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Google Ads for eCommerce

Kyle: Hello, and welcome to the Google Ads strategy show, where today I’m going to be interviewing Nik Armenis from  Armenis Digital. The agency primarily focuses on Google Ads for eCommerce.

I really wanted to bring him on, because eCommerce is not my specialty, but it’s his. So I have a lot of questions for him. And I’m sure anyone running any type of eCommerce campaign in Google Ads is going to benefit from this interview. So Nik, welcome!

Nik:  Thanks for having me, Kyle. Glad to be here.

Kyle: Yeah, so I’ll just get right into it. Well, first, tell us where you’re from. I’m obviously from the United States. I live in North Dakota. Where are you right now?

Nik: So I’m on the sunny Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. So I guess it’s like our version of Miami, it would probably be the easiest way to explain it. Yeah. 

Kyle: Okay. And you said your agency has about 25 clients just in eCommerce, right?

Nik: Yeah. Yeah, just in eCommerce. 

Kyle: And you have some other types of clients, but your main focus is on eCommerce?

Nik: Yes.

Kyle: Cool. So how did you actually get into doing Google Ads?

Nik: Yes, sure. So my background is actually in product sourcing and development. I was a category manager for, I guess, Australia’s version of Bass Pro. And so I used to go to China and source products. And I was responsible for a range of products.

And within that, we actually also had a marketing team attached that are kind of the middle person between. My first interaction with Google Ads was there, where I would actually look at the return on investment metrics, and monitor the results with the marketing team to see whether or not I guess ad spend was being used efficiently, which products were doing the best with Google and things like that.

So that was where my first interaction with Google came from. Then from there, I actually started my own online store while I was working there, and ran out in Google Ads. And then the journey kind of progressed from there.

Kyle: How long ago was that?

Nik: That would have been about seven years ago, I would say, yeah.

Kyle:  Okay. And then how did you move from that into running an agency where you actually have clients that you’re doing work for?

Nik: Yeah, sure. So I really enjoyed Google Ads over Facebook Ads when I was running them for myself. And so I started a Facebook group around Google Ads for eCommerce. And then from there, a lot of people just started to contact me and go “Hey, you’re really good at Google Ads. Would you mind helping me run mine?”

And so I just started from there, and I obviously brush off on my own education. Another interaction I had with it was actually in another role where I was actually the marketing analyst. And within that, I also would monitor Google Ads for another really, really big business that was owned by a private equity company. 

So I had a fair bit of experience with them prior to actually running my own. And then from there, I just continued to improve my education doing all Google’s courses, doing other people’s courses. Not that I’ve found that there’s a lot of content out there for Google for eCommerce. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be as well-versed, potentially, or people just don’t put out as much content. But yeah, that was pretty much my journey into agency.

Kyle:  And do you provide any services other than Google Ads?

Nik:   Yeah, so we do a little bit of social media ads as well. So Facebook Ads, the ad consulting within the Google sphere as well. And then we do also run Google Ads for local businesses, but we’ve tried to transition away from it just because since we’ve specialized so much in eCommerce, and there does seem to be a demand for it. 

We’ve found that we’ve been able to retain clients for longer in eCommerce than some of the local businesses. And I’ve just found in my experience that a lot of the eCommerce business owners, they see the opportunity in Google Shopping. Especially (just because) at least in Australia, it doesn’t seem to be as popular as Facebook. And I found that with some American clients, as well, just Google Shopping kind of gets put into the back of people’s minds. Well, Google Ads in general, and it’s a really good way for an eCommerce business to grow their sales.

Kyle: And what would you say makes eCommerce campaigns unique in Google Ads compared to a local business or something else?

Nik: Well, I would say that, because a lot of the sales come from Google Shopping I guess wrapping your head around that you actually don’t choose the keywords that you bid on, you kind of need to massage it with the title in the feed and the descriptions. And you also need to be very strict with the negative keywords. Which is similar, but I think a lot of people struggle with that one factor that, well, I can’t actually bid on a specific keyword that I want, I need to monitor the search terms report. And I need to amend my titles and description.

So that level of control isn’t there in Google Shopping. And so it’s a little bit of a different process, I guess to get your products to come up when you want them to come up. 

Kyle: Sure. So is that the bulk of the traffic that you’re running for clients? The Google Shopping?

Nik: We tend to always start with shopping because what we found is if you start immediately with search, you don’t necessarily have high converting keywords straight away. And you can actually, especially in eCommerce, you can burn through a budget really really quickly and not get a lot of conversions. 

But what we found is, if you run shopping campaigns to us, they tend to convert better, and you can find some really good search terms to then bid on using search ads. 

So we will always start a campaign with a major focus on shopping ads. We will have things like, you know, bidding on your own brand name and things like that, and with marketing on the Display Network. But shopping is the main driver of sales for most eCommerce businesses in Google Ads in my experience. 

At least, they convert the highest. We do have a lot of businesses actually, especially in certain fields that Google in the merchant feed doesn’t allow the products to be on there, or limits the number of people selling in those categories. And in that space, then we do heavily use search (ads) and still get good results.

Kyle:  So can every eCommerce company have success with Google Ads? I’m guessing not. So what would be the criteria that you would look at and say “Okay, this will probably work pretty well,  and this probably won’t”.

Nik:  I think the more specific the product…so if I find something that tends to be a very, very specific type of product. And secondly, I also look for “Is the business getting results in other avenues?” I tend to find if they’re getting results on Facebook Ads, they can normally get some degree, whether it’s another 10% of sales or whether it’s doubling their sales, everywhere along that spectrum. 

But it’s a little bit of trial and error. I think almost anyone can get some benefit from Google in the sense of, well, you may as well at least remarket and retarget people on Google. So at least you can retarget some of your traffic either using, you know, Gmail ads, display banner ads, remarketing with the feed so you get the dynamic products following you around. 

So I think virtually any business that can get approval on it and isn’t selling anything that is banned by Google, then yeah, pretty much any business can get some amount of additional sales. Not everyone is going to have success with cold traffic, I find, on Google. If it’s a very very generic product, and it doesn’t have a great image, and it doesn’t stick out on Google Shopping, then that’s where I find it will struggle. 

So again,  it needs to be a product that is visually appealing as well. You do have images that people see. So if it doesn’t catch the person’s attention, then they’re probably just going to keep scrolling.

Kyle: So do you most of your clients have their own products? Maybe a handful of products they’re selling? Or do you work with people who have set up a big elaborate online store and they’re selling other people’s products? How does that fit in?

Nik: Yeah, so we do both. So I guess the actual logistics doesn’t change too much in the sense that with shopping, the main thing that will change will be the amount of work that the campaign needs. Because what I find a lot of people kind of don’t do in shopping properly is they don’t segment their products into…they don’t do good campaign segmentation. 

So they’ll normally just put one campaign to absolutely all the products. And in some instances, that can work really well. But if you’re doing that, you want to be bidding really really low. 

I’ll give you an example. I have a business selling bathroom products. And what we will do with them is we will segment out, you know, the basins, we will segment out the taps, we will segment out all the different categories of products, or we will segment out what profit margin so then we can have better control with bidding. And we can control the negative keywords better because if you’ve got a campaign with all those different types of things in there, it’s very hard to know which keywords are triggering which products.

So if you have them segmented into like products, or segmented by profit margins, that’s kind of how you want to do it. Those are the two main ways I see work. But that’s where I find a lot of people go wrong with Google, and that’s where their campaigns will fall over, because you don’t have the control of bidding very well. And you can’t control what keywords you come up for very well.

Kyle:  Yeah. How has Google Ads change when it comes to eCommerce? Since you started seven years ago, how have things changed?

Nik: I think what I see Google doing is they’re moving more and more to become a marketplace like Amazon because I believe they must have lost a lot of advertising spend at Amazon once Amazon started their PPC program. And so once Amazon started that, I think Google really felt it and so they’ve pushed pretty heavily to improve Google Shopping. 

What they’re doing is they’re pushing Google Shopping actions a lot more where basically you get given, I guess, a car, where if you add different products on Google Shopping, Google processes that. You don’t go into the person’s website, Google processes. And it’s just like shopping on Amazon where all those things will be added to cart, you’ll pay once, and that’s it. And that seems to be where it’s heading now.

At the moment that’s only available in North America. Like, for example, we don’t have that here in Australia. But that’s where I’m seeing the big push going. And there’s a good and bad side to that. The good side is that Google favors those ads, I find. They always seem to get more impression share and convert really well. So I think they give the best quality traffic to those shopping action ads.

And the downside is that you’re not getting people to your website. So that’s one downside. So it’s almost becoming Amazon Prime. But it’s not quite there yet.

Kyle:  Yeah, interesting. You think Google can compete with Amazon?

Nik: I don’t think it has the infrastructure there at the moment to offer. I saw they’re starting to offer one-day Prime delivery in the US. At the end of the day (unless they start getting warehouse space and warehousing everyone’s products) I don’t know how Google’s going to compete with that level of support. 

So I don’t know whether or not they’ll keep at it. Because I guess the benefit is that you’re getting the great customer service and support from people’s individual websites. And they’re specialists. It’s a bit like, you know, when people go and buy a TV from Best Buy, for example, they’re getting that extra level of service and experience with the Amazon discount offers. So I don’t know if Google should go down that avenue.

Kyle: Sure. And maybe they’re not really trying. They’re kind of holding on to what they still have and yeah, they’re obviously still focusing on what they do best, which is just general search.

Nik: Yup.

Kyle: What’s the biggest mistake that you see most eCommerce companies make with their Google Ads?

Nik: I think there’s two. 

One was the campaign segmentation that I touched on. So, I would say 95% of campaigns I see people just have one campaign. And they’ve got all the products in there. And they’ve got everything. Especially if it’s a large store, like you mentioned, and they might be selling beds, they might be selling TVs all in the one store, and they’re bidding the exact same amount on all those. And normally they’re bidding too high on that campaign. 

So the other one would be not using negative keywords

They’re the main ones I see normally. One campaign which isn’t segmented out properly. They’re bidding too high on that one campaign because that campaign is good to have, but you’re using it just to get longer tail keywords only, pretty much for cheap conversions.

And then also I find that people are scared to increase ad spend.  I don’t think people quite fathom that if you know your target CPA, and it’s pretty steady, if you increase your budget, you’re going to start making more sales. Where I think a lot of business owners, getting them to commit to that high level of ad spend sometimes is hard because they’re like “Oh, can’t you just keep growing it on the same budget?”

 So that would be probably the biggest mistakes I see in Google for eCommerce.

Kyle:  How do you approach that with your clients? Do you have to map it out for them? Do you get them to do a small increase and then go from there? What do you do?

Nik: Yeah, it will be a mix of that. Like, I think I try to have pretty good relationships with clients. That’s a big focus of mine. And I guess, if they trust you, they’re probably going to be more open to your suggestions. But if they don’t quite get it, then yeah, sitting down and mapping it out and actually showing the math and then going  “Let’s just commit to maybe a 30%-20% increase just for this month. And we’ll see. We’ll slowly grow from there. And we can keep reinvesting that money into your business.”.

So that’s normally how I would approach it.

Kyle: What are the top three things that you think eCommerce companies should focus on with their Google Ads? I know you’ve touched on a couple things, if you want to re-state anything, but break it down to the top three things.

Nik: Yeah, so the top three things: 

Make sure you’re remarketing on Google, at the very least. So I think that’s the biggest opportunity for virtually any business owner that runs an online store. 

I think the other opportunity, and it’s a really, really big one, and it’s not necessarily directly related to Google Ads, but it’s more, I guess, a niche opportunity for people is there are a lot of Amazon businesses that want to rely less on Amazon. And so to do that, they need a website and a really easy way for them to use the Amazon PPC terms is to start advertising on Google Ads.

So there’s a lot of agency owners that could potentially target Amazon businesses that already running PPC on Amazon, that aren’t running it on Google Shopping or on Google, they can use those terms to create really solid campaigns for those businesses. Especially if they’re quite successful on Amazon. So that would be the second really, really big opportunity, I find. 

And then third, I can’t stress it enough, is the campaign segmentation. So try and map it out really really logically, where if you’re going to have just one single campaign for all the products just for ease of use. 

A lot of people rely on smart shopping campaigns. I’ll touch on that quickly. And if you have the conversion data, they can work okay. My experience is that very very hard to scale. And a lot of eCommerce business owners are focused on scaling that store as quickly as possible.

In smart campaigns, you’re losing a lot of control. You don’t have the bidding control and you don’t have the control of negative keywords. Especially if it’s a relatively new account, if it doesn’t have that data, the algorithm is not going to know who to target what keywords. So I’d steer away from them unless you’ve got an account with heavy, heavy amounts of conversion data and you realize that you’re not going to have that control. So you’re going to be appearing for a lot of irrelevant terms.

Kyle:  Got it. Great. Anything else I should have asked you but I didn’t?

Nik: No. I guess for people that are interested in targeting eCommerce businesses, I think the easiest clients you will find are ones that are already doing reasonably well on Facebook or Amazon. 

So if they’re doing well there, you’re going to be able to add massive amounts of value really really quickly to their business. And they’re going to, from then on, trust you. Because if you can come in and make a difference in someone’s business pretty quickly, they’re going to trust you. And I find that the process can often be quicker than getting results for a local business.

And that’s why I’ve decided to kind of go down that path because I find I’m pretty good at finding a good business, I can add some value quickly to them, and then that trust is built. The good thing is a lot of eCommerce business owners here seem to know a lot of local business owners. So once they know you run Google Ads, they then refer you to all their local business friends as well. 

Kyle: Yeah. Well, cool, Nik, this has been really great. I definitely learned a lot. Like I said, eCommerce is not my specialty. So I was very happy to have you on. Where should people go if they want to get in touch with you?

Nik: Yeah, sure. So is my agency’s website. Or they can get in touch with me through my Facebook group as well, which is Google Ads for eCommerce Success. And that’s just a Google Ads group that focuses just on eCommerce. I put a fair bit of content out there. Or just YouTube: Nik Armenis. They’re probably the three main avenues I would suggest.

Kyle:  Okay, perfect. Thanks again for coming on. This has been the Google Ads strategy show with me, your host Kyle Sulerud, and I will talk to you later.