Hey Mike, I’m about to launch a site called [Shiny-shoes.com] that sells high quality, American made leather [dress shoes]. My concern is marketing the site, mainly that I’ve never done anything like this. Should I just throw $500 into a Google PPC campaign and see what happens?
Note: To avoid unnecessary competition, I anonymized his niche and wrote down a new niche, but kept his question verbatim. All my edits are in brackets.
Out of the hundreds of conversion rate split-tests that I’ve ran the last few years, I’ve been able to validate which general rules work to market a site profitably and which don’t. First, let’s look over what he did well in his question:
- Great and unforgettable site name. Although I made up a new site and niche for him, he also had a site name that had two words, each word starting with the same letter. Ever wonder why names like Peter Parker, Silver Surfer and others are never forgotten? Credit: Big Bang Theory.
- Specific niche that conveys real value. “American made leather [dress shoes]” is much more specific than many starting businesses. American-made is currently a bigger trend for people concerned about supporting the U.S. economy, and Americans can be so proud and think we have superior quality in nearly everything. Additionally, Google will reward his SEO efforts as long as he keeps specific and niche-centered. This also means he should be able to form a value proposition easily.
- Has a budget. Be careful, advertise slowly, and while tracking every ad and conversion.
Now, here is my response with information on which articles he should read when getting started:
Hey, there’s a few steps that I’d recommend. First, you want to start off with a website design and adcopy that sells. To do this, there’s really going to be sections of your website that you’re going to want to master:
1) Your homepage — it’s goal is to communicate why your website is a must, what it has, and to get people to the product that they want to buy, quickly and easily.
Use a simple layout with a headline and search feature to find a product fast: http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog/internet-marketing-strategy/homepage-design-contest.html The search feature shouldn’t be used if you have only 3 or 4 items.
The above is a great video to watch on homepages: http://www.marketingexperiments.com/site-optimization/homepage-optimization-applied.html
2) Make the product pages so persuasive and captivating that users want to click the add-to-cart button, and also make a high converting check out system. Here’s some info that you can use for a product page: http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog/analytics-testing/single-product-homepage-testing.html
Take a look at the mentioned product page‘s layout, headline, description, guarantees on the left, and fast check out process after clicking add to cart (you will want to give a “Continue shopping” option, however).
You ads are the key to understanding your audience and perhaps the best way to make a campaign profitable.
The next thing to look at is how to write PPC ads for Google/Bing. Bing is cheaper and probably a better place to start in your case.
Getting twice as high of a click through rate will basically cut your costs in half. As long as yours ads grab your audience, you can skyrocket your profits by just continually improving your ads.
This is my favorite blog that shows you how to write PPC ads and probably has up to 100 case studies: http://www.boostctr.com/blog/
A few very specific case studies to help an ecommerce store:
- Clothing site increases ad CTR by 119%
- Buy a gift ad boosts CTR by 250%
- Two more ads that got boosts
Now that you have an idea on how to write ads, you need to structure them extremely well. Here are a few articles to start with:
- PPC Campaign Structure Basics & Best Practices – This explains most of the options given to you when setting up ads and campaigns.
- PPC Hero’s Beginner’s Guide to PPC – Categorized most areas that you need to know about PPC.
What keywords to you want your ads to show up for when searched?
Furthermore, understanding keywords and how to get the best converting ones is an art and you have to be clever. I wrote a college paper on this years ago… I should post it soon. I got an “A” on it, just so you know. In the meantime, I’ll summarize the types.
If someone searched “cheap black leather dress shoes,” that person would be really interested in buying a pair of shoes if he likes the style and price. But, if he searched “black dress shoes photos,” all he really wants to see are photos and may be unlikely to buy. To get a higher chance of purchase is when he would search “[BRAND] [TYPE] shoes prices.” This means he knows what he wants, he just needs to find a good price from a site that looks trustworthy.
A few other articles to read:
- Strategy to create more keywords
- Negative keywords (some typical words to exclude for ecommerce might be: free, photos, pictures, etc.)
Setup tracking so you’ll know when and how each sale is purchased in near real-time.
This is the most boring part of the process, but once it’s all setup, this is where you find how much money you’re making — or how to turn a negative ROI into a positive return. You’ll know how each ad, campaign, and product performs. There’s Google Analytics, Visual Website Optimizer, Prosper202, etc. You’ll be able to see exact profit from each ad and which landing page converts best.
This is just quick check list of information that I’d go over before starting an ecommerce website. I linked to a lot of proven tactics to bring in sales.