Guide to eCommerce PPC Management - Basics

Hitchhiker's Guide to eCommerce PPC Management

Welcome to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to eCommerce PPC (pay per click) Management. I’m your guide Travis Phipps, PPC Expert to the stars.

This is a four part series intended to help owners of eCommerce businesses use PPC (AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube, etc) and create profitable advertising campaigns.

Click Here to Read Module 2

Click Here to Read Module 3

Click Here to Read Module 4

Download the Full Guide as a Free Ebook

Since this series will cover a lot of ground, from the very basic definitions to advanced concepts, I would like you to treat this as a “Choose Your Own Adventure”. Didn’t you just love those books as a kid? Feel free to skip over parts of the series you are already familiar with, or simply tuck them away for future reading.

Considering this is a four part series, and we are publishing each module on a weekly basis, we can be quite dynamic with our approach. That means, while you’re following along feel free to post comments below, email me at info@battlebridgelabs.com, or you can post on the resources section for this series here: www.battlebridgelabs.com/AmeriCommerce. With the exception of the first part of the series I will take questions and comments from you the audience, and dig into any subject deeper or start hitting the more advanced sections of the course quicker, as necessary. See, this is even better than the Choose Your Own Adventure Novels --you actually get to participate.

As I mentioned, we will be covering a lot of topics. Here is a rough outline of what you can expect from the course as it unfolds. I reserve the right to adjust the outline and the content as we go to better suit the reader's (that's you!) needs. But I do want to give you some idea of where we will be headed over the next 4 weeks. This is a lot to learn in 4 weeks, and I want to make certain that you have time to build out some campaigns and begin to get relevant data in time for the Holiday Season. In a lot of eCommerce businesses, the holiday season can account for more than 50% of your annual sales! We don’t want to miss out on that love.

Week One (You’re Reading it Now!)

I. Brief Introduction (done and done)

II. My Story and Why You Should Read This

III. Average Order Value and Lifetime Value of a Customer

IV. Target Cost per Acquisition (CPA), Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

V. Conversion Tracking

VI. Keyword Research

VII. Competitive Analysis

VIII. Basic Settings

IX. Resources – Week One

Week Two

I. Campaign Settings Revisited

II. Account Structure

III. Ad Creation and Testing

IV. Account Maintenance

Week Three

I. A – Always, B – Be, T – Testing

II. Extensions & Re-Targeting

III. PLA’s & Google Shopping

IV. Advanced Settings, Techniques, and Strategies

Week Four

I. Bid Strategies

II. Impression Share, Quality Score, Close Variants

III. Display Network

IV. Opportunities

V. Other Forms of Traffic

a. Bing Ads

b. YouTube.

c. Facebook

VI. Hacks, Surprises, and Tricks!


The folks here at AmeriCommerce have been kind enough to let me ramble on about all things PPC, but they did ask me to let you know who I am and why you should listen to me. In case you don’t want to be bored by the details, let me hit the high points:

1. I owned my own eCommerce company, and used my advanced PPC (and bowstaff) skills to take it to $750k in annual revenue. In other words, I’ve been where you are.

2. Learned the ins and outs of PPC with my own money. I learned from the people who literally wrote the book on PPC.

3. I manage hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly ad spend for dozens of clients, and drive millions of dollars in monthly revenue.

4. Nobody enjoys this stuff more than I do…I live, eat, and breathe building businesses. I’m here to help you build yours.

5. I know that literally anyone can do this. You just need a guide (that’s me), and the desire to learn what it takes.

My Story – Click through to BattleBridgeLabs.com to learn more about me.

How my eCommerce Company "Blew Up" (in a good way) using PPC

I want to share with you the exciting personal story of how I used PPC to grow our own eCommerce store. I believe it will resonate with a lot of the readers, but it won't hurt my feelings if you skip to the "good stuff".

A little more than 5 years ago, my wife and I launched CherryLoop.com - Your Online Figure Skating Store. The startup I was working for at the time, was "starting down" if you know what I mean, and it was the perfect opportunity to break out on our own. We were spending 20 to 30 hours per week at the rink with our daughters, and we were having difficulty finding a good place to buy figure skating apparel and equipment online. With my technology sales and advertising background, and my wife's retail experience, it seemed like a great opportunity.


(A remarketing ad we ran in 2011)

We built the brand, bought the merchandise, developed the relationships, and dumped a good portion of our savings into this little venture. Then we launched the site, and waited for the cash register to start ringing. We were certain to be Billionaires! Just like the movies...nothing to it...Watch out Bill Gates, here comes Travis.

Well, that first few months we opened were slow, but then we had a decent Holiday Season. Since we had nothing to compare it to, a $5,000 December was awesome. This was going to work after all. We had low overhead (ran the biz out of our house), no advertising costs (who needs 'em), and two employees. We just needed to increase sales. Piece of cake, right?

January 1st came, and I had to keep checking to make certain the site was still live. No sales. January 2nd. Zero sales. January 3rd. Well you get the idea. February and March...more of the same. I started looking for jobs. We had no idea that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) takes a long time to kick in, regardless of how well you do it. Had no idea that you can make sales in ANY business over the Holiday Season, and you certainly can't count on sales to be similar the rest of the year. As a matter of fact, it turned out that 40% of our annual sales would come during the holiday season. We also didn't realize the importance of Paid Advertising. You can't build a successful business fast enough on link building, partnerships, blog posts, and social media alone...just can't be done.

We took a leap of faith, dug into our savings, and invested heavily in AdWords. We hired a PPC Consultant, because the small amount of PPC I managed didn't go so well. I had no idea what I was doing. If I would have had this guide (The Hitchhiker's Guide to PPC for eCommerce), I would have had the confidence and ability to do it myself.

We allotted $10,000 for the AdWords experiment. It was a risk, but I truly believe if you are not willing or don't have the money to advertise for your business...you might as well not even play. We gave our PPC Consultant a good size budget, and he was able to build out some successful campaigns. The first month we started running PPC ads we increased our revenue 20x. It only got better from there.

I had been studying “Pay Per Click” Marketing for years before this, but I wasn’t in a position to “put my money where my mouth was”. Once I realized what our consultant could do with AdWords, I spent the next year studying everything about our internet marketing, taking hours and hours of courses, going to seminars, buying every book I could get my hands on, studying from every expert in the country, and eventually taking over our own accounts.

I dove head first into everything PPC. I loved everything about PPC. I had been in Marketing & Advertising my whole adult life, but had never had this level of control before. It allowed us to write a "blank check" for advertising every month, as long as we met certain targets. We'll learn all about that in the next section.

That same small business that was on the verge of shutting down five years ago, is now the 3rd largest online provider in the figure skating industry nationwide, and the number one reseller for several lines apparel. We were able to do this almost completely on the back of successful PPC advertising.

Leveraging the years of PPC experience I gained managing our campaigns at CherryLoop.com and my marketing background, I launched my PPC Consulting Business early in 2012. I received my training from the best minds in the business, Howie Jacobson and Joel McDonald, they literally wrote the book on PPC (Google AdWords for Dummies, 3rd Ed). Our consulting business grew at a ridiculous pace thanks to the referrals of friends in the industry and our existing client base.

We sold CherryLoop.com in March of 2014, so that we could focus on our PPC business. This is when we launched BattleBridgeLabs.com. This is our community to help advertisers (like yourself) learn from PPC Managers and Agencies. We will offer an advanced training course for interested parties at the end of this free four part series, sponsored by the good people at AmeriCommerce.


The Importance of Lifetime Customer Value

OK, now before we jump into to making you folks PPC experts, let’s talk about some business theory first. I know, I know, I can hear you now, “Mr. Phipps, I just want to make money…I don’t want to learn any of your old fashioned business theory. You’re so boring!” Well, it probably doesn’t sound like that at all, but that is what I imagined anyway.

Hop up on my knee and let me tell you a story. This is how I was able to beat my competitors to a pulp and dominate market share in an already saturated market, and this is how my clients who “get it” crush their competitors, and this is why Jeff Bezos is a Multi-Billionaire, and how Amazon can afford to survive on 1% profit margins. If you don’t read another word in this ridiculously long and valuable series, read what I am about to tell you.

You must understand, know, and work hard to have the highest Customer Lifetime Value (CLV if you’re nasty) in your industry. What is CLV you ask? I’m glad you asked, because it is super important. We are going to be using a very simplified version of CLV. The math gets pretty serious if we take into consideration discount rate, retention rate, etc. For our purposes we are going to keep this at around 3rd grade level math.

Let’s say you own the website Ultimate Golf and you sell; you guessed it, Golf Equipment and Apparel. Your average order value is $125. Now, the mistake most marketers and business owners make, but one you will NOT make is to target AOV (average order value) in order to maintain profitability.

Did I mention there would be math?

We will be using some graphics to explain these ideas, and for the sake of simplicity here are some definitions you will see in the graphics:

AOV: Average Order Value

Cost of Goods Sold: This is simply the cost to us to buy or manufacture the product. No other costs are included in this figure.

Overhead: This includes shipping, salaries, rent, office supplies, etc.

Advertising Costs: This is just our online advertising costs.

Profit: What is left over after we deduct all of the above.

If we are trying to make 20% profit from each sale, then our numbers may look something like this:

That means we can spend $25.00 to acquire a customer and still make 20% profit. Not bad. When we get into bidding, keywords, and conversion rates, it is important to know what we are willing to pay to acquire a customer. We want to know what our target CPA (cost per acquisition) is…in this case it is $25.00.

However, let’s say Golf Universe (your biggest and meanest competitor) also has an average order value of $125.00. But every time you search for “Ping Golf Clubs”, Golf Universe is sitting in the #1 spot in Google. They are getting all of the traffic, they are getting all of your customers, and they are just leaving you the scraps. More than likely, the reason for this is that they are willing to pay more for a customer than you are.

Here’s how it works:

What?! Nobody can make a living off a mere 4% profit! How are the guys at Golf Universe doing it? The answer is simple…They know the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is actually much higher than the AOV (average order value). They are just willing to spend much more to acquire a customer than we are. In this case, they can profitably spend 16% more than we can based on the Average Order Value. In this example, the CLV is $200.00. It may take 18-24 months to realize the total revenue, but Golf Universe knows that on average every customer will spend $200 NOT just $125.

So, here’s how it plays out. The bad guys get to spend $20 more than we do to acquire a customer. They barely make any money of the first sale, a mere 4% net profit. However, in the long run they will make much more money than we will because they will be making 17.5% off of a much larger customer base.


Obviously, you see where I’m going with this. The more we can spend to acquire a customer the better.


For the sake of argument, let’s say we are stubborn and we want to target a 20% profit margin on our AOV. Here is the good news:

We manage to rake in 10,000 sales this year acquiring each customer for $25. Remember that our CLV is actually $200, so our numbers will eventually look more like this:

Ultimate Golf (the stubborn good guys) – This is still us

We surprised ourselves with a fat 27.5% profit margin. We killed our revenue and profit goals with $2,000,000 and $550,000 respectively. Wow, high fives all around, let’s light some cigars and pop the Cristal!

Not so fast my friend, here is the really, really bad news:

The bad guys targeted a slim 4% margin on the $125 AOV. For the same period they were able to sell 10X what the good guys were able to sell. If you ask me, that is a very conservative number. If you are able to spend almost twice what someone else is to acquire a customer, the numbers sky rocket.


As a reminder, here is what our competitors were doing while we were playing it safe.

With 10X the sales, the total revenue numbers come in at $20,000,000 and net profit of $3.5 million. That is almost 6.5 times the amount of profit the good guys made.

Granted it may take 2+ years to realize the full 17.5% on our CLV, but you see where I’m going with this, right? If they have $3.5 million in profit and 10 times the customer base, then they are in the driver’s seat. Their competitors are biting, scratching, and scraping for what market share is left. It isn’t pretty.


This is powerful stuff, and it can’t be understated.

The first lesson in competing for paid traffic or PPC is to be able to spend more than your competitors for the same customer. You will win every time if this is the case.


There are only a handful of ways to increase what we are willing to spend to get a customer. Let me list a few:

1.Increase Average Order Value: This is always a good idea, and I encourage doing everything you can to do this.

2.Decrease Profit Margin: I don’t suggest doing this -- unprofitable businesses are no fun. Boo.

3.Decrease overhead, shipping costs, etc: This is always a good idea, but sometimes you’ve cut back as much as you can.

4.Increase your conversion rate: This doesn’t really count, because this doesn’t change how much we are willing to spend to acquire a customer…it just changes how many customers we get for the same dollar (pound, yen, etc). We will dive deep into this in later modules, but I like the way you think!

5.Use CLV or Lifetime Value of a Customer: YES! That is what I am trying to say here…find out your CLV, and find it out quickly. Increase this number if at all possible.

Here are some FAQ’s when understanding your CLV:

1. Can I afford to only make 4% (or some low profit percentage of your average order) on the average order value, and still stay in business?

a.This is a very serious question. If the answer is No, then consider increasing the profit you make on the CLV. For example, instead of 4% profit on the AOV, increase it to 10%. This still increases your target CPA from $25.00 to $37.50. That is a 50% increase in what you are willing to pay to acquire a customer.

2.What if the AOV and my CLV are the same?

a.This goes for those of you selling coffins, wedding photos, tornado shelters, or other items that you only get to sell once.

b.Here is the answer. There is ALWAYS a way to increase AOV or increase CLV.

c.Here are some examples of how we can increase our AOV or CLV:

COFFINS: We'll “upsell” the coffin with the silk lining. We can run a “buy one, get one half off” sale. Yes, I realize that is uncomfortable, but we’re all going to go sometime, right? You just increased your average order value in both cases. Let’s partner with the cemetery (or we own the cemetery), and we give away coffins for free, because we know that cemetery plots are where the real money is.

WEDDING PHOTOS OR ALBUMS: We can sell a subscription service to access the photos online for a period of time.

TORNADO SHELTERS (I live in Oklahoma): We can sell "first responder" memberships, or something similar.

3. What if I don’t know what my AOV, CLV, or Target CPA is?

a.Then don’t spend another dollar on your business until you figure it out. You at least need to make an educated guess.

b.If you haven’t already setup Google Analytics on your eCommerce Store, then now is a good time to do this.

i.Here is an article in the AmeriCommerce Support Center that walks you through the setup:

http://support.AmeriCommerce.com/hc/en-us/articles/201903280-How-to-Install-Google-Analytics-Tracking

c.I’ve included a worksheet here to help you understand all of this a little bit better.


Whew! I’m certain that a lot of you already know this, but it is so critically important it is worth highlighting. In my not so humble opinion,


Understanding our CPA (Cost per Acquisition) and our ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)

Now that we've got CLV down, let’s talk more about your Target CPA (Cost per Acquisition) and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). Depending on the type of business you are in you have some choices to make now. If you sell one item in your store and your average order value is pretty consistent…then you just need to figure out your CLV and target your profit margin. Piece of cake.

Example A: One Item (or a bunch of items that all cost about the same price), Consistent AOV.

You simply need to decide if you are going to target a profit margin off of AOV or CLV. Whatever works best for your business. Using our example before we target 4% profit off of our AOV.

We dominate the TV Mount market and go home.

Example B: One Item (or a bunch of items that all cost about the same price), Consistent AOV, CLV and AOV are the same. Basically, this is a one-time sale.

** I would desperately try to find a way to increase my AOV. It is important that your AOV be higher than your competitors. If you don’t find a way to do this, then it is difficult to compete. You will be competing on price, or reducing your profit margins to get customers. This is not a good place to be. You may want to start looking for a day job.

Example C: A bunch of items, all different prices, Consistent AOV, Consistent CLV.

Back to our Ultimate Golf example. This is a great example because in golf you may be selling items that vary widely in cost.

This is when it gets a little hairy, and you have to do some serious soul searching. And by soul searching, I mean digging deep into Google Analytics, your shopping cart stats, etc. I’m getting ready to contradict myself, and I hate doing that. I made such a big deal about average CLV, and I meant it. BUT, not all customers are created equal. Just because the CLV of your average customer is $200, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to pay $45.00 to acquire a customer who is just buying some golf tees for $5.00.

You might want to…and in many cases I think it makes sense. In the business, we call this a “Trip Wire”. I’m a big fan of the trip wire, but it must be used wisely. We will discuss the "trip wire" in future modules.

At times like this, when we have a wide variety of products, a wide array of pricing, and often times a dizzying amount of keywords to bids and manage…it can be advantageous to use the ROAS model. ROAS stands for Return on Ad Spend. It is self explanatory. If you spend $1.00 on advertising and you make $5.00 in revenue…then your “Return on Ad Spend” is 5.0 or 500%. If you back into the math a 5.0 ROAS means you are spending 20% on advertising. Obviously, if you spend $20.00 and you make $100.00 in revenue then that is a 20% of revenue on ad spend.

The reason this works so well in our Golf Equipment and Apparel example is that you are always spending profitably. It is much more likely that someone searching for “Golf Clubs” will spend more money than someone searching for “Golf Tees”. So, if we target a 5.0 ROAS, we will only be spending $1.00 to make $5.00 on some golf tees, but we may also be spending $100 to make $500 on a cheap set of golf clubs.

You can use ROAS the same way you would use CPA. You just need to find out what ratio makes sense for your business, and allows you to spend the most possible to acquire a customer profitably. Going back to our original example, let’s figure out what our ROAS would have been.

So, our ROAS would be 2.77. Just to make sure this horse is dead: Since the CLV was $200 then the long term ROAS is actually: $200/$45 = 4.44

See how this works? If we target a 2.77 ROAS instead of a $45 CPA, our ad spend adjusts up or down based on the revenue realized.

If we are targeting a 2.77 ROAS, then we are willing to spend $361.01 to make $1000.00.

$1000/2.77 = $361.01

Each business, market, and product is different from the next. So, these are decisions you will need to make based on the type of business you have and your specific goals, projections, and profit needs. You can go to the resources section and download some worksheets to help you make these decisions for your business.

To recap here are some acronyms I sprayed all over the place:

CLV = Customer Lifetime Value, Lifetime Value of a Customer

AOV = Average Order Value

CPA = Cost per Acquisition

ROAS = Return on Ad Spend

Conversion Tracking – Do it!

Now that you have a firm understanding of CPA and ROAS, let’s jump into tracking conversions and revenue. As you probably know by now, I take my revenue and conversion tracking pretty seriously. I highly suggest you do too. Let me make this very clear.

Do NOT spend one dime on PPC until you have conversion tracking set up.

Conversion Tracking - Screen Shot - 11SEP2014.jpg

It is not enough to have conversion tracking setup, you must also be tracking revenue.

Conversions - Revenue - AdWords Screen Shot 11SEP2014.jpg

Now that I got that off my back, any questions?

It is very simple to setup conversion tracking. So, either do it yourself, or have a Google Analytics expert do it for you. Drop me a line if you’re having any problems with this. But don’t launch any campaigns until it is setup.

Keyword Research - Defined, Low Hanging Fruit, and Tricks of the Trade

Yes, you…in the back of the class, you have a question? Yep, you’re in the right room, this is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to PPC for eCommerce.

Finally, we’re actually talking about something that has to do with PPC. A strong foundation is very important, and I want you all to have a solid foundation before creating your campaigns. Keyword research, building, and development is a huge part of building a solid foundation for your search campaigns.


There are a lot of great articles that discuss the importance of good keyword research. I'll link to some of my favorite in the Resources (http://www.battlebridgelabs.com/AmeriCommerce). I will spare you the long definitions and the excruciating detail...but just know...it's kind of a big deal.

Now you know that I believe good keyword research is important, BUT the way we are going to build our campaigns, we will let our account structure do most of the "heavy lifting". This is difficult to understand right now, because we haven't gotten to account structure yet, but our structure will be powerful in this regard.

Most people believe that you must go out and find all of the "long tail keywords" for your niche, product, or service. Ahh, not so much (I'll explain below). In case you don't know what "long-tail" means, you're not alone. It basically means a keyword or search term that is longer than 3 words. Don't let the SEM geeks scare you by throwing this around.

Here is an example:

Keyword or Search Terms:

1. Golf Clubs

2. Coffins

3. Golf Shirts

4. Cemetery Plots


Long-tail Keyword:

1. Titleist Men's ap1 714 golf clubs

2. coffins for sale in New York City

3. Nike Golf Dri Fit Tiger Woods Shirts

4. cemetery plots for sale on craigslist


Like I said, there is a belief that has long been held that you need to know and bid on all the long-tail terms. You may hear they convert better. You may hear that they are cheaper, because your competitors aren't bidding on them. This may or may not be true, but we don't have to find them ourselves. With our account structure (which I will teach you later), we're going to let Google and our customers do that for us.

So, what we really need to do is find the short keywords or search terms that are most relevant to our product or service. I suggest finding all of the relevant keywords that are only two-three words in length.

Here are some examples for Ultimate Golf:

golf clubs

golf shirts

nike golf balls

big bertha drivers

Titleist irons

ladies golf shirts

When doing preliminary keyword research try to keep it between 2-4 words in length. I don't want to get all technical on you right now, but there are some changes coming down the pike regarding plurals. Google has announced that they are going to remove the ability to break out keywords based on plurals. There are some advanced techniques that can get around this if you convert one keyword much more successfully as a plural or a singular. I've got your back on this.

However, don't hesitate to keep another list of long-tail keywords. That list may come in handy later, but it isn't necessary right now (but if you are brainstorming your keywords and you come up with long tail words, then keep them in a spreadsheet). It also is a good idea to export your entire product set. AmeriCommerce makes this very easy. The product names and/or titles often times make excellent keywords (obviously).

When building this list think about what people are searching for when they are going to buy your product. Don't come up with keywords like "best online golf store". Nobody searches for that. They are searching for a product, and we want to bid on product based keywords.

Another handy trick is to use brand names. If you are in a niche and a specific brand is "up and coming" and can only be bought in a few places, that is a great keyword. When building our eCommerce store we were able to hitchhike off the success of a new brand. The brand name was inexpensive to bid on, and our conversion rates were through the roof.

If you already have some account history, let’s start with the low hanging fruit.

Check your Google Analytics AccountoDepending on how long your GA account has been setup, you can get a ton of relevant information from here. Simply open your GA account, drill down to Acquisition < Keywords < Paid or OrganicoYou can sort this list by clicks, conversions, revenue, etc. You'll want to find all of the keywords that have generated sales in the past.

Google Analytics - Keyword Screen Shot - 11SEP2014.jpg

Check your existing AdWords CampaignsoIf you already have AdWords setup, this is a no brainer. Choose a specified period of time (“all time” for preliminary keyword research). Then Click on the Keywords Tab. Then on the “Details” tab choose “All”

AdWords - Search Terms Tab - 11SEP2014.jpg

Export all of the keywords that have generated conversions, sales, etc. Start building a comprehensive list. Don’t do anything with this list just yet. We are going to build our account structure later using this list and lists of keywords we get from other sources.

Now that we have pulled all of the keywords from our historical data (if we had any)…Don’t worry if your account is brand new, or your keyword list is really short. We are going to fix that right now.


Finding Keywords the Easy Way - Spying on our Competitors

My favorite tool, and the tool I use every single day to do my keyword research, build out campaigns, and spy on my competitors is SpyFu. There are a lot of choices out there. iSpionage, KeywordSpy, SEM Rush, etc. I’ve used them all and I like SpyFu best. If you go to the resources page on battlebridgelabs.com/Resources you can sign up for a SpyFu account and get a lifetime 20% discount, and they've graciously extended the free trial to 60 days (up from 30 days).

Here is what I do to find the best keywords for any market in about 5 minutes. I type in a search to Google for the product or company I am building the campaigns for. Let’s use the term “Golf Clubs” as an example. See the screen shot. Now use the top 3 competitors. In this case we have:

Golfsmith.com

Golfclubs.com

2ndswing.com

I type those competitors into SpyFu.com, and see what we get. As you can see from the screen shot, those top 3 competitors have 659 keywords in common. It is a safe bet, that all 659 of those keywords are profitable, because everyone is bidding on them. This is a great place to start. Export the list and save it for later. We are going to dig through this list and build our campaigns around it!

SpyFu - Top 3 Golf Club Competitors.jpg

For the purposes of preliminary keyword research, this is all we really need to do right now. However, I highly suggest you play around with SpyFu for a while. You would be surprised what you can learn about your competitors. We will also use SpyFu again when we get into Ad Creation. We will be able to see exactly which ads have proven successful for our competitors.

After you've mined all the data from your existing AdWords account (if any), your Google Analytics (if any), and SpyFu.com (or your spy software of choice); you should have a nice healthy list of keywords. You'll want to drop those into a spreadsheet. You will want it organized by short keyword search terms, and longer tail search terms. Obviously, you'll want to focus on keywords that have produced for you in the past. Your spreadsheet will look something like this:

Golf Clubs - Keyword Research - 19SEP2014.jpg


Competitive Analysis – We’re still spying on our competitors.

We’ll be using SpyFu again, so fire go ahead and fire it up! I can’t believe I’m actually typing this out right now. What I am about to show you is how I always surprise my clients and prospects with my mad skills. This is like magic.

We’ve already used our competitors to find out which keywords we want to build our campaigns around, and which keywords are profitable (and which ones aren’t)…now, we can find out how much they are spending on online advertising. Going back to our Golf example. Who wants to know how much Golfsmith.com is spending on AdWords every month? Ooh, ooh…I do!

Check out this screen shot:

Golfsmith.com: $30,000 - $60,000 per month.

GolfSmith - Competitive Analysis.jpg

You need to take these numbers with a grain of salt. They can vary wildly, but in my experience, they are fairly accurate. The reason they vary so much is that they take the average monthly spend over a 5 year period of time. During holidays or high times, the numbers can spike.

This kind of knowledge can really help you determine whether or not you have the budget to enter a market.

GolfSmith - Other Competitors.jpg

Here are the other top competitors:

PGATourSuperStore.com = $21k per month

GlobalGolf.com = $18k per month

RockBottomGolf.com = $15k per month


GolfSmith - Ad History.jpg

This tells you so much about your competitor’s advertising history it is crazy.

You get to see up to 5 years of ad history. Every time an ad changes, you can see it.You can see what the coverage for different keywords and ad copy is…If a keyword has 90% “coverage” then you know that it is profitable for your competitor.You can tell what the average ad position is…once again, this is excellent information!

There is so much competitive information you can get lost for days just deconstructing what your competitors have done in the past. Since this information is readily available, you should be using it!


Basic Settings

I know that a lot of you are anxious to get your campaigns setup. With that in mind, I highly suggest you wait until we get through the account structure to setup your campaigns. However, I KNOW that some of you won’t listen, so I don’t want you to go and screw everything up. Here is a list of basic settings if you just can’t wait until next week.

The Settings we are discussing today are only for Search. When creating a new campaign, ALWAYS separate out Search and Display Campaigns. Network Settings – I usually include “search partners” Locations – Under most circumstances separate campaigns by country. Bid Strategy – “Manually set my bids for clicks”. Default Bid - $1.00 - We will bid by keyword or ad group, so this is just a default setting. Budget - $50.00 per day. I will explain the importance of setting a high budget in later modules. Ad Extensions – We’ll cover these at great length in later modules.

Leave all of the other settings to their default state.

Basic Settings - Slide One


Basic Settings - Slide Two


Basic Settings - Slide Three

That should get you started, but like I said before…please wait until we get through the account structure module before launching any new campaigns. You will probably end up deleting or pausing any campaigns until we setup the new structure.


Wrap Up

Well, we've covered some important ground and we're establishing a nice foundation. You have some homework to complete before next week's module.

1. Determine your target CPA (cost per acquisition) or ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). You'll need to work out if you are going to target a specific CPA for each product or group of products. If you're going to target a CPA based on the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). Or if you're going to use ROAS. They are basically the same thing, it just depends on how you look at it.

2. Complete the AdWords/PPC Company Profile and Worksheet.

3. Do your keyword research and come armed with your spreadsheet.

4. Complete an in-depth Competitive Analysis if you feel like it will be beneficial to your business. I don't suggest focusing on your competition, but it is always good to know what they are up to.

5. Create your AdWords Account (if you haven't done that already).

6. Ask questions below or on the BattleBridgeLabs.com/AmeriCommerce page.

Resources – Week One.

1. AdWords/PPC Company Profile Worksheet

2. CPA – ROAS Worksheet

3. SpyFu.com – Subscription Discount

4. Basic Settings - "Click-by-click" video demonstration of the Basic Settings

Part 1. Bonus Videos - Quick video tutorials: setup remarketing, setup sitelinks, and callouts (brand new).


Click Here to Read Module 2

Click Here to Read Module 3

Click Here to Read Module 4

Travis Phipps built his own eCommerce business from zero to $60,000 per month in revenue. He currently manages, maintains, and optimizes hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly ad spend across a variety of networks. He has several clients in a wide variety of industries but holds a special place in his heart for eCommerce. You can visit Travis at BattleBridgeLabs or @Phipps on Twitter.

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Comments
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Ali4445
October 3, 2014 1:57 PM
Wow! Travis, this article is a monster resource for someone like me who is just starting out with PPC. I have to admit, I've been on the fence about how much I should invest, and now I actually have a formula for figuring that out. I also really appreciate the tip about SpyFu. That's a ninja technique that I can't wait to use! I'll be checking back for Parts 2-4 this month. It will be great to implement what I'm leaning just in time to make some extra holiday sales!
Craig Bickford
October 3, 2014 2:10 PM
What a fabulously comprehensive PPC article - and we're just a part 1! Usually this much information is wrapped up in a book or ebook for sale. Kudos for sharing it with us! I'm really new to all this and struggle with getting my head wrapped around PPC strategies and the available materials explaining it are usually very dry, technical, and hard to follow. I must say, the part where you explain about knowing our CPA and ROAS was brilliant - it really explained it in a way I could understand and I'm starting to figure things out for myself. I'm really looking forward to the next part!
TravisPhipps
October 3, 2014 2:32 PM
Hi @Ali4445 , I'm so glad you got some value out of it :). If you start building out your campaigns, and run into any snag...just post a comment and I'll make certain to address it in the next module. I remember building out my first campaigns like it was yesterday. It was daunting and quite frankly scary. However, with some very basic techniques that I'll teach you, you should be able to launch some successful campaigns just in time for the holidays. You won't regret putting in the time to learn it! Definitely take advantage of SpyFu.com, their free version is nice, and so is the 60 day free trial. Good luck! Travis
TravisPhipps
October 3, 2014 2:50 PM
Hi @CraigBickford - Thanks for the kind words regarding the material. Word up - +1 for the available materials being dry and technical. I am confident you can build some successful campaigns with the knowledge you pick up over the next few weeks. I'll try to keep it light and entertaining too :). Even with a relatively small budget, you can learn a lot in a short period of time if you structure your campaigns correctly. We'll get you profitable in no time! Thanks again for reading. Travis
Keri B
October 3, 2014 11:33 PM
My parents suffered through many hours at the rink, too! I was a figure skater growing up. I left school between 10 and 11 every day to train. (I did pairs and a lot of the pairs ice was in the middle of the day.) My mom struggled through making a few of my dresses, but mostly we bought them online. I checked out your site and I like the warm-up jackets. :) I guess it makes sense that, particularly in the market of figure skating apparel, a very large chunk of your sales would come during holiday season. I mean, is figure skating apparel an item that sells an even larger percentage of its merchandise during the holiday season than other items? I think with figure skating stuff you get a whole contingent of people who are not skaters or not serious skaters buying stuff seasonally. But other products might not be quite as heavily seasonal as skating. What do you think?
Josh R.
October 6, 2014 9:04 AM
I have to admit, after reading this magnificent article, I feel like an over saturated sponge. I have been doing some PPC (not all that well apparently) for a company that is selling dance wear (not all that different from figure skating supplies) We are moving from brick and mortar to on-line retailing. I have some basic problems...I am new to the business and have discovered that they have not kept good records, so without much to go on how do best estimate my CLV? I have basically been working on a ROI basis up until now, but am going to do my homework and see what I can do. Also, you focus on adwords, but would you advocate staying within just one system or also using other PPC vehicles? Sorry for jumping all over the place with my questions, but I have lots to learn and am feeling the heat. I really appreciate the detailed instructions for adwords...but here I must demonstrate (again) my ignorance: I am not familiar with the idea of search partners so I didn't check the box. Also, it seems that there is slight "allowance' on the budget figure you establish as my charges sometimes come in over my budgeted figure...not a big deal, but did I do something wrong or is that the way adwords works? Thanks, this is a real education for me.
Alex London
October 6, 2014 10:13 AM
Wow, incredible information - and there's lots more to come! I have been a somewhat unsuccessful dabbler in adwords campaigns in the past to little or no success and now I can begin to see why. Compared to your approach my 'strategy' was non existent. I think my biggest stumbling block was recognising the relevant keywords to target. While my budget is small, I can see there is a lot for me to do to make my campaign effective. Thank you so much for this guide. I'm excited to read the other parts now!
TravisPhipps
October 6, 2014 11:16 AM
Hi @Keri B, It is nice to run into someone familiar with figure skating! CherryLoop.com, isn't our site anymore, we sold it earlier this year. Our daughters stopped figure skating about 2 years after we launched the site, but we still love the sport and have a lot of friends in the business. The "holiday rush" varies from industry to industry. However, I know of a LOT of ecommerce businesses who do anywhere from 40%-60% of their total sales in November and December. So many of the items we purchase online are for the Christmas season. Many ecommerce businesses have other peak times, but even most of these see a spike in sales over the holidays. In our golf example...most people play golf in the spring, summer, and fall...however, a lot of people buy their golfers gifts for the holidays. In any case, it is important to know when your sales spike and take advantage of those times. If your conversion rate increases from 2% to 4% over the holiday, that means your CPA (cost per acquisition) will drop in half. So, increase your bids to get more business! I hope this helps, and thanks for the comments.
TravisPhipps
October 6, 2014 12:26 PM
Hi @Josh R, Don't let the wealth of information overwhelm you :). I am just trying to explain it in as much detail as possible. Let's take your questions one at a time: 1. ROI is a perfectly fine way of managing your PPC campaigns. Just be aware that your competitors may be using other methods. Moving from "brick and mortar" to online can be a challenge, and I am always surprised at what sells good in the store and what sells online. Just try to keep good records moving forward and find out the following: A. What is the average order value. B. What is your percentage of repeat customers. C. What is the average customer lifetime value. 2. The dance wear world is very competitive, as you probably know. They sell a lot of low ticket items. So, your campaigns need to be structured very well and tightly. There may be a difference of pennies on your bides between a profitable campaign and an unprofitable campaign. 3. Yes, this series will have a strong focus toward AdWords, as it has by far the most traffic. However, I strongly urge everyone to test out all other forms of traffic. Especially Bing Ads for search, it only represents 30% of the traffic of AdWords, but if you aren't advertising on Bing Ads your leaving 30% of your potential revenue on the table. Some markets are great for display advertising (Facebook is a good example of a display network). 3. Go ahead and click search partners. It shouldn't affect much...all it does is allow the ads to show up on their partner sites like AOL, etc. 4. Regarding the budget: I would suggest keeping an eye on the budget manually...don't let Google do it. It just causes problems with the way it serves up your ads, etc. Set the budget much higher than you really intend to spend and adjust your budget by adjusting your bids or by pausing your campaigns when you hit your daily allocation. I hope this helps! Travis
TravisPhipps
October 6, 2014 12:31 PM
Hi @Alex London - thanks for the kind words :). Dabbling is ok when it comes to AdWords. The good news: All of your previous data is useful. More good news: If you have been unsuccessful, you have no where to go but up! Even with small budgets you can do a lot. Use a keyword research tool to find out what is working for your competitors. Just teset a few keywords that you feel will be productive for you. Write great ad copy (we'll get into that in the near future). Good luck!

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