When was the last time you wanted to purchase an item but didn’t know where to find it?
Say you need a dog bed for your St. Bernard. If you’re like many shoppers today, you’d probably start by searching online. A quick Google search (“extra large dog beds for giant breeds”) would likely result in exactly what you need.
Now think about your business, and the dozens of people searching for your product or service. How can you reach these potential customers when they search for what you’re offering? In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know in order to harness the acquisition power of Google Ads.
What are Google Ads?
Google Ads are targeted advertisements that show up across Google properties, most notably Google search (when browsers search your chosen keywords) and the Google Display Network, a worldwide network of millions of websites. Because Google Ads are targeted, you control who sees them based on demographic and search history information. Google Ads uses a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
5 different types of Google Ads
Google Ads offers different types of ads, including:
- Search ads. The most well-known type of Google ad, Google search engine ads are what you will most likely see on a search engine results page (SERP). These display at the top of the page, above organic (non-paid) results. They look like a regular result, but have the word “Ad” next to the URL. These ads improve your search engine visibility, which strengthens brand awareness and drives traffic to your business website.
- Display ads. Google’s display ads are images that appear on the Google Display Network, which includes more than two million websites, apps, and Google properties such as Gmail and YouTube.
- Shopping ads. Google shopping ads also appear on the SERP, but as a shopping carousel rather than as a search result.
- Video ads. Your Google video ad will show before or during YouTube videos.
“Anytime you’re selling a product, Google shopping is a very easy place to start. Essentially, through Shopify you have a data feed of all your products that can get imported into Google,” says Eugene Ravitsky, co-founder of FactoryPure. “It’s very easy. You can throw all your products into Google and start getting traction that way. You don't have to create manual individual ads like you do if you're going to do text ads. With shopping ads, you can throw the whole data feed in there.”
Google also offers ad campaign options that strategically utilize multiple ad types to meet particular business goals. Two especially useful campaign types are local campaigns and smart campaigns. Local campaigns target nearby potential customers to increase in-store visits through Google Maps, search ads, display ads, and even video ads. Smart campaigns are automated campaigns in which Google decides which types of ad formats to invest in based on your goals.
Ace Reunis, founder of Threadheads, spoke about the benefits he’s seen using display ads. “We’ll show the products that people have been looking at on our website,” he says. “We’ve gotten such a great return from those that I haven’t really explored other options. But I know that brands have been successful with retargeting using single-image ads, video ads, showing the creative, and then having copy that's being playful about the fact that you know the user has been visiting your site.”
5 benefits of using Google Ads for ecommerce businesses
- Increased brand awareness and visibility
- Increased traffic to your website
- Targeted ads to specific audiences
- Ability to track and measure ad performances through data
- Improved return on investment (ROI)
Still on the fence about using Google Ads for your ecommerce business? Consider these five benefits to decide if they can help advance your business goals:
1. Increased brand awareness and visibility
Google Ads can help increase your business visibility by reaching qualified leads, which are potential buyers who fit the profile of your target customer or someone with an intent to purchase what you sell. Even if an initial view or click on one of your ads doesn’t convert to a sale, it amplifies your brand name and message.
“Google Shopping is a really powerful way of getting traffic and it takes [potential customers] to the product page, which is very close to conversion, so it’s fantastic,” says Ace. “Then you set up search campaigns, which are the text-based ads that you see at the top of Google Search results, above the organic listings.”
“The other thing I’d say in Google search is also just bid on your brand name. I can't emphasize this enough. If you type in ‘Threadheads’ in Google, not only do you get the organic listing because Google has indexed us over time, and anyone who types ‘Threadheads’ in Google will see us there, but you also get the paid listing above it. You’re getting all of this real estate for your own brand.”
2. Increased traffic to your website
Google Ads can increase traffic to your business website. According to a 2019 Clutch survey, nearly four times as many people are likely to click on a paid search ad on Google than on any other search engine.
3. Targeted ads to specific audiences
Google Ads give you the ability to target a specific audience. You can use keywords as well as demographics—including location, interests, and search history—so that your targeted ads will only be shown to the customers you want to reach.
4. Ability to track and measure ad performance through data
Google Ads come with powerful tracking tools, so you can better assess and understand which keywords and demographics convert to clicks, traffic, and, ultimately, sales. The data you pull from Google Analytics allows you to track clicks and conversions and offers graphs that illustrate trends over time, helping to optimize future ad campaigns across advertising platforms.
5. Improved return on investment (ROI)
Buying Google ads is an investment that you hope pays off in more customers—without breaking your advertising budget. Profitability can be measured by ROI, or return on investment. In the case of Google Ads (or any advertising), you want to ensure the cost of acquiring customers through ads is less than the gross profit generated by the sales. The less you can spend to drive sales from ads, the better.
Because of Google Ads’ PPC system and advanced targeting, your ads will only be shown to qualified leads—and you are only charged when a potential customer visits your landing page. This avoids wasting money and showing your ads to people who aren’t interested—opening the door to a greater ROI.
How to set up a Google Ads campaign
- Choose the right campaign type
- Select the right keywords
- Create campaigns and set up ad groups
- Use landing pages
- Create compelling ad copy
- Set a budget and targeting options
- Test, measure success, and optimize ad campaigns
Creating a Google Ads campaign is simple when you follow these seven important steps.
1. Choose the right campaign type
First, select the type of Google Ad that suits your needs. If your goal is to drive sales of a particular product, a shopping ad can reach customers ready to shop online. Google Search ads can help send traffic to your landing page, which puts potential customers one step closer to making a purchase. Display ads help increase business visibility with your target audience, which can help turn them into customers in the future.
2. Select the right keywords
Choosing the right keywords is essential for reaching qualified prospects when creating Google Search and Google Shopping ads. Consider what your ideal customers might search for—and be specific. You can even use negative keywords to fine-tune your targeting. For example, if you own a bicycle shop, you might exclude search terms like “motorbike,” so people looking for a motorcycle don’t end up on your website.
FactoryPure co-founder Eugene Ravitsky suggests ecommerce companies narrow their keywords. “Google ads are very easy to overspend and not get a return on your investment. It was mainly about nurturing the tactics for Google shopping ads, figuring out what keywords people are searching for, what keywords don't convert and removing those keywords. That is identical from one ecommerce shop to the next.”
3. Create campaigns and set up ad groups
Take advantage of the platform’s account organization system to keep track of various campaigns when you create ads. Each campaign may consist of one or multiple ad groups that share a single budget and settings, including language and location targeting. Each ad group can contain one or more ads with similar targets.
For example, if you own a boutique, you might create a campaign for the holidays with ad groups for clothing, jewelry, home décor, and stationery. The clothing group would include ads for shirts, pants, and jackets; the jewelry group would contain ads for necklaces, earrings, and bracelets; the home décor would include ads for candles, pillows, and vases; and the stationery group would contain ads for cards, books, and pens.
4. Use landing pages
Your landing page is where customers arrive when they click on your Google ad. By the time qualified leads reach your landing page, you’ve paid for the click, so it’s important to make the most out of the engagement. To increase the chance that a click turns into a sale, make sure the landing page delivers on the promise of the advertisement.
For instance, if the ad is for a particular coffee table, your landing page should be the product page for that exact coffee table. But if the ad is for wood coffee tables, your new customer more likely wants to see a page with multiple options for this type of table. If the ad was just for your company as a whole, you might choose to send shoppers to your homepage.
5. Create compelling ad copy
Compelling ad copy is valuable for any type of ad, but if you are using Google Search ads, it’s particularly important because you can’t rely on eye-catching images in a text-only advertisement. To draw in qualified leads, make sure your language is specific and appeals to your target audience.
“There's definitely different traffic and different demographics,” says Eugene. “With Google ads, it's very easy to pivot and change who you're targeting. It is easy to [create ads and] have a few different product types that have different demographics.”
For example, copy that highlights bestselling products or current deals (rather than simply listing your brand name and slogan) can draw more motivated customers to your site. If, say, you run an ecommerce pet supply store, mentioning your dog bed sale might entice qualified leads to click.
6. Set a budget and targeting options
For each ad campaign, you can choose from a variety of targeting options, including location, device type, and time of day. You’ll also have to set your budget. You do this by choosing the average maximum amount you’re willing to spend each day. As traffic fluctuates throughout the month, Google will show your ad more on some days and less on others, ultimately reaching that daily average.
“We try to target longer-tailed keywords, where people are a little bit further into the process and they know what they want. They're searching not just for a water heater, but they're searching for a specific brand or a specific size or fuel type,” says Eugene. “The more these keywords that you can stack together, if people are searching for that phrase, they're more likely ready to buy. Let's say you have $50 a day to spend on ads—you'd want those $50 to go to those longer-tailed keywords than somebody searching just for water heaters.”
7. Test, measure success, and optimize ad campaigns
Once your ads are published, you can monitor their success using Google Analytics. Give your new campaigns some time to attract clicks, then evaluate what tweaks may better help you achieve your goals. From there, you can explore new ideas with A/B testing—the process of comparing two versions of a similar ad to determine which performs better. With this insight, you’ll be able to improve the results of your Google ad campaigns that best advance your business goals.
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How Google Ads can help you advance your business FAQ
What are Google Ads and how do they work?
Google Ads are advertisements through Google that appear in Google searches, Google properties, and Google-partnered websites.
How do Google Ads help small businesses grow and expand?
Google Ads can increase business visibility, increase traffic to your website, and reach a targeted audience.
How do Google Ads allow for better targeting of customers?
Google Ads allow you to choose keywords and settings, such as location, to reach your targeted audience.
How can Google Ads improve my return on investment (ROI)?
Google Ads are pay-per-click, meaning you avoid wasting money on an ad that doesn’t convert to traffic for your website. However, traffic doesn’t always result in conversions. It’s up to you to make sure you’re converting visitors into buyers.