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The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce PPC

The world of paid advertising is complicated. Not only is it always changing, but it also seems more and more platforms become available every day. While billions of dollars are spent in PPC campaigns each year, most decision makers don’t fully understand the ins and outs of PPC marketing.

Whether you work in the IT or marketing industry, own your own business, or work in administration, having a basic understanding of eCommerce PPC is crucial. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide to eCommerce PPC. Here’s everything you need to know about pay-per-click advertising. We’ll touch upon the benefits of paid advertising and what you need to know to be effective. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is eCommerce PPC?

eCommerce pay-per-click advertising, also known as PPC, is a form of paid advertising frequently used in the online industry. How does it work? Advertisers pay for clicks on an ad as a form of search engine marketing. Instead of paying the search engines to simply display your ads, you only pay when someone physically interacts with your ad. This is a huge benefit for businesses because you only pay to interact with people who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
eCommerce PPC can help your business gain quality leads and deliver a huge return on your investment. But that’s only if your campaign is done the right way. Paid advertising is most commonly used on search engines like Google and Bing. In recent years, however, eCommerce PPC has grown to include social channels, Amazon, and more!

Now that you’ve learned about eCommerce PPC, let’s go over a visual representation of what we’re talking about! When a user lands on Google and searches something, SERPs are displayed. This is the search engine results page that gives viewers the answer to the question they placed into the search bar. Take a look at the example below.
When this user typed “online grocery stores,” the following results were displayed. As you can see, the top two results displayed were ads. This is how PPC advertising works. When an individual goes online to search, the top results displayed are relevant pay-per-click ads. After 2 or 3 ads, organic results will be displayed. When a viewer clicks on any of the ads in the search engine results page, the advertiser pays the set amount for that click.

What Are the Advantages of eCommerce PPC?

One of the most common questions our marketing department gets is: what are the benefits of eCommerce PPC? Since you can also reach your audience through organic search results, on page SEO, and keyword rich content, why would you pay for ads? The short answer is that the eCommerce industry has become increasingly competitive. Even the biggest businesses have to work hard to compete for top search engine results.

Businesses that don’t have domain authority have to work extremely hard to make their way to the first page of search engine results, never mind the top spots. As more and more businesses turn to eCommerce PPC, organic results are being pushed further down the SERPs. It’s important to invest in paid advertising if you want your business to get seen, but this doesn’t mean you show forfeit your SEO efforts. The main advantage of your pay-per-click campaign is that it’ll get your business to the top of the search results. This allows you to be seen by potential customers that might not otherwise know you exist in the competitive business market. eCommerce PPC can also help you promote a marketing campaign, increase brand awareness, build your online presence, and rank for keywords in your industry. eCommerce PPC is the short cut to the top, but you’ll have to create a budget and market your business effectively to be successful.

Terms You’ll Need to Know to Understand Paid Advertising

As with anything, there are acronyms and jargon specific to PPC advertising that everyone should know. Whether you work in the industry or are getting ready to launch your first PPC campaign, here are the PPC related terms everyone should know.

Search Engine Marketing-SEM

Search Engine Marketing

The goal of any advertising campaign is to get your business in front of potential customers. The online world is no different. eCommerce digital marketing aims to get your business in front of potential customers by ranking as high as possible for targeted keywords related to your industry. Search engine marketing, also called SEM, refers to any digital marketing performed on a search engine. When you perform paid advertising and SEO strategies on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, you are performing SEM.


CPC is the more popular term of cost-per-click. This is the amount of money an advertiser will pay for each click on your ad. To understand CPC, imagine bidding at an auction. The higher you bid for clicks, the better real estate your ad will have when it comes to placement. So, for example, a business like Walmart or Amazon is going to be able to bid higher than a small business offering the same services, resulting in higher and better ad placement.
If you are a smaller business, don’t panic! Before you start your eCommerce PPC campaign, you will set your CPC maximum price based on what you can afford. And, just because you can’t bid as high as the big players doesn’t mean you won’t rank. Regardless of what you set as your maximum bid price, the amount you actually pay is determined by the CPC formula. The CPC formula is the competitor’s ad rank divided by your quality score plus 0.01. Let’s take a closer look at those terms to understand the formula.

Ad Rank

The ad rank determines where your ad will be placed on the search engine results. Ad rank equals maximum bid times quality score.

Quality Score

Your business’ quality score is determined by a variety of factors. It is the score that search engines give to your ad based on your clickthrough rate or CTR. Your CTR is measured against the average CTR of other ads in the same position. In addition to your CTR, quality score is based on keyword relevancy, landing page quality, and your business’ past results on the SERP.

Maximum Bid

As mentioned earlier, the maximum bid is the highest amount of money you are willing to pay per click on your ad. Your bid can be set in one of two ways when it comes to your eCommerce PPC campaign. CPCs that are set to manual allows you to determine the maximum bid for your ads. CPCs that are set to enhanced give the search engines the authority to adjust your bid based on the goals you set. When it comes to enhanced CPCs, big strategies are automatically adjusted based on clicks and/or conversions.


CPM, also known as cost per thousand, actually stands for cost per mille. This refers to the cost per one thousand impressions. CPM is commonly used for paid social or display ads. Variations of this include cost per engagement and cost per acquisition. But for the purpose of eCommerce PPC, the most important cost-per that you’ll need to know is CPC.


When you think of PPC or advertising, the word that often comes to mind is the campaign. A PPC campaign is the first thing advertisers set up when they are ready to begin PPC ads. Think of your campaign as the main objective or message of your ads.

Ad Group

To benefit from the most effective eCommerce PPC, you need to create multiple ad groups for your campaign. Since the online industry is so competitive, one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to effective ads. That’s why you should create a series of ads within your campaign to target multiple keywords and reach a broader target audience.

Landing Page

A landing page is another crucial element of an effective paid advertising strategy. This is where your audience will end up or “land” when they click on your PPC ads. Some businesses create a dedicated webpage for their campaigns while others have their users land on a page on their business website. Wherever your users land, be sure you follow the best practices and optimize your landing page to maximize conversions.

What Are the Most Common eCommerce PPC Platforms?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of eCommerce PPC, let’s talk about the options you have for your campaign. The next question you should ask yourself is: where should I advertise? In today’s business world, there are a variety of places where you can advertise your business online. That’s why you need to take a close look at the platforms available and determine which platform will bring your business the best return.
While there are dozens of options for online advertising, the most popular are also the most effective. That’s because they tend to drive the most traffic. While businesses with smaller budgets may feel a smaller platform will be more effective, it’s important to understand that small budgets can still be effective. Other things to consider include:

  • The availability of your keyword terms·
  • The online space where your audience will most likely spend their time·
  • Your eCommerce PPC budget·
  • Your competitor’s strategy.

Here’s a list of the most popular PPC platforms used by businesses today.

1. Google Ads

Formerly known as AdWords, Google Ads leads the pack when it comes to PPC. Think about how often you Google things. Google receives upwards of 3.5 billion search queries per day! That’s huge! So, when it comes to paid advertising, Google gives you a wealth of opportunity to display your ads and target keywords relevant to the subject of your advertisement. While leveraging Google Ads is effective for most businesses, the downside is that keywords used on this platform are extremely competitive. You might pay more money to use Google Ads, but you’ll also get in front of more viewers.

2. Bing Ads

Just below Google Ads in popularity are Bing Ads. Bing brings in about 12 million search queries per day. Although there’s a huge difference in numbers, Bing Ads are still important. Where Google covers Apple users for the go-to search engine, Bing covers Android users. Additionally, Bing recently joined forces with Yahoo! and Yelp, which significantly expanded this search engine’s reach. One of the advantages of Bing Ads is that they offer a lower CPC than Google Ads, but a smaller audience as well. If possible, you should try to run Google and Bing Ads simultaneously. This will allow your ad campaign to target both Apple and Android users. It’ll also give your ads space on Yelp, Yahoo!, and several vehicle GPS searches.

3. Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads have become increasingly popular over the past several years, making the platform extremely effective for eCommerce PPC. The great advantage of Facebook Ads is that it allows you to target very specific audiences. Facebook Ads can be set to target users based on demographics, location, behaviors, and interests. Native Facebook Ads have become increasingly popular because they are blended right into a user’s social feed. Recently, Facebook offered the option to use their ads on Instagram as well.

4. AdRoll

Unless you’re in the marketing industry or have some experience with business marketing, you probably haven’t heard of AdRoll. But you should definitely learn about it! AdRoll is a retargeting platform that targets people who have already visited your website. For example, if someone landed on your website to read one of your blog posts, AdRoll will use that information to retarget those users. When they visit other websites with display ads, AdRoll will display an effective ad to bring them back to your website for purchase. A major benefit of AdRoll is that it can use both Google and social media sites to target your audience. This gives you increased exposure and a larger opportunity to capture clicks and conversions.

How to Start Your eCommerce PPC Advertising

Now that you understand PPC and know what platforms are available to your business, you’re ready to create a PPC campaign. Here are the most important steps you need to take to create the most effective campaign.

1. Set Your Parameters

Setting your parameters is an important first step for your eCommerce PPC campaign. If you don’t do this, your ads will likely be ineffective. It’s important to consider your ad campaign in terms of your ultimate business goals. How will your ad campaign contribute to your overall business goals? What do you need to accomplish with your ads? How much are you willing to spend to accomplish that goal? Consider the following before you begin your ad campaign:

  • Who do you want to target?·
  • What is the theme of your campaign?·
  • How will you measure success?·
  • Why type of campaign will be most effective?

2. Create Your Goals

Campaign goals give you something to show for the amount spent on your ad. But, you need to determine how you will measure your goals first. Goal metrics shouldn’t be confused with campaign metrics. Here’s a list of some common eCommerce PPC goals and how to measure them.

  • Brand awareness is how much your target audience knows about your brand. Is a significant percentage of your target audience familiar with your brand? Brand awareness can be measured by social engagement, surveys, and direct traffic.
  •  Lead generation gathers quality leads through PPC ad engagement and an effective landing page. This can easily be tracked through a tracking pixel or YTM parameters.
  •  Offer promotion is a great way to track your results if you’re running a one-time or limited time offer, product, discount, or content. Use a unique discount code or dedicated sign up page to follow where your users come from with your ad.
  • Website traffic is a good goal if you have high-quality, keyword-rich content throughout your website. If you’re going to spend money for people to visit your website, you want to be sure you can keep them there and turn them into conversions.
  •  Sales can easily be measured by how much of your product is sold based on your paid ads. You can track this through your CMS software or by using attribution reporting.

    3. Choose Your Campaign Type

    Once you find out where you’re going to advertise, you need to figure out how you will advertise. When it comes to choosing an eCommerce PPC campaign, there are several options. Additionally, you can try a combination of campaign types to test and optimize your efforts.

The types of campaigns include:

  • · Search Ads·
  • Display Ads·
  • Social·
  • Remarketing·
  • Google Shopping

4. Perform Your Keyword Research

Each ad group you create needs to have a set of target keywords. That’s how you tell the search engine where and when to display your ad. The rule of thumb is to pick 1-5 keywords per ad group. These keywords need to be extremely relevant to your niche industry. Be sure to match your keywords with the theme of your ad group. Once you set your keywords, you should monitor them throughout your campaign to track performance. Eliminate keywords that don’t bring you results.

5. Set Up Google Analytics

Google analytics allows you to track your results. Therefore, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be installed on your website. It’ll give you the insight you need to create the most effective eCommerce PPC campaigns. Google Analytics shows you how your website is performing, how users are interacting with your pages, and what content is the most attractive to your website visitors. Google analytics can help you track your PPC campaign and optimize your efforts for the best results.
Now that you understand the benefits of eCommerce PPC and the information you need to gather to launch your PPC campaign, you’re ready to begin. Effective eCommerce PPC campaigns can deliver huge ROI for your business. To create the most effective campaign for your business, talk to a member of our eCommerce marketing team to create a strategy that works for your business.

For more information on the best practices for quality PPC and tips and tricks for better results, check out our article here.