Results for 'ecommerce adwords'

5 Ecommerce AdWords Tips from an Ex-Googler

Advertising on Google AdWords can be one of the most cost-effective ways to market your ecommerce store –…


This is Part 1 in a Series of Blog Posts by Anton McCarthy.

Advertising on Google AdWords can be one of the most cost-effective ways to market your ecommerce store – if done right. That can be a big ‘if’- given that AdWords is a complex system which requires constant monitoring of your campaigns, as well as keeping up to date with the latest trends and developments - something which can be tricky for a busy business owner to manage. In this article, I will give you some quick-fire tips and tactics to help you better manage your AdWords campaigns, and to help you capture opportunities your competitors may be missing out on.

Here are 5 tips to improve your Google AdWords campaigns:

1. Use Ad Extensions to Improve Your CTR

Probably the best thing about AdWords  is its broad range of features, which enable you to get the most out of your spend and maximise your reach among potential clients and visitors to your site. These are usually free and easy to implement, and can allow you to quickly increase your share of real estate on Google search results pages at minimal effort. One such example is a feature called ad sitelinks, which allows you to display additional links to pages on your site beneath your ad. As an example, below you'll see an ad for Shopify: The links that say "Feature Tour" , "Plans & Pricing" ..etc.. are ad sitelinks. 

These are quick and painless to set up, and can have a very positive effect on click-through rates (CTR) as they increase the amount of space your ad takes up on the page, and may entice more users to click on ad your ad, given there is more relevant information being shown and your ad is simply more noticeable. As with everything AdWords related – testing is key. Therefore, ensure you are testing the results from this free feature. Also consider using Location, Call and Social extensions for even greater visibility for your ads to get the edge on your competition. Learn more about Google Ad Sitelinks.

2. Use Negative Keywords to Reduce Your Costs & Increase ROI

Put simply, if you or whoever is in charge of managing your AdWords campaign is not using negative keywords – question why. Negative keywords allow you to specify keywords for which you do not want your ads to appear, and are an often overlooked tool. For example, let’s say you are running a campaign advertising a software product, but you don’t do free trials or give your product away for free. If you don’t have the keyword ‘free’ in your negative keyword list for that campaign, you are most likely needlessly incurring costs from people clicking on your ads in search of free software products - who will not find them on your site! This is harmful for your ROI as it means you are wasting money on visitors who are unlikely to purchase anything from you or engage with you, as you aren’t offering what they are looking for (a free product). An extensive keyword list is crucial to your campaign. Start your lists with the most obvious relevant negative keywords and work on building your lists from there in line with your product or service offerings – your campaigns will thank you for it. Learn more about negative keywords

3. Use Impression Share Data to Find Ways to Increase Traffic

One under-utilized source of data in Google AdWords is impression share. Impression share is a metric in your AdWords account which shows you what percentage of available impressions your ads are appearing on Google for. Simply put, out of all the times your ad could have shown, how much did it show? If impression share for a particular campaign is low, then you are missing out on clicks and traffic and you may need to review your campaigns – in particular your budget, your keywords and your bids. If a particular campaign has low impression share, then you can increase it through ensuring that your keywords are very relevant to your ad copy, and most importantly to your landing page. Optimizing in these areas can mean that your ads start to become more relevant and you start to appear more often. Also experiment with increasing your bids slightly to see how that impacts impression share – it may result in you attracting more traffic without spending all that much more. In addition, ensure that you are only targeting the relevant regions or countries via your campaign settings.

4. Optimise your Landing Pages for Better Results

This is a critical and frequently overlooked aspect of managing and optimizing a Google AdWords campaign. There is not much point in having a perfectly set-up campaign if the page you are driving traffic to is poorly designed or laid-out, or just plain unattractive. In fact, this will actually have a negative impact on campaign performance, as Google rewards well-thought out sites and punishes poor landing pages. After all, sub-optimal landing pages are less likely to give the user what they are searching for. Ensuring your landing page is the most relevant one a user can land on following a click on your ad means you are maximizing the chances that they will convert to a sale or lead on your site – and minimizing the cost for that click at the same time. Remember – Google rewards relevancy. Check that each ad leads to the most relevant page on your site! 

5. Tracking, Tracking, Tracking!

This one should go without saying, but should serve as a wake-up call to any AdWords advertiser who is not yet using at least one form of tracking in their account. This might be AdWords Conversion Tracking, Google Analytics (both free) - or some other tracking mechanism (or a combination of all three). To spend money on advertising without knowing how your investment is converting is something no business needs to do when it comes to online advertising – and only means you are in the dark when it comes to determining your ROI! Conversion Tracking in particular is simple to set up and allows you to track whenever a click leads to an action being taken on your site which you deem valuable. This could be anything from a purchase on your site to an inquiry through your contact form, or a sign-up to your latest e-book. Whichever it may be, tracking allows you to directly measure your return on investment through recording the cost associated with each conversion – and that allows you to better manage your account and plan and strategize accordingly.


This is a guest post by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy. Currently, Anton is an online marketing specialist and entrepreneur who loves all things digital. You can find him blogging at antonmccarthy.com and Tweak Your Biz. Also follow Anton on Twitter

Google AdWords Conversion Tracking for Ecommerce

You can't optimize anything unless you know what parts are working and which aren't.  In this article you're…

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You can't optimize anything unless you know what parts are working and which aren't. 

This is Part 2 in a Series of Articles by Ex-Googler Anton McCarthy.

In this article you're going to learn the basics of Google AdWords Conversion Tracking. We'll cover what it is, how it works, and why you need it for your ecommerce store. Imagine this: You have an ecommerce store, and you use Google AdWords to drive traffic. You're spending part of your marketing budget on clicks each week, and you control your costs using your daily budget via your campaign settings. You let the campaign run for two weeks, and you check your online sales stats regularly over this period. At the end of the two weeks, you do a final tally of your  sales, also checking how many clicks you received on your ads and how much you spent on these clicks. You have your sets of numbers in place, except there is one small problem – you don’t know how many of these clicks translated into sales on your website!

Seems crazy, right? You wouldn’t pay a mechanic to fix your car if you didn’t know what they had fixed! So, why would you spend money on AdWords clicks without somehow tracking the return on and value of these clicks?

There is an answer – and it comes in the form of a free tool that you can find in your AdWords account called Conversion Tracking. Conversion Tracking allows you to track the return on investment (ROI) of the clicks on your ads, by letting you know if a click can lead to an action on your website that you deem to be of value. These actions are called ‘conversions’, since they help translate or ‘convert’ a click into a valuable business outcome.

Specifically, a conversion could consist of one or more of the following:

  • An online purchase;
  • An inquiry or lead via your contact form;
  • A newsletter sign-up;
  • A whitepaper download.

Why Track Conversions?

In addition to the fact that it makes sense to know the value of what you're spending on your AdWords clicks, tracking conversions also allows you to delve into the specifics of what's working in your AdWords campaign. So, not only can you track the overall ROI of your clicks, you can also track the following important elements:

Specific keywords that lead to a conversion: This allows you to identify which keywords are the most valuable to you, as well as the keywords which are providing less value. Using this crucial information, you can make more informed decisions around the structure of your campaigns.

The value of a conversion at a keyword level: Since you can identify which keywords lead to a conversion, you can also cross-reference the value of each conversion with the amount spent on clicks for each of those keywords. For example, let’s say you spent one dollar on Keyword A, and it resulted in a purchase worth ten dollars. You now have a piece of data that allows you to assess the value of that specific keyword over time. This means that you might assign greater budget to campaigns that contain similar keywords, or introduce more variations of that keyword in order to explore whether similar terms with lower average costs-per-click result in an even greater number of conversions and rate of return.

How Does Conversion Tracking Work?

The good news is that Conversion Tracking is free and really easy to set up. It simply involves inserting a snippet of code on the landing page that a visitor reaches after they have completed a conversion. So, this could be the ‘Thank you for your purchase’ landing page, or the page that thanks them for signing up to your newsletter. Google AdWords supplies this code for you to paste on the relevant pages of your site, and you can get this code as you proceed through the sign-up steps for Conversion Tracking.

An ecommerce merchant may want to track purchases of iPhone cases on their online store. In this case, the site owner would paste the snippet of code onto the page the customer lands on after purchasing an iPhone case. In practice, the following is a typical channel from click to conversion:

1. Customer clicks on an ad for the online store, following a search on iPhone case;
2. Having clicked on the ad, the customer browses the website and makes a purchase;
3. With Conversion Tracking in place, this purchase is recorded as a conversion against the relevant keyword ‘iPhone case.’

Counting Conversions

You may ask – how does Google track conversions in terms of clicks? In other words, if someone clicks more than once on my ad, but they only make one purchase, how is this measured? The answer is that Google records two types of conversions:

1. Conversions (1-per-click): This is where one conversion is recorded for each AdWords click resulting in a conversion within 30 days. What this means is that a limit of one conversion is recorded per click – conversions that occur after the first are not counted. For example, if a customer clicks an ad and makes a purchase on Monday, and then returns within 30 days to make another purchase, only the first conversion will be recorded. This metric is a good option to choose for conversions like contact form inquiries, where the value of the conversion tends to originate from one unique action.

2. Conversions (many-per-click): This metric will track all conversions that occur within a 30 day period following a single AdWords click. It is a useful option for conversions like purchases, where each one is of value every time it happens.

Conclusion

I hope that this article shines a light on how Google AdWords Conversion Tracking works, and more importantly - why you should start using it today if you do not already have it in place. If you're not assessing the impact of your AdWords spend, you're just guessing - and this is far from helpful when deciding whether to continue with your campaigns, or when looking for additional marketing budget. It may well be that your spend is bringing you lots of sales and providing great value in other ways, but you'll never know if you don't track it! With this free, easy-to-use tool, you can easily track your ROI and gain a really valuable insight into the true value of your AdWords campaigns.

Manage Your Google AdWords Campaigns More Efficiently With Dynamic Search Ads

This is Part 4 of our Google AdWords series by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy.  Part 1: Five Ecommerce Google…

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This is Part 4 of our Google AdWords series by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy. 

Are you an online store owner who has to manage a site with dozens, hundreds or perhaps even thousands of products? Managing your ads and keywords to reflect the availability of your products in stock takes a lot of time. Do you wish there were a quicker, easier way to manage your campaigns, freeing you up to spend less time on AdWords - and more time on your business?

Well, Google has a solution for you. Introducing: Dynamic Search Ads.

What Are Google Dynamic Search Ads?

Simply put, Dynamic Search Ads are ads that are automatically generated for you by Google. Unlike traditional Google AdWords ads which rely on you inputting lists of keywords, Dynamic Search Ads allow you to target users using the content on various pages of your website. This means that you don’t need to choose keywords that a user might use to find your product. Instead, Google automatically scans your website to determine which searches are a good match for the products on your website.

When a customer’s search is relevant to one of your products, Google dynamically generates an ad headline that includes words from the customer’s search and the content of the landing page on your website. The result is a dynamic search ad. Here's an example:


Why Use Dynamic Search Ads?

Dynamic Search Ads are a great time-saver for busy ecommerce merchants. Let’s say that you have a large variety of products to advertise, and are finding it difficult to find the time to manage all of your AdWords campaigns. Instead of having to invest lots of time matching keywords to landing pages and creating corresponding ad text, you can let Google generate relevant ads which match the searches users are performing to find the products you sell.

You also have full control in that you choose which pages on your website are to be used to generate ads. You can limit these pages to specific categories, e.g. your ‘Blue Widgets’ landing page, or you can choose all pages on your website. In addition, you can prevent ads from showing for products that are out of stock, reducing the need to monitor and then update your ads in such a manual fashion as before.

How Dynamic Search Ads Work

As mentioned, instead of using keywords to target your ads to searches, Dynamic Search Ads use content from your website to target ads to searches. You begin by letting Google know whether you wish to target ads to your entire website, or to specific sections:

  • Pages belonging to specific categories
  • Pages with titles containing certain words
  • Pages with URLs containing certain strings
  • Pages containing certain words

Once you have chosen your ad targets, Google then determines which searches might be relevant to the products listed on your website. When their technology locates searches that are a good fit for your dynamic ad targets, a headline is generated for your ad.

This headline includes text from the search phrase, and content from the landing page chosen for your ad. The remainder of the ad (i.e. the two description lines) is a template that you write when you first set up the campaign.

Dynamic Search Ads and Your Account

How do Dynamic Search Ads work relative to your regular keyword-targeted AdWords ads? 

Here are 5 important things to note:

1. Same Ranking As Normal Ads

The position or ranking of Dynamic Search Ads is determined in the same way as regular keyword-based ads. Dynamic Search Ads enter the auction as equals to keyword-based ads, with the position of your ads ultimately decided by the usual factors - the maximum cost-per-click bid you have selected for the dynamic ad target, and the dynamic search ad’s Quality Score.

2. Interactions With Keyword-Based Ads

If a customer’s search term is an exact match for one of your keywords, your dynamic search ad won’t show. An example is: [red shoes]. If a customer searches using this exact term, your text-based ad will display instead of a dynamic search ad. However, Google may show your dynamic search ad if there is a broad or phrase match with one of your keywords, and when your dynamic search ad has a higher Quality Score than your text-based ad.

3. Full Control and Flexibility

One of the big advantages of Dynamic Search Ads is the time-saving and efficiency they permit. For example, you ideally don't want ads to show which will lead the user to a ‘sold-out’ or ‘out of stock’ page. With keyword-based ads, it can be time-consuming and difficult to track each ad that might lead to such a page, especially if your site contains hundreds or even thousands of products. With Dynamic Search Ads, however, you can prevent your ads from showing when you add dynamic ad targets that exclude landing pages which contain these words.

4. Reporting and Statistics

You still get a full set of statistics and reports for your Dynamic Search Ads as with regular keyword-based ads, e.g. conversion rate data, click-through rates, cost-per-click averages, and so on. This means you can run analyses and compare how your Dynamic Search Ads are performing alongside your keyword-based ads - helping you to increase the performance of your AdWords campaigns and gain additional insight into your overall ROI.

5. Don't Forget Negative Keywords

If you're going to use Google Dynamic Search Ads, it's important to understand negative keywords. Further information on negative keywords can be found here. Best results will be generated when they're used with extensive negative keyword lists, otherwise, Google could match your site to anything.
 

Conclusion

I hope that this post provides you with a good overview of the benefits of Dynamic Search Ads, and how they could work for your ecommerce store. For more on the specifics of how to set up Dynamic Search Ads in your campaigns, please refer to Google’s useful Help Centre material for further information, and as always, feel free to ask a question in the comments!


Have you used Dynamic Search Ads? How have you found them? Do you have any useful hints or tips to share?


This is a guest post by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy. Currently, Anton is an online marketing specialist and entrepreneur who loves all things digital. You can find him blogging at antonmccarthy.com and Tweak Your Biz. Also follow Anton on Twitter.

Understanding AdWords Keyword Matching to Increase Sales By an Ex-Googler

IntroductionTo run a successful Google AdWords campaign, you NEED to understand keyword matching. It's one of the key…

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This is Part 3 of our Google AdWords series by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy. 

Introduction

To run a successful Google AdWords campaign, you NEED to understand keyword matching. It's one of the key factors in the set-up and management of a high-performing, cost-effective Google AdWords campaigns, especially for ecommerce stores. Using keyword matching, Google allows you to control which keywords searches may cause your ad to show. Therefore, it is crucial that you understand how keyword matching works, and how best to use it to your advantage.

Let’s examine each match type, and the benefits of each one.

Google AdWords keyword match types include:

  1. Broad match
  2. Broad match modifier
  3. Phrase match
  4. Exact match
  5. Negative match
Now lets dig deep into each type and I'll tell you exactly how to leverage them to increase ecommerce sales.

1. Broad Match

This is the simplest match type, and the one that is probably the easiest to understand.  It is also the default match type for any keyword. A keyword set to broad match will display ads on a wide range of variations of that keyword. These variations include plural and singular forms, misspellings, abbreviations, acronyms, and related terms.


For example, if you add the keyword ‘car’ to your ad group, your ad may display to someone searching for ‘cheap cars’, ‘white car’ or ‘second-hand car’. It may also show for someone searching for ‘new auto’.

The use of broad match allows you to gather a wide set of data relating to which keywords customers are using to find you. It can be a useful match type to use at the outset of a campaign in particular, and when you may not be all that sure which keywords customers are most likely to use when searching for what it is you sell. Then, once you have collected a reasonable amount of data on the keywords which are triggering your ads to display, you can use it to refine your campaign, eliminating the keywords which aren’t bringing you value.

The most obvious downside to broad match is that your ad can show for keywords which may not be all that relevant, meaning you may attract clicks from users who are not actively seeking your product or service. In other words, not every search comes with the intention to purchase. For example, is someone who searches for ‘new camera’ already in purchase mode, or just looking for information and reviews?

 You can address this issue by ensuring you have a good combination of other match types in your campaign, as well as using negative keywords, which we will come to later.

I recommend using broad match sparingly, and monitoring the statistics which relate to broad match keywords carefully and frequently.  You can also use the ‘search terms report’ to identify irrelevant searches which resulted in a click on your ad, and then add these terms as negative match keywords.

2. Broad Match Modifier

Broad match modifier allows your ads to show for more closely related variations of your keywords. It is a useful option for when you want to be found for a broad range of terms, but want to restrict this range to closely related terms which contain your keyword. So, the keyword term ‘+green car’ will allow your ads to show for ‘budget green car’, but not for ‘blue car’.


Depending on the keywords you have entered into your ad group, your ads may still display for terms that are not as tightly targeted to what you are selling. This means that you should ensure you have used as many appropriate negative keywords as possible, and that you monitor your campaign closely for the results and conversions you are achieving from your broad match modifier keywords.

To use broad match modifier, simply add the plus sign (+) beside the keyword you would like to trigger your ad; e.g. +green car.

3. Phrase Match

You can think of phrase match as a significantly more restrictive version of broad match. With phrase match, your ads will display for keyword searches which match your keywords exactly or with words before and after it.


An example is the phrase match keyword “green car”. For your ad to display on a search relating to ‘green car’, the search has to include those two words, in that specific order. This means that someone searching for ‘new green car’ is eligible to see your ad, but someone searching for ‘green budget car’, is not.

Phrase match offers some key advantages. It enables you to closely control the searches which will trigger your ad. In addition, you may likely pay less for your clicks using phrase match, since your keywords are more likely to be highly relevant to your ad text and to the products you sell on your landing page. With AdWords, greater relevance helps lead to lower overall cost in terms of the average cost-per-click (avg. CPC) you are likely to pay.

With phrase match, since you only show for very closely related terms, you may end up missing some keyword variants that may be relevant or useful to your campaign. However, you can help prevent this by coming up with a well-thought out list of relevant campaign keywords.

4. Exact Match

Exact match is simple to understand and means that your ads will show only for the exact term you specify, and no variants. For example, the exact match keyword [green car] will only trigger ads on that specific term. It will not show for searches on ‘budget green car’, or even ‘green cars’. It is a good option to use when your AdWords budget is limited, and when you want to maximise the relevancy factor in your campaign, i.e. if you want your ads to show only to those searching for the precise product or service you provide. Exact match can work particularly well when advertising specific product models or niche terms, e.g. ‘Camera model X3000’.


A key benefit of using exact match is that you can run a very economical campaign, targeting only those who are seeking the specific product you are offering. Your average cost per click may be lower than with other match types, simply due to the fact that your keywords are likely to be very highly targeted to your ads and to your website landing pages, giving you a high click-through rate (CTR), and high overall ad quality.

The one main disadvantage of exact match is that it may be too restrictive – unless you have carried out extensive research on the terms potential customers are using to find the products you sell, you may be missing out on potentially valuable search traffic, and the range of data you will receive on the keywords customers might use to find you will be far more limited than with the other match types.

However, exact match is a great way to keep your costs down and your campaign performing well, especially when combined with the use of the other match types.

5. Negative Match

Negative match is a match type that is often mistakenly overlooked or neglected by advertisers, and is certainly one that you should take care to use in your campaign. If you add a keyword as a negative match, your ad will not show for searches on that keyword. For example, if you sell a software product, but do not wish to attract irrelevant clicks from those searching for free software products, you can simply add ‘free’ as a negative keyword to your ad groups and campaigns.


Negative match is a great way to filter out irrelevant clicks in your campaign, helping you to save money and keep your campaign performing at an optimal level, through ensuring that the keywords which trigger your ad are highly targeted and relevant to the products you sell.

To use negative match, simply add the minus sign (-) to any keyword for which you do not want your ad to show.

Conclusion

I hope that this overview of Google AdWords keyword matching has proved valuable and insightful! The ideal approach to using match types is to use a variety of them within your campaigns, and as ever, monitor the results closely to identify the top performing keywords. In practice, for best results, each ad group should contain a variety of match types.

And as always - remember to test, track and tweak as you go!


This is a guest post by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy. Currently, Anton is an online marketing specialist and entrepreneur who loves all things digital. You can find him blogging at antonmccarthy.com and Tweak Your Biz. Also follow Anton on Twitter.

 

Build-A-Business Launch

Build-A-Business Launch Welcome to Shopify's brand new Build-A-Business blog! We've launched the blog in tandem with the Build-A-Business…

Welcome to Shopify's brand new Build-A-Business blog! We've launched the blog in tandem with the Build-A-Business contest to serve as the hub for all kinds of information about starting a new ecommerce business. We hope you'll join in the conversation and give your own tips. 

Hopefully Gary Vaynerchuk's video had inspired you to get started.

Watch this space for regular contest updates, articles and videos from our experts and partners, mini-contests and loads more. Even if you can't participate in the contest, there will be plenty going on here at the Build-A-Business blog.

This year's prizes are amazing, so amazing, it's worth recapping here:

Grand Prize

  • $100,000 USD
  • Trips to New York and California
  • Meet with Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss
  • Tour the Googleplex and receive a personalized Adwords consultation

6 Industry Prizes, each consisting of:

  • $20,000 USD
  • A trip to New York
  • Meet with Seth Godin
  • $7,500 in Google Adwords credit

And, we have a separate prize for the Canadian entrants:

  • $5,000 Apple Store Gift Card
  • Trip to New York
  • Meet with Seth Godin
  • $15,000 Google Adwords credit

Please remember that the contest and prizes are only open to new businesses that are resident in the U.S.A. (excluding residents of Arizona, Maryland, Vermont, and Puerto Rico), The U.K. (excluding N. Ireland), Australia, New Zealand and Canada but everyone can participate in the educational portion.

Ecommerce Marketing: The Big Picture – Part 1

Ecommerce Marketing: The Big Picture – Part 1 Instead of diving head first into another new, advanced, and…

Today instead of diving head first into another new, advanced, and complex marketing strategy, which these days tend to turn up more frequently than they used to, we’re going to try and take a step backwards to look at the bigger picture of basic ecommerce marketing and its latest tools. This is a good way for old timers to brush up on some of the basic strategies that they’ve forgotten about, while also getting the new-comers familiarized with some of the basic marketing jargon.

The first thing to look at is obviously the answer to the big question: “how to get customers to come to your store?”. In the same way that big shopping centres always have good location and large parking lots, online retailers need to have a good Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) strategy, improving both the quantity and quality of traffic to the store. One thing about SEO is that it’s one of the fastest evolving areas in ecommerce and a good strategy doesn`t stay good forever by itself.

Using sitemaps, keywords and advertising tools like AdWords are the basics for SEOs, but a recent article from Visibility , a search engine dedicated magazine, emphasizes the importance and benefits of Viral Marketing over keyword rankings. Still, don’t miss out on Google’s new search-based keyword tool . Take a look at this article for a review. This new gadget can help you get better results in more ways than you might think, whether you use AdWords or you’re just looking for improved keywords.

The next best thing to consider for bringing more buyers to the store might be Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) like Shopping.com and PriceGrabber . The functionality of CSEs still being search based, the thing making them different from search engines is that they require a specific product price, title, description, image and action URLs from you to link back to your store. This means they don`t rely on web crawlers and their complications to find your pages. Most CSEs use a Pay-Per-Click ( PPC ) policy for their services and retailers can change the rate of their PPC in exchange for increased visibility.

To make the best of using CSEs and also other PPC services like AdWords, the most important thing to take into account is improving your Conversion Rate . That means getting more of those people that come to your store via these paid services to actually buy something. Read a more detailed discussion about the importance of conversion rates for PPC services.

Where to go from here? In the next post we`ll look at improving conversion rates, value proposition and LPOs.

17 Ways to Make Your First Ecommerce Sale

Have you ever walked into a bar, restaurant, or other small business and saw money framed and mounted…

Have you ever walked into a bar, restaurant, or other small business and saw money framed and mounted on the wall like a trophy or work of fine art?
For many businesses that first sale, first dollar earned is a monument, marking the transition to a real revenue-generating concern. Unfortunately, brand new online retailers sometimes open to something like the sound of crickets chirping.
Here are 17 ways to make your first online sale even before Google or Bing have bothered to notice you:

1. Tell Family & Friends

Imitate the Avon ladies, Tupperware queens, and Pampered Chefs of multi-level marketing and tell all of your family and friends about your new ecommerce store. Encourage them to share a link or two on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Remember, you're not just asking them to make a purchase, you're asking them to share your online store with their network - which can be extremely valuable.

2. Use Google Adwords 

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, at its core, is the act of buying site traffic. Although PPC marketing can be nuanced, it's a pretty sure fired way to get site visitors and, thereby, sales. Every new Shopify store owner receives a $100 Google AdWords Credit upon signing up. Use your AdWords credit to drive targeted traffic to your online store. Finding the right audience across millions of websites can be difficult and when you're paying per click, the costs can add up. Be sure to learn some Google AdWords best practices before ramping up your spend too much.  

3. Give Stuff Away

Giving products away may not seem like a smart way to sell something, but there are two clever ways to turn giveaways into real sales. 
  • You can gain hundreds, even thousands of email subscribers by hosting a product giveaway before or after your online store opens. Ask visitors to register to enter the contest and give bonus entries for sharing the contest on social media networks or forwarding it to friends. Once the site launches, or when the contest ends, send a promotional email offering a discount. 
  • Search google for the influencers in your industry. Say you're selling a cool new gadget, find the reporters, blogs, and magazines that may be interested in your product and send them a free sample with a short description of what your product and online store is all about. Big businesses have been doing this for ages, and it works if done correctly. Just don't expect a huge response from this tactic, even if you only get 1 article as a result, the campaign should be considered a success. 

4. Make an Infographic

Informational graphics, better known as infographics, visually display data in a way that makes it easy to understand. This form of data communication has become very popular recently — as an example check out our Build-a-Business infographic published right here on the Shopify blog. 
Have a designer create an infographic relevant to the products your store carries. For example, if you sell hiking boots you could publish an infographic about the miles of open, public trails that might show how the number of miles of trails has changed over time or in comparison to other regions. Killer Infographics is a great design firm that only does infographics - they're a great place to start. The inforgraphic could then be released on a paid news service like iReach, or a free design "show-and-tell" platform like dribbble. Dozens of publications could republish the graphic Each one linking back to the store.

5. Submit to Product Feeds

Sites like The FindNextag, Shopzilla, and Google Merchant, aggregate product information and prices so that consumers can find and, let's be frank, compare prices more readily. Adding a feed to one of these sites and sometimes paying a small fee could send a parade of new customers to your online store, helping to secure an initial sale.

6. Embrace Video

When the marketers at Seattle-based Replyboard launched their service, which screens Craigslist replies, they released four videos showing ReplayBoard pranksters responding to Craigslist ads. One video features a man randomly taking a shower at a seller's home. It's pretty hilarious.
While it might not be a great idea to "punk" potential customers, video can be a very powerful way to promote a new business, and in the case of an ecommerce business, garner sales. You can also consider adding ecommerce product videos to your online store to better display some of your more popular products.

7. Put Stuff on eBay

Online retailers should be comfortable selling via any number of channels, including eBay or similar auction sites. Don't be afraid to put a few products up. Include a coupon for 10 percent off a purchase from your online store. This way, it's possible to make a first sale and a second.

8. Ask Vendors for Some Love

Distributors and manufacturers will often help new retailers by including the startup in dealer listings or mentioning the new retailer on social media sites. Don't be afraid to ask them for some assistance while you're building your business.

9. Get Interviewed

Merchants are frequently experts in a particular industry. If you sell handmade shirts and you're knowledgeable in men's fashion, why not approach media outlets about providing them with expert comment on fashion. Reporters are often on the hunt for industry experts, and you'll often get the opportunity to mention the company you own or represent.
To help get this sort of relationship going, consider using Help a Reporter Out (HARO), and check out our Guide to Getting PR.

10. Make an Awesome Blog

Content marketing is the technique of attracting site visitors (read potential customers) by providing good quality content, like how-to blog posts. There are a few key ingredients to improve your ecommerce store's blog and make it something worth sharing: Offer good and relevant content, make sure it's visually appealing, show your products in action, keep it short and snappy, and show them behind the scenes. 

11. Use Amazon Product Ads 

Amazon lets online retailers place ads right in the context of an Amazon product detail page. Since the people who see your ad are already on Amazon.com looking to make a purchase, the conversion rate on these ads can be much higher than traditional PPC. All new Shopify store owners get a free $100 Amazon Product Ad Credit upon signup. All you have to do is create an Amazon Product Ads account, then install the Amazon Product Ads App and follow the instructions to set up your campaign. 

12. Hand Out Business Cards

Every online store owners should have business cards. Get some cards made, make sure they're stylish and reflect your store design. Remember, your store URL should be front and center. At Shopify we get all our cards made by MOO - they do extremely high quality work for a good price. Since I'm referring you, if you use the link above, you'll get 10% off your first order. Once you have your cards, hand them out to everyone! 

13. Rev Up Social Media

You've read a million blog articles about social media marketing for a reason - it works. Make sure you have a strong presence on all the usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Start conversations about your industry, and also inject yourself into conversations already happening, and you'll quickly grow to become an influencer and a thought leader. It's amazing how much traffic you can drive through social media. If you keep growing your social presence it won't be long until your following start to convert to customers.

14. Create a Coupon Code 

Everyone loves a deal. You may be surprised how many people shop by typing "____coupon code" into Google. Create a coupon code for your online store then head over to a site like RetailMeNot or RedFlagDeals and post your deal. Write something like, "Woah, I just found this awesome coupon for yourstore.com!" 

15. Consider an Affiliate Program

With an affiliate program you can pay people to share and promote your products. Essentially, you sign up with a service like Commission Junction or ShareASale and then you'll pay the "affiliate" a certain commission on each sale they bring you. These sites can be expensive and time consuming so they're not for everyone, but for certain products it's worth a shot.

16. Facebook Advertising 

Facebook advertising can be a great way to access a very targeted audience. Lets say you sell jewelry, with Facebook Advertising you can target people who have "jewelry" or "watches" or "bracelets" with custom banners that have a message specifically to their interests. Similar to Google AdWords, advertising on Facebook is PPC. 

17. Be Patient

If you were launching a brick and mortar store or restaurant you probably wouldn't expect your business to be profitable for the first little while. Same goes with ecommerce - it takes time, so be patient. 

8 Tools to Research Your Competition

Gathering competitive intelligence is an often overlooked strategy for ecommerce merchants. Sometimes the best way to take your…

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Gathering competitive intelligence is an often overlooked strategy for ecommerce merchants.

Sometimes the best way to take your ecommerce store to the next level is by gaining a deep understanding of how your competitors operate. If you don't know what your competitors are doing, it's difficult to make intelligent decisions that will keep your current customers, and entice new ones. This guide will show you how to identify your top 5 competitors and show you 8 tools that will help you gather in-depth information on your competitors strengths and weaknesses. 

Identify Your Top 5 Competitors

You’ll want to see which competitors rank the highest in Google for keywords specific to your industry. Make a list of the top keywords that bring you traffic, and enter them into Google. If you don't have an ecommerce store yet and are doing pre-launch research, simply search for relevant keywords. Make sure you're browsing incognito and you're in the appropriate regional zone (if you want US search results and you're outside the US add &gl=us to the end of the search URL). Make note of who is ranking on the first page. You should also type "related:www.yourURL.com" in the Google search field to get a list of companies that are similar to yours. 

List the Good, Bad, & Ugly

Now that you know who you're up against, start browsing through your competitor’s online stores. Get a good feel for their site, and make a list of all the things you like, and all the things you don’t like. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • How do they emphasis their value proposition?
  • What are their prices like compared to yours?
  • What is their product photography like, and how are their product descriptions?
  • What are their shipping options and prices like?
  • Where are their call to actions, and how obvious are they?
  • Are they trying to build an email list?
  • Is their site optimized for mobile?
  • What is their social media presence like; which platforms do they use; how often do they interact with customers, and how do they speak with their customers?

Now that you have a list of your top 5 competitors, and you have done basic research on how they operate, it's time to dig deeper. Use some of the tools below (some paid, most free) to gather in-depth information on what they're doing.

Gather Competitive Intelligence Using These Research Tools

Alexa

Alexa's been around since 1996. It's a (mostly) free service that will help you analyze traffic on your competitor’s ecommerce store. Type in your competitors URL and Alexa will give you their global traffic rank, number of sites linking in, search analytics, audience insight, average site load time, and a whole lot more. You can really dig deep with Alexa, but it's important to note that there are inaccuracies with Alexa's information, since they get their data from those who have installed their toolbar for IE and Firefox or installed their Google Chrome extension. Take the numbers with a grain of salt.   


SEO Book: Page Similarity Comparison Tool

With this service you can easily compare page titles, meta information, and common phrases on your competitors homepages. I suggest including your URL in a search with your top 5 competitors. I used Coke and Pepsi as an example:


Google AdWords Keyword Tool

This service will allow you to easily analyze keywords and the amount of traffic generated by those keywords. It also allows you to narrow down your search by including URLs and specific categories, such as apparel, cosmetics, or whatever. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Tool to estimate how much your competition is paying per click for their ads. Also, you should use Google Traffic Estimator to find out the number of ad clicks and current bid prices for various keywords. 


Internet Archive 

Internet Archive has been crawling the internet and taking snapshots of webpages since 1996. Using their free Wayback Machine you can see what a website looked like throughout the years. By looking at the history of your competitors websites you can plot trends in design and pricing changes. Do they dress their homepage up for Christmas every year? How has their positioning changed - could they be moving to address your market? Sometimes you can learn a lot from the subtle changes your competitors make on their site. Since 2006, Internet Archive has taken over 600 screen captures of Shopify's homepage. As an example, below you'll see what our homepage looked like on November 2, 2009.  


DomainTools: Whois 

Type your competitors URL in Whois and you'll receive a comprehensive record of that domain, including: date registered, contact info, server stats, links in/out, and other domains the registrant owns. 

 


SpyFu

This is a paid service ($79/month) that lets you spy on your competitor's AdWords and keywords. SpyFu really lets you dig deep. You'll be able to see what worked and what didn't work for your competitors AdWords campaigns. When you can trace the steps of your competition, you can avoid the mistakes they made.. it's like they're doing market testing for you.



Open Site Explorer

This service has a limited free plan and a paid service that is $99/month. Here you can compare your online store with up to four competitors on page authority, domain authority, linking root domains, total links, and with the pro version, you can also compare social stats. I like using Open Site Explorer to quickly see who is linking to the Shopify blog and what kind of impact it may have on our SEO. You can search your competitors ecommerce store and see not only who is linking to them, but what authority they have. 


Google Alerts

With this free service from Google, you can receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries. You should already have Google Alerts set up for your online store name, but it's important to set up alerts for your competition as well. I would also suggest you get alerts for key industry terms, so you can easily monitor the broader market for new developments that could affect your ecommerce business.

 


The Aftermath

Now that you have assessed your competitor’s sites, you’ll want to start analyzing your own ecommerce store. Try and objectively look at your online store and see how it can be improved. Use all the tactics you used on your competition and be as critical as possible. It's also important to bring an unbiased set of eyes in to give their opinion.

So now that you have all this information, what should you do? Use your learnings to optimize your ecommerce store. Try and take advantage of your competitors weaknesses. If they're clearly beating you in some areas, pull up your socks and become more competitive. Remember, to remain competitive it's important to operate with flexibility and be able to pivot your direction. But that's not to say you should simply try and please everybody. You don't want to bite off more than you can chew, and you certainly don't want to lose whatever it is that makes you unique. 

Free $50 in Facebook Ad Credits for Shopify Stores

We have partnered with Facebook to offer all existing and new Shopify merchants $50 in free Facebook Ad…

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We have partnered with Facebook to offer all existing and new Shopify merchants $50 in free Facebook Ad Credits - as long as you haven't advertised with Facebook yet. This is in addition to the $100 in Google AdWords credits, and $100 in Amazon Product Ads credits Shopify store owners also receive.

Facebook advertising is a great way to drive quality traffic to your ecommerce store. You can deliver highly targeted ads and sponsored stories to specific interest groups, age groups, genders, cities, and more.

How To Redeem Facebook Ad Credits

To redeem your Facebook Ad Credit, simply look under the Promotions tab in your admin panel:


Click on the 'Generate your $50 Facebook Ads credit' button and your unique promo code will appear. Save your code, then click on the link that says 'using these instructions,' and follow the steps to redeem. Please note, if you're still in your free 30 day trial, you can still redeem your credit, but you need to have picked a Shopify plan. Also, credits are for new Facebook Advertising accounts only.

To make the most of your Facebook Ad Credits, check out these 6 practical tips on how to run a successful Facebook ad campaign.

22 Awesome Shopify Ecommerce Stores Made in New Zealand

Last year, 63% of New Zealanders purchased something online which amounted to $2.68 billion in sales. New Zealand…

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Last year, 63% of New Zealanders purchased something online which amounted to $2.68 billion in sales.
New Zealand has a thriving ecommerce industry - and thousands of New Zealanders are running successful online stores with Shopify.

This year we're running our third Build-A-Business competition and it's open to all entrepreneurs in New Zealand to participate. All you have to do is open an online store with Shopify and start selling. Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries, Daymond John & Tina Roth Eisenberg will mentor you throughout the competition, and you'll have a chance to win one of four prize packs that include a $50K investment, a VIP trip for two to NYC to meet the mentors, $20K in Google AdWords credits, and a feature article in Fast Company. 

To celebrate New Zealand's many ecommerce entrepreneurs, we've rounded up 22 beautiful and successful online stores powered by Shopify: 

Good As Gold



Tusk Collective


Wellies

Father Rabbit Limited


Iko Iko


Kowtow Clothing


Thanks


Penny Skateboards


Scotties Boutique


Karen Walker


Deadly Ponies


Delish Cupcakes


Bubble and Squeak


Atomic Coffee Roasters


Sly Guild


Starfish


Stolen Girlfriends Club


Juliette Hogan


Black Box Boutique


White Box Boutique


Doosh


ilabstore


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