eCommerce Podcast

Our podcast is raw, honest and damn right insightful, as we chat to some of the best minds in eCommerce

Hosted by Richard Hill

Ep 10:
Henry Gill:
PPC Advertising, An Essential Strategy For eCommerce Success

Ep 10: Henry Gill – PPC Advertising, An Essential Strategy For eCommerce Success  

Henry Gill…what can we say about Henry Gill. There is not a day that goes by where you don’t see him in a checked-shirt, biscuits in hand, banging on about the “80:20 approach”.

Henry heads up our rapidly growing PPC team, and has a  passion for automation and scripts. He is our Google Shopping expert and has transformed accounts with systemised processes. We would be lost without Henry. 

His expertise and experience with PPC is sensational and that is why we had to get him on the podcast – to share all of his fabulous knowledge and he did not disappoint! 

 

eCom@One Presents 

Henry Gill

Henry Gill is the Head of PPC at eComOne. He has spent years in the Google Ads interface and worked on accounts that generate millions in revenue. He spends all day, every day, delivering campaigns that generate results. 

He has a strong passion for automation using scripts and creates processes for effective bid changes. He has created Display, Search, Shopping, Social and Video campaigns which transformed his accounts. He knows what is working right now. 

In tis podcast Henry shares which PPC channel is delivering the best results in his accounts, Facebook Shops, how PPC is changing, the power of scripts in transforming a PPC account, keyword sculpting and what practices are working right now.

He shares his opinion on the change in buying habits, his routines for effective account management, the top 3 features everyone needs to analyse in their PPC accounts and the best remarketing audience. He discusses the latest Google Shopping announcement, free listings and what this really means.

 

Topics Covered

7:15 – Which PPC advertising he finds the best results

10:27 – Facebook Shops

16:52 – How PPC is changing

20:04 – Transform your account with scripts

24:41 – Keyword sculpting

29:21 – What is working right now in PPC

34:20 – Change in buying habits

37:10 – Routines for effective account management

38:54 – Top 3 things everyone needs to analyse in their PPC accounts

46:35 – Best Remarketing audience

48:20 – Google Shopping – free listings – as good as it sounds?

55:46 – Book recommendation

 

Transcript 

Richard Hill:
Hi and welcome to another episode of eComOne, and today's guest is Henry Gill. Henry's the current head of PPC at eComOne and SEO Traffic Lab. How are you doing, Henry?
Henry Gill:
Yeah, really good thank you. Not too bad at all. How are you?
Richard Hill:
I'm very well thank you. I obviously know Henry, for those that don't know, I know Henry very well, because he is the head of the agency in the paid ads department, and works on both sides of the agencies, on the eComOne and on the SEO Traffic Lab side. So I know Henry's got some amazing insights and career history to share we everybody that's listening in, along the paid ad side, side and your career to date. So how's things going?
Henry Gill:
Yeah, really good. As you say, I've had an interesting career path in some respects. Because I started out initially when I went to university studying a history degree. So I did a three-year history degree, and I absolutely loved it at the time. And then I went on to do a history MA as well. So at the time I was actually thinking of potentially becoming a history academic, so I did this masters course.
Henry Gill:
And it was actually during the masters course I kind of found out that I might want to do something a bit different. And during the course itself I found it was very little contact time, I was spending all my time either in the library or at home. It wasn't very social, and I decided I wanted to have a job, have work in a way that would be with other people, much more collaborative rather than being quite isolated.
Henry Gill:
So then went on actually, didn't go into marketing straight away. I then went and thought about trying to become a lawyer. So I did what's called a conversion course, law conversion course. A bit more time at university, and then I spent some time paralegaling as well. And it was actually while I was paralegaling, one of my responsibilities alongside doing the legal work was doing some of the marketing. And I actually found I loved the marketing and not so much the legal side of things.
Richard Hill:
Yeah. That's an interesting one, isn't it? I think society-wise, generally our paths are quite often family, do a certain thing a certain way, so we're brought up to do a certain thing that I know is very similar. So you went to uni, started in history, then went to law, then ended up doing marketing. So that figures.
Henry Gill:
Yeah.
Richard Hill:
Obviously through that time, it was all about the history, history, history. Masters degree, isn't it, in history?
Henry Gill:
Yeah. Masters, that's right.
Richard Hill:
Then law. So it's like what's that? Six years at uni is it? Pretty much, somewhere there.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, I did my MA semi part-time as well, so it was five years doing history. I spent two years at university doing law. So I did the GDL and I was working at the LPC as well. In between them I did a year when I was doing paralegaling at a law firm in Bristol.
Henry Gill:
And I realized what I was doing at the paralegaling, even though it wasn't the most glamorous work, I enjoyed that a lot more than the recent work I'd done at university.
Richard Hill:
Did you have a bit of a tussle then? At that point you'd gone there to do law, obviously you then got a paralegaling job, but marketing ... Were you like, "Oh my God. I can't tell anybody that I don't want to do law anymore, I'm going to do marketing"? Was it a bit of a strange week or month or six months or whatever?
Henry Gill:
Yeah, absolutely.
Richard Hill:
Where you were like, "Am I going to jump ship or not?"
Henry Gill:
Yeah. I came across, I think it might have been a blog at the time actually, which resonated with me with this thing called the fallacy of sunk costs. So as you say, I spent a lot of time and a lot of expense going to studying law. I'd got a lot of the work experience, I hadn't just done the three years obviously, I was doing loads of work experience as well, and things at different law firms. So I was pretty knowledgeable about the law at that time, and it would have been the obvious thing to do in some respects.
Henry Gill:
But I think ultimately I was actually at the stage where I was applying for legal jobs, filling in these endless application forms. And I kept seeing the question, why do you want to do ... why do you want to be a lawyer? I was like actually, I might prefer to do ...
Henry Gill:
This other small side project at the law firm I was working at. I think for me it was just so much more creative doing the marketing stuff. And I was just doing quite low-level things, really, like running the Twitter account and organizing events. And then I actually did a bit of design and some signage and things as well. But yeah, I got a real buzz out of doing that.
Henry Gill:
I was quite lucky actually, they gave me quite a lot of scope to do what I wanted to and put my mark on the marketing there as well, at the law firm I was working at.
Richard Hill:
They gave you a taste of what is possible out there, and then obviously you went all in with the marketing role. So now fast-forward what, four years now is it? Fast-forward four years-ish?
Henry Gill:
Yeah.
Richard Hill:
Tell us about what you're doing now in terms of in the company.
Henry Gill:
Yes. So I now head up the PPC department. So I've got a team, they're probably I suppose four to five people, depending on how you look at it, working on the PPC side with the technical side. And then with our own marketing as well, a lot of people who are working on the paid elements of that.
Henry Gill:
So heading up the PPC side where we look at Google Ads, is a really big focus of mine particularly. Also Facebook ads, and we do a bit of Bing as well, some work on LinkedIn ads as well. So a lot of different areas, a lot of different channels that we look at. But for me a huge amount of my focus is on the Google side particularly, and Google Shopping especially.
Richard Hill:
So you've got an array of clients there. So obviously I know this, but for the benefit of ... You've got an array of clients ranging from a company selling toilets, to companies selling ... Give us a bit of an insight into some of the types of products that you're representing and selling for clients.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, so we do work in a lot of different verticals, a lot of different industries. A lot of what we do is of course ecommerce, so companies selling products online. And as you say, we've got everything from toilets, we work with a company who sells quite high volumes of safes, quite expensive safes. Companies that sell outdoor wear, companies selling V-lux windows, frozen fish. There's a really big range, clothing ... Probably tens of different verticals that we do work in. Jewelry as well. Lots of different interesting sectors.
Richard Hill:
A whole plethora, can't say that word, plethora of industries. And obviously I know more than anyone really the real depth that you do work on and your team works on. Now obviously you talked about the different platforms, Google, Facebook. And obviously Google you've got different types of ads, display, search, shopping. Which channels and which of those advertising types do you find the best results?
Henry Gill:
It does depend quite a bit on the client. So I think one of the key things to think about in working with PPC is that a lot of it you work in terms of a market. So a lot of the time the price you pay for a click is very much dependent on what your next competitor is willing to pay.
Henry Gill:
So if you want to be at the very top of Google, for instance, the very top of the search results, your bid might be, say, a pound. But then if your competitor below you says, "I only want to pay 10p," you'll pay just above them, so you just pay 11p to be in that very top position. But then if you've got a competitor who's much more aggressive in their bidding, and you want to be above them, they might themselves be at a pound, and then you have to bid £1.01.
Henry Gill:
So one of the things that I can remember, just when I was getting into marketing, I was into a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk, and he was saying, what is the under-priced attention? And that is a big important thing to take into consideration. So for some clients they will see under-priced attention on Facebook, whereas at another client it might be on Google. So Google Shopping might work really well, or it might be Google Search.
Henry Gill:
In general I'd say, for ecommerce clients the real no-brainer is to set up Google Shopping as a first port of call.
Richard Hill:
Good to hear.
Henry Gill:
Yeah. And alongside that would really highly recommend setting up Facebook ads, and particularly dynamic Facebook ads. So having those two, they work really well together. Actually myself and my colleague Ben, we did a talk a while ago, I think it was called The Digital Power Couple of combining Facebook and Google Ads.
Henry Gill:
So they definitely do work well together. I think if you're just starting out with an ecommerce store, I think a really powerful thing to do would be Google, Google Shopping first of all. Although in fact, if you've got a really small budget, you could probably see very strong results going to Facebook, Facebook Remarketing.
Richard Hill:
Remarketing. So Google Shopping as a start point, expand on that, but also try and tie that in with Facebook ads and the remarketing side. So interesting, last night I know Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feature within Facebook. I don't know all the details, it's literally 24 hours ago it was announced. Obviously we're in lockdown, we're on day, I've lost track, but 65 or something like that maybe.
Henry Gill:
Yeah.
Richard Hill:
60-ish. I think we're nine weeks in as a company.
Henry Gill:
That's it.
Richard Hill:
In lockdown. And obviously we've seen some crazy movements, ups and downs. A lot of ups, a few downs in different verticals. Ecommerce has become this new thing, but obviously not to us and those that were already using it. But a lot of industries it's like, "Right, we really need to do this ecommerce thing." And Facebook announced yesterday that they're doing their own ecommerce integrations from within the platform.
Henry Gill:
Yes.
Richard Hill:
Is there anything you can say on that at this stage? I know it's very new, it's literally five working hours ago that it was announced. Is there anything there that's quite exciting that you're aware of?
Henry Gill:
Yeah, it's definitely exciting. Facebook, you can really see that being incredibly powerful, and being a massive rival to some of the other ecommerce channels, I suppose. So I think it could really rival, potentially, Amazon, if they pull it off well. As you say, it's very early days at the moment, they've literally just announced it.
Henry Gill:
But from what we can see on the Facebook side of things, with the right targeting you can get fantastic results. I think if people start using Facebook and the store side of things, I can see it really taking off.
Richard Hill:
Because the thing is, like you say, with Facebook you've got this real standout for targeting I think.
Henry Gill:
That's it.
Richard Hill:
It is, it's a fact. But now getting products in front of those people has always been I think maybe a little bit of a technical problem for those that aren't working with agencies and things like that. And even when they are, DPAs, dynamic product ads, is always the way to go to get products in.
Richard Hill:
But obviously this new layer, this new shop, we don't know too much yet, but there's a few things I've read that it ties in with the different platforms. So we're seeing this massive growth in Shopify as a brand, I think they've given a six months free trial, I think it's till the end of October. I think their share value, which is quite an indicator in customer behavior and brand equity and value in what people are using and spending money with, or are going to spend money with more so.
Richard Hill:
Shopify are giving six months free. So in six months, those however many millions, because it will be in the millions, that have taken up a free shop, then now will have the ability to integrate that shop with Facebook very quickly, very easily. I think you can sort of see two new, not new, but a new power couple, Shopify and Facebook together, taking on Amazon. That's a hell of a fight, and there's just a crazy Goliath battle going on on the ecommerce stage. It really spotlights ecomm, doesn't it. Mark Zuckerberg went live yesterday with it, it's definitely one to watch.
Henry Gill:
It certainly does. I think in a way it will tie up a lot of things together as well very nicely. So I think if you're a brand and you've got a Facebook page, then you can immediately target your ads, or even organically just tell your story, set out what makes you unique, put up special offers on Facebook, and that's very visible. You can just get in front of people who are real enthusiasts about your product, or your brand or service.
Richard Hill:
Yeah.
Henry Gill:
And then with that probably as well, it could be very, very straightforward for then people to make a purchase on Facebook itself, for instance. Everyone's logged into Facebook all the time, I know I am.
Richard Hill:
I think that's it.
Henry Gill:
You can just see it being so frictionless, in terms of someone seeing a piece of content, then maybe an ad next to it. And then they can just with one click, this is how I think it's going, people make a purchase. So I can see the conversion rates being fantastic, and cost of acquisitions being really low. Which is obviously a marketer's dream and a retailer's dream.
Richard Hill:
Yeah. I think that's where Amazon have got that. Amazon are just ingrained in all of our lives. That's a bit of an extreme statement, but it's part of my, "Right, I want to buy something, blah blah blah." And it's every day, Amazon is coming to most people's houses I guess. But definitely we're buying stuff for our team every day, and for our own business and house, and kids are here and whatnot. You just go on, one click, done.
Richard Hill:
And even if you don't do the one click, it's something like three clicks. You've already got your credit card loaded and your addresses loaded. And I think that's that frictionless that you talk about. If Facebook do that, you're on the feed, you see the product, the one click, two click. Obviously I'm not quite sure, I don't know if you are, what that's going to look like.
Henry Gill:
No, sure.
Richard Hill:
But that's going to be the key, isn't it? That speed, that frictionless, that ease. Where you probably pre-load your cards in somewhere in Facebook to buy that, buy that, buy that. Crikey, only went on Facebook to have a look what my mates did last weekend, and I've just bought ...
Henry Gill:
Can see it being dangerous, can't you? Yeah, definitely.
Richard Hill:
But on Amazon, and you know, we're both very similar when it comes to reading books, and we're both crazy for learnings and whatnot, we just buy, buy, buy, this, that and the other sort of thing. Well we're going to need an extra however many hundreds of pounds a month now for the Facebook brainwashing that's coming maybe, I don't know.
Henry Gill:
I think you can just see it, can't you? Someone on a podcast, or in the tradition of the podcast, or a video podcast or whatever, and there's, "And this is my latest book." And then one click, and you purchase on Facebook. So just that matchup between the content, valuable contents like video content and information, and then making a purchase. That could actually in some respects put them ahead of the game with Amazon.
Henry Gill:
So with Amazon there's not really, to a very small extent, but there's not really that go there to consume interesting content. You go there to make a purchase. But I think it will be really interesting.
Richard Hill:
Yeah, you're there to buy, aren't you? Rather than learn or educate, yeah. Okay, well we'll come back to shopping, we'll come back to some strategies shortly. So I think listening to, as you know we've dealt with hundreds and hundreds of clients over the years, and still do. And I think what normally we see as an agency, from an agency/owner perspective, is that the clients that are doing well, and the clients that engage an agency, they see the real value in having an agency. And quite often that boils down to the fact that there's that much within the interface, that much within AdWords, that much within Facebook.
Richard Hill:
And of course, within maybe three months you can become pretty good at ads. But the reality is, things are changing all the time. Literally yesterday, Facebook has now announced XYZ, so there's a whole other revenue stream waiting there to explode. Lots of announcements around Google Shopping this last week or two, which we'll dive into.
Richard Hill:
So what would you say, how do you feel that pay-per-click is changing? What's some of the main areas for the big development, exciting areas that you see at the moment and the next year or so?
Henry Gill:
Yeah, there are a lot of things going on. I think Google in particular is quite keen to push on the AI side, particularly. So one of the tussles we sometimes have on the Google side is the extent to which AI, the effect to which a machine or an individual can influence it. But it can actually have some really positives as well. There's smart shopping, which is something Google have been pushing pretty hard. Where effectively Google have all the control, and you can't really make any adjustments other than switching a certain product on or off. Which can work fairly well to some extent.
Henry Gill:
But things which Google are doing at the moment using their AI are things like responsive search ads, which we've seen surprisingly good results for. I think it was about two years ago, it wasn't working very well at all when we first started testing it, and in the last six months it's really taken off.
Henry Gill:
And what responsive search ads are is you, rather than a traditional ad group where you supply, for instance, three different ads, best practice is you create three ads within an ad group, all of which have a combination of headlines and descriptions. You supply a lot of different headlines and descriptions, and Google rotate them around and find the best combinations.
Henry Gill:
Initially when we tried this, we found it was dreadful, and very high cost. We got pretty good clickthrough rates, but that wasn't much good, because the conversion value wasn't there, the all-important return on ad spend wasn't there really. But in recent months they've developed that, and you can do things like you can say okay, well certain ... You can always pin the top headline, for instance, if you want to, and then everything else in the ad can rotate. So there are a lot more options there.
Henry Gill:
So that's really useful. And a lot of the other AI is worth dipping into, definitely worth testing. And I think that's going to only improve over time. Or at least that's my view .
Richard Hill:
On that topic, I know obviously yourself and the agency are a huge fan of using automations and scripts.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, absolutely.
Richard Hill:
I think it would be good to give an example of, let's say I'm an ecommerce store owner, I've got 20,000 SKUs, pretty common. I've got products ranging from £5 to five grand. I've got stock coming in, stock coming out every day. Some products are in stock, some products are out of stock. Lots of variables is what I'm driving at.
Henry Gill:
Sure.
Richard Hill:
Which in reality I think makes, to be able to run that campaign optimally, with a completely ... with a human an account manager, that's obviously very challenging. But with scripts, I know you guys have developed, or we've developed and you've developed, something incredible scripts that can do literally thousands of actions in an account in an hour even, obviously using over a day 1000-plus changes in a day is very common.
Richard Hill:
What sort of things can you do with scripts? What sort of things, just to give the listeners an insight into the sort of things as an ecommerce store that can be done.
Henry Gill:
Yeah. I think probably my favourite things to do, I'll touch on to things. One of my favourite things to do is adjust the bidding with the scripts. So a lot of the success of a PPC campaign, particularly on Google Shopping, comes down to are you bidding the right amount for a certain product to appear in the listings. So you'll really have to take into consideration the conversion rate of the product and the average conversion value of that product as well.
Henry Gill:
So your bid's too high, you might be getting loads of clicks, loads of volume, loads of conversion value, but it might be very unprofitable. So one of the scripts that we've developed is a way of making quite small incremental changes, a couple of pence up and down, depending on the return on ad spend, the ROAS of a product, and its conversion value, over both a 30-day period and a 60-day period. So it has the satisfy the criteria that we deem successful, for instance, to make a bid increase over both of those time periods.
Henry Gill:
And that would be very, very time-consuming to do for these accounts where we've got thousands, in some instances tens of thousands, of products. So you can make these little adjustments where we're seeing particularly good results. So one of the scripts that we have, for instance, we say okay, look at all these products which have performed really well over 10 and 30 days, so they might be doing twice our target. And provided that our search impression share is a certain level, they might increase the bids by 1p or 2p.
Henry Gill:
So it's very, very small adjustments, but if we're running those a couple of times per week, for instance, then it starts to stack up. And then as soon as-
Richard Hill:
Are doing well, and then you do a reduction on the products that are doing poorly, potentially.
Henry Gill:
Yeah. That's about right. So you really want to control the ... There are two areas that you really want to have a lot of focus on are the products and keywords as well where you're spending a lot but not getting a return. And the other side of course is where you're getting a fantastic return, but you might have quite a small search impression share, for instance. You should really try and push that product a lot further, up until the point where it's nice and profitable.
Richard Hill:
If you're not familiar with scripts and what they can do, I think a lot of people, the untrained eye, or the people that are used to doing it the old way, I think this is maybe embracing change, embracing the new developments in any industry. The reality is, with that script, if you've got 20,000 SKUs, some are doing really well, some are doing really bad. That is the reality of life. And somewhere in the middle, what you're reporting on usually is a ROAS for everything.
Richard Hill:
But the reality is you've got a ROAS here, ROAS, all these ROASs. Well if you adjust, adjust, adjust, you can take that average ROAS of everything to such a better level. So you're really exploiting the winners, in effect, and really hammering down the losers. Or where the biggest opportunities are. And obviously there's opportunities everywhere.
Richard Hill:
But to be able to do that manually, with all the will in with world, you might start off well as a dedicated account manager, the guy looking after the AdWords et cetera. But the reality is, life gets in the way, whatever, other things you have to do in the account. You just can't make those tens of thousands of changes in a monthly basis.
Richard Hill:
So what would be another good script that you would recommend?
Henry Gill:
Yeah, just to finish off on that point, actually. What I find really handy as well is, in an account for instance if you've got 10,000 different SKUs where you're making adjustments, it is very appropriate, I think, to really hone in and make manual adjustments for the very top performers, so your bestsellers. Monitor those very, very carefully, make bespoke adjustments for them manually potentially.
Henry Gill:
But then you've got a lot of this middle ground stuff, mid performers, and there I think that's where automation is really handy. Where it makes the right kind of adjustments. So you can leave yourself a pretty big-
Richard Hill:
A little lever.
Henry Gill:
Yeah. It's quite important to leave quite a big margin of safety. So if a product does fairly well, you don't want to necessarily ramp up the bids massively, or if it's doing a little bit below average, you don't want to really decrease it. But making small adjustments there can save you a lot of time, so you can have a lot more thinking time to make the right adjustments and do the creative work, creating better ad copy for the really high performers, for instance.
Richard Hill:
Good, great. What would be one more script that you would think about as right up there in your top three?
Henry Gill:
So this script is reasonably complex. This is all to do with keyword sculpting, so this is with shopping campaigns. With a shopping campaign, unlike a search campaign, you can't bid on specific keywords to trigger ads. So for instance if you were selling barbecues, you'd have a product feed, and then it would have a description of the product, and have various fields filled out. And then your AdWords trigger for a certain keyword because Google thinks it's a good match to the data in your feed.
Henry Gill:
So in that example, you might find that you have a search term which is very specific, and does really well, has a really high conversion rate. So for instance a Toronto Grill extra large barbecue. It's a very specific term for someone who's searching for that, obviously knows what they're looking for. And the chances of them making a purchase from that long-tail search term is very high.
Henry Gill:
So keyword sculpting is really a way of making sure that we segregate the really high-performing search terms on shopping from the generic low performers. Because officially you can't do that, you can't bid on a keyword in the same way that you can with a search campaign.
Henry Gill:
So what this script allows you to do is, first of all we have a script which segregates automatically campaigns into high, medium and low priority. And that affects where the search term will cause the ad to trigger. And effectively what you're doing is blocking off keywords which are really high performers, so they stop filtering into your low-bid campaign, and they can only filter into a medium or high-priority campaign where the bids are quite a lot higher. High priority in terms of our own, how we would class it.
Henry Gill:
So for a Toronto grill, for instance, you could then have a bid of a pound. Whereas for barbecue itself, a very generic term, you might just want a bid of 10p or so.
Richard Hill:
Yeah.
Henry Gill:
So the script that we use automatically creates those different segregations. Because that would take hundreds of hours to do that for lots of different products. And then the second thing it does, it would automatically exclude the best performing keywords, so that they end up filtering into this campaign where we've got much higher bids. So we're just bidding at a really high level on these superstar keywords, and not for the generics.
Richard Hill:
Brand terms, longer terms.
Henry Gill:
Exactly.
Richard Hill:
Product names, brands, product part numbers, that type of thing.
Henry Gill:
Exactly. So the script again would have a look at the performance of the search term, and it would have to meet some pretty stringent criteria for it to be in this campaign, where there's really large amounts of money in comparative terms to the direct campaign.
Richard Hill:
Okay. So that gives you the capacity to ... What we're saying is with search ads, you can bid on a keyword, with Google Shopping you can't technically bid on a keyword.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, that's right.
Richard Hill:
You can't say, "I will bid £10 on this XYZ grill." But by herding keywords, blocking them here, blocking them here, and pushing them into this campaign, you can then treat them differently and bid on them differently. Or stop them in this campaign and bid on them differently. So what that enabled, what you're saying
Richard Hill:
Obviously I know very well that it works exceptionally well, because it's one of our almost patented, it's not, but it's quite a well-known strategy that we've massaged it probably to the eighth degree over the years. And it's one that we know, it's very transformative, isn't it? Because you're able to really get very granular on specific products, rather than treating the word barbecue the same as ZYZ extra large silver barbecue. Rather than bidding a pound on each, we know that the five-word product search term, part number, size, color, search term, is going to perform a lot better.
Henry Gill:
That's it.
Richard Hill:
So scripts, massive advocate of scripts. Moving on from scripts, excluding scripts, what's working well right now? Right now, these ecomm guys are listening in, they're deciding what to do with budgets and campaigns, or maybe getting started on a certain platform. What's working now, what are you seeing through the many accounts that you oversee or manage yourself, what are you seeing that's working very well?
Henry Gill:
I mean certainly on a macro level, ecommerce actually has been doing very well over the last few months. So we're see a real spike in demand, so clicks are massively up, conversions are up as well. In a lot of instances, conversion rates are up. And that all-important return on ad spend is doing well as well for a lot of our clients.
Henry Gill:
I think a lot of the reason for that of course is a lot of the retail stores are shut, and a lot of people who previously would have gone out and made a purchase in a shop are now going online. So yeah, it's a real opportunity if you do sell products, and you haven't looked into advertising before, I'd say definitely have a look at that. And yeah, it's definitely an opportunity there.
Richard Hill:
There are a lot industries now that are doing obviously very well. There's the area, certain industries we know that are really struggling, tourism, hotel et cetera, travel. But ecomm, where you can physically buy, a lot of industries are doing very well.
Richard Hill:
So the guys that are maybe either thinking of starting, it's a very good time to start, I think is what you're saying. And obviously the ones that are already in the trenches, really look at the data to understand where. Because I think the reality is that some of the ROASs that we're seeing, you're saying, I hate to use the word unprecedented, but ...
Richard Hill:
I know just before the call you were talking about a client that was doing Facebook, doing 39 times return I think it was.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, that's it. We had a conversation as well with a client yesterday who had a whole month's worth of their revenue which they had in a single week as well. So there's a lot of people seeing these kind of results that they would have been seeing usually around Christmas time in terms of demand. That kind of uptake in orders, uptake in traffic as well. So there is opportunity there on ecommerce, definitely.
Henry Gill:
And then specifically I think, one of the campaigns that we're looking at which we're seeing very good results for so far, just started with it really with video ads. As we're getting exceptionally low cost per views on YouTube. So it's one of the very rare numbers of campaigns where we can get a cost per view of under 1p. So it's kind of unprecedented really in that sense on the Google side. It's still very early days with that one yet, so far.
Henry Gill:
And we're always quite dubious about certain kind of display campaigns in particular. We've found in the past that although you get a huge number of views potentially, that doesn't necessarily translate into sales. But certainly we're pretty excited to see where this leads. Especially because we've seen the combination on Facebook of having videos, and then the option to make a purchase. And some sort of collection ads, where you have the video, and then you can directly go and click the products underneath it and go through to the website. That works exceptionally well.
Henry Gill:
So it's early days with YouTube, but seeing very, very low costs per click and low costs per view there.
Richard Hill:
It's a great time for paid ads, and I think it genuinely is, is what you're saying. And it is. But obviously it doesn't mean that everybody, every business is going to ... I think that's where you've got to be clear. Obviously if you're in a ... the data tells the story, doesn't it? And you've got to look at the facts and figures and numbers. Nobody can go in and spend thousands, tens of thousands, and not get a return. Especially now.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, absolutely.
Richard Hill:
So I think it's a good time to be testing, and trying. Because the ROAS really is, in a lot of ecommerce, is unbelievable at the moment. Obviously some industries, that may be 20, 30%. We can pull a stat in from Google and whatnot. But 20, 30% of industries. But ecomm specifically, which this podcast is obviously about, most of those, we've got clients in the fish industry, in the food industry, in the drinks industry, in the barbecue industry, in the clothing industry, in the outdoor clothing, bikes, fitness, all blowing up, isn't it?
Henry Gill:
Yeah. It's one of the interesting, within that data as you say, that kind of general trajectory. What also seems to be happening across a lot of our different accounts is that we're getting a lot more orders for the lower value items as well. So I think these would potentially be products originally might have thought of buying from store. But we've seen a real spike in ...
Henry Gill:
A lot of the cases, the average order value has actually decreased, but we're just getting many, many conversions, and a higher conversion rate as well. So that's interesting. I think as a result of it, even coming out of COVID, we obviously hope as soon as possible that restrictions ease and go back to normal, I think there will be a change in buying habits. I think that's almost certainly going to happen. When people realize it is very easy to, perhaps if people haven't been purchasing before online, they realize it's at least very straightforward to do so.
Richard Hill:
I 100% agree. I think when the day comes and we're, I say back to normal, I don't think that day is ever going to happen, but the world has changed, so there will be a new normal. But the reality is, you might not have ordered your smoke salmon online. Obviously people do. You've now tried that. And now when you're thinking about buying smoked salmon, you go, "Well do you know that guy we bought it off, thefishman.com, or whatever it is, I'm just going to order it off him again, it was great."
Richard Hill:
So you've been forced to try these different websites, but now you've no doubt had a good experience nine times out of ten, nine and a half times out of ten, so why would you not go back and buy from those sites again? So I think what a great time for ecommerce stores to go and win that business.
Richard Hill:
Okay, you're getting that sale, you're doing well now. You're getting that sale, you've got this three, six month big purge, and big spike. But then you're also buying your customers right now as well. You're building that brand. You're building that customer database that, like most things, not every product, but you go and rebuy stuff, don't you? If you're buying fish, obviously you go back every three months and get your 50, 60, 100 quid's worth of fish for the freezer or whatever, depending on ...
Henry Gill:
Yeah, absolutely. We absolutely see that a lot of the customers, and speaking to our clients as well, a lot of them are very much repeat customers. And just getting that initial order through, which can often come through paid advertising, for instance, can be extremely valuable, looking at the lifetime value of that customer. As you said, particularly for products which you buy on repeat. So I've got clients who sell, for instance, pet medication. That can be really worthwhile once you get that initial sale in, the month in, month out people get a repeating order.
Richard Hill:
Consistent, isn't it? However many months you're buying your flea treatments, it's just a regular thing, isn't it, once you've bought that customer once, you've got them for maybe the 20 years, 15, 10 years life span of the pet.
Richard Hill:
Okay. So much good stuff. So we've got people listening in that will be managing their account themselves. We've got people that will be working with agencies like ourselves. But what are some recommendations around account management? What are some of the routines, some of the things that are so important to managing an account well?
Henry Gill:
So one of my favourite principles, something I repeat ad nauseum, everyone gets completely sick of me banging on about it, is the 80/20 principle. So this is essentially saying that a minority of inputs often can cause the effect of changing the majority of outputs. So essentially 20% of your actions will give you 80% of the results.
Henry Gill:
So this was a real game-changer when I first heard about this. And I think it was initially Tim Ferriss where I discovered it from. But it's one of these things where you kind of see it all over the place, a lot of people reference it. And yes, it's been incredibly useful.
Henry Gill:
And it's often the case in an account you might have 10,000 SKUs, you might have 500 campaigns. But just by getting the settings and everything right on maybe three campaigns, you can actually bring in 50% of the benefit.
Henry Gill:
So one of the things about the 80/20 principle is that it's fractal. Which essentially means that the top 20% of the top 20% of your actions, will give you the top 80% of the top 80% of the results. So a lot of the times it's just really focusing on thinking, rather than trying to change 500 different things in this two hours I've got to manage this account today, would actually I get better results if I can think of five really key things to change?
Richard Hill:
So quickfire round then, what's the three things that everybody listening should look at?
Henry Gill:
So number one I would say, this is actually ... I referenced it in the book that I wrote on this, or long pad that I wrote on the subject, is looking at devices. So this is essentially bidding differently depending on whether your ad's appearing on computer, or it's appearing on mobile or tablet.
Henry Gill:
So generally speaking, with mobile devices you get a lot of search volume there, and you can also get a lot of conversion value there, a lot of clicks. But then the conversion rates can be quite poor. And if you don't change the device adjustment, which often means having a negative adjustment, you can be burning a lot of money just not actually getting any profit from it at all.
Henry Gill:
So just by decreasing, in 90% of cases, decreasing the bid adjustments on mobile, or at least having a look at how mobile is performing, you can really revolutionize the performance of the account. So that would be my number one recommendation.
Richard Hill:
That would be number one, look at mobile. Number one, look at your mobile, look at the attributions of mobile, and go in there probably quite aggressive is what we're saying, yeah?
Henry Gill:
Yeah. Follow the data for sure. But generally if you're comparing the performance, you can actually do this in the overview screen of Google Ads, so you can see it straight away. So if you look at conversion value divided by cost, that's we find the best measure of profitability. And you'll often find that it's substantially lower on mobile. Because you're getting a lot of clicks and it's very expensive. But your cost-per-click is too high.
Henry Gill:
So having a negative bid modifier there. In a lot of accounts, it depends on how good your mobile experience is as well, but often, 90% of the cases where we go in and the account has not been optimized, you're paying far too much for mobile conversions. So a big decrease there can literally change the
Richard Hill:
So that's the first thing you look at then. When you're looking at an ad account, you'll go to the mobile, click on mobile, see if there's any adjustments. No adjustments it's like, "Right, we can save these guys 20% of ad spend."
Henry Gill:
Yeah, absolutely. Often more than that. You can save them quite a bit more than that. And potentially, in comparative terms, having a higher bid on computer as well, where conversion rates are much better, you can scale your conversion value too.
Richard Hill:
Brilliant. So what would be the next one? What would be the next 80/20, 80/20, 20? What would be the next one that you would go to after the mobile?
Henry Gill:
I'd actually break it down and look at the individual product performance. So the key thing to do there is use filters in the account. So if you go to the product group level, you can actually see the level at which you're bidding. And a lot of accounts actually we see people have the same bid for every single product. Which is a real indication that we can improve things.
Henry Gill:
That's not a very good way of setting up in 99.99% of cases. So yeah, have a look at the product. And then you want to add a filter. So you want to work out what a good return on ad spend would be for your account, how profitable your account needs to be for it to work for you.
Henry Gill:
So if your ROAS target, return on ad spend target, is 10, you want to add a filter, show me everything below that. Filter by cost, and then you can very, very quickly see where you're spending far too much money.
Richard Hill:
Filters, real hidden gem, isn't it, in there?
Henry Gill:
Yeah.
Richard Hill:
So simple when you know where it is, and how to maneuver them. So we go to filters, on the product level, and we then look at return on ad spend. And obviously anything under whatever your ideal return, or your breakeven, or the level if you're working to ten, we try to work to ten as an agency. Obviously it varies on industry.
Richard Hill:
So you go to ten, anything under five is obviously a big problem, so you're going to do something big adjustments there is what you're saying. Anything over 10 is a big opportunity.
Henry Gill:
Yeah.
Richard Hill:
So straight away. So that's one. I'm interrupting you there, I do apologize.
Henry Gill:
No problem.
Richard Hill:
I'm going to go straight into the third one, what would you say is the third one? Third quickie.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, the third one I'd say is remarketing. Remarketing is something which is actually quite overlooked, I would say, with the shopping and search as well. So a lot of people when they think of remarketing, they think of an annoying banner which follows them around the internet. So they're kind of a nuisance, it's kind of a big popup, and they don't want to click on it. And when they do click on it it's often by accident, because of the fact that they've ... I think someone described it as having fat thumbs, where you can accidentally click on these remarketing banners which they don't want to see.
Henry Gill:
So that's display remarketing, and it can be effective in certain circumstances. But what we're really talking about here is remarketing this for search ads and remarketing for shopping itself. And what this does is it puts anyone who's been on your website into a bucket. So a very simple set of remarketing adjustments you can make are based on how much time someone has been on your site. So you could say, anyone who's been on my site, who's been on for five minutes, they're put in bucket A. And everyone who's been on the site and they've been there for half an hour or more, we can put on category B, for instance.
Henry Gill:
And then people who have spent more time on your site, they're more likely to be interested, and then you can put an adjustment on the search ad itself, or on the shopping campaign itself. So someone types in a term which could trigger your products, they're much more likely to see them in a prominent position.
Henry Gill:
And what we see nowadays is that the path length, so the number of times that someone visits your website before making a purchase, is pretty high. So in a lot of cases people, before making a purchase, they revisit your website four or five times. And then there will obviously be in a lot of cases comparing on other websites as well.
Henry Gill:
So it's a quite simple thing to do to just add these remarketing adjustments to your shopping campaigns or to your search campaigns, and then it just means your ads are going to be much more visible when people are searching again. As you say, one of the trends we're seeing, as we touched on, people are looking at a lot of different websites now before making a purchase, comparing prices and whatnot. So very key.
Richard Hill:
So we've got three very quick wins there. We're looking at the mobile, we're looking at the devices, we're looking at product-level ROAS using the filters, and then we're looking at remarketing on a product level. So Google Shopping remarketing, as opposed to display remarketing, which people get very confused with. Very, very different.
Richard Hill:
So not talking about banner ads and banner remarketing that follow us around and bother us. We're talking about, I went and looked at this barbecue two days ago, and I put it in the basket. I didn't buy the barbecue, but not that actual barbecue, the actual barbecue is following me around. And as an AdWords advertising I'm bidding more strategically on trying to attract me back, because I showed a real interest in that barbecue, because I put it in the checkout.
Richard Hill:
And you can just see straight away, that somebody's been in your shop already, they've had a good look round, and then you're bringing them back to the shop. And they're seeing that thing that they spent half an hour looking at. Or they're seeing that thing that they spent five minutes looking at. The person that spent half an hour looking at it, you're bidding more. You're bidding more strategically. Brilliant.
Henry Gill:
That's a really good point you touched on there about the abandoned checkouts. So that's actually the very, very best audience remarketing that you can add in on Google or on Facebook. So we touched on Facebook as well. So if someone's been all the way to the checkout and they abandon it, that can be very high levels, it can be 60, 70% or more of people who get all the way to the checkout and then they end up not purchasing. Life gets in the way, or they decide I don't have enough money in the account, whatever it might be.
Henry Gill:
And at that point if you get those people and you set a really high remarketing adjustment for them onto search and shopping campaigns, that's very powerful. And then just briefly touching on Facebook, that's the very best audience that we've found on Facebook.
Henry Gill:
We actually find that, I know we've been saying that banner ads don't work very well on Google, the equivalent on Facebook is a completely different story, where the ads are much more native to the platform, they're not seen as a spam or an intrusion, they're seen as part of the platform in a lot of cases. And they are astonishingly effective if you're remarketing using dynamic product ads. Which means that if someone's been looking at a certain set of products, they'll then see that set of products on Facebook in an ad.
Henry Gill:
Very, very high conversion rates. And the return on ad spend you'll see there is going to be very, very high. Significantly higher, in a lot cases, than on Google. Because you're targeting such a narrow audience with that, you're not necessarily going to see the massive conversion value which you might see throughout your entire Google Ads account, but with your narrow audience with the really specific products, you'll see a great conversion rate, great return on ad spend.
Richard Hill:
Great ROAS. So Google Shopping. It's been around I think 16, 18 years. And I remember it back then, I was a retailer back then. Prior to the agency I was selling online for 10 years. And it was called Froogle, it was free. You would upload your list, your CSV or whatever text file, push your products into Google, you're on page one of Google in half an hour, or 24 hours. Sounds like some dodgy marketing speak, but that was reality. You would upload your list, Froogle, it was free.
Richard Hill:
Obviously Google went to a paid model, eight years ago I think maybe. I may be slightly out with my times, but about eight years ago they went to the Google paid on the shopping. It was called product listing ads, PLAs as people know it. Then it was known as Google Shopping, now really it's known as Shopping Ads. That's the official term from Google Shopping Ads.
Richard Hill:
And Shopping Ads, massive explosion in terms of growth in Shopping Ads, huge. There's CSS, which we probably won't go into today, but you're able to ... There's been a real investment from Google, and a massive growth for ecommerce. Got real, real strength, Google, and something we've built a whole agency around.
Richard Hill:
But this last, I think three weeks ago, there was a huge announcement from Google that they're bringing Froogle back. Now that's quite a bold statement to make, that's the headline. But what's all that about? They're saying that now it's free, there's rumors that it's been free. And obviously there's quite a lot more to that. So can you explain to the listeners what's happening there with the new free Google Shopping Ads.
Henry Gill:
Yeah. So this was apparently something Google had in the pipeline for some time, but then they decided to accelerate it in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. And what this essentially is is they'll be free listing, but only within the Google Shopping tab itself. So I think that's a really important distinction to make.
Richard Hill:
Not on page one of Google when you search, they're not there. They're when you click the tab within the first page.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, that's right. So within the shopping tab itself. And I think a lot of people are thinking it's going to be ... One of the reasons, there are probably quite a few reasons why Google are doing this, is to try and rival Amazon. So the Amazon marketplace, where they have the organic product listings as well as the paid for.
Henry Gill:
So this is really very significant news. It's probably, looking at the headline, free Google Shopping listings, you're probably not going to see the massive volumes that you would do if you were appearing on page one of Google at the moment in a Shopping listing. But it's still absolutely really worth paying attention to and having a look at.
Henry Gill:
So the way that you opt into that is actually pretty straightforward. You just need to have a feed running, you don't need to have any shopping ads or any kind of PPC running at all, you just need to have a feed, which is uploaded to Merchant Center. Then you need to enable that feed through something called opting into surfaces. And then your ads can start appearing.
Henry Gill:
And that's currently live in the US. So we have a client who's actually got their Shopping ads paused at the moment in the US, but they're starting to get impressions again and clicks on their listings. Which is great, free traffic there. So it's growing as well actually, it's interesting, day on day, which is great to see.
Richard Hill:
What's the understanding of when it will be available in the UK?
Henry Gill:
I heard on a webinar which was given by one of the heads of the UK ecommerce that they're looking at introducing it in the third quarter of this year. So still not very specific on the timing yet, but it should definitely be this year, from what he was saying.
Richard Hill:
Maybe five, six months, we should see it in the UK.
Henry Gill:
Five or six months, yeah.
Richard Hill:
So it's not just a rumor, it's fact. Obviously we are seeing it in US accounts.
Henry Gill:
Yeah.
Richard Hill:
And we're see it enabled, we're seeing clickthroughs and impressions and whatnot. Obviously small volumes.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, it will be very interesting to see how it all progresses, really. And what happens with the Google Shopping tab as well. At the moment it's probably under 20% of people actually click onto the Google Shopping tab, a lot of the searches are just made on the main home page. But its going to be interesting to see how that develops, and I think Google have given a sneak peek to show that. So a lot more organic listings.
Richard Hill:
Yeah, I think it's a great opportunity. Obviously you're not paying for these ads. If you were paying maybe you'd get 100 times more clicks, or whatever. But the reality is, you can now list your products in Google for free. You're not on the high street, you're down a side street. But you're still going to get people coming by, you are still going to get clicks.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, that's a really good analogy.
Richard Hill:
Yeah. Those that are thinking of dipping their toe in Shopping, then what a great time to do it. Three or four months away maybe from anyone that's in the UK that's listening particularly, where you could get those feeds in place. You could get those products all sorted on your website so everything's all looking great. And then when it rolls round, you've hooked up to your merchant center, you've got your products showing.
Richard Hill:
Because literally an email is going to come through. Anybody listening that's got an AdWords account, an email is going to hit you at a point. You'll go, "Oh, we can be on there." And then you'll go, "How do I do that?" Obviously you can then sort it out, or you can get geared up now. So you hook up your merchant center, enables services, but obviously they won't show yet until the account has been enabled.
Richard Hill:
And you will get an email, because we've been having them through for the US clients. You'll get an email, and obviously it will probably be news to you like it's news to us that day when, "Oh they've started to come through." Then everyone will be scrambling.
Richard Hill:
But you'll be able to try, for free, Google Shopping. And you'll get, we don't know the percentage, but you're going to get a taste of that high street store on the first page of Google, aren't you? Which is so exciting I think.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, absolutely. I think there'll be a real first mover advantage if you get on there early. And if you're completely new to it you can trial out optimizing, for instance, your product feed, testing different descriptions to go alongside, different headlines to go alongside your products as well, and just get a feel for what works, completely cost-free.
Henry Gill:
And then if you do decide to branch into paid Shopping, all those learnings will be very, very useful.
Richard Hill:
And then you're winning in that you've got that technical piece set up. Obviously there's a lot of recommendation we would make as an agency to really hone that feed. Feed is a whole nother webinar, which we'll probably do with our head of feeds and technical, Andy.
Henry Gill:
Sure.
Richard Hill:
But you're over the line, you're live. You get a taste. And then you could go, "Do you know what? We're making something out of this, let's just commit to a starting budget, because we've already had a taste." So great times.
Richard Hill:
So last question, Henry. I always like to end on a book recommendation for our listeners, what's the one book you would recommend to our listeners?
Henry Gill:
One book which I revisit quite a lot and like to dip into is by Tim Ferriss, called Tools of Titans. And it's a very thick book, it's maybe 500, 600 pages or something like that. But it's broken up into lots of small chunks where Tim Ferris interviews lots of different world-class performers. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the lady who was from the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington I think her name is. Jocko Willink, and lots of other really impressive public figures, celebrities, businessmen, world-class sports performers.
Henry Gill:
Just asks them all about their habits, their routines, what they accredit their success to, things that they've learnt from. One of the interesting things from that book was ask them what's a really bad piece of advice you've been given, which I thought was quite an interesting question.
Henry Gill:
Yeah, it's really interesting, and what I quite like to do is dip into lots of different people's recommendations, it can be a really good jumping-off point.
Richard Hill:
Great.
Henry Gill:
So actually ended up listening to the audiobook written by Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was fantastic, I really enjoyed it. Called Total Recall, which I was introduced to, found out all sorts of things. He was actually kind of a businessman as well as a weightlifter, and was actually a millionaire, for instance, before he made his first film, which I thought was quite interesting.
Richard Hill:
Yeah.
Henry Gill:
Other things there.
Richard Hill:
Great. Well let's get that on the list. So for the guys that are listening in that want to find out more about Shopping, and connect with you, and paid ads, Facebook ads, Shopping ads, Google ads et cetera, and obviously just generally to connect with you, what's the best place to connect with you, Henry?
Henry Gill:
The best place I would say is LinkedIn. So you can find me on there, as well as our website. So getting back into the blogging again, so I'm publishing quite a few. I put a blog out yesterday actually on the free Google Shopping listings. And then also through email as well, henry@ecomone.com.
Richard Hill:
Henry@ecomone, LinkedIn, find you on there. And obviously on our company website, ecomone.com. Well thank you very much for being on the podcast, it's been a pleasure.
Henry Gill:
Oh it was great. I enjoyed that, thank you.
Richard Hill:
Thank you. Thanks, Henry, bye.
Henry Gill:
Thanks, bye.

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