6 Steps to a Smarter Ecommerce Advertising Strategy

Now more than ever, online shopping is a lifeline to everyday essentials for millions of people. From groceries to toys to school supplies, nearly every industry is trending upward in online growth. Marketers who are thinking of entering the ecommerce space – or who have already embraced it – must find a way to stand out from the crowd as so many brands battle for consumer attention in this unprecedented era. Luckily, we’re here to provide the insights and innovative thinking necessary to help you become a leader in today’s online shopping marketplace. Start with these six steps to craft a smarter ecommerce advertising strategy:

Since the pandemic, where consumers shop, what they spend their money on and how they choose the products and brands they purchase from have shifted. COVID-19 upset the usual balance, and experts anticipate these behaviors will continue to change long after the pandemic ends. Brands relying on past patterns or consumer behaviors to guide their advertising decisions will be at a disadvantage. However, for agile marketers, this means there are opportunities to re-evaluate shoppers’ needs and adjust their ecommerce advertising strategy to capture new market share.

While your core audience demographics may not change significantly, consumer attitudes, consumption trends and buying behaviors are very much still in flux. To target effectively, throw past playbooks out the window and build new buyer personas and a data strategy that will establish the right connection for the new normal. Monitor consumer behavior, needs and socioeconomic concerns across a variety of channels to inform your ecommerce advertising strategy and develop relevant messaging. Then build in feedback loops to adjust to changing consumer trends in real time.

2. Optimize Your Product Pages

Before you can begin advertising your online store, you must ensure your site and product pages are retail-ready. Creating a frictionless shopping experience throughout the entire funnel is key to motivating customers to browse, buy and come back often. Leverage a third-party ecommerce marketplace or build an ecommerce shopping platform into your site, such as Shopify, BigCommerce or 3dcart, to allow users to quickly browse and purchase your products online. Regularly review your product pages across every ecommerce platform you’re using and maximize this real estate with SEO-rich and visually appealing content to lay the foundation for a successful user experience.

3. Get Started With Amazon’s Sponsored Ads

While there are many channels and platforms available to drive ecommerce activities, how much you invest in each channel relies heavily on your budget. For those new to ecommerce advertising, we recommend starting with Amazon’s Sponsored Product Ads. They’re simple to set up and because these ads are triggered by shoppers specifically searching for your product or similar products, your budget is optimized to only the highest-intent users. These placements can make a quick impact on your bottom line; then you can use the real-time data and results from that campaign to fund waterfall budgets with other publishers.

4. Adjust Keywords as You Go

Retail websites and search engines are generally query-based. That’s why it’s critical for marketers to make sure shoppers can find their brand and products with a strong organic and paid keyword strategy. Experiment with your keywords based on the season, new trends and consumer behavior shifts. Keep an open mind when creating your initial keyword list and gradually fine-tune it – pausing low performers as needed and continually testing new options.

5. Think Holistically to Expand Your Reach

As you begin to expand your ecommerce advertising plan, it’s important to remember that every marketing effort you implement has an impact on your other investments. And it’s through combining these efforts that you maximize effectiveness and create a virtuous customer cycle. So marketers must strive over time to create a holistic advertising strategy that incorporates additional marketplace ads, promoted social posts and display and video ads on the open web for maximum reach and alignment with the full customer journey.

6. Collaborate to Continuously Innovate

Competition is fierce in digital marketing. It’s not enough to rely on one platform or one tool in today’s environment. Long-term success requires the right resources and partners to take your ecommerce ad strategy to the next level. No matter what channels you’re advertising across, consider augmenting your program with a trusted partner or technology service that offers deep expertise or capabilities in ecommerce advertising to help you continuously innovate across emerging channels, like voice and augmented reality.

To get more tips for turning browsers into buyers, download our updated Ecommerce Advertising Playbook now. Or let our experts help you find the right advertising solutions for your business – reach out to us to schedule a complimentary ecommerce advertising analysis today.

Reach Ecommerce Shoppers on Comparison Shopping Engines

man online shopping

Since the COVID-19 outbreak started, the world has changed dramatically. Where consumers shop, what they spend their money on and how they choose the products and brands they purchase have shifted. The pandemic upset the usual consumer behavior balance, and experts anticipate these behaviors will continue to change long after the pandemic ends. For agile marketers, this means there’s an opportunity to re-evaluate shoppers’ needs and adjust their strategy to capture new market share. For example, QuantumMetric found U.S. shoppers are looking for more meaning, more value and more purchases this holiday season, so smart marketers should strive to personalize their advertising and make the digital experience more intuitive. For ecommerce marketers, advertising on comparison shopping engines may be a good fit. Find out more about these ads and if they make sense for your brand in our FAQs below:

What are comparison shopping engines?

Comparison shopping engines, also known as price comparison websites, showcase similar products or offerings from multiple retailers on the same page so consumers can evaluate the options side by side. Shoppers on these sites – like PriceGrabber, Bizrate and Shopzilla – are actively looking for a good deal, so brands list their products and pricing alongside competitors’ items to give buyers a clear apples-to-apples perspective.

For advertisers, this means they can upload product data feeds and set their bids by product or product category. Because most comparison shopping engines operate on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, the advertiser doesn’t pay unless a user clicks on its product listing.

How are these ads different from selling my products on an online marketplace, like Amazon or eBay?

Once a user clicks on your ad on a comparison shopping engine, they’re sent directly to your website to complete the purchase. However on most online shopping marketplaces, the purchase takes place on the marketplace’s website.

What’s needed to advertise on comparison shopping engines?

Because comparison shopping engines rely on the brand’s product feed, advertisers must have a well-organized inventory system and data feed already set up. Each site will have different feed specifications, so it’s crucial that you monitor your feed regularly and ensure it stays up to date with the engine’s requirements.

In addition, advertisers must have online shopping capabilities already set up on their website since the final purchase will take place there. This means you should optimize your site’s mobile layout, page load times and checkout processes to prevent cart abandonment.

What are the benefits of comparison shopping engine ads?

While your core audience demographics may not have changed significantly in the wake of the pandemic, consumer attitudes, consumption trends and buying behaviors are very much still in flux. Comparison shopping engines let you expand your reach beyond your website to find new customers who might be interested in your products and a good deal.

Comparison shopping engines only redirect customers to your site who have seen your product and price details and actively clicked on the ad. This means you’re only receiving high-intent consumers who have a greater chance of converting into a sale. What’s more, because the purchase happens on your site, you can more easily remarket buyers to generate repeat sales and stronger lifetime value.

What types of advertisers are a good fit for these ads?

This is a very niche tactic only recommended for advertisers with a detailed product feed and competitively priced products. Also, it’s important to only drive demand for what’s in supply and closely monitor your shipping cutoff dates, so this tactic doesn’t work well for products that quickly run out of stock or that require long production and shipping timelines.

Always remember if you allocate your budget across too many efforts, you won’t win at any of them. Instead, align your ecommerce advertising strategy to the channels most relevant to your goals and stay flexible.

To check out other advertising tactics that might be an even better fit for your ecommerce brand, download our updated Ecommerce Advertising Playbook now. Or let our experts help you find the right advertising solutions for your business – reach out to us to schedule a complimentary ecommerce advertising analysis today.

Turn More Browsers Into Buyers With Ecommerce Paid Social Ads

Girls on couch looking at social media

Social media has always been where consumers go online to connect with the people and things they love. More recently, social platforms have expanded to enable shoppers to connect with the brands and products they love too through paid social ads.

Adult users’ time spent on social media platforms while in the midst of the pandemic grew by 13 minutes in 2020 eMarketer found, and today the average time spent on social per day is 1 hour and 35 minutes. So it comes as no surprise that more and more ecommerce advertisers are turning to social media to help people do more than just casually browse. They’re helping people get inspired, find new products and make purchases.

Case in point, over 60% of direct-to-consumer brands worldwide list social as the leading customer acquisition channel according to Yotpo. Paid social ads are also a great way for emerging brands or small businesses to expand their ecommerce strategy without a large advertising budget. But social media best practices vary greatly from platform to platform. If you aren’t sure if paid social is right for your ecommerce business, find out more about these ads and if they make sense for your brand in our FAQs below:

What social platforms should ecommerce brands consider first?

The biggest players in the space are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Online stores and product listings on these platforms are a new way for shoppers to discover your brand and buy your products, especially during the pandemic. Factor in each platform’s exclusive data targeting as well, and everyone from small business owners to global brand marketers can gain confidence knowing their paid search ads are personally relevant and will inspire action among the people they want to reach.

Begin with one platform – we most often recommend Facebook first due to its extensive first-party data – and prioritize products with the best margin or inventory levels. Focus on the placements that can make the quickest impact on your goals with a single platform; then use the real-time data and results from that campaign to fund waterfall budgets for the other platforms.

Here’s a look at a few social platforms that can help you reimagine retail shopping.

What’s needed to advertise on social platforms?

Ecommerce brands typically need a shop or business account and product feed set up with the platform before you can begin advertising. Each social platform will have different feed specifications, so it’s crucial that you monitor your feed regularly and ensure it stays up to date with all platform requirements.

While we recommend building out your ecommerce strategy to run across multiple social media platforms over time, you should never duplicate creative content. Instead, vary your messaging from platform to platform to help prevent creative fatigue. A robust set of ad creatives in a variety of formats for desktop and mobile is necessary to capture the attention of potential buyers and share your brand message in a way that fits how consumers use social media.

Why should you bother with paid social ads if you already have a strong organic social media program?

While an organic social media presence is key to your overall branding efforts, the number of things a consumer can watch, listen to and read on social is infinite. This means social platforms have largely shifted to a pay-to-play model, using algorithms to sift through the abundance of noise and streamline what users see. To get in on the best social media real estate, marketers must supplement their organic initiatives with paid campaigns.

What types of advertisers are a good fit for these ads?

Because social platforms are creative-driven, it’s important to feature attractive product images and videos to streamline the online shopping experience and make it easy for consumers to visually search for products. Therefore, brands with highly visual offerings, such as clothing, beauty products or accessories, are a natural fit. Also, advertisers targeting younger audiences with their products are ideal for newer platforms like Snapchat, as 83% of its 84 million users are Millennials or Generation Z according to eMarketer.

Always remember if you allocate your budget across too many efforts, you won’t win at any of them. Instead, align your ecommerce advertising strategy to the channels most relevant to your goals and stay flexible. To check out more advertising tactics that might be a good addition to your next ecommerce ad campaign, download our updated Ecommerce Advertising Playbook now.

Looking for more hands-on help? Let our experts help you find the right paid social ads or advertising solutions for your business. Reach out to us to schedule a complimentary ecommerce advertising analysis today.

New Customers Are an Ecommerce Search Away

woman outside on her cell

While online shopping was growing quickly prior to COVID-19, the pandemic greatly accelerated consumer ecommerce adoption — by two years — Digital Commerce 360 estimates. The research firm also found online sales hit $791.70 billion in 2020, up 32.4% from $598.02 billion in 2019 based on Commerce Department figures, which happens to be the highest annual online sales growth of any year for which data is available.

As brands battle for consumer attention in this unprecedented era of ecommerce, marketers are challenged with finding the right channel and platform that will help their brand stand out from the crowd. There are many advertising options available to drive ecommerce activities, but how much you invest in each channel relies heavily on your budget. That’s why for most advertisers, we recommend starting with search engine and online marketplace advertising before expanding out to other ecommerce tactics.

If you are looking to capture browsers at the bottom of the funnel, paid search ads may be a good fit. Find out more about these ads and if they make sense for your brand in our FAQs below:

Why should you start with search engine and online marketplace advertising?

These ads are triggered by shoppers specifically searching for your product or similar products on a search engine (like Google or Bing) or on an online marketplace (like Amazon.com, Walmart.com or eBay.com), meaning your budget is optimized to only the highest-intent users. By getting in front of these leaned-in customers when they’re actively searching for companies or products like yours, you focus on driving the lower-funnel results that matter most to your business. Plus, these ads typically serve above organic listings, giving you more prominent placement and control over the messages shoppers see.

What platforms should you consider?

The biggest players in the space are Amazon, Walmart, Google and Bing. Begin with one publisher – we most often recommend Amazon first – and prioritize products with the best margin or inventory levels. Focus on the placements that can make the quickest impact on your bottom line with a single publisher; then use the real-time data and results from that campaign to fund waterfall budgets for the other publishers. What’s needed to advertise on these platforms? Brands typically need a store or merchant account and product feed set up with the publisher. Each site will have different feed specifications, so it’s crucial that you monitor your feed regularly and ensure it stays up to date with all platform requirements. Product reviews, ratings, shipping tags and return policies may also factor into your ad eligibility on certain platforms like Amazon and Walmart.

Some publishers require a minimum monthly spend so it’s important to remember that if you allocate your budget across too many efforts, you won’t win at any of them. Instead, align your ecommerce advertising strategy to the channels most relevant to your goals and stay flexible.

Here are a few retailers where you can captivate consumers who are only a search away.

Should you advertise on Amazon if your brand has its own ecommerce store?

Yes. For most people, online shopping is synonymous with Amazon. It’s the world’s largest online retailer with consumers ordering items from Amazon 6.5 times per month on average – more than any other online marketplace according to Wunderman Thompson. Still, its research shows 38% of digital consumer dollars in the U.S. are spent with Amazon. That means brands looking to convert online shoppers must think outside of the box and tap into Amazon Advertising’s reach, even if they have their own ecommerce marketplace.

Ensure consumers in the discovery and consideration phases can find your products wherever they do their research and then bring them back to your own digital marketplace for additional or future purchases, if necessary. That’s why our team frequently recommends advertisers use Amazon Advertising search ads as part of their evergreen plan and ramp up with additional budget during peak holiday seasons. But remember, these search ads are served only on Amazon.com and drive users to the brand’s Amazon storefront for purchase, so you must have an Amazon Store with products available to use these ads.

Should you bother with paid search ads if you’re already doing organic search engine optimization (SEO)?

Yes. Every day, millions of people turn to search engines and online marketplaces to find, discover and shop for products. But most online shoppers never click past the first page of search results, so promoting your products through paid search ads is vital to ensuring they actually see your brand. Working in tandem with your organic SEO efforts, paid ads can provide a more complete picture of your target users’ behaviors and interests so you can continue to develop even more personalized customer experiences.

Plus, advertising campaigns that use both shopping ads and traditional search ads in parallel with SEO efforts typically increase consumer engagement and perform better than those that use one tactic alone. To further improve your performance potential, ensure at least 10 to 20 SKUs are eligible for advertising, including a mix of established best-selling SKUs and opportunity SKUs for new and seasonal products.

How can you take your paid search strategy to the next level?

Retail websites and search engines are generally query-based. That’s why it’s critical for marketers to make sure shoppers can find their brand and products with a strong paid search keyword strategy. Keywords and phrases match ads with search terms shoppers are using to find products on search engines and online marketplaces. They also allow advertisers to avoid showing their ads to consumers who use certain keywords or phrases in their search. To take your ecommerce advertising keyword strategy to the next level, consider these three tips:

  1. Keep an open mind when creating your initial keyword list and gradually fine-tune it based on the strongest performers. Ongoing experimentation is vital to keeping your keyword strategy at its strongest.
  2. On platforms that offer automatic keyword targeting, let the platform’s algorithms identify the best-performing keywords. Then add in manual targeting over time for more granular phrase mining.
  3. Separate your search campaign keywords thematically and replicate that process for each product at the ad group level to identify the right keyword-product combinations that deliver optimal results.

To check out more advertising tactics that might be a good addition to your next ecommerce ad campaign, download our updated Ecommerce Advertising Playbook now. Or let our experts help you find the right advertising solutions for your business – reach out to us to schedule a complimentary ecommerce advertising analysis today.