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For ecommerce businesses to expand operations, customer acquisition is a must-have in the ecommerce marketing arsenal. While using email segmentation can help to increase CLV and sales, a company can only grow so much with a stagnant customer base.
Pay-per-click (PPC) adverts are a prime tactic for bringing new shoppers into the fold. Here, retailers will learn the best practices for utilizing paid ads for customer acquisition, including:
- Segmented bidding strategies
- Utilizing RLSAs
- Various optimization techniques
But, before diving into the nitty-gritty, let’s explore why PPC ads are an exceptional customer acquisition tool and the stages that a prospect must pass through to become a customer.
Why Use PPC Advertising for Customer Acquisition?
PPC ads have much in common with SEO. Each is a keyword-oriented means of reaching relevant audiences with information, products and services. As the name indicates, sellers only pay when an individual clicks on an ad. Moreover, advertisers select the amount they are willing to pay for each click, thereby giving them control over how much they spend.
Depending on how much time merchants invest in their keyword research and PPC targeting strategies, these adverts can be a budget-friendly means of customer acquisition. Moreover, they can be quite effective as well, given that those who search specific terms are probably in the market for a solution and are likely to convert.
However, unlike SEO, what makes PPC advertising great for customer acquisition is that retailers can begin to see results immediately, generating traffic and leads as soon as a campaign is launched.
With a clear understanding of why PPC ads are a useful means of earning new shoppers, let’s explore the stages that individuals move through when going from a consumer to a customer.
The Customer Acquisition Funnel Stages
Naturally, just like a real funnel, the customer acquisition funnel is widest at the top. As the funnel narrows, irrelevant and lower-quality prospects begin to get filtered out, leaving only those that a brand can successfully lead to a sale.
Similar to an email marketing funnel, the stages of the customer acquisition funnel are:
At the awareness stage, consumers become cognizant of a brand’s existence.
This is likely the result of an individual looking for a solution to a specific problem or seeking to satiate a desire.
Given that many companies will likely be uncovered during this stage, it is crucial for sellers to set themselves apart by generously offering free information to aid consumers in their search for a solution. This often comes in the form of blogs, videos, guides and other content offerings.
Now that a prospect has been pulled into the funnel, merchants must continue to supply these folks with education and entertaining content to keep them interested and to stay top-of-mind.
This goal can be achieved by sharing brand-centric material via social media, continually producing quality blog content, well-timed emails or (in our case) relevant PPC adverts.
With a consumer’s interest arrested, it is time to generate desire. To achieve this, retailers can talk about the benefits — not features — that will make a prospective customer want a product, based on what it can do for them.
The key here is to highlight how the consumer will benefit from their purchase. For instance, when selling a backpack, merchants might discuss “ergonomic foam shoulder straps that provide comfortable carry all day.”
It is at this point that a retailer closes the sale. Here, sellers must ensure that their site is optimized for conversions. However, that is another topic altogether.
With this understanding, it is time to explore how to best utilize PPC ads for customer acquisition.
Utilizing RLSAs for Customer Acquisition Campaigns
Thanks to the various targeting options provided by Google, Facebook and other advertising platforms, creating retargeting ad campaigns is an ideal tactic for producing customer acquisition PPC campaigns.
To begin, create a retargeting list for search ads (RLSA) comprised of those who have visited a site and even abandoned their shopping cart before converting. Depending on the number of campaigns that a seller wishes to establish, they can create campaigns for those who visited within the past 30, 60, 90 days or longer.
Moreover, for those that can extract customer emails from the backend of their system can upload the data as a Customer Match audience.
Using this list of individuals, retailers can begin serving retargeting ads to warm leads, showing them the exact products that they have shown interest in potentially purchasing.
After allowing these campaigns to run their course, merchants will then be able to compile a separate list of those who recently converted along with those who converted in the past (as the file requires a minimum of 1,000 cookies). This list can then be utilized to target similar audiences on Google.
This is where the real magic happens.
With this retargeting list created, Google ads will begin to analyze the search behaviors of the users that comprise the RLSA to create an aggregated view of their search activity. Using the trends and patterns established by Google, the engine will then seek out new consumers who display similar online behaviors to begin showing advertisements from the retailer.
However (as most are likely aware), this type of targeting option isn’t exclusive to Google. Facebook’s version of this feature, dubbed Lookalike audiences, functions in the same manner, allowing sellers to target new prospects who are likely to convert as their behaviors and interests closely mirror those who have already purchased from a company.
Now, given that Google is establishing which customers to target through similar audiences (as well as how they are found), the process is a bit opaque. That said, the company does reveal that various factors go into the matching procedure, including (but not limited to):
- The number of consumers on the RLSA
- The recency with which they were added
- The similarity of the consumer’s search behaviors
- Potential list adjustments
Now, if retailers want to create the most potent remarketing campaigns possible, particularly for those who visited their site but did not convert, the type of retargeting ad used is critical.
Combining RLSAs and Dynamic Search Ads
“Dynamic Search Ad headlines and landing pages are. . . generated using content from your website, which keeps your ads relevant and saves you time. All you need to do is add a creative description.”
You can probably see where we’re going with this.
For those who are unfamiliar, Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) match the content of an advertiser’s site with what a user is searching. By combining RLSAs and DSAs, retailers can cultivate highly personalized adverts targeted toward the right consumers at the right time with less effort.
Speaking to the effectiveness of this strategy, a Google case study showed that,“combining Dynamic Search Ads and remarketing lists for search ads has helped the company increase conversions nearly 1,000%.”
This retargeting strategy can help merchants to target those who are aware of the brand’s existence and are seeking out the types of products they offer, thereby helping to convert more top-of-funnel prospects.
While this is an excellent method for retailers to acquire new customers with paid adverts, what may be equally crucial to the success of these campaigns is how sellers bid.
Sales Funnel Segmented Bidding Strategies
Bidding strategies are a prime component for the success of a PPC campaign. Moreover, retailers can significantly increase their customer acquisition effectiveness by tailoring ad campaigns to specific stages of the sales funnel.
By increasing bid modifiers for consumers that are deeper in the funnel, retailers can push more prospects through their funnel while simultaneously increasing conversions.
An organized method of enacting this strategy is to generate different ad campaigns for different stages of the funnel and increasing the bids for those who are lower in the funnel as shoppers who have visited a merchant’s store multiple times have shown a higher conversion intent.
For instance, sellers might set up their campaigns as such:
- Hot leads: Increase bids for those who have visited a store more than 3 times by 20%.
- Medium leads: Increase bids for those who have spent 90 seconds or more on a product page by 15%.
- Cold leads: Increase bids for those who initiated a new site session by 10%.
By continually ramping up advertising efforts as consumers reach deeper stages of the funnel, retailers are likely to convert more prospects into paying customers.
Optimizing PPC Campaigns for Greater Customer Acquisition
Optimizing customer acquisition campaigns uses many of the same principles as a conversion-focused eCommerce campaign such as A/B testing ad copy and offers, creating tightly themed ad groups and leveraging the right keywords.
However, some of the more significant differences here are the type of call-to-action and landing pages utilized (based on where an individual is in the funnel).
Instead of merely earning sales, a key component to these campaigns is continuously filling the top of the funnel. Therefore, constantly collecting visitor information is essential as this will help to refine a retailer’s retargeting list, based on those who actually convert.
Aside from these tactics, some other ways to optimize customer conversion campaigns include:
Create Alluring Offers
A great way to convert new prospects is to offer them a first-time shopper offer. By enticing potential customers with coupons, dollars-off discounts, free gifts or merely free shipping, retailers can acquire more customers and collect their information for future retargeting campaigns.
Employ Congruent Landing Pages
The landing page that is used in PPC campaigns is critical to producing prosperous outcomes. Not only does the landing page directly impact the campaign’s Quality Score, but it also tremendously influences if the individual will convert.
Therefore, landing pages should reiterate the offer from the ad’s copy, the benefits the consumers can receive from the product and make it easy for them to complete their purchase by reducing as much friction in the checkout process as possible.
With the various ad types and targeting options available to eCommerce retailers, PPC campaigns have become an ideal tool for customer acquisition efforts.
By employing retargeting techniques, bolstered by Google’s similar audiences feature (or Facebook’s Lookalike audiences), retailers can get their ads in front of new consumers who are highly likely to convert.
However, don’t rely solely on machines to do the leg work. Be sure also to employ the bidding and optimization strategies outlined here to convert consumers into new customers.