Heroview- PPC for eCommerce

Our live Twitter interviews continued this month as we ventured into PPC for eCommerce. We had a great conversation with Shawn Livengood, the Online Marketing Manager at BuildASign.com and one of our Hero Conf speakers. The stream cap is below. Enjoy!

PPC Hero: We are really excited to have you with us today Shawn! Thanks for joining PPC Hero!

Shawn: Great to be here!

PPC Hero: Can you give us your take on the difference between PPC for eCommerce and PPC for lead gen?

Shawn: Lead gen usually has a fixed CPA, with a single conversion.  eCommerce has varying CPAs depending on products plus customers can purchase multiple products, which will drive up your total conversion value.

PPC Hero: Since it is sometimes easier to calculate ROI on eCommerce accounts, does that make them easier to manage?

Shawn: Yes and no.  Having the ROI calculations really lets you fine-tune each keyword and ad to ensure profitability. But, having that much data can be paralyzing.  If you have a large account with many keywords (like we do at @BuildASign) you can spend hours digging through all that ROI data, which leaves you less time for actual account work.

PPC Hero: Is it wise to incorporate lead gen (i.e. newsletter sign up) with your eCommerce or does it dilute your goals?

Shawn: I would focus on eCommerce conversions first.  But, if you have a long lag time (>30 days) between search and purchase, it may be wise to incorporate lead gen conversions to prove that your PPC efforts are working.

PPC Hero: Should search marketers approach eCommerce PPC the same for desktop vs. mobile devices? Why?

Shawn: Absolutely not!  But, I wouldn’t think of it in terms of keywords and ads.  Start with your landing page experience. If you can’t deliver an outstanding mobile experience to your website users, then don’t spend a dime on mobile PPC!

PPC Hero: What’s 1 tool that AdWords provides that every ecommerce search marketer should be taking advantage of?

Shawn: Dynamic conversion values.  If each customer has a different sale total, you absolutely need this to track your ROAS.

PPC Hero: What are 2-3 on page elements that eCommerce search marketers should always be testing?

Shawn: 1. Price points.  People love discounts, especially in this economy. 2. Recommended/related products and upsells. Getting a customer to buy additional products can help you eke out some extra profit without paying an additional acquisition cost.  # 3. Tweaks to the checkout process. I’m constantly amazed by how many clicks it takes to give some websites money. Put as few clicks as possible between PPC ad and order confirmation, and people will be less likely to abandon your cart.

PPC Hero: Do you think that eCommerce accounts are more affected by seasonality than other types of accounts?

Shawn: This is more a consequence of what types of products you offer rather than eCon vs. Lead Gen. But short answer: yes.

PPC Hero: If you are hitting CPA goal, shouldn’t you really be able to run without a budget? Does that ever happen?

Shawn: Theoretically, yes.  If you make $1 in profit for each conversion you drive, why not spend more money on driving conversions? But, it can sometimes be tough to convince stakeholders to increase PPC budgets even if you are showing success.  You just have to sell it to them using your stats.


PPC Hero: How has remarketing been a game changer for eCommerce?

Shawn: If you’re not using remarketing to recapture people who abandon your shopping cart, do it now! Before remarketing there wasn’t a way to target these people.  Now you can give them discounts and other incentives to come back.

PPC Hero: Have any other advancements in the GDN increased Display performance for your accounts?

Shawn: Most of our GDN placements are via remarketing.  But, my Google team has shown me some interesting GDN betas that we’re going to try out in 2012.

PPC Hero: What tools are there for eCommerce PPC that have made your job easier?

Shawn: I couldn’t go a day without using custom conversions in AdWords, AdWords Editor, or Excel. We also use Adobe Sitecatalyst for eCommerce web analytics, and it’s pretty sweet. I use Google Keyword tool for new keyword ideas, and Insights for Search to anticipate seasonal trends.

PPC Hero: What about in an ideal world…are there any tools/resources that you wish existed? What are they?

Shawn: Hey @adCenter PLEASE let us look at reports with >90 days of data!  Every report should give you at least one year of stats so that you can pick out seasonal trends.  A Google Keyword Tool that predicted conversions would be nice, too…(fat chance of that happening, though).  Maybe some conversion tracking that can calculate lifetime value of a customer?

PPC Hero: What’s the number 1 change you see coming that will change the way PPC is done for eCommerce?

Shawn: Increased automation in PPC management.  eCommerce keyword portfolios are often huge enough that you have to automate, so what happens when you have a bunch of automated systems competing with each other? I expect that competition is going to get very fast and messy as a bunch of algorithms try to outfox one another. We’ve already seen this happen in the stock market with “flash crashes,” and I can definitely see the same thing happening on a smaller scale in the world of PPC.

PPC Hero: That’s all from me! That was great, Shawn! Does anyone have any questions or do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Shawn: Nothing else from me, but I’d be glad to answer any questions. Also, I’m looking forward to Hero Conf!

PPC Hero: Yes, can’t forget Hero Conf! Just a few weeks away! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today, Shawn. Make sure to check the blog for the recap. And get excited for next month’s Heroview with Lisa Sanner!

Shawn: My pleasure. I’ll see you guys in person next month in Indianapolis!


Stay tuned for next month’s Heroview where we will discuss Enterprise PPC with Lisa Sanner!