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7 Strategies for Improving AdWords E-Commerce Performance

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7 Strategies for Improving AdWords E-Commerce Performance

Improving your AdWords performance can be tough when you start to hit a ceiling. This is a critical time when reviewing your account for areas of improvement and implementing new strategies are required.

Here’s seven of the most effective strategies for improving your AdWords performance, all of which have been tried and tested by me.

They are ordered by effectiveness, so if you are tight on time, we would suggest implementing 1 and 2 first.

1) Implementing Single Keyword Ad Groups

Single keyword ad groups are king when it comes to squeezing more performance out of Adwords.

A case study by my company Clicteq showed that they could reduce the cost per conversion by 37.5% and increase AdWords Quality Score from 5.56 to 7.95 out of 10.

Quality Score Graph

Most advertisers place 10 to 20 keywords in an ad group, but this makes it very difficult to write ad copy that is relevant to all of the different keywords within the ad group.

Instead if you place just one keyword per ad group, you can write ads that are incredibly specific to that keyword, as you know the exact keyword that will trigger the advert to be displayed.

Higher relevance = Higher CTR = Higher Quality Score = More conversions + lower cost per conversion.

To get started with single keyword ad groups, you need to place each of your keywords within their own ad group in all the different match types as shown below.

Single Keyword Ad Groups

One you have done this, you then need to create adverts that are incredibly specific to the keywords within the ad group.

We would suggest you use a template that looks something like this:

  • Headline 1: Your keyword
  • Headline 2: Features and benefits
  • Description: Features and benefits + Call to action
  • Display URL: Your Keyword

Here is an example of an advertiser doing this well. You can see that they have included the keyword “blue men’s socks” within the headline of the advert and the display URL.

Advert example 1

They have then used the rest of the ad copy to effectively convey their features and benefits and have included a strong call to action telling users what to do next.

2) Segmenting Shopping Campaigns by Product IDs

Google gives you several different ways to segment your product feed. But for most advertisers, unless you have an inventory of tens of thousands of products, you’ll want to segment your shopping feed by product ID.

Segmenting your products into smaller groups is important. Otherwise, all of your products would have the same bid and share the same negative keywords, which is far from optimal.

To get a strong ROI from Google Shopping campaigns you need to set bids that are relative to the price of the product. For example, if you run an online shop that sells shoes, you might be happy bidding $1 per click when you have a margin of $100 but you’re almost certainly going to lose money bidding $1 per click if you have a $5 margin.

Segmenting by ID works by placing each product within its own ad group as shown below.

Google Shopping Structure

When PPC Hero tested segmenting by product ID, they increased conversion rates by 230% and decreased their cost per sale by 85% compared to their All Products campaign.

PPC Hero Case Study

3) Social Proof Your Adverts for Higher Conversion Rates

Social proof does not only work for your landing pages, you can use it for your ads, too.

There are two main ways to social proof your adverts: You can add seller rating extensions or you can add review extensions.

Review extensions allow you to display a third party review alongside your adverts as shown below, which generally increases CTR by around 10-15%.

Social Proof Ad example

They can be added within the AdWords interface itself.

Seller ratings extensions are the second way in which you can social proof your ads, and have been shown to increase conversion rates by 4.9% with 50+ positive reviews.

Below is an example of River Island using them effectively. They are automatically placed next to your adverts once you have 150 positive reviews on one of Google’s approved review platforms.

Social proof ad example

4) Use Countdown Timers to Create Urgency for Offers

A very useful but heavily underused feature within AdWords is the countdown timer feature that allows you to display an accurate countdown within your ad copy to create urgency and increase conversion rates.

Here is an example of an advertiser using one:

Countdown timer example

Research has shown that implementing this feature increased CTR from 2.87% to 4.02%, and there was a $3.66 decrease in cost per conversion. They also saw that conversions increased dramatically as the number of days until the sale ended decreased.

The graph below shows that conversion rates increased from 8.24% to 10.80% at the peak of the sale period.

Countdown timer graph

5) Automate Your Split Testing at Scale

One big problem that a lot of e-commerce AdWords users find is they can’t keep track of all their ad tests when there are thousands or even tens of thousands of ads within their account.

The key to effective split testing is to test based on statistical significance so you ensure that you have enough data to make the correct call. Otherwise, you might choose an advert that appears to be a winner but might after a few more clicks turn out not to be as effective.

When you have a few adverts, you can simply place the number of clicks that your adverts have had and their respective CTR into a calculator like the one below, and it will tell you if your ad tests have reached statistical significance.

Split tester

But when you have 10,000 ads it’s not that simple. At this point, you need to use automation to keep track of all of your split tests for you. There is a large range of products out there, such as Adalysis or Optmyzr that allow you to do this.

These tools will track if there are enough clicks to make a decision effortlessly across tens of thousands of adverts, and will even let you queue adverts so when an ad test has finished, a new ad copy will automatically replace the losing ad copy.

6) Create Adverts for Every Product That You Stock

For the best results with AdWords, you need to create adverts right down to individual advert level. If you have a small product inventory, you can do this manually. However, if you have a larger inventory that changes regularly then this might not be possible and you may need to turn to automation.

This is where a feature called dynamic search ads comes into their own. They work in a similar way to Google shopping ads in the sense that there are no keywords; Google instead decides when your product will be displayed.

The campaigns work by allowing you to create an advert template like the one below, then Google inserts a dynamically created headline so the advert is closely related to your product page. These allow you to get a much better coverage right down to product level.

Dynamic Text Insertion

They have come a long way since the original dynamic search ads, and you now have much more control by creating category specific adverts and using extensive negative keyword lists to ensure you don’t appear for any irrelevant searchers.

For enterprise class AdWords users that are spending over $100K / month, there is something called inventory-aware campaigns by Google DoubleClick that allow for much more control. The tool allows you to create keywords and adverts based on your product feed using ad templates. Advertisers have seen impressive results, with conversions increasing by as much as 26%.

7) Use RLSA for Your Google Shopping Campaigns

Most advertisers now are using remarketing to bring back users who have not converted the first time they viewed their website using banner ads. However, not many of them use remarketing to show their Google Shopping ads more often.

Wordsteam has recently published a case study about their research into applying RLSA to Google Shopping campaigns and their results are significant. They saw increases in shopping CTR and conversion rates by as much as 400% for some of their segments.

RLSA for shopping campings

You can implement RLSA in your Google Shopping campaigns in the same way that you would implement them into a search campaign within the audience tab.


If you want to squeeze more performance out of your e-commerce AdWords campaigns then implementing the seven strategies that have been covered in today’s article will be a great first move.

The vast majority of advertisers are not using all seven of these strategies. In fact, most don’t even use half of these strategies so it represents a huge area for improvement and a great way to get ahead of your competition.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them on social media and I will get back to you.

Image Credits

Featured Image: pulsar011/DepositPhotos

Screenshots by Wesley Parker. Taken March 2017.

CategoryPaid Search

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Wesley Parker

Founder at Clicteq

Wesley is founder and CEO at Clicteq. He has over 5 years experience managing paid search campaigns for companies from ... [Read full bio]

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