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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.