24 SEM tips for e-commerce: Boost your sales in 2017!

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In the run up to Christmas, we’re giving the traditional chocolate advent calendar a digital makeover! Over the next 24 days, we will be updating this blog article with a brand new tip every day, helping you optimise your SEM campaigns and give your revenue a huge boost in 2017. Ready? Let the countdown to the holidays begin!


1. Think Twitter with expanded text ads

Expanded text ads (ETA) now give you nearly 50% more space to display your title, description and URL. Just like In Twitter posts, be sure to make the most of a huge 140 characters by revising and getting creative with your ad copy.

There is no reason not to, especially when Broadplace claims that the average click-through rate for ETA’s is 188% higher than standard text ads.

2. Are your ads calling for action?

Add calls to action and tell users about some of the unique benefits of your products. This will help to differentiate your ads from the competitions’. Not convinced about CTAs? Check out some of these amazing CTA facts:

  • More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy
  • By adding well-places CTAs, Brafton increased its e-commerce conversion rate by 22%

3. The proof is in the pudding data

Consider testing several ads against each other using different headlines or descriptions. Compare metrics such as click-through and conversion rates to see which performs better. Online retailers in Europe claim that campaign profitability is one of the main challenges in SEM. A/B testing can help to improve this problematic.

4. Test using Google’s Drafts and Experiments

The Campaign Drafts and Experiments tool by Google lets you measure the impact of your changes before you apply them to a campaign. Selected solutions providers also use this tool to let you test the effectiveness of their services.


5. Don’t be a victim to Confirmation Bias

Even when you think you have found a winning test, keep on testing. You may find that a new ad will do even better than your current control version. Jeremy Smith states that Confirmation Bias is a key issue: Many digital marketers make the mistake of getting the result they’re looking for and then see no reason to continue the test.

6. Are you revealing enough early on?

Enabling price extensions for mobile lets you display your offers in detail and provide pricing information early on in the buying process. Be warned – you will need to give your ads the best chance of getting up there, because only the top spot in AdWords will display prices.

7. Give your customers the means to reach out

With over 20% of Google searches for local products or services, you can increase in-house visits by using Location and Call extensions. These features allow you to show your company details such as the address, phone number, hours etc. For mobile ads, don’t forget that you can include a button to allow users to contact you directly or find directions to your store.


8. How healthy is your account structure?

An AdWords account structure with a little as one product per ad group – or a SKAG structure – will give you better control over bids. Bid up on products that convert well, and bid down on poor-performing items.

9. Are you going beyond the basics of RLSA?

Creating segments based on different client types and audience behavior will take your bidding strategy to another level. Consider using a solutions provider if you also want to accurately estimate users’ intention to buy.

10. Catch those missing customers

Use Google’s demographic targeting options at ad group level to create bid adjustments for different demographics and discover potential customers you might be missing. For example, Google claims that:

  • 56% of sporting goods searchers on mobile are female
  • 45% of home improvement searchers on mobile are women
  • 68% of skin & body care influencers from June-December 2015 were men

You can delve even further by using a granular view of how layered demographic options perform in search campaigns. Select ‘View demographic combinations’ and select criteria such as gender and age.

11. Fill in huge keyword gaps

Dynamic Search Ads automatically generate ads and keywords based on your landing page content. This feature is extremely useful to help fill in gaps for keywords you may have missed manually and the method is particularly beneficial for content-rich websites.


12. Optimise bids per device

According to Google, we have an average of 3.4 connected devices per person in the UK and 74% of Britons use a smartphone, so neglecting the mobile trend will come at a heavy cost in 2017. What’s more, mobile CPCs are often cheaper than those on desktop, so consider allocating a percentage of your budget to this channel.

You can delve even further by using a granular view of how layered demographic options perform in search campaigns. Select ‘View demographic combinations’ and select criteria such as gender and age.

13. Prioritise your campaigns

Create an ‘all products’ campaign and set it low. Then, almost all of your other campaigns can be medium priority, while high priority is reserved for products you really want to push during high shopping seasons such as the sales, Mother’s Day or Black Friday.

14. Don’t over-obsess with exact matches

You might be used to concentrating on exact matches in AdWords, but why not try testing a bit of modified broad match to capture incremental and relevant volume during important e-commerce periods? In fact, research shows that more than 85% of all long-tail conversions come from broad match and broad-match modifier keywords.

sem-tips-2017-ecommerce-1415. Are your top-clicked products being advertised?

Is your product feed for Google Shopping up to date? This year Google calculated that in a given moment, 12% of top-clicked products were not being advertised because they were disapproved or out of stock. Don’t let small mistakes affect your performance in 2017 – you could be missing out on key conversions!

16. Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy

Your products will not be shown in Google Shopping if information in your feed is not accurate. Pay particular attention to prices (especially if you are using international currencies) and make sure that all destination URLs direct to live pages.

17. Oops! Are your images being rejected?

Visuals are everything, so make sure that your images are high-quality and on a white background.  Don’t forget that watermarks are seen unfavorably and ‘family friendly’ options are less likely to get rejected.


18. Successfully run your promotions

Promotions help to set you apart from the crowd, so be sure to keep your prices up-to-date. Google Shopping will automatically detect price drops in the product feed, but you will need to add promotions for text ads manually. Add start and end dates in AdWords to ensure that this information is always ship-shape.

19. Segment your PPC analysis

Analyse the performance of your campaigns per day of the week and hour of the day. By doing so, you can understand how you should be adjusting your bids for ultra-efficient campaigns and better ROI.

Campaign ROI segmentation per hour of the day


20. When did you last review your negative keywords?

Negative keywords are important help you avoid wasting clicks on users that have little or no intention to buy your products. Make sure that you are excluding relevant search terms from your campaigns and constantly revise your list to keep it updated.

21. Bid brilliantly on brands

Bidding high on your own brand name makes sense because the users that are searching for it are the most likely to convert. Despite this, Search Engine Land confirms that “Many marketers pay little attention to their own branded searches and are outright missing opportunities to bid on their competitors’ branded terms”.


22. Are you wasting clicks on your audience?

If you only deliver to certain geo zones, it is a no-brainer to limit who gets to see your ads. Doing so will reduce wasted clicks on an audience that is ultimately unable to buy your products.

23. Keep past converters close

Did someone buy from you in 2016? Chances are, they still like your products in 2017. Create a re-marketing audience based on past converters – you could even give them a special discount for the New Year.

A recent case study shows that campaigns targeting existing site visitors have a third the Cost per Conversion, double the CTR and almost cut CPCs in half.


24. Change is right now, Automation is the future

User behavior and product performance change constantly, so in an ideal world, your bidding strategy should be modified accordingly. Automated solutions allow you to do this with little effort.

In fact, Twenga states that automated solutions can help to improve Google Shopping campaigns and text ads by an average of 45% and 30% respectively.


Check in regularly! We will be adding 1 new tip every single day until Christmas!

Everything you need to know about Search Engine Marketing for E-Commerce

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