This is a guest post from Patrick Rauland, an eCommerce educator and entrepreneur. You can find more of Patrick’s writing on his blog, or learn how to choose the right marketing channels to get your store off the ground via his free Lift Off Summit, which runs June 19 to 23!


Setting up a PPC campaign can be daunting, especially if this is your first venture into online advertising. You’re spending actual money upfront for the chance that the user buys something down the line.

Let me dispel a few myths today about how to run effective PPC Campaigns, and to learn how advertising in general and PPC specifically can be a tool to help grow your eCommerce store.

PPC Campaigns: Lead Quality > Quantity

Running ads is all about generating quality leads over quantity. You don’t need to target the largest keyword to run a successful PPC Campaign. Instead, you can target a tiny keyword (and potentially save yourself some money in the process) as long as those users convert.

In fact, that’s usually the goal with advertising. Find the largest highly-converting group you can.

  • 1000 users with 1% conversion = 10 sales
  • 100 users with 10% conversion = 10 sales

We’ve found that the average company gets all of its conversions from only 6% of its keywords. The rest of the catch is worthless, but still eats up 76% of the PPC budget.
PPC Hero

Since you’re usually paying by the click, look for keywords that have a high conversion rate to set up your campaigns. You probably won’t get this right immediately; however, it’s important to start gathering data on ads and conversions, as the more data you have, the better you can hone-in on quality leads over time.

PPC Campaigns: Segmentation

The key to getting a highly converting group is to segment the audience. You’re trying to find the very best leads — and only the very best leads.

If you’re using a search engine like Google, use keywords to your advantage. Target long tail keywords; they’re much more specific and your ad is more likely to appear to a good lead.

You can also use negative keywords. If you sell a form plugin for WordPress you could target WordPress form plugin; what may work better is if you target WordPress form plugin -free. In this case, free is the negative keyword, so we could remove it.

You probably don’t want someone who is looking for a free plugin. While they could result in a conversion, you don’t want to spend your money on potential leads — you want to spend it on hot leads.

If you’re using Facebook instead of search-based ads, then use the insane amount of data they give you. Basically everyone is on Facebook, and they have data from several aspects of each person’s life. You can target geographic areas or interests, and you can target a potential customer at any point on the customer journey, which is insanely powerful.

  • You can target someone who has never been to your website
  • You can target someone who has visited your website
  • You can target someone who has visited your website and is or isn’t on your newsletter
  • You can target someone who has visited a specific product and using retargetting show them that product again
  • You can target someone who has added the item to the cart but didn’t purchase.

Facebook ads

So if your website hasn’t been discovered yet and you’re getting very little organic traffic, you can target people who haven’t been to the website and point them to a piece of content that should sell them on your services. If your website has been discovered, target people who have already been to your site and maybe show them to a specific product page.

Finally, if you’ve already had a ton of views on your product pages and you want more people buying, then you can retarget those users. Facebook provides tools for sites in pretty much any “launch” stage.

Getting highly converting (meaning cost effective for you) campaigns is all about segmentation, so make sure you spend some time narrowing down your target audience.

PPC Campaigns: How Much Should I Spend?

Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. I interviewed Facebook marketing expert Megan Adams on my Lift Off Summit, and she says:

“In the beginning…start with $5 a day and see where that takes you. Or $100 a campaign”

Amber Turril, Chief Funnel Operations Strategist at White Coat Digital says:

“You can start a $5/day campaign on Facebook and see where that goes. Or $10/day on Adwords”

Start small to begin gathering data on what works for you, and you can then scale up your campaigns later along with optimizing them.

PPC Campaigns: How Much Time Do I Have to Invest?

Ads don’t take a ton of time to set up. If you’re setting up PPC campaigns and you know what you’re doing, you can do it in less than an hour.

The same goes for Facebook — if you already have a Facebook page set up with product photos, setting up your first ad shouldn’t take more than a few hours. This is also a worthwhile investment, as after that, ad setup will go much faster.

Once you have your ads setup they run on their own. You don’t have to do anything to maintain them.

On Lift Off Summit, Megan Adams recommends logging in once a week and tweaking campaigns. Don’t login mid-week or mid-campaign — when you’re first getting started you won’t have enough data and you’ll waste your time:

“I recommend two hours a week”

PPC Campaigns: Conversion Tracking

One final thing! To make sure you can actually measure and track your progress, ensure you have conversion tracking set up. Each ad platform will have different technology that you have to setup on your site so you can track eCommerce sales.

Measuring Success of PPC Campaigns

PPC isn’t magic. You can’t just put in one dollar and expect two dollars to come out — at least not at first. The first thing you should shoot for is breaking even. Amber Turrill says:

“Will that one dollar turn into two dollars? It will. But first, go for break even. And then go for that positive return on investment”

Managing effective and revenue-positive PPC campaigns is a process, like anything else. And there is a learning curve. If you can’t spend $5 a day for a month learning how to use this channel, you probably shouldn’t get into PPC just yet. But if you can spend a few hundred dollars learning the channel, you should be able to turn it into a cash-generating machine.


If you want to learn more about marketing channels and hear the full interviews with Amber Turrill & Megan Adams, check out Lift Off Summit. It’s a free online summit from June 19-23rd.
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Posted by Patrick Rauland

Patrick is an eCommerce educator & entrepreneur. He's built sites for clients, developed & managed eCommerce software, and now creates eCommerce courses for Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning as well as consulting for hosts & software companies.

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