If you are like me, after cost of goods sold, your second biggest expense is advertising. If you are selling in the B2C space, then chances are you are paying big dollars each month to Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords). You may be spending on Google Search ads, or Google Shopping ads as well as retargeting using their product and display advertising also. I’m going to focus this post on Google Shopping Ads, since that is where I have found that I am best spending most of my ad dollars.
I run a high ticket e-commerce site hosted on Shopify. Shopify is great for many reasons, but one thing it doesn’t do natively is integrate well with Google Ads. Now, yes, there maybe some apps to do these, but mostly these optimizations are best done directly in the Google Ads Dashboard.
#1: Build A Negative Keywords List
I’m starting with the biggest and easiest single win you can have in lowering your cost of wasteful keyword Google Shopping traffic. If you are like me, you likely went months before you realized how much cash you were spending on badly targeted keywords. The trick with keywords is figuring out how much “intent to purchase” they are likely connected with.
For example “how to build a shed” vs “steel 8×8 shed” are at both ends of the intent spectrum. If you are selling sheds, then the more specific product features the better. There are many buyers in the learning or research phase that may at some point say “screw it, I’m just going to buy a shed rather than build one!”. However, generally speaking they will go away for awhile and research, watch videos and ponder how much work it’s going to be to build a shed themselves. Then their partner say something like “You don’t know one end of a hammer from the other! Just buy a shed kit for gosh sakes!”.
Don’t pay for learners and researchers if you don’t offer “how to” products specifically. These are low buying intent people who would sooner buy a book, or read an article than make an ecommerce purchase at this point. You generally don’t want to pay for their traffic, since they are “tire kickers” are waaay up the road to a purchase… still in the driveway really.
So how to I avoid these “researchers” and “low intent buyers”? Well, you need to add some negative keywords to your Google Ads Shopping campaign. Start with using a phrase match (words will match exactly the phrase, but with others in front or after) such as “how to” or “diy shed” or “build”. You get the idea. Now, careful if you sell shed kits however. You will want to ensure that your “positive” keywords involve words like “shed kit” or even better, think features “steel shed kit” or “wood shed kit”.
#2; Broad vs Phrase vs Exact Match?
Leveraging these three match types is very important when managing your ad spend. Knowing the difference between the keyword types below will have a huge impact on the quality of traffic that you will drive to your website. Use them wisesly and know also that with “exact matches”, for example, Google can include a term with the same meaning that you never thought about! So, “wood shed” may include “wooden shed” in your results.
Keyword match types
Broad Match => steel +shed, which can contain misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations. The “+” sign means that word must be included, but others without it don’t.
Exact Match => [steel shed], matches of the term or close variations of that exact term with the same meaning.
Phrase Match => “steel shed”, matches of the phrase (or close variations of the phrase) with additional words before or after.
#3: Geotarget To Save Shipping Costs!
If you are a dropshipper that sells to Canada or the US, and your warehouse is on, say, the east coast, then this one could save you big time! These days, including “Free Shipping” is the norm and expectation, as are fast delivery times of not more than a week or two max. Making your customers happy with fast order preparation and delivery is key.
Saving money on your shipping costs by sending products within a day or two from your warehouse is a very easy and smart way to lower costs, and boost customer satisfaction. Luckily, Google Ads lets you geotarget states or provinces with your ads. You can also exclude certain regions, such as the far north of Canada where shipping quickly becomes very pricey. Of course this not only applies to Google Ads, but also Facebook or Instagram promotions.
#4: Day Of The Week Scheduling
Did you know that the biggest e-commerce shopping day is Monday, followed closely by Sunday and then Saturday & Friday? Often couples wait until the end of the work week to connect and make financial decisions. On the weekend, typically families can discuss what kind of shed or carport they need, and measure out their yard, talk to the neighbours etc.. Then come Monday, they have a come to an agreement with their partner and boom, time to spend!
Google Ads let’s you choose days of the week to spend. You can cluster heavier budgets around Friday to Monday, and easy off during the work week. It’s not to say that people will stop doing research during the week, but come the weekend, they are generally ready to make decisions and shop online.
#5. Manual vs Smart Bid Management
Managing your bids manually gives you more control, vs letting Google Ads do it via their Artificial Intelligence / Smart Bidding which uses conversion objectives. Personally, I like more control on a CPC basis vs letting Google Ads spend madly in their “learning” phase, which has cost me lots of cash in the past. Not to say that long-term this could pay off, but in my experience, I just didn’t see those results from AI.
Did you know that making your Google Ads Campaign priority set to “High” will help bring those ads more prominence?
Smart Bidding is a kind of Google Ads automated bidding strategy that uses machine learning to optimize for conversions. Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, and Enhanced CPC (ECPC) are all Smart Bidding strategies. According to Google, to maximize results and give machine learning algorithms enough data to make informed bidding decisions, they recommend you have at least 30 conversions in the past 30 days before using Target CPA and 50 conversions in the past 30 days for Target ROAS. Again, a caveat is that there is a “learning” period even with these conversions which will cost you extra money.
How high should I bid on cost per click on Google Shopping Ads?So $300 x 0.2% conversion rate = $0.60 per click, divided in half = $0.30 Max CPC
(Profit per Sale x Click to Sale Conversion Rate) / 2 = Cost per click (CPC)
A more manual “control freak” approach is where you can set your Campaign to “Maximize Clicks” and place a ceiling CPC (cost per click) amount for each campaign. This approach is my preference vs Smart Bidding personally. Being a “CPC control freak”, I like to know exactly how much I spend for each product up to a maximum CPC. Yes, I watch my Cost per Conversion, and change my manual bids accordingly. I also like to raise CPCs for more profitable products where this can pay back effectively.
Here is a video I created walking you through some screens of the Google Shopping interface and with further explanations on these optimizations.