Online advertising is changing rapidly, so much so that store owners that have had their hand in paid traffic over the past five years have seen how it has hurt (or helped) their businesses firsthand. Today we get into it with Brett Curry from OMGCommerce.com to discuss traffic generation from Google and Amazon in 2018.
Brett knows a ton about paid traffic, and we do a deep dive into all things advertising on both platforms. We cover the Google ecosystem and Adwords, Google Shopping, YouTube, and Display Network as well as Amazon Sponsored Products, Headline Search Ads, and Product Display Ads.
Brett not only shares his expertise, but also tools and tips that can drastically improve your sales.
We chat about:
- Which paid channels typically get the highest ROI
- Each type of advertising you can do on Amazon and Google
- What people need to know to be effective advertisers
Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel Podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven-figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies, and incredible lives. I’m your host, and fellow e-commerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.
Hey, guys, Andrew here. Welcome to the “eCommerceFuel Podcast.” Thanks so much, for tuning in today. Today we’ve got kind of a, we go deep hour-plus episode. I usually don’t go quite that long, but we had so much to cover that I just kept the tape rolling. We’re talking about traffic with Google and Amazon in 2018. You know, the field, generally ecommerce changes a lot of the pay traffic as well. I invited Brett Curry from omgcommerce.com on to talk about this. He knows a ton about this space, Google, in particular, but really, paid advertising overall.
We go deep. We talk about the Google ecosystem, and Ad Words, Google Shopping, YouTube display network. We cover all of those, then move on to Amazon where we dive into sponsor products, headlines for chats, and product display ads, so a lot of stuff that we cover in this episode.
If you stick around till the very end, you’re going to really learn what pay traffic platform is returning the highest ROI for Brett and his clients in 2018, and what a smart list is and how it can drastically improve your sales if you haven’t heard one before, and why you should maybe think twice about running product display ads on Amazon, if you’re doing that right now.
Before we jump in, I wanna thank our sponsors who helped make the show possible here. First, Klaviyo, who makes email automation easy and powerful. And their killer, you know, killer advantage is that it’s email marketing designed from the ground up for e-commerce store owners. So they pull in all the stuff that most other email, you know, service providers don’t, like your order history, your entire product catalog.
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They’ve got a net-promoter score above 70, which, to put that in perspective, you look at Apple. Apple has a net promoter score think of like 72. Amazon and Netflix are both under 70. So they’re loved by the people that use them, and they’re who I use to host my e-CommerceFuel, to host my WooCommerce store, and my blog. So check them out if you’re on WooCommerce, at ecommercefuel.com/ liquidweb.
All right, let’s go ahead and get into my discussion today, and do a deep geek dive on pay traffic with Brett Curry.
Where Ad Prices Are in 2018
Brett, so I’d like to kind of kick off our discussion with what you’re seeing in terms of just ad prices, and pay traffic prices, CPAs, in general, if they’ve gone up this last year, over 2017, you know, coming into 2018 stayed about flat. I’m guessing that didn’t go down, but, you know, given so many decreasing number of people on Google Amazon, and Facebook, in particular, on so much of the market, are you seeing rates just get jacked up based on the, you know, the fact that it’s…so few players control so much of the market?
Brett: Yeah, that’s a great question. And, you know, I will preface this by saying I spend most of my time with Google traffic, so I’d dig in to Ad words, Google Shopping, YouTube, Google. That’s where I spend a lot of my time, kind of analyzing. I have a team built up. We do work on Amazon traffic a lot, and we help with Facebook, and also being in a little bit Yahoo, I guess.
But, you know, it’s interesting. With Google, you know, it’s certainly got more competitive in the last year or so. We do a lot with Google shopping, or product listing ads. And I’m sure you’ve noticed this, you’ve got people in the community probably talking about it, but, you know, Amazon, for the longest time, they were not advertising in the Google Shopping results, or probably close to their results. Now they’re there, so that’s, you know, caused tear and angst of e-commerce merchants. So that’s certainly played a part.
But what’s interesting, we really haven’t noticed CPCs go up that much over the last year. And in fact, because I knew we were gonna be talking about this, I did a quick analysis, just looked at our top 100 accounts that we manage on our agency, and looking at the holiday season. So I just wanted to look at kind of holiday shopping season, that’s a good bellwether, I think. Only 37 out of the 100 had CPCs go up, and the percentages weren’t that huge. So the rest, or the other 63, stayed flat or went down just a little in CPC.
So I think we’re maybe at this point of maturation where people are like, “Well, I’m just not gonna pay more than X,” you know. So, you know, obviously, we’re looking at just our top 100 accounts, it’s not the most, that’s not the broadest cross-section of advertisers. But it does look like that’s leveling off. I don’t hear as much complaining about Google CPCs going up. I have in years past, but that’s kind of leveled off a little bit.
Really, where I’ve heard the most complaints lately is with Facebook. I think it’s almost, to me, it seems like it’s just in that point in the growth cycle, where Facebook was cheap, man. It was super, super cheap. Now the prices are getting a little maybe more where they should be, and so I’ve heard more people complain, recently, about Facebook prices than anything. So that’s kind of might my quick perspective. Ad Words, Google properties seem fairly flat right now.
Can AdWords Still Work?
Andrew: That’s encouraging. I was expecting you to say the other, so that’s interesting to hear. Do you think, on the Ad Words sides, Ad Words is probably the most mature of all those three, Amazon, at least at Google, you know, pay traffic has been the Google ecosystem is gonna be the most mature.
Can you see this with your margins when you sit down and talk to a new account? Do you think that’s because, partially, that they’ve got to the point where they’ve extracted? Because this is an auction-based system. It’s brilliant. If I was Google, it’s what I would do to get the most value out of merchants.
Do you think it’s kind of the point like you alluded to, where merchants just have paid as much as they can and they’re kind of at a break even, or maybe a little lost if they have a good lifetime value and they just can’t pay more? Or do you think actually there’s still some profitability left for merchants to do it smartly? And that’s I mean, we just focus on the Google ecosystem.
Brett: Yeah. I think there is a lot of that going on where, especially in ecommerce, and, you know, that’s the majority of our clients, are e-commerce. I think you’re seeing a lot of people that they know their numbers, they’re measuring meticulously, and so they’re kind of balancing like “Hey, my return on ad spend is way out of whack for this keyword, or this product, so I’m gonna back off on the bid.” I think it’s beginning to self-regulate a little bit.
We still do a ittle bit of consulting outside of e-commerce, and there are some industries that just continue to grow, like the legal profession and things like that, where maybe there’s a little more margin to play with. But I think there is kind of this stabilization a little bit. You know, what we’re seeing, though, is that, you know, Google is really pushing other channels.
So where before it was just search ads, just text ads, you know, now, Google Shopping has really grown the price listing ads. YouTube is really trying to mimic some of the targeting options that are available on Facebook. Google Display Network is adding all kinds of audience targeting and things that make that a viable channel.
So it seems like Google is trying to grow more that way, like getting people to do more full funnel type of stuff, and so that’s kind of what we’re seeing.
Best Bet for an ROI in 2018
Andrew: I wanna get into all of the, kind of the individual paid options in a minute and do a quick deep dive, but I gotta ask you, at a high level of let’s say of all the different channels you guys advise on Ad Words, Google Shopping, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, Facebook, let’s say…and it’s gonna be different for every store, but let’s say you did know a store and you can only pick one channel where you think you can get the best bang for the buck, on average, the best return on ad spend, which one do you think is the most attractive in general, in terms of ROI, going into 2018?
Brett: Yeah. I think that’s relatively easy, and it does depend on a couple of factors. So there’s kind of two that are almost a tie, and I think they’re a tie because they’re so similar, there just different type of platform. So from a Google perspective, it’s Google Shopping. Even though it is more competitive, and now Amazon is there, it’s still working very, very well.
So, you know, the price listing ads are visual, you get the title, the price. You know, for someone that’s looking, actively looking for a product, it’s a really enticing an ad unit to click on. Usually, there’s high buyer intent when someone clicks on that.
I mean, we’re seeing really good return on ad spends there, you know, anywhere from 300% return on ad spend to, we’ve got a client in the automotive space that’s like a 2000% return on ad spend for some of their campaigns. So and to translate that, you know, you spend a dollar, get three in return, that’d be a 300% return on ad spend. Or spend a dollar in ads, get $20 in sales, that’d be a 2000%.
But then the other channel that works equally as well, it’s just on a competitive platform, would be Amazon sponsored product ads. So they have a lot of similarities, like the ad units even look kind of similar, but sponsored product ads on Amazon, man, we are just consistently seeing great returns there.
And so almost always, you know, you go in and you optimize a sponsor product ad campaign on Amazon, you can see the results really shoot up both in terms of volume. And Amazon’s more about, a costs, or advertising cost of sale and lowering that, whereas Google’s kind of more about return on ad spend. It’s basically the same metric, just inverse.
So it’s either one of those two. I think that the primary thing it depends on is where did the merchant begin, and like where is their presence really significant? So we do work with a fair number of retailers that started out as Amazon-only sellers and now they’re launching a Shopify store and trying to diversify, and so for those clients, man, it’s hands down is gonna be sponsor product ads for Amazon.
For other merchants, you know, they started with their own Magento or Shopify store, or whatever, and they’re branching out into Amazon, and so usually in those cases, Google Shopping would be kind of the bread winner there.
The Google Ecosystem
Andrew: Man, I was gonna take Google. So we’ll do, we’ll talk about some of the other ones, but I know the Google ecosystem is kind of you guys’ bread and butter, can you give as a reminder, for myself included, because I feel like there’s just so many different potential places you can spend money in the Google ecosystem, what are the different options you have when you’re advertising on Google? Can you just run through those really quickly?
Brett: Yeah, sure. So all of these are controlled in the ad words interface. So if you have a Google Ad Words account, all of these channels would be controlled there. But you’ve got ad words which would be search, or text ads, so that’s kind of what Google launched first, right? So it’s the text ads, we’re all familiar with that.
Then there’s Google Shopping. So it’s a product listing ads, which I’ve referenced now several times. Then there’s YouTube. And so I’m pretty sure everybody knows, you know, Google owns YouTube, and they’ve been very aggressive in opening up ad units on YouTube, so the pre roll videos that you see on YouTube, we’re seeing really good results there, from either a remarketing standpoint, which we can dive into if you’d like, or top of funneling.
Those pre-roll ads on YouTube are very effective. They’re called “True View” because you’re only charged if someone actually watches the video. That’s controlled in the ad words interface.
And then the fourth option would be the Google Display Network. So those are all good old display ads, good old banner ads. Those used to be like for seasoned smart marketers. Those were the turn our noses up at, you know, banner ads, like, you know, who uses those? Those are not effective, just a waste of money.
Andrew: Two thousand called, they want their… paid advertising techniques back.
Brett: Exactly. Oh, you’re running banner ads? That’s sophisticated, good job. But, you know, Google has actually done a really good job of adding different audience-targeting options. And part of that, honestly, is just to keep up, I think, this is my opinion, to keep up with Facebook. Facebook is really, this is the beauty of competition.
You know, Facebook is really spurring Google on, and Google’s doing the same for Facebook. So we’re seeing better options with the Google Display Network, especially for remarketing. Remarketing, you get it phenomenally well with the Google Display Network, but even some top of funnel stuff as well.
So those are the four are kind of primary channels to run through, that are part of the ecosystem.
3rd Party Services for Retargeting
Andrew: For remarketing, because that…I mean, you got a couple of options you can, I’m guessing, and again, I am…the reason you’re on here is because I have very little experience with pay traffic, so excuse my ignorance for you and people listening too, but I’m guessing you can set those remarketing campaigns right in, you know, the Google admin interface, therefore managing everything.
But you can also, there’s a bunch of, you know, third party services that will take care of that retargeting for you. Do you have a preference or an option on that? Do you guys do it within the Google interface, or do you guys use third party apps to really manage that retargeting across YouTube display, all that kind of stuff?
Brett: I prefer the admins interface. Part of that is just because, you know, I kind of grew up there, and I know it. I found some of the other services can be a little bit overpriced, if you don’t kind of know what you’re looking for. There are some good services out there, so that is a good option for some people.
But I personally like to, you know, and sometimes, ad networks or services will come in they’ll say, “Hey, you know, we can cover GDN and Facebook, you know, we’ll get it all together for you.” I prefer going direct, so I like to run my Facebook remarketing direct into the Facebook, you know, either power editor, or the Ad Manager. And then for Google Display Network, I like to run that in the ad words interface.
So what’s great is, you know, being in control of your audiences. I also like to build my audiences remarketing lists or audiences, building those in Google Analytics. So, you know, Google Analytics, is so robust. You can look at, you know, building lists, remarketing lists, based on goals, based on time on site, which that’s super basic. But you can look at all kinds of things, even now, smart lists, which Google will auto create for you. Are you familiar with Smart Lists, Andrew?
Brett: So a smart list is a collection of people, where based on your historical data, Google looks at this group of users and says, “These are the most likely to convert next.” So based on buying patterns, you’re looking at all of your conversion paths, these are the users that are most likely to convert next, and here, we’re just gonna put them into a little list for you. That’s called a smart list.
So those can be really powerful. You build those in Google Analytics then, you know, upload them to Ad Words, or basically, you just connect it to accounts and then you can get them there. So I like working in the Google Display Network via ad words directly, and using all the options that are there.
Andrew: You mentioned smart list, is that something where you have to go in a menu I say, “Hey, for this the Smart list you have to set the criteria I want to include everyone who spent, you know, 10 minutes on the site, that stayed on my sales page for, you know, at least two minutes of that, and they’re in the United States, because that’s where we ship,” or is it more of a of an AI-ish type list where Google just, you know, they can see your conversions, they look at your audience and they say, “Hey, these are the people we think are gonna convert best”?
Brett: Yeah. Yeah, it’s more AI. And that’s, you know, I don’t know if you pay attention to Google when they, you know, had the most recent announcement. You know, I guess it was last year, Sundar Pichai said that, “Hey, we’re now mobile first company,” and then more recently, you know, “We’re now an AI first company.”
So this is more of a machine learning, AI type thing. So it is based on conversion, so you have to have conversion set up. You know, if you’re an e-commerce store, you have to have ecommerce setting turned on so that GA is tracking your transactions. Or you have to have some kind of goal being tracked. So then smart list is just based on that.
And usually, have to have like, you know, 30 to 50 conversions within a 30-day window before they’re gonna really start populating that list, the smart list. But then once they have that data, they’re gonna say, “Okay, here’s a segment of users that we think is gonna convert next, you know, maybe on a subsequent visit.”
Andrew: Kind of a little bit of an aside, I wasn’t planning on talking to this, but your mention of AI kind of sparked my mind. I feel like this last week, or two, I’ve had multiple conversations with people. Obviously, AI gets talked about a lot these days, but specifically talking about how they’ve seen examples, or read studies where they had somebody go in…there was a machine that went in and pretty much was able to optimize paid campaign really effectively, for the first day or two, maybe.
It was way out of whack, but then it just, it really…even as much as putting images, and text, and things like that, building it all the way from scratch with a few inputs. Is that something that you’ve seen?
And again, these are kind of just a couple of anecdotes I’ve heard floating around, but is that something that’s getting talked about much in kind of your world, either given from a, “Hey, we can use this to really supercharge our results,” or maybe at some level like the rest of us, where that, you know, our jobs are being taken over by super brilliant computers at some point? Is that something that is on your radar?
Brett: Yeah. You know, “Is our agency gonna be replaced by bots soon, and we’ll be out, you know, flipping burgers or something?” So it is talked about, it’s talked about a lot. And here’s our perspective. So my philosophy is I’m not worried. I think there will always be a need for good agencies, you know, from a strategic perspective, a creative perspective. You know, getting the right message, connecting with people. There’s always gonna be a need for human connection, and just this human oversight, and insight.
However, man, there are some things that a machine is way better at than us. So to give you an example, I have not seen, like doing fully automated, things like building a campaign from start to finish, and then optimizing, choosing your markets, and choosing your keywords, and choosing everything. I haven’t seen anything in that model that looks anywhere close to something that I would wanna trust. I just, I haven’t.
But, but I’ve seen some of Google’s machine learning for their bid optimization, some of their bid optimization options. And there are some other agencies that may not agree with me here. Some agencies will say, “Oh, no, that’s not good. Our bidding approach is even better.” I don’t think we’re gonna be able to say that for very long. I think Google’s bid optimizations with their machine learning, if you tap into that, really slick stuff.
So we’ve seen where, you know, Google can see things we can’t see. So, you know, they can optimize based on the user, so based on the user that’s typing in the search query. And, you know, they’re on their mobile phone, and they never buy on their mobile phone, so we’re gonna bid down. Or they’re on their mobile phone, but they just transitioned from 4G to 3G, so their speeds are gonna be slow and we’ll bid down a little bit, you know, things like that.
So we’ve seen some of the AI bidding solutions from Google working pretty well, and so our take as an agency is say, we’re gonna embrace these technologies that work, and then we’ll just shift our focus to another problem that needs to be tackled.
And so you’re kind of this end to end, you know, the machines will do it all. I’m really not saying that, but taking specific components that are super tedious, or that you just require details that no human could ever master, yeah, the machine learning processes are doing pretty well with that.
Retargeting Vs. Cold Ads
Andrew: Last question on the Display Network, and then we’ll move on to ad words. I think you already answered it, perhaps, but for the display network, is the best use you’re seeing for that to really just focus on the retargeting and use it for that, as opposed to just kind of cold banner ads?
Brett: One hundred percent. So I would never recommend just getting kind of blanket banner ads. That is still, you know, the early 2000s’ methodology. So start with remarketing. Everybody needs to be doing remarketing, or retargeting, same concept. So Google Display Network offers great options for that. The one thing that I will mention, if you want to go top of funnel, or prospect with the Google display network, first of all, you need to study up, because you can waste a ton of money.
But there are some interesting things. One of my favorite audience targeting options with GDN is custom affinity audiences. That’s where you can give Google a few pieces of criteria, and they’ll build a targeting list for you. So as an example, you could say to Google, “Hey, I wanna target people that are like those who visit my top five competitors.”
So you give Google your five competitors, Google will build an audience around that. So, okay, we know now what the visitors look like to these five sites, your competitors, here’s a list of people that are like that. So there are some options like that that are pretty powerful, but for the most part, I say stick to remarketing for right now.
Andrew: It’s like a, I mean, it really sounds very similar to a lookalike audience in Facebook.
Brett: Yeah. Yeah. This is similar, yeah. Now there’s an audience type called a “Similar Audience” in Google, and that is basically, the exact same thing as a lookalike. That’s where you can upload your email list to Google, or you can take a remarketing list that you built using Google, and then have Google generate a similar audience. It’s the same concept as a lookalike audience in Facebook.
Google’s Email List Capabilities
Andrew: Has Google had all this? You know, talking to you about this, and again, as a guy who does not have a deep pay traffic background, it’s surprising to hear that Google has as many things like uploading your email list to lookalike audiences, being able to target certain people with that, look, I’ve got other competitors.
I would always thought that that was much more in the Facebook realm of things, but is this something that Google’s had for years and I just have been totally asleep at the wheel? Or is this something that you think Google is building out in direct response to the fact that a lot of the stuff you can do, really, that’s on Facebook?
Brett: Yeah, I think some of it they were doing anyway. I mean, I think Google does a pretty good job of listening to advertisers, and innovating, and pushing the envelope on their own. But, you know, we’ve got, we’re Google partners, we’ve got, you know, dedicated reps, and we, you know, have been to Amanview and some Google partner events, stuff like that.
And so I’ve heard them talk about, like I heard reps talk about, “Hey, you know, we know people are spending a lot of money on Facebook, and doing this kind of targeting. Here’s how we can duplicate that with YouTube, as an example.”
But some of the things like custom affinity audiences are a couple of years old, and some of those things have been around for a little while. But I do think the Facebook influence is certainly pushing things along faster, yeah.
The New World of AdWords
Andrew: With ad words, probably one of the most well-known, or most mature, of all the ones we’ve talked about. And back in the day when I had a much firmer grasp on ad words, it was, you know, you’d go in, you’d exact match, you’d kind of get really tight campaign, see what converted well, broaden out from there, double down on your winners, and continue to optimize.
Is that still pretty much the same world of Ad Words, the same high little tactics, or has the process there, or the way that you approach that evolved in the last, you know, couple of years?
Brett: Yeah, it has evolved some. I mean, at the core, you know, you still get the match types, you know, broad, and phrase, and exact, and, you know, negative keywords, or the keywords you don’t wanna target. And so some of those basics are there, which is great.
But some of the new additions, which I think are really making this a channel that some people need to reconsider or just relook at how they’re approaching it, is some of the audience targeting, and demographic targeting, and moving beyond the query, that we talk about. Moving beyond the query, where you can say, “Okay, Google, yes, I do want these exact match, or phrase-matched keywords. I wanna target those, but also, only show those to women over the age of 45 who live in the northeast.”
Or you know, “I wanna target these keywords, like “leather sofa” as an example, but I only wanna target people that are in the top 25% of household incomes.” Or, “Google, here’s my list of buyers. Here’s my email list. I’m gonna upload that, create what’s called the “Customer match list.” Now I’m gonna have Google build a similar audience on that and so then I’m gonna say, “Hey, I wanna bid on these keywords, but only to that similar audience.” So only to people that look like my buyer, or look like my customer.
So I think that’s the real innovation, or kind of the next step with Ad Words traffic, is moving beyond the query and saying, “Okay, yes, keywords are so important, and Google is so awesome at knowing what you mean you type in keywords, but now let’s move beyond that and try to target also based on the person behind the keyword.”
Google Shopping Vs. AdWords
Andrew: Between Ad Words and Google Shopping, obviously, both channels are from within Google’s kind of ecosystem. Is the biggest difference to an end consumer that they’re looking at it, is one is just gonna be pretty much basic text ad in the link, versus Google Shopping is gonna be much more, it’s gonna have the price, the picture, much more merchandising focused? If you had to boil it down from an end consumer point, is that the biggest difference?
Brett: Yeah, absolutely. One’s much more visual, one’s, you know, the picture of the product, price. You know, you’re gonna get a little more qualified click in most cases, to Google Shopping because they see it. They see, “I can see the price. I can see, yes, that is the Nike shoe that I’m looking for, so I’m clicking,” and, you know, get a better quality click there, typically.
On the text ad side, part of the reason why text ads don’t perform as well, typically, as Google Shopping, sometimes it’s the structure of the campaigns. You know, some of them are just lazy marketers that don’t create good segmenting, you know, with their search ads, with their text ads. But a lot of it is, you know, just the nature of the platform. Those visual products-focused, merchandise-focused, Google Shopping answers work really well.
Andrew: Well, and Google Shopping you mentioned at the top is one of your favorites where people are seeing the best results. What’s kind of the 80-20 in terms of the things that people really need to know to get this right, to be highly effective?
Google Shopping Works Well
Brett: Yeah, that’s a great question. Part of the reason I love Google Shopping is it’s part of what kind of helped our agency come on on. So I wrote “The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping,” which Shopify published. It’s still available, if you Google “Google Shopping Guide,” you’ll find it. It should be the top result. But there’s always a soft spot, you know, because of that. But, you know, it just works well.
But the key things, the most important things, one you’ve got to have your data right. So your product feed, your product data, has to be clean. It has to be accurate. It has to be keyword rich. So there is a lot of SEO, I’m an old SEO guy but from way back in the day. So there’s a loser, some SEO principles involved with Google Shopping, like getting your feed optimized, is huge, no spammy stuff, you know, obviously, I think most people have realize that anything spammy, Google is gonna sniff out really quickly. But getting your data set up properly is critical, so that’s essential.
And then the next thing would be campaign structure. So we kind of build our campaign structure more like a funnel, so we look at, “Okay, here’s kind of our top, or mid funnel campaign, that’s maybe a little broader keywords.”
You can’t target keywords specifically, with Google Shopping. You can tell Google the keywords you don’t wanna show up for, but then the rest of it is influenced by your feed, or by your bid. So we kind of structure these top and mid funnel campaigns, and then bottom of funnel campaigns, or different bids. So really, your campaign structure is important.
The other thing, and I mentioned this about search ads, about text ads, layering in those audiences. You know, looking at, you know, if I’ve got a YouTube list of people that have seen my YouTube videos, let’s layer that list into a Google Shopping campaign so that we can tell Google, “Hey, if someone types in a keyword that will trigger my Google Shopping ad, and they’ve watched one of my YouTube videos, bid a little bit more.”
Or, “If someone’s coming to Google, typing in keyword or a search query that will trigger my Google Shopping ad, and they’ve been to my site before, I’ll bid a little bit more on them as well.” So that’s kind of one of the next steps, is looking at audience, targeting audience, layering on top Google Shopping.
And then I’d say kind of a final piece is looking at things like promotions and product reviews, and getting those added to your shopping feed so that they’ll show up in those product listing ads. That can really boost click through rate, which helps visibility, and it gives you more opportunity to sell. And so those things, clean data, you know, better structure, and those add ons, or reviews and promotions, can make a huge difference.
How To Tip The Consumer Scale
Andrew: That’s maybe a difficult question to answer, because I’m kind of asking from the user side, but are more…when people search, do you have any ideas or data on what percentage of people are just clicking on Google Shopping ads that appear on the very first page, on the search results, and bam, they go right to the site, versus clicking through and really looking at all of the different options for let’s say Product X, which X? and then saying, “Oh, hey, there’s 10 vendors here, who do I wanna click through to?”
If it’s the latter, what kind of stuff are really important? Like, do you look at, for example, emphasizing your free shipping, or for a while, a “Google Trusted Stores” was a badge you could have on there? Some of those, if people are looking and trying to decide between you, and two or three other merchants, those kind of things that can tip the scales. Or maybe that’s not even how people use it anymore, from a consumer standpoint.
Brett: Yeah. I mean, most users are gonna click through straight from the main search, or at the main search engine results page. So the initial group of, you know, three, or eight, or whatever the case may be, right there on the search engine results page, that’s where most of your volume is gonna come from.
But we definitely see people they click through, and we know this based on looking at our click through rate and knowing what we bid. So people then do click, and if you go on the shopping tab and you can see like all the results for a particular search query. And that’s definitely gonna get less traffic, but when you get there, you know, from a user perspective, you can then sort from highest to lowest price.
You can sort by reviews. You can look at categories, so Google product categories, something you need to have in your feed. And so you can then, you know, the user can then sort by category on that shopping page. But, you know, most of your traffic, most of the clicks still come from that main surp.
Now, what we’ve seen that works in terms of getting the click, and it’s no surprise, but price, you know, really drives clicks. And also to the point that we’ve seen where a person will raise their price temporarily and then decrease it again, and they lose impressions. So what we’ve seen, and we’ve talked to other agencies that say the same thing, that Google really favors a lower price.
So as you raise your price, that may impact your visibility just a little bit, because they know that lower prices are gonna get more clicks, right? So if it’s the same product, lower prices may get clicks.
So price is important, reviews are important. Product description really does not matter, until you get to that shopping tab, and then you can kind of see that. But it’s really not that important. Google Trusted Stores, we have recommended that to people, just because, you know, I think any more comfort, you know, assurance, you can give to a shopper that they’re gonna be taken care of is a good thing. But we’ve seen no noticeable impact if you’ve got the “Google Trusted Store” badge for increased conversions. Just haven’t seen any impact there with that.
The Power of Private Brands
Andrew: Interesting. And obviously, you can’t talk specifics for confidentiality, but do you see, I mean, with your clients, do you see if somebody comes in and let’s say got a catalog of 1,000 existing items and they’re just reselling, and their plan is to come in and really just try to out-optimize other merchants on Google Shopping with a really fairly, you know, competitive price, and a really optimized listing?
You know, so much of ecommerce, at least from where I’ve seen this moving towards, branding, proprietary products, do you see people still being able to win or compete meaningfully at that game? Or are most of the clients that you see there doing well and have been with you for a while, and you can gauge success on, maybe they have products but their majority of them are either their own brand, or private label at the minimum?
Brett: Yeah, I’m a huge fan of, you know, merchants that have their own brands or private labels, or at least, you know, like this careful curation of products you can’t just find anywhere else. I mean, you can still find results, like we’ve had clients selling Yeti coolers and things like that. Actually, I had one client, one of Violet map on Yeti, and you know what? That actually worked. We got a whole lot of clicks and conversions. He did it because he was mad at his Yeti rep. But any who, that’s another story.
So I am a big fan of people having their own branded, or private label, or, you know, careful curation. Because, you know, you can win on price if you’re selling the Nike shoes, you’ve got the lowest price. You can definitely get the click and get the conversion from Google Shopping, but then, you know, do you really have a defensible position long term? Can you really win that customer long term?
And then also the issue is, so if you do move into more of this commodity, or “I’m selling this product that 10 other people are selling,” then it’s a race to the bottom. And that’s usually not very fun for very long, because you’ll almost always find somebody that’s willing to sell it for an amount that would lose you money, or something, you know. So I’m a big believer in focus brands, or private label.
Advertising On YouTube
Andrew: Let’s talk about YouTube, kind of interrupting up the Google ecosystem. Obviously, retargeting is a big one you can do there. Is that kind of the display network where that’s what you primarily use YouTube for? Or have you guys had good results with just, maybe not, I’m sure when one you’re targeting, you’re gonna use some of those features you mentioned that you can pick audiences that are more likely to be your customers. But do you guys use it just for retargeting, or for maybe a broader approach on YouTube ads?
Brett: Yeah, we definitely start with remarketing, just like we do on the Google Display Network. But we’re seeing some good results with YouTube, and I think part of that is because, you know, YouTube is also a platform where people go to really engage.
This is where it maybe differs from Facebook a little bit, and then certainly, from the Google Display Network where, you know, if I wanna learn something, or if I wanna see product reviews, or if I’m kind of Jonesing for the newest iPhone or whatever, I’ll probably go to YouTube and watch some unboxing videos, or type in, you know, “product reviews,” or “how tos,” or something.
So when someone’s on YouTube, they’re engaging with something. We have a client that sells cell phone accessories, primarily iPhone. So they sell, you know, screen protectors, and cases, and things like that. So we’ve had good results with targeting people on YouTube who are searching for things like “iPhone case review,” or “iPhone screen protector review,” which seems silly.
Like, I would never watch a video on a screen protector. I mean, I like my iPhone, I don’t like it that much. But you’d be surprised, man, and people watch those videos. So then we would run a pre-roll video just before that, touting our client’s offering.
And then what’s beautiful about that is you can either have a companion banner that runs with that pre-roll video, or you can run what’s called “Shopable True View,” which is basically, your product listing ad, so your Google Shopping ad right there, either layered over the right side of your video, or kind of beneath it, so at shows up in mobile. So that’s been really effective.
Usually, what happens is you build a list of people that watch that video and then you layer it into other campaigns. Because still, not a ton of people will click and buy right away, but they’ll engage with it. You can put them on a list, you can remarket to them. So we’ve seen a lot of success there.
One of the things I love about that platform is someone has to watch either 30 seconds of the video, or the whole video, if it’s less than 30 seconds, or the advertiser doesn’t pay. So it’s what’s called True View. So they either have to watch, or they have to click through to the site. And, you know, where we’re seeing cost per view in like the, you know, few cent range in a lot of cases, so it can be pretty affordable if you set it up right. But still, I would still run remarketing first, and then probably in that scenario, I would do Shopable True View.
So as an example, you know, for “Boom!” by Cindy Joseph, a good friend of ours, and then I helped, as with all the Google traffic. And so, you know, we look at even taking buyers, someone who buys a particular Cindy Joseph product, and then we’ll retarget to them on YouTube with another product. So that will be a video specific to that other product with the product listing ads for that product right next to the video. That works really well also.
Targeting on YouTube
Andrew: Do you have the ability, with YouTube ads, to get really granular in terms of, let’s say I wanna target, in creating an audience, to really… people who are subscribed to this channel, or maybe even a specific let’s say a gadget comes out with, you know, their MacBook Pro review for the new model. I wanna be able to only show this to people who have watched X video at least 25% of the way through, can you get that granular, or not quite?
Brett: You can definitely target channels, and you can target specific videos. You can’t set it up where you can say, “Hey, if they watched this video in the past, remarket it to them,” unless it’s your video, or unless it’s your channel. But you can say, “Hey, this is new Neon 95 max channel, or whatever, I wanna target, you know, that channel.”
So that is possible. The other thing that I’m really excited about, and kind of depending on when this is released, will depend on, is it available, or almost available. But, you know, you can, all the keyword targeting now, so you can do keyword targeting like I was talking about, you know, “iPhone screen protector review.” That’s a keyword, we target that, you know, with our YouTube ads.
Right now you can, or at the time of this recording, you can only target people based on the keywords they’re searching for on YouTube. But soon, you’ll be able to target people based on the search queries they type in on Google, which is important because, I don’t know about you, but when I’m on YouTube, I’m like, “Am I watching, you know, luminaires videos, or …”
I’m watching videos, I’m sharing, I’m hanging out. I’m not watching iPhone screen protector reviews. But I may be searching for all kinds of products on Google, and so now, or soon, depending on, again, when this is released, you’ll be able to target people based on their Google search behavior, not just YouTube search behavior, with the YouTube video, which is pretty awesome.
Setting Up Product Feeds Correctly
Andrew: Brett, so I know that the feeds you talked about touch on how important it is to set up a product feed correctly. A lot of times those can be hairy, especially if you haven’t done it before, and temperamental, maybe to say the least, at least from my experience. Do you have any software or favorite tools that you use to, you know, to set up those feeds to validate them to manage what can sometimes be messy if you’re not really careful?
Brett: Sure. Sure. So I’ll show our true nerdy colors first. If it’s a small product feed, so if it’s a client that has just a handful of products, we kind of like to create manual feeds. So we’ll like, you know, break out the spreadsheet that’s got the Google feed template, we’ll just enter the information. Because then you can truly like work your SEO artistry, you know, on that feed. But for most people, that sounds like torture, so that’s not the way you wanna go.
So there’s a couple of ways to do it. If you’re using Shopify, there’s a free Google Shopping app. It’s available in the App Store. That works. That’s perfectly adequate, I think is the way that I would describe it. If your titles and descriptions, and if the details on your product detail page are good, then that app can do okay. If your titles and descriptions need optimization, that app is not for you.
So then there are some other options. There are always new feed tools, and we get pitched by new feed people all the time. There are some great ones, I’ll mention a few that are kind of my favorite: GoDataFeed is a great one. They’re pretty affordable, you know, depending on the size of your store. You know 20 bucks, 30 bucks a month for this tool.
And then what’s cool about GoDataFeed is that plug it in your store to work with Magento, to work with Shopify, or big commerce, all the major carts. And then you can basically create rules where you can say, “Hey, instead of sending my title that’s on the product detail page, stack title, plus category, plus this word, plus color, plus these things, and make a custom title, and send that to Google.”
So this tool will do that without messing up your product details page, you know. Because we’ve got a client sells apparel, several do, but, you know, they have really cool names for their shirts, like “El Classico,” right? But if that’s all you send to Google, they don’t know what that means, you know? So you need to add in things like, you know, it’s the El Classico, you know, California Surfer Bear T-shirt, black, men’s XL.
So you can use that tool to kind of stack, basically, any attribute you have. You can combine it to create these fields that you then send to Google merchant center.
Another one that’s very similar is DataFeedWatch. DataFeedWatch, you know, at the time of this recording, works great. Does not play well with Magento, in my experience, so I would not go there if you’re on Magento. My apologies if I offend my friends, the DataFeedWatch, but that’s just what I’ve seen, and so I gotta share.
And then there are some extensions available out there as well. So if you’re on WooCommerce, there are some great extensions you can use. Magento, there are some extensions you can use. I like Wyomind, kind of sounds like Wyoming, but it’s mind, Wyomind. And then there are several others that are perfectly fine, you know, in terms of extensions.
Andrew: We’ll make sure to forward this over to the guys at my feed watch for you. I wanna move into Amazon and talk about all the different options there. It’s a whole ecosystem to itself. Can you kind of go over the high level, what kind of advertising can you spend, and what kind of ways can you spend money on Amazon?
You’ve got Amazon Shopping, I believe versus Amazon sponsored products, versus X. What are the different ways that you can spend money there? And how do those actually look for people who aren’t super familiar with them?
Brett: Yeah. It’s so interesting, and I’ve kind of fallen in love with Amazon, obviously, from a consumer side. I do buy from Amazon frequently, and so I love it from that regard, but also just as an advertising platform. I mean, the growth that Amazon has had just with their ad platform has been phenomenal. You know, it’s something like a four billion dollar annual business or something, I don’t know. You know, it will probably add a billion dollars by the time this gets released, who knows?
But sponsored product ads, that is, you know, what we typically spend the most on as we’re helping our clients kind of craft their Amazon ad strategy, sponsored product ads, are what we focus on the most. Those are really similar to Google Shopping ads. If you look at product listing ads in Google, sponsored product ads on Amazon are very, very similar.
So they’re, you know, product image reviews, product title, that type of thing. It is query based, and one of the differences with Amazon sponsored product ads is you can pick your keywords. You can tell Amazon specifically, “I want to target these keywords and, you know, match type supplies, so broaden phrase an exact, and but anyway, you can target based on that response.
So sponsored product ads, they’re available both to seller central and the vendor central. I’m assuming most people listening to this podcasts are seller central or, you know, so certainly, to the marketplace, you’re kind of 3P sellers versus the 1p through vendor central. But it is available for both.
Andrew: And just to clarify, seller central you’re on there, you’re listing the products that you’re selling directly, where vendor central is where you’re interfaced if you wanna sell to Amazon correctly, and they sell your stuff.
Brett: Exactly. Yeah, so vendor central wholesale relationship, you know, Amazon’s buying a product, they’re in charge of the listing and the price, but you can still send traffic to that listing if you want to. But, you know, most of our clients are seller central, and so sponsored product ads, that’s the biggest area of focus, and really great.
Amazon doesn’t really talk as much about return on ad spend, it’s a bits about advertising costs of sale, or a costs. But sponsored product ads, man, if you do that the right way, and if you’re meticulous about finding converting keywords, and, you know, pruning non-converting keywords, and segmenting, and stuff, you really get low a costs, and really ramp up sales.
And, you know, it can be used to help boost organic listings, to create extra sales velocity to boost those organic listing. Anyway, so that’s product prioritizing. We can dig into that more if you like.
Then there’s headlines search ads, so these are also available to seller central and vendor central. But these are, you know, ads that look like a banner ad. You see them kind of across the top center, you know, of your Amazon page. You can feature up to three products there, so this could be, you know, if I’m advertising my new leather bag, you know, I could target certain words, and then I could have this headline ad that would have those three products featured there.
What’s cool is, you know, your sponsored product ads, those appear on search results pages with tons of other sponsored product ads and other organic listings. If someone clicks on that headline ad, that takes them to a page that just features those products. So your, you know, one of three products you put in the headline ad, if they click on that, they go to a page that just focuses on those products. So that’s a really cool platform, ad platform.
Product display ads, this is one of those platforms that’s just fascinating to me, and like the marketer in me got super excited when I heard about these, product display ads. This is where you can target ads under the “Add to Cart” button for your competitors’ products, right? Which just warms the heart of your competitors, just before someone checks out on your competitor’s price, they see your ad.
But this is only, time of the recording, only available on vendor central. It does appear though, and this happens all the time, so I would not be surprised if this is available now to both. Seems like Amazon starts with things on vendor central, then rolls it out to seller central.
Andrew: A not so subtle incentive for you to sell them your products directly.
Brett: Yeah. So what’s interesting, though, is that we don’t see as good a result of these. Like, you know, conceptually I’m like, “Yeah, this is awesome.” It just doesn’t seem to work as well. You get the results to your sales, but it doesn’t work as well as either sponsored product ads or the headline ads.
And so those are kind of the biggest three. There are some things that kind of go along with that, like Amazon storefront and enhancement content, but those are kind of the main ad units, you know, the main channels you’d wanna focus on for Amazon.
Two Big Metrics To Watch
Andrew: And one thing I probably should have done right out of the gates for this whole episode and discussion, was talk about the two big metrics that get used a lot: return on ad spend, and like you touched on, that’s the amount of revenue you generate based on the ads you spend. So if you generate $1,000 and you spend $200, that’s a 500% or a five X return on ad spend. Is that right?
Brett: Yeah. Correct. Correct. So it’s just, the calculation is conversion value divided by cost, which is like what you did, so yeah.
Andrew: And if you look at it, for Amazon they use it much more, at least in their dashboard and reporting average cost of sales. So that’s a 20%. So the inverse of that if you’re gonna do the same thing with Amazon, you can generate $1,000, you spend $200. It’s just the exact… there’s the opposite sides of the coin, so that would be ACOS would be 20% on Amazon, versus 5X or 500%. But they’re really just flipped versions of the same thing, right?
Brett: Totally, yes. So A cost is cost divided by revenue, right, and return on ad spend is revenue divided by cost. So it’s just the inverse. So it depends on how you wanna look at it, and what suits your fancy. We’ve had some clients that really wanna look at A cost, or on Google they call it, you know, marketing cost of sale, or whatever. But return on ad spend is essentially the same thing, it’s just the inverse.
Andrew: Maybe talk about sponsored products with Amazon, because it sounds like that’s the one that out of the three that probably that you use the most, has the best return. What kind of average, you know, for it’s for Amazon, we’ll do A cost, ACOS, what kind of results are you seeing on average for a decently optimized product listing for sponsored products on Amazon?
Brett: Yeah, so I’ll go kind of general and then I’ll get pretty specific, and hopefully, I’ll make this meaningful. I don’t wanna dance around the question or make it too nonspecific. It does depend. It depends on what your goal is. You know, we have some merchants that say, “Hey, my end goal is I want this product to rank organically, and so I’m willing to over-invest. I wanna get that sales velocity and I want to hit for these keywords. That’s gonna pay off in the end, so give me 100% A cost, I don’t care.”
So we do have that happen some. You know, we’ve had some clients that say, “Hey, you know, 70% A cost, 80% A-cost for this period of time is okay, because one, we’re finding keywords that convert that we can use later, but two, we’re trying to ramp up, you know, organic sales.”
Most of our clients, we see people wanting to target under 30% A cost. So under 30%, you know, is your ad cost of sale. So we’re seeing, though, a range anywhere from 5% to 30%, so this does depend a lot on, you know, like the price of the product. Like, that does matter a lot. But if it’s a higher ticket item and you’ve got some, you’ve got, you know, some people looking for your product and stuff, we’ve seen those A costs in the 5%. But for the most part, like if you looked at averages, most people wanna be under 30, and I think that makes sense.
But the one thing to keep in mind, and this is what we tell our clients as we’re building these campaigns and stuff, is, you know, really, figure out the A-cost that makes sense. So if your immediate goal is not rankings, if you just wanna be profitable in your sales, then what’s in A cost that makes sense?
You can get your A cost to that level, it’s just you may sacrifice volume a little bit, right? So you may have to bid low, you’re gonna have to be really selective with your keywords, really stingy with what keywords get cut, and what, you know, make the cut. But you can get to about whatever A-costs you want. But usually, under that 30% is kind of average.
Amazon Auto Campaigns
Andrew: Is there any kind, in Amazon, I haven’t seen this worth asking, we talked with especially with Google and Facebook, you can get really nuance with your audiences. Can you do any of that, kind of second tier targeting apart from just targeting keywords, search keywords, in Amazon when you set up these campaigns, or is it mostly this point for sponsored products you’re just bidding on keyword searches?
Brett: Yeah, for sponsored products, it’s really about the keyword right now. I would love to get into some audience targeting at some point. I would assume, you know, Amazon is smart, that they may start adding some of those features there, but right now it’s more about, you know, search queries or keywords.
But one thing that Amazon does a really good job with is auto campaigns, and so this is often how we kind of start our sponsored product ad campaigns, where you can just say, “Here’s my product, I’m gonna put this in an auto campaign. So, Amazon, whatever you think this product is relevant for, show it for that.” You know, that’s really insightful for a couple of reasons. One, it allows you to see what does Amazon think about this product?
Like what does Amazon think this product is relevant for? So that’s a good indication in and of itself because you can almost take, okay, these are the auto keywords that Amazon showed my product for, what do I need to clean up? Because some of those keywords are not, it’s not accurate, so maybe I need to clean up my own listing a little bit to allow Amazon to really know what this product is about.
So the auto campaigns, they definitely serve a purpose, but not a lot of audience targeting right now on Amazon.
A Mix of Manual and Auto Campaigns
Andrew: When you set up a campaign from scratch, starting from the very beginning to let’s say the end result, of course, it’s a highly optimized campaign that is gonna be much more profitable. A lot of the approach that I’ve heard from people that I’ve, you know, taken myself is, you know, you set up a manual campaign that you’ve gone and done some research on to try to seed some keywords you think are highly applicable.
Of course, you’re an auto campaign at the same time. You look at both of those, you refine those over time, since so much have to do with Google Ad Word, remove negative keyword, stuff that’s not converting well, you axe. You rinse and repeat until after enough volume and time, you’ve got a highly optimized campaign.
I guess, one, is that the approach that you guys still take? Is that fairly accurate for kind of the high level, you know, strategy? And secondly, if so, do you usually invest the time to really go through and do that manual search for keywords that you think are applicable, either based on what you know about the market or competing products?
Or do you just, you know, most of the time, just because it’s easier and it’s fairly accurate too, run those auto campaigns Amazon, you have found, gets the most, you know, a pretty good chunk of the keywords and it saves you time because you don’t have to build out those manual campaigns?
Brett: Yeah, we like to do both. In a lot of the campaigns that we take over, or accounts we take over, they do have some manual and some auto, so leveraging both is really valuable. But but from a high level, that strategy or that approach you just laid out, is still very applicable. So you’re looking at, “Hey, these are the keywords that I know I wanna target and so I’m gonna go and build some in manual campaigns on that.
I’m gonna set up some auto campaigns, because one, I wanna know what Amazon thinks of my product, but two, I want Amazon to maybe show me some keywords that I hadn’t thought of before, that I didn’t know about.”
And so then I think that the key there, and just to take kind of another level deeper, is what a lot of people don’t do is when you start looking then at, here are keywords that convert versus keywords that don’t convert, versus keywords that convert but maybe not quite at that A cost score, right? So maybe my A cost goal is 15%, and here’s a whole list of keywords that are like at 25% to 30%. I don’t wanna abandon them, but I can’t really keep them at that A cost. It’s then building campaigns split by match type.
So we like, you know, campaigns that are focused on single products, but then we like to focus by match type. So broad and exact. We spend most of our time with broad and exact, as we found they work best. But just, for those that don’t know exact keywords, that means, you know, whatever the keyword is that states, you know, leather handbag.
Exact means your ad will only show up if someone types exactly that, you know, “Leather Handbag.” If it’s broad and you type in “Leather handbag,” it could be a whole assortment of related keywords, you know, to leather handbag. Just as an example.
So then we like to create, you know, add groups…I’m sorry, I think I meant to say campaigns, we like to create ad groups based on match type. Because then you really see what’s working and what’s not. And then you keep optimizing.
You know, we like to kind of create these tiers where we’ve got, “Hey, these are our top converting keywords that are just rocking it, you know, hitting our A cost, these are kind of in the middle. We need to refine a little bit. I mean, these are the ones we should have cut, we’re just gonna add those as negatives.” So that would be kind of the next layer.
Andrew: Yeah, so it would be fair to say let’s say, like, you know, leather handbags, you could start…and you’d start off with broad, with leather handbags. If that worked, great, and hits your A cost goal, then great, you keep bidding on that. If it doesn’t, move it down to exact, see if that improves the return. And if not, then you just axe it completely from the campaign.
Brett: Well, so we almost view the broad keywords as our discovery vehicle. So you wanna always be working on are we casting a wide enough net to find keywords that we haven’t thought of? So I don’t know the exact stats on Amazon because they don’t release it, but Google says that every day 15% of search queries are brand new. Google’s never even seen 15% of the queries that they come through on a daily basis.
So there’s gonna be some keywords you just won’t think of, so if you’re only doing exact, you’re gonna be too limited, right? So yeah, so let’s just say leather handbags is a broad match, and we may need to bid down on that because it’s gonna create all kinds of weird, you know, it may show for some weird variations.
So a couple of things, we need to one, be really diligent with our negatives to make sure we’re refining. But then as we find, “Hey, look at this, leather handbags for men. That’s killing it.” So now we’re gonna add that as an exact match, or we’re gonna bid up on it, because we know that that converts really well, then we wanna kind of control it in our exact match campaign.
So yeah, there may be some broad keywords you just kill completely, but a lot of times, you’re gonna leave them there more as a discovery. And maybe you’re just gonna bid really low to try to keep that manageable, but that’s kind of your discovery vehicle.
They’re Called Murses
Andrew: Are you a big fan of leather handbags for men? Do you have a nice collection of those?
Brett: There’s an upward conversation going on my head, like, “Why am I talking about leather handbags?” I’m having flashbacks to “Friends,” and Joey when he had the Mars or whatever it was. I have no idea. I don’t carry a leather handbag.
Andrew: I couldn’t resist.
Brett: You give me a softball there and I couldn’t pass that.
Tools for Amazon Campaigns
Andrew: Okay, that helps a lot. So with those broads, you’re using as much to…you’ll look at the data, of course, and then just look at how to perform. But look at the results and you’ll see what the exact queries were the trigger that broad matched, and you can see all the additions that may or may not, you know, that can help you get some of those words, and then you can either target those exact, or even on their own.
So what tools you’re using to research, to run the campaigns, to optimize? And you can do this manually. Amazon’s built in interfaces for just about everything, from inventory measurement to ad measurement, fairly horrific spawning this entire ecosystem of, on all sorts of tools and SAS platforms. I’ve tried to do it with a spreadsheet, and you could do it, but it’s, you know, it’s kind of…and you’re probably gonna tell me you guys do it spreadsheets, which is fine. But do you guys use tools to manage this process on the ad side?
Using Write Words
Brett: So it’s really interesting. Chris, who runs our Amazon department, the guy is a maniac. He’s so smart, and he loves spreadsheets, and he loves to crunch numbers. So there are some tools we use, we love merchant words for keyword research. So, you know, as you’re building that manual campaign, or looking at, you know, how should I maybe optimize my listing? So, you’re looking at title bullets, you know, back end keywords, things like that. Merchant words is a great tool.
He also really likes Write Words, so W-R-I-T-E, words, I believe is how that’s pronounced. So what’s cool there is there’s a tool called the Word Frequency Counter, I don’t know if you’ve…have you ever used that, Andrew? Do you know what that is?
Brett: Okay. So what we’ll do is, kind of where you’d use that is, let’s say you’ve been running ads for just a little while. Download, let’s say, all your search terms that are over, oh, I’m sorry, under your A cost goal. So if I’m at, you know, 30% A cost goal, I wanna see all the search word, search terms, that are converting below that. So they’re getting sales, and they’re below that value.
So then you can upload those words to Write Words, and it will then show you how frequently certain phrases or certain words appear. What you can do with that then is you can say, “Oh, look at how this phrase is just a consistent repeated thing with these words. Now I’m gonna double check and see, do I have those in my listing?”
So maybe I need to put it in a bullet, maybe need to craft a specific bullet just for that particular phrase or word. You know, maybe I need to look at my back end keywords and to have that optimized for the current, you know, characters, which prime moving targets. So who knows what it will be when you listen to this?
But, you know, turn for the characters for the back end keywords, do I have the right things there, and should I optimize? Because, you know, just remember we talked about those auto campaigns where Amazon’s looking at your listing and saying, “You’re relevant for these things.”
That’s based on, you know, title bullets back end keywords, primarily. So the better optimized you can get that listing, it’s gonna serve your ads better, it’s gonna serve those auto campaigns better. It’s just all gonna work better. So those are tools we use, for sure.
Andrew: And just to clarify, I missed a little bit behind you, but…So when you say the frequency of the word, what’s let’s say, you see, let’s say, let’s go back to my favorite example so far, of the month through the search terms, you know, leather man bag.
Let’s say leather man bag is there and it’s, you know, well above your goal in terms of average cost of spend, so average cost of sale, rather. So you enter that keyword, you enter an ace in, or a specific product, and then it will see how many times it occurs in that product. If it’s not enough, then you can re-put it in, is that what you’re saying?
Brett: Yeah. Sorry, I did not explain it very well, especially without a visual, it’s harder. So yeah, let me explain that a little bit better. So basically, what you’d be doing is, this taking…so your search term report, that’s a report of the actual queries that people type in to find your ad, right? So this is good, I think, for people to understand too.
As you bid on a keyword, a keyword lines up with the search clear, right? Keyword is a word you’ve identified that you say, “Hey, Amazon, I wanna pay for this keyword.” Well, to put in your match type, that’s gonna match with an actual query that someone types. So the keyword may be, you know, “Blue leather handbags,” and now we’re getting really interesting, right? “Pink, leather, minions handbags.” So that’s this actual search term. We didn’t have that as an exact keyword, right, but one of our keywords triggered that search term.
So what you do is you download your search term report. So now I can see all these actual search terms that people type in, and they’re broken down by a high A cost, right? So then I upload that to the frequency counter, and this will show me, “Hey, these phrases were repeated over and over again in these search terms that converted.” So then what I can do is I can say, “Do I have those phrases in my listing?” Does that make sense?
Andrew: Yeah. So it actually goes through all of the terms that people have typed in that triggered that, or, you know, that triggered one of your ads, and it will tell you the highest ones, you can cross-reference those with, “Hey, do we actually have those? Are we listing those?” And if not, then we can take all those things that people are typing in and we’re not targeting, and work them into our listing, or target them.
Brett: Yes. Yes. Exactly. Exactly.
Andrew: And what was the name of that tool, again, the search frequency?
Brett: Write Words. So, W-R-I-T-E, I believe. And word frequency counter is the tool, which is pretty cool.
The Lightning Round!
Andrew: Okay, great. Brett, this is awesome. I’d love to do this. We could probably do this for another two hours. We’re getting short on time, though. One thing I wanna do with you before we leave, especially just knowing you and having fun giving you a hard time already, is doing the lightning round, because I’m curious to hear some of your answers.
So you’re up for that, shoot some answers off or some questions. Feel free to come back with shorties on your answers, but, if you had to identify the one thing you’re trying to optimize your life for right now, what would that be?
Brett: Oh, man, this is so tough. This is so tough. So, I have eight children, and I’m not Mormon, or Catholic, just apparently crazy. I’ve got eight kids ranging from almost 16 down to one. But for right now, like it’s about relationships. So if I had to think about how I might structure my day and my time, it’s more about relationships.
So it’s either building my team at OMG, or trying to carve out, you know, some individual time for kids, or, you know, occasionally, maybe hanging our with my wife. But, you know, it’s looking at optimizing for relationships, that’s really my focus for now.
Andrew: Who’s someone you strongly disagree with?
Brett: Oh, man, this is tough. So one thought I have, and I’m a basketball fan, which I know you are as well, kindred spirits. But LaVar Ball. Dude, that guy. I’m of the opinion that he’s mainly doing all that he does as a publicity stunt, you know, saying he could have beaten Jordan in his prime and, you know, just crazy stuff like that. But, man, I’ve heard enough. Like, I don’t wanna hear that guy anymore.
Andrew: How much money is enough? So money in the bank, what would be your number?
Brett: Yeah. So this is one I thought about. So for me, I mean, I’m an entrepreneur, I’d like to make a lot of money. You know, I have some goals, for sure. For me, it’s more about like experiences, and being able to travel and do cool stuff with my kids, and make an impact, and stuff like that. But I think $10 million. I think $10 million in the bank, and I’m gonna be happy. You know, maybe I could be talked down to $5 million, in that $5 million to $10 million range, I think would be enough. Yeah.
Andrew: What’s the worst investment you’ve made in the last decade?
Brett: Probably in some bad hires. This was kind of before we had our hiring process down, because we used custom personalities testing methods and, you know, a more rigorous interview process. But just getting a few bad hires was pretty bad. My view, though, on stuff like this, so like worst investment, I’m more of a forward thinking guy so I don’t live in the past so much. I don’t get hung up on things.
I don’t let a failure slow me down. So even those, like even looking at bad hires, I’m kinda glad. Like I’m kind of glad I had them, because, you know, I think it’s made me a better manager, a better business owner. So I still embrace that, but, yeah, there’s a couple I maybe wish I could have back.
Andrew: We’ve all got those. On the flip side of that, what’s the best investment outside of your business that you’ve made in the last 10 years?
Brett: Man, that is tough. I mean, I guess this is gonna be kind of cheesy. So first of all, I mean, I do invest in some things, what’s like boring stuff, you know, outside of the business. So, nothing to really get excited about. Other than investing like in a set up for my son to roast coffee because he likes to roast coffee, yeah, so that’s a really affordable investment, now we, you know, we have when he decides to roast, we have really fresh amazing coffee, so that’s good.
Probably like my health, though, so about two years ago, I started working out more. Now I’m kind of running, and so feeling good, man. I’ve got more energy, you know, I’m in my late 30s, which Jeez, seems old sometimes. But yeah, I’d say investment in health.
Andrew: Finally, what’s the first CD you ever owned, if you’re brave enough to tell us?
Brett: Oh, man. This is funny. So I think now, you know, CDs really started getting popular when I was like 12, 13. I mean, a little bit before that, but that’s when we started buying them. So my sisters were older than me, so I get to know their boyfriends who are older, maybe not a great influence. But had a little rebellious streak, so I’m pretty sure, I’m pretty sure it was a rap album by Public Enemy. I think it was my first CD. And my dad was not proud, but I was into rap. But I think that was it.
Andrew: That’s awesome. Brett, in closing, of course, your business, OMG Commerce, if people haven’t guessed already, you know, this is what you live, eat, and breathe, particularly focused on the Google ecosystem Ad Words, Google Shopping, in particular, you wrote “The Ultimate Guide,” which we’ll link up to in the show notes.
YouTube display network, but like, I’m sure again, people probably inferred you guys do Amazon, you do Bing and some Facebook as well. Any quick thoughts for people to add, in addition to that, like maybe, you know, anything else you guys do, or things people should know, or ways, you know, ways in particular can help people, and who the perfect store owner is, that you can help?
Brett: Yeah. That was perfect. A couple of other resources, we do have a resource we can link to. It’s free, and no opt in required. It’s “Top Three Amazon Sponsored Product Ad Mistakes” that we see merchants make. We’ve seen merchants spend like $100,000 a month on sponsored product ads making these mistakes, so we can link up to that.
We do provide Amazon audits, or audits of other accounts, if that makes sense for you, where we get to kind of look at what you’re doing, and give you some feedback, and give you some advice. So omgcommerce.com, our best place to get us. I also have my own podcasts “E-commerce Evolution,” so check that out. There’s a great episode with the legend himself, Andrew Youderian, so check that episode our, for sure.
Andrew: It was fun coming on, man. I appreciate you having me. And Brett, this has been great. If you can’t tell already, Brett knows his stuff. He’s got a great team, and if you’re in the market for someone to manage your Google, Amazon, or other ad spend, he’s a fantastic guys, and system is a great place to check out.
So Brett, thanks for taking the time. This has been a lot of fun.
Brett: Yeah, I really enjoyed it. This has been a ton of fun. Yeah, thanks a lot.
Andrew: That’s gonna do it for this week’s episode, but if you enjoyed what you heard, then check us out at ecommercefuel.com, where you’ll find the private vetted community for online store owners. So are what makes us different from other online communities, or forums, is that we heavily vet everyone who joins to make sure that they have meaningful experience to contribute to the broader conversation.
Everyone who we accept has to be doing at least a quarter of a million dollars in annual sales on their store. Our average member does seven figures plus in sales via their business, so if that sounds interesting to you, if you wanna get, you know, connected with a group of experienced store owners online, check us out, ecommercefuel.com, where you can learn more about membership, as well as apply.
And again, thanks to our sponsors who helped make this show possible. Klaviyo, who makes email segmentation easy and powerful. The cool thing about Klaviyo is they plan your entire catalog, customer and sales history to help you build out incredibly powerful automated segments that make you money on autopilot. If you’re not using them, check them out and try them for free at klaviyo.com.
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Thanks so much for listening, I really appreciate you tuning in, and looking forward to talking to you again next time.
Want to connect with and learn from other proven ecommerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight knit, vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at ecommercefuel.com. Thanks so much for listening, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next time.
What Was Mentioned
- Andrew Youderian: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
- Brett Curry: Website | eCommerce Evolution Podcast | Twitter | LinkedIn
- The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping
- Word Frequency Counter