9 google ads best practices for shopify merchants

9
Google ads best practices guide AdNabu

As the leading (and growing) ecommerce platform for stores of all sizes, Shopify makes it easy for even the most inexperienced merchant to get a store up and running. 

Part of Shopify’s core value proposition is driving the right traffic to your site. However, converting those shoppers into buyers is a never-ending challenge for merchants. 

With the help of modern PPC practices, targeting the right shopper groups has quite literally never been easier. Merchants have full access to marketing tools of all types, but the one we’ll focus on today is perhaps the most effective: Google Ads.

The unique advertising power of Google Ads is threefold:

  1. You can find the exact people searching for the exact products you’re selling
  2. You can simplify their journey to purchase before they even land on your site
  3. You can appear to new audiences from just about anywhere (minus private networks like Facebook and Twitter) to drive more sales

Here are the top best practices for Shopify merchants running Google Ads campaigns in 2020:

Get your Ads in front of high-potential shoppers

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need your ads to be seen by high-potential shoppers to drive better quality traffic to your store. Start by building an airtight Google Ads strategy. 

#1. Create a scalable strategy

Just like with any PPC or marketing plans, it’s crucial to define your business goals and create tactics to support them.

Building a strategy will inform how much you want to spend on Google Ads each month, where your ad dollars should be allocated, the KPIs you need to measure, the ways to differentiate your product listing ads and individual ads, and what your mix of ads looks like.

In other words, your Shopify Google Ads strategy will define everything about how your campaigns are set up and monitored over time. 

#2.  Diversify your campaigns

Don’t limit your campaigns to “what you’ve always done.”

It’s good to use what’s proven effective for your store, but if you don’t test new types of campaigns, keyword bids, ad copy or designs, you’re missing out on the beauty of modern PPC: experimenting! 

Experimenting will also help you identify the types of campaigns that are most relevant to your audience, product categories, and business goals. 

Optimize your campaigns

We’ll talk more about tracking your Google Ads campaigns further down the page, but this is where tracking begins: campaign optimization.

You can use insights from Google Analytics to test your ads’ targeting, designs, ad copy, and bidding strategies. With this data, you can make the changes that lead to more clicks. These changes can be as simple as updating the text or changing an image in the ad. 

Before you start optimizing, make sure your ads have been running long enough (usually at least a few weeks) to have an accurate sample size.

#3.  Utilize the Google Shopping Network

The Google Shopping Network is your friend! Creating Shopping ads is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your Shopify store. These types of ads feature your product images and are shown at the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

To optimize your Google Shopping ads, make sure you:

  1. Use high-quality product images
  2. Optimize your product data feed
  3. Optimize your product page (landing page) so shoppers land at a place where they can easily add a product to cart

#4.  Use your keywords wisely

Even in 2020, using the right keywords on your ads and product pages is still a useful and necessary Google Ads strategy. Keywords still help drive high-quality traffic to your store. 

When it comes to the type of keyword, the more specific long-tail keywords still take the cake. These types of keywords are naturally narrowed to fit specific product searches, plus they’re less competitive across the Google Network. In other words, you can drive more traffic for less ad spend. 

However, as was true in 2019, 2018 and even years before, going overboard with keywords-per-page (i.e. keyword stuffing) is a no-no in the PPC world. Google has taken numerous measures to prevent advertisers from using this method and penalize those that still do; too many keywords per page will actually hurt your campaign relevancy. 

Start with 10-20 highly relevant keywords for each ad group. From there, you can narrow down and purge the keywords that proving to be less relevant once your ads have been running for a few weeks. These keywords can also provide valuable insights into what shoppers are searching for more often and more recently.

Use high commercial intent keywords

Working in high commercial intent keywords in your ad copy can help shoppers “get over the hump” of making a purchase on your Shopify store. Examples of these keywords include: 

  • Buy now keywords (e.g. buy, discount)
  • Inbound keywords (e.g. download for free, offering free shipping)
  • Product keywords (e.g. review, product category)
  • Informative keywords (e.g. how-to, etc.) 

#5.  Optimize your targeting (and retargeting)

You can set up your ad campaigns to specifically target shoppers by location, demographic information like age and gender, interests, product likes, or lookalike audiences, all of which are helpful for sorting out low-potential buyers.

When narrowing your audience, it’s better to “over-target” than “under-target”. While it may seem like the more people that see your ads, the better, it’s actually the opposite — quality of click matters more than quantity. Don’t pay for clicks that likely won’t convert!

#6.  Qualify your clicks & traffic

More clicks are great, but unless those clicks convert to buyers, they’re not worth much. They actually lose you money.

To qualify your clicks (and see which ones are actually helping your store) and filter out low-quality clicks, include information like pricing, where you ship, and even product availability if you’re running a limited-time promotion.

Scale your campaigns

Once you’ve tracked your campaigns and know exactly which ones are driving the most traffic (and leading to the most sales), you can double down on your best ads (give them more of your budget) and wave goodbye to your lower-performing ones. 

Scaling your campaigns isn’t just a one-time budget decision. It’s a gradual process of upping your spend on better campaigns and pulling the plug on others (including test campaigns). However, before you up to your spend on any campaign, make sure it’s not just driving traffic, but traffic that actually buys your products, or at least adds to cart before bouncing. 

“Small events” like adds to the cart may sound tough to track, but automated tools like Littledata make it incredibly easy for merchants. Littledata automatically tracks every event — real-time — that shoppers take on your site, from a simple page view to every time they add or subtract a product from your cart. Track every shopper event from the comfort of your laptop!

#7.  Get more bang for your budget

Aligning your ad strategy with your budget is a surefire way to maximize the traffic you generate from your budget.

If you run a smaller store and have a limited budget (e.g. $500/mo), unless you get better traffic from other channels, it’s better to focus all that budget on Google Ads campaigns rather than spreading it across multiple platforms like Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, Twitter Ads, etc.

If you’re operating with a larger budget (e.g. $15,000/mo), put more money behind bigger audience segments, competitive keywords, and test out different types of ads to increase your click potential. 

#8.  Retarget to boost conversions

Most shoppers don’t make a purchase the first time they visit your site. In fact, only 17% of shoppers browse with the intent to purchase

This common shopping behavior is exactly why retargeting ads are so effective for Shopify stores. Retargeting ads help you bring warm leads (those who already have at least one interaction with your brand or products) back to your site. Because they’ve expressed interest before, their chances of buying the second, third, or fourth time around are substantially better (up to 70% better, in fact).

Just like a typical search or display ad, you can qualify the audience that sees your retargeting ads by filters like demographic info, location, interests, and affinity.

There are a few different types of retargeting ads that may have different outcomes, depending on your industry, store type, store size and product lineup. These ads include: 

  1. Standard retargeting ads
  2. Dynamic retargeting ads
  3. Mobile app retargeting ads
  4. Email list retargeting

#9.  Track your metrics and ROI with 100% accuracy

As mentioned earlier, proper Google Ads tracking shows you where the best traffic is coming from, who from that group is most likely to be a customer, and what kind of messaging attracts high-potential shoppers. 

Standard Shopify stores (non-subscription) will most likely measure Google Ad success by lead generation, average order value, sales revenue and successful ad campaign attribution (finding which campaigns worked best). 

For subscription stores, metrics like church rate are what merchants live and die by. That’s why tracking is so crucial — different types of merchants focus on metrics that help them make the best decisions for their store. 

Since there are dozens of significant metrics worth tracking, having a data tool you can trust means everything; the Littledata Shopify app does just that by ensuring 100% of your ecommerce events are tracked and recorded, all within the familiar platform of Google Analytics. 

Shopify Google Ads conversion tracking

While you can use Google Ads conversion tracking to track every action a shopper takes on your site after clicking your ad, not every event is measured accurately. 

Littledata’s Google Ads Shopify connection also ensures your conversions are 100% accurately tracked, so you can attribute sales to your higher-converting campaigns and know exactly which ads give your store a better ROI.

Thinking into the future

At the end of the day, the key to success with Shopify Google Ads is to have a deep understanding of who is buying from your store (and who you want to buy from your store). 

Nailing down your buyer persona is perhaps the most important practice for merchants heading into 2020. Your buyer persona informs your decision-making more than anything else because selling to intrigued shoppers is far easier than selling to indifferent ones. 

But of course, the only way to measure your marketing success is to track your campaigns at every stage. 

After connecting your Shopify store to Google Analytics for accurate ecommerce tracking, linking Google Ads to Google Analytics is your next best step to fully track and optimize your campaigns. Happy tracking!

About the Author

This is a guest post by Nico Ghibaudy, Marketing Manager at Littledata. Littledata is a top-rated smart analytics app that automatically fixes tracking for ecommerce stores, including shopper behavior and marketing attribution, all within the familiar dashboard of Google Analytics. Littledata has a suite of smart connections for Shopify, Shopify Plus, ReCharge, Google Ads, Facebook Ads and more!

About the author

Salil Panikkaveettil

CEO and co founder of AdNabu. Exploring the intersection of data and marketing

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