Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | August 6, 2014

DRA Chat #2: What Problems Do ECommerce Advertisers Have?

From time to time, Ben Childs and Zach Mandelblatt will exchange emails over in a series we are calling “DRA Chats”. Today’s topic: Problems a lot of ECommerce advertisers have with their Paid Search accounts.   Ben: All right Zach, I’m at the ASD retailers conference in Vegas. In between sessions and aggressive networking (in real life!), I thought I’d ask: what are some common problems you see in Ecommerce clients Paid Search account?  

Sale-Shopping-1024x907

What do you need to be doing to get more of these girls to your online shop?

Zach: Although e-commerce websites & their PPC accounts may seem at first blush to be the most difficult to set up and manage due to all the different products, purchases, and pages associated with such an enterprise, we actually find that, once they are properly set up, Ecommerce advertisers have some easy to manage campaigns.  The main reason for this?  Unlike lead generation sites or user interaction sites, which might be interested in tracking how many phone calls, form submits, video views, and whatever else the site is set up to convert, there is only one number that matters to Ecommerce sites: return on ad spend.  If I spend one dollar in AdWords, how many dollars do I get back?  Does that ROAS work with my costs?  If you can answer these questions, than you are golden.

Fortunately for Ecommerce websites, Ecommerce tracking code exists that integrates with Google Analytics and allows us to answer all these questions for every traffic source, campaign, and keyword that brings traffic to the site.  Unfortunately for most advertisers, they either don’t have the code installed, or they don’t use it properly.  So, Ben, to finally answer your question, the most common problem I see in Ecommerce clients’ Paid Search account is they don’t have or don’t use Ecommerce tracking.

Ben:  I would agree with you that Ecommerce tracking is the “holy grail” statistic for online shops that truly unlocks an advertisers ability to make the right decisions.  However, implementation and use of this stat can be tricky for the unitiated, so I want to outline what I see as the four basic steps to going from zero Ecommerce tracking game to Ecommerce master.  They are as follows:

1) Implement the code.  First, you need to have Google Analytics installed.  You will then need some help from a professional, as  Ecommerce code implementation is not something that regular folk have the ability to do.  Most webmasters or web designers are familiar with Ecommerce code and should be able to install it for you if you tell them you want it.  If they are unfamiliar with it, they can probably figure it out using Google’s Developer resources.

2) Verify the code works.  As our friend Ross Lasley  loves to say, it is important to perform a data integrity check to make sure the data that is going to be guiding your decisions is reporting accurate information.  To do this, take your company dummy credit card to your site, add a bunch of products to your cart, and make a purchase (refund or cancel the transaction after).  The next day, go into your Google Analytics, click on “Ecommerce” under the conversion tab, then click “transactions”.  You should see the purchase amount and item quantity for your fake purchase here.  If you do, you’re golden.  If you don’t, then get back with your web developer and tell them they still have some work to do.

Transactions

If you don’t see the proper revenue data flowing into this part of GA, the code isn’t working

It is important to note that Ecommerce tracking is never going to be 100% accurate due to the code not being able to track refunds, cancelled purchases, purchases made over the phone, etc.  A general rule of thumb is that if your Ecommerce revenue is within 10% of your actual online transactions, it is working properly, and is providing accurate enough info to be extremely useful.

3) Import the Transaction values from Analytics into AdWords.  At this point, you will be able to see on a macro level your ROAS for all of your traffic sources (AdWords, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, etc).  However, in order to see ROAS within the AdWords platform itself, you’ll have import the goals over from GA into AdWords.  Easy instructions for this are located here.

You are not quite done with this step: you need to customize your AdWords columns to display Total Conversion Value, which should be your raw revenue generated from AdWords if you have set your goals up properly, as well as your Total Conversion Value/Cost, which tells you how many dollars you are getting back for each dollar you spend.  You can then look at these “holy grail” Ecommerce statistics at whatever level you’d like, examples being Campaign to Campaign, keyword to keyword, and search term to search term.  You would be surprised how many AdWords account owners I’ve seen who had all this Ecommerce revenue data piping into their AdWords account, but had no idea that it was there because they didn’t customize their columns!

4) Use the data.  Don’t just let that Ecommerce data sit there!  Make bid changes, pause under-performing keywords, increase budgets for winning campaigns, find higher ROAS ad text, and everything else that goes into good management.

What do you think Zach, did I miss anything important?

Zach:  You touched on a lot, but i would just like to add that Analytics truly is your view into everything that’s going on with your website. Can it provide insight into your AdWords campaign? Of course. But why not append channel-specific tags to gain insight into every way your website acquires visitors. It pains me to say, but sometimes there are better places to put your money, and this is how you find out how.

Additionally, most E-commerce advertisers take a very win-now, cash-in-hand attitude towards AdWords. If you want to win the long game, take a look at the attribution modeling that’s recently been added to Google. I’m not sure why it took Google this long to add, as it often justifies the value of AdWords (especially the Display Network) from a holistic perspective. You don’t want to turn AdWords off it it’s the first place most customers find you!

One other common “leak” occurs to me: a lot of Ecommerce advertisers aren’t taking advantage of their ability to run Shopping campaigns!  Most Ecommerce site back ends can produce product feeds, and Shopping campaigns are often the most profitable type of campaign you can run in AdWords.  Additionally, you can run those same product feeds on many sites other than Google: Bing, Pricegrabber, Amazon, and Ebay, among others, all have product feed integration.  With Ecommerce tracking and channel-specific tags, you’ll be able to see your ROI on all of these different product feeds!

That wraps this DRA Chat.  What are some of the biggest problems you face with your Ecommerce stores and Paid Search accounts?  Let us know in the comments below.

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