It’s not mandatory to create mobile-preferred ads, but, with this feature, you can tailor ad copy and incorporate mobile ad extensions. For example, you could create a mobile-preferred ad and append “/mobile-friendly” to the display URL to let shoppers know they’ll land on a mobile-friendly site.
Google is always testing how they display ads on all devices. So, as a general best practice, we recommend monitoring how your ads look on mobile and adjusting mobile-preferred ad copy accordingly. Does it make sense to put USPs in description line 1 or 2? Should your title be shorter? Different?
By regularly monitoring mobile ads, you can make strategic decisions and stand out from the competition. Did you know that Google will sometimes replace description line 2 with sitelinks in mobile ads? You can opt out of that by using this form, or you can choose to create separate mobile-preferred ads with the most compelling ad copy in description line 1.
Google also rolled out a new feature called “Call Only” campaigns. Call Only campaigns only target mobile devices. Call Only Ads are displayed differently from standard ads on mobile devices. The headline is always displayed as your phone number and includes a prominent call button. When a searcher clicks on the ad or call button, they will be prompted with “Do You Want to Call … ?” With one more click, the number will be dialed.
Call Only campaigns are more tedious to set up and manage in AdWords than standard campaigns, so you’ll want to make sure this makes sense for your business. In many cases, Call Only campaigns are most effective for lead generation businesses that place a high value on phone calls. For eCommerce businesses that feel like call only ads could be beneficial, we recommend testing them alongside standard campaigns which also target mobile.
By default, AdWords campaigns target all devices—desktop, tablet, and mobile—and, by default, bidding is set equally across all devices. You cannot set different bids between desktop and tablet, but you can adjust mobile bids.
Generally speaking, our recommendation is to set the bid adjustment for mobile devices lower than desktop to start out. However, whereas the bid modifier may have meant a huge reduction in the past, it is not quite as significant today. In some cases, you might want to run ads at the same bid level across devices, but it’s best to let the data dictate device bidding.
One new metric to pay attention to within AdWords is that of cross-device conversions. Previously, there was no visibility in the AdWords UI indicating conversions which originated from an ad click on one device but that were ultimately completed on another. Now, the cross-device conversion metric helps close the data gap.
This metric, for the most part, can be interpreted as how many sales originated from mobile ads. It’s important to keep in mind that Google estimates this figure. It is not the true amount of sales spanning multiple devices. Rather, Google pulls from the enormous amount of data at its disposal to make estimates. Google claims they won’t report any cross-device conversion data unless they have “at least 95% confidence that the calculation is within 10% of the actual value.”
Because this metric is mostly an indication of mobile efficacy, we recommend adding the cross-device conversion column when analyzing performance. You can see data on the campaign, ad group, and even keyword level. However, we’ve noticed some quirky patterns in how Google reports this data.
There might be zero cross-device conversions in a campaign for 20 days, then, all of a sudden, one keyword reports 25 cross-device conversions on a single day. Our assumption is Google aggregates these estimates and reports them in some kind of “summarized” fashion. Therefore, we recommend using long date ranges and looking at the campaign level when analyzing this data.
Furthermore, Google offers the option to include cross-device conversions in the standard conversions column. Due to the uncertainty and irregularity of how this metric is reported, we don’t recommend doing so at this time. Keeping the conversion columns separated still allows advertisers and account managers to see both without creating the potential for any skewed data.
Ad extensions are important elements of a successful AdWords account, and Google is regularly making changes to them. Ad extensions supplement the core ad copy, providing searchers with more information about your business. Not only do they inform the searcher, but they also take up more real estate on the search results page.
However, these extensions do more than just aesthetically enhance ads. Google made a significant announcement when they revealed that ad extensions were to be included in the infamous quality score calculation. This means that the better your ad extensions are, the better your quality score will be—therefore, improving ad position and lowering cost-per-click.
Ad extensions come in several forms. You’ll want to implement as many ad extensions that you can as long as they make sense for your business. Here’s an explanation of each type of ad extensions currently available in AdWords.
Sitelinks are links that display underneath your core ad copy and which send users to specific pages on your website (other than the main landing page of the ad). Not only do they provide a shortcut to other areas of the website, but they also provide the searcher with a greater understanding of the business. Sitelinks can be one line, or you can add 2 additional lines of text to the main sitelink.
A location extension shows your business info along with your ad, such as your address, phone number, and hours of operation. This is very important for local businesses running ads targeted to specific geographic locations around their physical store. It might not make sense to use location extensions if you are a national retailer with thousands of locations, but, if you do have a nearby brick and mortar, you should definitely include location extensions.
Location extensions are based on your Google My Business profile. You have to link at least one business location to your AdWords account for these extensions to work. We recommend advertisers always make sure their Google My Business account is up to date and accurate. If you have multiple locations, make sure all of the information is correct for each one.
This is very important for searches that are conducted on mobile devices because, if you have a location extension enabled in your account, you are eligible for the new “nearby business” mobile ad format. This mobile format displays directions and click-to-call links when someone searches for businesses “nearby” or “near me” on a mobile device. Again, this is more important for local stores than for national eCommerce stores.
Call extensions display your phone number with the ad. You have the ability to either use your phone number or a Google Forwarding number. By using a Google Forwarding number, you have more insights into the performance of the extension. Google also gives you the option to count phone calls as conversions. You can even set a threshold for how long the phone call must be before it is counted as a conversion.
Review extensions are additional third party reviews that you can include to show up beneath your ad. These could be a positive write-up about your business, an award, or a ranking. Review extensions only show up on desktop searches.
Callout extensions are similar to sitelinks, but, instead of linking to a landing page, they give the advertiser the ability to say more about their business. Callout extensions are a great way to boast any unique selling points, such as free shipping, price match guarantee, military discount, authorized dealer, free tech support, PayPal accepted, etc.
Structured Snippets Extensions
Structured snippets extensions allow your ads to highlight specific qualities about your product or service which give searchers more information before they click through to your site. However, you can only use two at a time within your ad. Google offers a specific list of the types of structured snippets that you can use. They are:
In addition to providing the searcher with more information, structured snippets also take up more real estate on the search page, which can help to make your ad stand out, improve your click-through rate, and improve your quality score. Sellers Ratings
These are not ad extensions that you manipulate within the AdWords UI, but they do show within the ad copy. Seller ratings appear as gold stars within text ads and indicate which advertisers have positive ratings for customer service. These stars increase click-through rate and draw more attention to the ad, as they help it stand out from the competition.
Not only that, but Seller Ratings help build immediate confidence in shoppers. Because of the added credibility, we’ve seen increases in conversation rates when seller ratings appear. All of these factors combined can make a noticeable impact on ROAS.
To be eligible to show seller ratings, you need the following:
At least 30 reviews within the last 12 months
Average star rating between 3.5–5
Sellers Ratings can come from the following sources:
Google Trusted Stores.
Google Consumer Surveys.
Other independent review websites, such as Bizrate. For a full list of these sites and more information, click here.
Another trend emerging lately is audience-based targeting, not only for display ads but also for search ads. Below are some examples, but we expect the capabilities to grow throughout 2017.
Customer Match: Businesses can now upload their customer email list into Google AdWords and target that list in search campaigns.
Audience Insights: AdWords now provides more information about remarketing audiences. This feature, called Audience Insights, reports on various demographics among audiences, such as a breakdown by age, gender, and parental status. You can also see a breakdown of users by device and other top level insights.
Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSA): You can re-target audience lists, such as previous website visitors, within search and shopping campaigns. Previously, this feature was exclusive to display campaigns only.
Household Income Tier: AdWords allows advertisers to add a layer of targeting to search and display campaigns based on the average household income of a given geographical location. This feature is currently only available within the United States.
Recommendations for 2017:
Customer Match: In order to utilize this feature, you will need to upload your customer email addresses into the AdWords interface. AdWords offers the option to encrypt the email addresses before uploading them into the interface via the customer match SHA2. While this is not mandatory, it should be considered.
Depending on the data that accompanies the customer email list, advertisers should consider segmenting their email list into multiple lists based on customer data. For example, you could segment your list into two lists, one being for customers who have made purchases in the past, and the other being for customers who have not. If the data is available, and there are enough email addresses per list, you could segment into even more granular audiences.
Based on the previous example, you could break it down even further by segmenting based on the number of orders, the average order values, or the types of products purchased. Lists have to be a minimum of 1000 emails, so keep that in mind when segmenting.
Once you have segmented the lists, make sure that they are in .csv format and are no larger than 100 megabytes. Also, keep in mind that these do not have to be Gmail addresses. As you upload your list into AdWords (Shared Library > Audiences > +Remarketing List > Customer Emails), make sure that you use a descriptive title when naming your email lists so that it is easily identifiable.
After they have been uploaded, Google will attempt to match the email addresses with Google accounts. Keep in mind that Google will not be able to match all of your email addresses for remarketing purposes. It is safe to expect a match rate of roughly 50%, so we recommend including a minimum of 2,000 email addresses per list in order to meet the 1k minimum post-matching.
After your lists have been matched, you can add them into any search campaign, just like you would to any remarketing audience. This is not currently applicable to shopping and display campaigns. We recommend initially adding email list audiences with a 0% bid adjustment. As you gather data, you can determine how much to increase bids for each audience.
RLSA: With “Remarketing Lists for Search Ads,” advertisers can add remarketing audiences to search campaigns, similar to how you would with a display campaign. We recommend initially adding the remarketing audience to all search ad groups with a 0% bid adjustment. As you continue to gather data over time, you can then decide on how much to increase the bids for these audiences.
Household Income Tier: We recommend adding all 6 income tiers to all search and display campaigns initially at a 0% bid adjustment. For this feature, we also recommend allowing at least 6 months of data to gather before adjusting the bids for these audiences. In order to add these audiences, click on a campaign, and then click settings > locations tab > +locations > advanced search > location groups > choose location group type > demographics. Enter United States in the box, and then click on select household income tier, and add each tier.
Audience Insights: To see audience insights, navigate to the shared library and click on any audience. From there, you can toggle between the various options and gather insights based on the data presented. There are various ways that you can apply this information. For example, if there is a high percentage of users in particular segments, you can add those as layers of targeting in your display campaigns. You could even tailor ad copy to a particular audience segment.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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