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7 Invaluable AdWords eCommerce Lessons

  • Written By Livie
  • Posted July 19, 2016
  • 12 minutes Read Time

It’s tremendously easy for eCommerce stores to waste £000’s on poor-performing Google AdWords campaigns. For those that know the right strategies and techniques, it contributes a huge volume of traffic, customers and profits.

In this post, eCommerce Marketing Specialist Mark Tillison shares 7 invaluable AdWords lessons for eCommerce stores to generate profit through effective campaigns and strategies.

AdWords eCommerce Lessons You’ll Find Inside

  • Track Every Conversion
  • Obsess Over Google Analytics
  • Google AdWords Search Campaigns for eCommerce
  • Impression Share is Critical
  • Bid On High Intent Keywords
  • Relevant Pages Cost Less and Make More Sales
  • Optimising Your Site for Sales
  • eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • Google AdWords Shopping Campaigns
  • Provide As Much Data As Possible
  • Product Data
  • Use Remarketing Ads to Nurture Customers Through the Funnel
  • Dynamic Remarketing is a powerful, more recent evolution.
  • Invaluable Lessons for AdWords eCommerce Campaigns

Track Every Conversion

Before you spend a single penny on Google AdWords, make sure that you’ve implemented conversion tracking on your eCommerce store. 

Conversion Tracking provides absolutely critical data for your campaign, revealing where you’re wasting budget and more importantly, which search terms are generating sales.

Google AdWords has its own conversion tracking code which is a pretty simple code addition to the goal page after your eCommerce checkout process is complete and you’ve successfully taken payment for an order.

By default, Adwords will report “a conversion”, along with metrics such as conversion rate and cost per conversion – all very valuable when measuring your ROI.

However, more importantly, with a small customisation, your eCommerce store will pass the value of each sale to your AdWords account. This data now becomes a goldmine, attributing not only conversions, but the sales values, calculating spend over cost for every search term, ad and campaign, meaning that you’ll be able to measure, analyse and optimise every keyword, every ad and landing page to maximise sales and ROI.

Obsess Over Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an essential addition to your site too, where eCommerce website tracking should also be configured. Goals created in Google Analytics can be imported into your Google AdWords account too, providing the conversion and sales value data above.

More importantly, Google Analytics will record and report visitor activity on your website for all channels. As well as AdWords campaign data, Analytics will report conversions and sales values from other channels including organic search, your email marketing campaigns, direct traffic and from social media, amongst others.

You should obsess over your Google Analytics data, measuring where different channels contribute to the sales funnel, not just the last search term which created the sale – time invested in understanding and analysing the multi-channel funnel will be invaluable.

Google analytics example screen shot

Google AdWords Search Campaigns for eCommerce

Impression Share is Critical

Pick battles you can win or you’re likely to suffer a brutal, costly defeat.

There’s a common misunderstanding that customers search, click and buy. That’s just not true and is the downfall of many eCommerce store’s AdWords campaigns.

There’s a significant metric in your account, Impression Share. This metric is presented as the percentage of time your ads were shown versus how many searches there were.

During the buying journey, customers search and click ads and organic links multiple times before buying. Often, they use different keywords, refining their search over a period of time. Assuming conversion tracking is configured, you’ll see average time to conversion from first click or first ad impression, the number of clicks and even the keywords used.

Let’s assume your typical Search Funnel looks something like this:

mens umbrella > mens umbrella > executive umbrella > the umbrella store

That process, on average, takes five days. In this example, that’s what it takes for Stephen, your typical customer, to buy an umbrella. Every step is needed, every step is critical and you’ll need ads to show every time your customer searches.

Assuming your Impression Share is limited by budget and is around 50%, the average customer will only see your ads and be able to click twice from the four steps required – all the hard work is done early on in the funnel, but those clicks are wasted because when Stephen is finally ready to buy an umbrella on his last click, your ad isn’t there. He can’t click and he buys from another site. Equally, you might miss clicks earlier in the funnel, missing opportunities to create awareness and build greater trust in your site and brand.

Since every ad impression and click contributes to the Search Funnel and overall conversion rate, cost per conversion and the number of sales your site achieves, you should keep a very close eye on Impression Share, particularly across different seasons where search volume could increase dramatically – Christmas, for example.

Bid On High Intent Keywords

Keywords form the foundation of your Google AdWords search campaign. To maximise your sales and ROI, you’ll need to research, choose and monitor these carefully.

Some terms in the Search Funnel will be “discovery” terms, during what we might consider a research phase for the customer. These terms won’t necessarily convert well, but introduce your brand at the beginning of the funnel. These terms typically cost less per click as the intent is lower.

Early searches tend to be broader in intent and are still valuable – unqualified “shopping” searches where the customer isn’t quite sure exactly what product they want, they’re just browsing. These terms will have a lower conversion rate but should still add value through the funnel.

Higher intent is represented by more specific, qualified search terms. These represent a customer that knows exactly what she wants and she’s much closer to a buying decision. These terms convert much better, the cost per conversion is lower and the ROI much higher.

The last phase of the funnel is often Brand Search. Having visited your eCommerce store during discovery, returning during shopping and qualified searches, customers often finally convert to a sale after a search for the name of your brand or website.

For more complicated products and purchases, keywords through the funnel might look something like this:

laptops > cheap laptops > laptop reviews > best cheap laptops > acer laptop > acer laptop > acer xyz123 laptop > acer xyz123 prices > the laptop shop > the laptop shop


This is a technical purchase and has a reasonably high ticket price. The customer’s research is typically deeper, he’ll consider different models for his needs and then compare prices before finally deciding on a supplier and placing an order.

All of those search queries are valuable in the Sales Funnel, but you should take care to measure that value throughout and optimise campaigns accordingly.

Relevant Pages Cost Less and Make More Sales

Sending the searcher to a relevant Landing Page for their search is important for two reasons.

Firstly, landing a customer on a page which isn’t relevant to their search will most likely frustrate them and a reasonable percentage of those users will bounce right off your page, wasting the click you just paid for. Those that don’t bounce will try to navigate or search your site and you’ll lose some sales because they don’t know your site like you do and they can’t find what they need.

Landing a customer on a more relevant page will significantly increase conversion rates, sales and ROI.

Secondly, Google AdWords analyses your landing pages for keyword relevance. This forms part of the Quality Score algorithm which in turn determines how much you’ll pay for each click and/or the ad position your keyword achieves.

Yes, you got it – more relevant pages drive down your average cost per click, increase ad positions AND convert more traffic into sales.

Optimising Your Site for Sales

A well-targeted, well-optimised Google AdWords Search campaign will deliver customers to your eCommerce store. As we’ve already established, bidding on higher intent terms and landing users on relevant landing pages will increase your conversion rates and sales.

All of that is worthless unless you optimise the User Experience on your website to maximise the Conversion Rate.

Through Conversion Rate Optimisation, we’re looking to iron out all of the wrinkles and friction points in the conversion process. Anything that causes frustration, confusion or doubt will increase your cost per conversion and directly affect your bottom line.

eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation

Common customer objections that cause eCommerce stores to lose sales;

  • Site design. It looks like the kid next door designed it. In 2004. I don’t trust it, I’m not buying from there!
  • Layout and navigation are confusing. I can’t find what I want. It’s too difficult and frustrating. Another site will be easier. I’ll buy from them instead.
  • Load times are painful. I’m impatient, particularly on a mobile device with poor bandwidth. Load content quickly or I’m off. (Recent studies suggest that every additional second of load time reduces conversion rates by 5%).
  • Search is awful. I expect your site to work like Google and Amazon. That’s how websites work, right? If my search on your site doesn’t reveal what I want quickly and easily, I’ll assume you don’t have it and look on another site.
  • Product pages are missing information essential to my purchase. How big is it? How heavy? Is it compatible? How long does delivery take? Is it in stock? What if I need to return it? Do other customers like it – where are the reviews?
  • I need to see more images. What does it look like from the back or the sides?
  • Your cart process has too many steps and if frustrating. I don’t have time to fill in billing details AND delivery when they’re the same – that’s so annoying, I’ll buy from somewhere else.
  • Whoa! You never mentioned a delivery charge before I got to the checkout. I feel cheated and lied to – I expected to pay £19.99 and now you want another £5.00 for delivery? No thanks!

Google AdWords Shopping Campaigns

Google Shopping is essential for eCommerce marketing and typically accounts for upwards of 30% of sales generated online.

Google displays product ads for shopping queries. Product ads include an image, a headline and a price – customers can see the product and price before they click.

men's brolly listing on google


You’ll need a product feed from your eCommerce store, configured in the correct format and with the data Google requires for your feed to be eligible to show Google Product Ads.

There are extensions for Magento and other eCommerce platforms which make this relatively simple, but data quality is critical to maximising ad impressions, traffic and sales through a successful campaign.

Provide As Much Data As Possible

There are a number of mandatory fields including Title, Description, Price, Availability and Product Category and some optional fields such as weight, colour, gender, size etc. Failing to provide mandatory data will result in items being disapproved and ads not showing at all. The more data you provide, the more likely it is that Google will match your ads to search queries.

Make sure that you categorise products correctly, using the Google Product Category which is as relevant to each product as possible. Failing to do this accurately will limit how often your ads show and the amount of traffic and sales you achieve.

Product Data

Optimise product titles and descriptions for search terms. Include specific features users might include in their search or compatibility with other products.

Once your feed is configured correctly and you’re ready to create your Google Shopping campaign, it is important to segment your products into different groups. This will help to focus budget and search traffic into those products which convert well, reducing ad impressions for those which don’t, increasing your overall conversion  rates and ROI.

Monitor campaigns regularly and adjust bids for products that convert well, lowering those which don’t.

Use Remarketing Ads to Nurture Customers Through the Funnel

Using Google Analytics, create Remarketing audiences for users who have visited your eCommerce store.

Those audiences can be segmented; users who converted (customers), users who visited the shopping cart, users who didn’t visit the shopping cart, users who visited specific sections of your eCommerce store, users who visited a minimum number of pages or spent more than 5mins browsing your site, for example.

Once you have those audiences configured, they can be targeted with Remarketing ads across the Google Display network, reminding them of your brand as they work their way through the Search Funnel.

Dynamic Remarketing is a powerful, more recent evolution.

Using a combination of your Google Product feed and visits to product pages on your site, you can (and should) display branded banner ads which include products that visitor has already browsed on your site. This has proven to be extremely effective in driving up brand recall, increasing returning visitors and sales.

camping equipment Google listing

 Invaluable Lessons for AdWords eCommerce Campaigns

  1. Don’t spend a penny without accurate conversion tracking in place. Ideally, use eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics along with AdWords.
  2. Monitor and optimise for Impression Share, picking battles you can afford to fight and win.
  3. Bid on high-intent keywords to maximise ROI and monitor and optimise carefully and often.
  4. Direct traffic to relevant landing pages to reduce costs and increase conversion rates.
  5. To maximise ROI, optimise the User Experience on your landing pages and site, ironing out any friction points that will cost you valuable sales.
  6. Include Google Shopping in your strategy. It accounts for a significant volume of eCommerce sales.
  7. Use Dynamic Remarketing to nurture customers through the Search Funnel.

Monitor, analyse, optimise. Test, evaluate and test some more. There’s always an extra 1%.


Guest Blogger Profile

Profile Picture of Mark Tillison

Proud MD of Tillison Consulting, Mark Tillison is an eCommerce Marketing Specialist, working with ambitious eCommerce stores to increase sales and profits through SEO, Pay per Click and Social Media campaigns.

Twitter – @Tillison

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