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 58:
Kirk Williams:
PPC Advertising & How to Fine-Tune Your Google Shopping Ads to Get Ahead of Competitors

This week’s guest is Kirk Williams, who’s only one of the top 25 most influential PPCers in the WORLD, insane right?? And it’s been such a pleasure having him on this episode to share his greatest tips that can skyrocket your PPC campaigns.

Kirk talks to us about how to make paid Ads work for your eCommerce store, he shares his proven techniques that have delivered results for his clients, as well as the one mistake he sees tonnes of stores making and how fixing it can do wonders for your growth. 

Want to learn how to stand out from the crowd with fine-tuned, perfectly targeted PPC campaigns? Then time to grab a brew and get listening!

eCom@One Presents

Kirk Williams

Kirk has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009 and started his own Paid Search marketing agency, ZATO, in 2011. He’s been recognised as one of the 25 most influential PPCers in the world for 4 years running and Kirk has since been sharing his insane knowledge on his website zatomarketing.com, his own Smart Shopping course on Udemy and his newly released book, Ponderings of a PPC Professional. 

In this week’s episode, Kirk tells us exactly how he became one of the biggest names in PPC, discusses the pros and cons of paid Ads for both established and start-up eCommerce stores, as well as the key things any eCommerce business needs to drive growth and success. 

We also dive into Google Shopping, where we talk over the benefits of Smart Shopping vs manual Shopping, we discuss best practices when it comes to monitoring and fine tuning your campaigns, the steps most people ignore when it comes to making your Ads stand out and how this can transform your performance. 

Want to up your PPC game with Google Shopping? Then this is the episode for you.

Topics Covered:

01:27 – How Kirk became one of the most influential PPCers for 4 years running

02:45 – Should every eCommerce store run PPC campaigns?

05:46 – Proven techniques that can drive results

10:35 – How to fine tune your Smart Shopping campaigns for the best results

15:09 – One mistake eCommerce stores consistently make in their Shopping campaigns

18:10 – The key things you need to focus on to scale your business

23:48 – Shopping Ads, Search Ads, DPAs – what performs best?

26:54 – How to make your Search and Shopping campaigns stand out

33:08 – Kirk’s go-to steps for boosting your Ad performance

38:26 – Top resources for learning more about PPC

39:50 – Book recommendation

 

Richard Hill:
Hi there, I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One. Welcome to our 58th episode. In this episode, I speak with Kirk Williams, owner of ZATO, an eCommerce only PPC agency who work purely on Google and Bing ads. Kirk was recognized as one of the Top 25 PPCers in the world from 2016 to '20 by PPC Hero. He's a course creator and real hands-on guy when it comes to running eCommerce specific paid ad campaigns.

Richard Hill:
Myself and Kirk talk all things search and shopping, his opinion on whether paid ads are right for all eCommerce stores. We go deep on tips to scale shopping ads and Kirk's interesting thoughts on smart shopping campaigns, and how to go deeper into the black box that is smart shopping. Scale, we ask the number one question we always get asked and is on every store owner's mind, how do you scale and how to scale. Kirk talks about ways to stand out with your ads and specifics on what to look for when you're trying to improve current performance.

Richard Hill:
If you enjoy this episode, please make sure you subscribe so you're always the first to know when a new episode is released. Now, let's head over to this fantastic episode.

Richard Hill:
How are you doing, Kirk, you okay?

Kirk Williams:
I am doing fantastic. Thanks for having me.

Richard Hill:
No problem at all. Looking forward to getting into one of my topics that I spent a lot of time, myself, involved in, obviously as couple of agencies here around the podcast. I'm really looking forward to getting into some stuff with you.

Richard Hill:
So I've got to ask, how did you become one of the Top 25 most influential PPCers from '16 to '20? Let's hear a bit about that.

Kirk Williams:
Probably Twitter and comedy, I think.

Richard Hill:
Oh, okay.

Kirk Williams:
No. Yeah, I started on Twitter and I actually remember having a conversation with my wife, this is probably seven, eight years ago. I think she was very, very loving, very supportive but I think, "You sure spend a lot of time on Twitter for starting a business," you know. Part of it for me was saying, "Man, this is where I'm finding my people, forming networks," that sort of thing.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Kirk Williams:
We've really just seen that help take off, and trying to do that on LinkedIn as well.

Kirk Williams:
But, some of what I became known for on Twitter was memes, different memes. I've done various fun things, like singing, I'll do marketing song parodies and stuff like that. You've got to keep it light. Google keeps changing everything all the time, so if you can't laugh you're not going to survive in this business.

Richard Hill:
I love it. I think, guys listening in, you've got to go and check out Kirk's social for a little bit light comedy, but also obviously some great content amongst it all as well.

Richard Hill:
Obviously, eCommerce, we're the eCommerce eCom@One Podcast, so great to have you on the show. What would you say, in your opinion, should every eCommerce store run PPC campaigns? Should there be any exceptions, or should all eCommerce stores be running PPC?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. I think with most things in marketing, the phrase it depends fits pretty well. If you step back, I see PPC as more of that demand capture side, not demand creation, and there are different ways that people will put it.

Kirk Williams:
But basically, what you're doing with paid search especially, and that even is one of those things because PPC more and more can mean a lot of things, if you're thinking paid search marketing, so advertising your products on Google, Google, or Microsoft or Bing, then that's really picking up demand that currently exists. Because at some point, someone has to have that thought in their brain which transfers into their voice for their phone, or their fingers for their typing. In a lot of ways, paid search, I would argue there is a top of funnel aspect that can go along with paid search. A lot of times, though, we'll build that out in our own accounts with display marketing as well as YouTube. And then, we also will really encourage brands to be looking at things like social as well, Facebook, that sort of thing.

Kirk Williams:
But, in terms of paid search marketing, you really do need to have that interest already. And then, that's where, then, you can place the ads, you find the keywords, work with Google to determine what those are. And then, advertise for that. It does depend, it does depend. There are certain industries that are going to be very expensive, especially maybe someone new entering where the top six people bidding are, at least in the US, huge retailers like Home Depot and Walmart, and then you have Amazon, things like that. If you're entering a highly competitive, high auction space and you just don't have a lot of money, then sometimes it might not make sense to at least start there.

Kirk Williams:
Most of the time, what we have found is any sort of established business has some sort of presence, typically. Often times, it's more probably the beginning brands who are first starting out, where they might not necessarily first start out with paid search.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah, I think that's very relatable. I think when you're starting out, you've obviously got a limited budget and you're testing things, you're testing the business let alone paid ads, potentially. You've got to make other things work potentially first, to make sure you've got the budgets. But obviously, as you say, if the demand is there, which there is in the depends bit, comes in the fact that most products there is a demand for, especially on branded SKUs and known products. Yeah, great.

Richard Hill:
Obviously, you've worked on a lot of PPC campaigns over the years. I see you've been doing this since about 2009-ish, which is a long time. PPC years are like 30 years really, instead of the 11, 12 years, all the different changes and whatnot. But, maybe talk us through some campaigns that you've worked on and some of the things that you've done more recently that have had the best results. What's working well now?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. A lot of what I've done, in terms of actual content, not just bad, dumb jokes, but in terms of actual content a lot of what I've done is on the shopping ad side, so Google Shopping. I've spoken a lot, written stuff, and that historically has been, for us, just really strong with eComm and we've just seen that continue to grow in strength.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Kirk Williams:
Especially in terms of spend, I think Google and Microsoft keep pushing more of their search engine result pages, their SRPs, to have shopping ads that used to not. There's just more availability than there used to be. We're definitely seeing more and more brands doing more with shopping than they had in the past.

Kirk Williams:
But in the past, for us, some real basic advanced strategies had worked with the standard shopping. So there were things like the query filtering that just really worked. There was this sweet spot in there, of a couple of years, where people still weren't doing much of anything unique with shopping. We would go in, and we did this with some decent sized brands and saw just insane changes. I think one we saw 200% growth in the first 30 days. This was an established brand, it was pretty crazy. But, that's because we would go in there, we'd segment out their brand, we'd segment out their non-brand, we'd find some queries in the middle and then we'd target those. No one else was doing stuff like that.

Kirk Williams:
A lot of people do that, although not always. We still see that work. But then, it's changing. So smart shopping now is new in the shopping ads realm, especially for eComm. I've actually written a course on that, a video course on that on Udemy. We've tried to invest a lot into that because I see smart shopping not at a place where I love it because it hides a lot of data, which again, is not a great place for someone really new starting. If you're just starting out and you push a smart shopping campaign live, you don't get any search term data, or audience data, or anything like that from that. You just need to be aware of that. We usually like a hybrid approach.

Kirk Williams:
We're finding if we do a hybrid approach where we're messing with it, and really trying to figure out custom labels with smart shopping, really just trying to do some cool things, we've really seen smart shopping work very, very well these days. We're just trying to test everything and keep up with the machines, the platforms.

Richard Hill:
So you've obviously got the smart shopping option and then you've got, if you like, the traditional the option where you'd use maybe the filters. And with the filters, you mean creating the same campaign for the same product, but using the priorities and using negative keywords?

Kirk Williams:
Yes.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Yeah, which does still work very well, I believe.

Kirk Williams:
I does, yeah.

Richard Hill:
Have you got a performance of the two? Are you a big proponent of smart shopping? Are you flying the flag for smart shopping, are you saying? Or, what's your performance?

Kirk Williams:
I still like using both of them. It's funny, because some people who have followed some of my recent stuff who don't know me very well from my old stuff might think of me as flying the flag, just because I've put out a lot of stuff recently on smart shopping. I see that less as flying the flag and more as self-preservation, to be honest.

Richard Hill:
Okay.

Kirk Williams:
Because I really do think that that's where Google's heading. I've been told by Googlers that the standard shopping and the smart shopping are built on different code bases, they have completely different engineering teams. It's a very redundant thing. And typically, redundancy and mega-tech corporations doesn't last very long, so we'll see.

Kirk Williams:
But, some of is me trying to learn as much as I can. In some ways, to identify what is good and what works well and be proponent of that. And, I've also been trying to speak back into Google, as much as I can, just letting them know some of the weaknesses in terms of data loss, why we want the data back, that sort of thing, hoping by the time they make the switch that we'll get some of that back, so that the product will be a little more user-friendly.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So smart shopping specifically, then. Obviously, we refer to it as the black box, a bit of a mystery in there, obviously we don't really know specifics of what's getting adjusted, et cetera. We just know the outcome is X, the ROAS, the conversion values, et cetera.

Richard Hill:
But, when you step back from it, obviously there are some things that you can do in the setup phase. What would be maybe a couple of recommendations you would give to our listeners that are doing smart shopping, but want to tune it and take it up a notch? What are some of recommendations you would have there? Maybe something in the feed?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. Definitely, because smart shopping is so conversion based in terms of directly track conversions, you just really got to make sure your conversions are just locked down. Your tracking has to be on target, you've got to make sure you're tracking that stuff well, and that that's being passed into Google correctly. That's probably one of the most important things, just simply because an automated system is built on that, and that's one of the most significant inputs you have.

Kirk Williams:
In terms of what we can do as well, I do think that product feed optimization is pretty important. So being able to communicate to Google what these products are about and that's what the feed is for, so making sure your titles, descriptions and all that is filled out well. Product type is one that I often see missed. I often see that not even used in brands. Google has basically communicated on different calls we've had that they see product type different than they did a few years back and that coincided with ... I don't remember, it might be two years now, when they had ...

Kirk Williams:
We still have Google product category, which is different than product type, that can be confusing. Google product category used to be required and it's not required anymore. That was a little bit of a soft thing, they just made it not required. That coincided with when I was told, all of a sudden, Google was looking at product type more purposefully. Because what they're saying is, "Hey, we now see that this is you, the brand, communicating to us this is how you see your products and their hierarchical structure." It's giving them this contextual information because, again, the machines take every little bit of data input that they can grab onto, to try to find then that user. So definitely, things like that I think are really important.

Kirk Williams:
And then, organizing the campaigns and putting those in smart shopping campaigns purposefully, I think is another thing that can get missed. Not simply just grabbing a smart shopping campaign, throwing it up with all your products with a half-hearted branding ad. But, really what I like to tell people who take my course and that would be really thinking through matching your different product groupings, in terms of who would be purchasing them, because then you're starting to think more audience centred, even as you're thinking about how you're organizing your products. And then, putting those into a campaign together, and then having this smart shopping ad, because you can put creative in there and assets, putting all that together. So you have these products that will reach similar people and that gives Google better ... again, helps train the machine just a little bit better, "These are the people we're going after," not just throwing it out there.

Kirk Williams:
Those are some things that we like to do.

Richard Hill:
That's fantastic, Kirk. I think so many times, you look at a feed and they're using categories only. Straight away, if you're staggering those product types in there, which will give you that flexibility to obviously call them what you want, name them what you want, and they can then quite often mirror the website navigation to make it easy to build the campaign structures. Whereas the categories are very fixed and quite often, the products are in a category but there's not quite the right category. So with it being a product type, you can call them what you want, put the products in the right product types rather than a near fit, maybe. Yeah, I think that's one we see a lot.

Richard Hill:
I would say, anybody listening right now, maybe pause this episode, and just go and have a look at your feed, there's a few things there to check. Do you have them, don't you have them? What should you be adding in there? Because quite often, that's the first thing we find as well, when we're looking in a product feed. Straight away, product types, labels, et cetera, not being used. Yeah, have a little look.

Richard Hill:
Right. Obviously, a lot of campaigns. Many, many years on the interface and working with a lot of different brands. What's the one mistake, one thing that you see consistently? Maybe in shopping I think, and or search. But I think, while we're on the topic of shopping, because it is a hot topic on the podcast. What's the one thing you see as a mistake, quite consistently?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. Product type would be one that I would normally call out on that question, because we do often see it ignored.

Kirk Williams:
Another thing that I often see is a failure to segment out brand and non-brand. I think that's important, I think it goes to a bigger philosophical picture of what you're trying to do in the PPC account. Sometimes, people make the mistake of making PPC too tactical, it's too much about spreadsheets, and bidding and things like that. But, I think there still is this element of marketing strategy in that, that needs to work into your PPC account.

Kirk Williams:
One of the clearest and simplest ways is just, if you have users that you have advertised to somehow before. I don't care, your email, Facebook, your other mid or top of funnel PPC campaigns, whatever it is, your brand traffic is someone that, somehow, you have reached through some level of marketing, or PR or something. Which costs money, as we all know. So in that way, keeping your warm audiences segmented out from your cold audiences in the account, I think is really, really important. It allows you to have different messaging, it allows you to bid differently because you want to bid differently, because you actually want to spend less for those brand visits.

Kirk Williams:
You can take certain shots that are very fair at Google, but some of the things that I think are great is the way that they have done quality score in its own way is a decent thing. One of the things with quality score is that impacts what you pay, and that tends to mean, for your brand terms, you're really not paying much at all. You're paying I was going to say cents, because that would be our dollars. Let's see, pounds and pence, would it be?

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Kirk Williams:
Yeah, there you go. You're paying just very minimal, typically, for your brand stuff. But that's a reason, it's because you've spent money on them already and you're okay having different ROAS targets and that for your top of funnel, your cold audiences and all that.

Kirk Williams:
I think that's one of those things that you often will go into an account and see, you can tell, they're just really not thinking about that at all. They're just throwing a couple of campaigns up and seeing what happens. I think that's probably one of the most common mistakes we see.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. No, I love it. That's great advice, great advice.

Richard Hill:
So on the podcast, a lot of our listeners, I think the magic word is scale, everyone's looking to scale in some way or other. Wherever they are, obviously there's always a next level and a next step, whether you're doing 10 million a month, or a million a month, or 100 million a month, whatever it may be. But typically, what do you think would be the best advice you can give to somebody that wants to scale? What should they focus on if they're doing that, say they're at that 20 grand spend, getting a 200,000 return in a month. 20 grand spend, 200 grand back. What are some of the levers, some of the things they should be looking at to really then go, "Right, we want to double up, we want to triple up?" This is the $1 million question, isn't it? What would be the things you'd recommend to look at?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. That's a good question. I have an answer that probably not many will like.

Kirk Williams:
We've seen a number of accounts. We've seen real small accounts who are scaling in their own way, some who aren't scaling. We've seen very large accounts. I've talked to others. We have a very small agency, we don't have thousands of accounts whipping through us on an annual basis. Sometimes that's nice because you can get aggregated information.

Kirk Williams:
But from what I've seen, so you can take this or leave this. From what I've seen, the brands that actually scale, they're the ones who've figured it out. The ones who actually are able to just somehow print money, one of the things I see every single time, it is just consistent across the board, and yet not many people do this and I think it's because it's hard ... The thing that I see that is consistent across the board is that they are able to pull themselves out of this obsession with directly tracked everything on a channel-by-channel basis.

Kirk Williams:
They've typically hired someone, whoever this person might be, maybe it's a CMO, maybe it's just a director of marketing, maybe it's the owner, someone on this brand typically has almost this vision that cannot be dissuaded, even by math at times. This vision of, "This is what our brand's about, and this is who we're going after and this is how we're going to do it. We're going to take a pile of money and we're going to spend a pile of money." One of those brands that might be on this Facebook campaign, or a lot of times it's been on YouTube, "We're going to make this crazy YouTube ad," whatever. They're not seeing that initial return, and it's just this vision that they have that it's just going to happen. And then, they hire the right people for those different channels.

Kirk Williams:
So it's this overall formula of this person, along with a vision that actually is good and works, along with a great product, along with individuals who they trust at the different channel levels. There's some level of accountability, but they're just not ... If we take on a smaller client and there's just this constant focus on, "Hey, what happened with this keyword? Because all of a sudden last month, it spent a little bit more than we wanted it to," and there's just this concern and this obsession with that. They just don't really have that because they've hired people they trust, they have their marketing vision and they just roll with it.

Kirk Williams:
And again, like I said, it's not a hack. It's not here's the thing, you can immediately go to your account. But, that seems to be what I've seen in the companies that, all of a sudden, are just making $10s of millions, $100s of millions, that started like you and I.

Richard Hill:
No, I think that will resonate with the listeners. I think there's some good stuff there. I think obviously getting the right people on board is absolutely key, and having that visionary owner driver is an absolutely key, obviously, in any business. But, I think you can get bogged down in too many little ROAS details, or whatever it may be. There's some bigger thinking to be had, and I think quite often, I think possibly the person that was doing the 20 grand a month thinking is not the same person that's going to need to do the 200 grand a month thinking. That's where that team may need to be changed, or an education piece, or more of a visionary piece needs to be done within the business. That thinking, potentially, to stay quite small unless you step back and spend that time thinking about the bigger, bigger picture. Great.

Kirk Williams:
I just think the more that I see someone just really obsessed with that directly tracked channel ROAS, that's just typically not going to line up with someone who ends up scaling. But, I know that's really hard especially if you're a brand and you're listening to that, because you don't want to waste money. And then, there are definitely bad actors out there, bad agencies, bad consultants, whatever, who don't necessarily know what they're doing who can waste money. It's hard.

Richard Hill:
Yeah.

Kirk Williams:
And, it's scary.

Richard Hill:
We've talked about shopping ads primarily, I guess. But, would you say shopping ads perform the best? Or, what would you say about the other search ads, DPAs, different Facebook ads? What's the mix for you? Have you got a go-to, "Right, we do shopping first, and then we do search, and then we do DPA." Obviously, I'm sure there's going to be some depends coming in here. But, what's your take on that?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. Some of that, us as an agency, we just do ... It's hard to put it in definitions because if I say PPC, that means things to different people, and paid search means different things. We do what is in Google ads and Microsoft ads. We do basically paid search display, YouTube, that sort of thing. We're not doing social ads. So my answer will depend and that might be different.

Kirk Williams:
So what we see, specifically at ZATO on the Google-y side of things would be we often will, if we take over an account or if we build one from the beginning ... We often do try to build from the bottom up, in terms of if you think loosely in terms of the marketing funnel. We really are trying, as much as possible, to hit a very evident profitability, just because that also tends to be where the low-hanging fruit is, the easiest hits. We will tend to start with shopping and search, especially with brand, and then try to find those real great bottom funnel terms. So that is someone who is not searching for your brand but, for whatever reason, they're searching within your industry and they're ready to purchase. Sometimes you're able to tell that, you do keyword research, you start there, exact match, phrase match and build out.

Kirk Williams:
And again, depending on the goals of the client too, because we might have clients who, with enough money, they've received some investments, whatever it might be, they want to build more aggressively. But, we do start to build out like that. And then, we will add in, then, more of that top of funnel side on search as well. Shopping, as you know, is almost its own animal because it includes all of that stuff organically. We do tend to see shopping work better, so shopping is definitely one of the first things that we do, along with some of those more bottom funnel search.

Kirk Williams:
And then, we'll go from there, because that's part of what we like to use as the profitability that we can demonstrate. And then, that's part of how we try to demonstrate to the client now, "Hey, let's start using this now to keep expanding that funnel." That's when we'll start to go more into search, display stuff, YouTube, that sort of thing. I know others who are different, that's typically how we do it.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. What you do is exactly how we do it, most of our clients start with shopping. That's our recommendation, 99 times out of 100. And then, right okay, search ads using data feeds for search ads, so you've got very specific search ads. And then, [inaudible 00:26:53] YouTube, and display and whatnot. Yeah, brilliant.

Richard Hill:
Okay, it's getting obviously more and more competitive out there. More and more people, especially this last 12, 18 months, obviously industries in demand for a lot of SKUs, a lot of products going through the roof. What are some of the tips you would give the listeners to stand out in shopping, in search ads? When you're looking for those specific SKUs or brand products, obviously a potential customer or user is typing in, seeing an ad, whether that's a search ad or a shopping ad. Anything specifically that you would recommend to try and stand out?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. I'll give an answer and then I'll give a theory.

Kirk Williams:
This is not an uncommon response, in terms of focusing on product benefits, but still a lot of people don't. What I mean by that is instead of just splashing as much product data, or even just basic what all of your competitors are saying, like free shipping, ships fast and free, there's certain things that, at this point, the vast majority of people are just doing. Hey, maybe that's different in your industry so great, that's a way for you to differentiate yourself so have that, if everyone else is slow.

Kirk Williams:
We've seen that with parts. We've had industry where we've worked with specific retailers who sell certain parts for things. Parts tend to be very, very of an urgent based thing. So if your company is able to get a part to someone whose thing broke down, and they desperately need to get this back up because they're losing money, then fast shipping is one of the most important things to them more than price. Again, that's where you're aware of what's happening, but that's where you're bringing benefits into your ads and not just simply facts.

Kirk Williams:
You basically are getting into the brains of your customers, you've got to know your industry, know your audience, and figure out what is it that actually people want. And then, you're presenting the benefits in the ads. I think that's just one of the ways that we still don't do very well, overall, in PPC and I think that we can just always grow better at presenting product benefits well, primarily in your headlines. Different studies have shown that descriptions in text ads these days, more and more, are just not really read that much. Definitely, getting as much as possible as important benefits into your headlines, grabbing those clicks.

Kirk Williams:
And then, just more of a theory, something that I'm thinking more and more on, is you look at how eComm is evolving as an industry over the last 20 years and a lot has changed. This is not an easy industry, even though it keeps expanding which is really cool and that helps. But, Amazon is the beast. Most eComm product searches now begin on Amazon as opposed to Google, so you have stuff like that. Now, we're looking at some massive privacy changes as well, that's going to impact tracking.

Kirk Williams:
I was talking to someone recently and telling them, "Man, I remember helping small retailers advertise," because even a brand and retailer can be a little different. A brand, there's a way that, "Hey, this is their product, they've made this, they're connecting," you can still have your brand voice, and your story and market that well. Retailers, it's getting even harder, retailers and drop shippers. What differentiates you? "Well, fast shipping, free shipping, pricing." Okay, well Amazon does that. What else?

Kirk Williams:
What we used to be able to do with PPC, and I'm sure you remember this as well, is a lot of times that meant, "Hey, we're good PPCers so we could take those smaller brands," and we could do the cool PPC things, and find those auctions and opportunities that some of these massive retailers, like Walmart and Amazon, they don't have the time. There's no way they could possibly do that, on just millions, and millions and millions, with all the money, so they'd have more of the big play of just spend the money and push that. So we'd find those opportunities with very, very targeted advertising. That is starting to possibly begin to disappear as well.

Kirk Williams:
So I think that small retailers, I'm not saying it's doom-and-gloom, I do think that small retailers probably need to really be aware of what's happening and really be thinking through, "How can I position myself and what does that look like?" You might need to consider really leaning into a specific niche of, "Hey, we're now the retailer that sells this specific thing," and then become trusted with that, with your content and all that. You might need to really push towards community because you're not going to win the day anymore with ... We already knew at this point, because Amazon, you weren't going to win the day with pricing and shipping. And at this point, you're probably not going to win the day anymore with targeted advertising as well, as things get more muddied. So how are you going to win the day? I think small retailers right now should be desperately asking that question.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, that is fantastic, Kirk. Thank you for that, I think that's a really cracking answer. I would say pause, and just rewind maybe five minutes and let that sink in. I think there's some great takeaways there. Obviously there are a lot of battles out there that are really tough so creating that brand side of things, that community aspect and winning the war. All about that battle slightly differently and really honing in on a specific real tight-knit group of products, rather than maybe these 50,000 SKUs that you're going after left, right and centre with no real focus potentially.

Richard Hill:
So right, last few questions, Kirk. Time is flying by. Okay, I know we touched on the scaling side of things, but let's say right, the listeners, they're jumping into the ad accounts while we're on this episode. What are some of the things you would recommend they should go and look at at the ad accounts, to improve performance specifically? What's your go-to? Have you got specific columns? I don't know, I'll leave it with you without giving too much away. But, what would your go-to tips be to have a look at and improve performance in the interface?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. So let's say someone is maybe troubleshooting, because that's often times, when you're looking at improving performance, maybe there's something that's occurred. One of my favourite things to do is to identify, to really try to narrow down was there a specific point where things started not behaving as I wanted them to. And then, grab that time to, let's say yesterday, look specifically at the previous time to that, and then just start looking through campaigns, and ad groups, and keywords or shopping, like the product groups, and really what your audience is.

Kirk Williams:
What you're trying to do is just identify are there any anomalies that really jump out at you, and you will be surprised that there usually do tend to be. We might also look in Analytics for something like that as well, on a bigger picture. Because that's also one of those things to be asking yourself is what are other channels doing, not just our channel, and that's going to help you. If everyone is dropping, that probably is there something more industry going on, there's something bigger going on, like a pandemic or something, then just simply the buttons you push. You probably want to check out your change history in your Google Ads account too, just to see if you've identified where's the point where things started going wrong, you could look at your change history. Did we change things?

Kirk Williams:
But, what I've found with that is that will typically help me see, "Oh okay, it's primarily this campaign." And then that might narrow it down to, "Oh, these keywords." What you might do, you might decide, "Oh hey, we need to get more aggressive." You might look in that campaign, and then you might look in Auction Insights and see, I'm just brutal on Amazon today here and see, "Oh hey, Amazon. Amazon is now much more aggressive in our search impression share than they were before this time. Well, that stinks. At least now we know, we can think through what do we do about that." You might determine a competitor product pricing. As you've narrowed it down to this specific key product that you sell, then you might see that now all of a sudden, somehow you're the most expensive one in the shopping group, and you can talk to merchandising to figure out if you can lower prices, whatever.

Kirk Williams:
That typically, I think looking at that stuff, is pretty important. In terms of different metrics and stuff to keep an eye on, I do like keeping an eye on the things like impression share, and click share and search absolute top impression share as well, those are within the columns there in Google that you can add into your view. Because that, often, will guide as you're thinking about setting bids, or you're thinking about how much room do you have to grow, how much budget should you invest. You can see how much opportunity you still have for those specific keywords because they tell you the amount of, let's say impressions, that you're eligible to show for, that you are or are not showing for, and that you can give you the insight into those. I keep an eye on the real common ones, click through rate and conversion rate, and return on ad, spend on ad as well. But, those are some of maybe the other ones that we'll look at.

Richard Hill:
Sure. I think, again, maybe pause again and go into those columns. I think getting used to the different data within the columns, or the columns that you need to set up, and getting used to setting those dashboards up so you've got the right columns I think is the key. Quite often, not always but really, I log into accounts and do a screen share with clients, potential clients, and they're just not even aware of the different things that you can obviously open up. So just setting yourself up so you know what to look for and know where to find it is usually half the battle.

Richard Hill:
But yeah, obviously pinpointing that data, that time where there's been a problem and drilling back from there, and seeing maybe the change history, what's happened. And then there's that why, the picture of industry, massive price change from a competitor maybe that you don't see in the ad account. Obviously you don't see that, you don't see a drop and then realize, three weeks later, hopefully not, that someone's doing it 20% cheaper because they've got a better deal from the distributor of whatever it may be. There's quite a lot more variables with eComm, isn't there, obviously different pricing structures and rebates, and things like that that can taken into account. Some people selling at cost and then they're getting a 20% kickback in marketing every three months, or whatever it may be, and working off that.

Richard Hill:
Great. Now, we're coming to the end now, Kirk. I think that's been brilliant, there's so many great takeaways. I'm actually going to have a re-listen myself, so thank you so much. For the guys that are listening in, what would you recommend around resources for learning more about eCommerce, PPC? Have you got any specific resources that you'd recommend?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah, sure. I get asked this question a lot, so finally I just wrote a blog post. I didn't really write it, I just listed stuff. Maybe we can get that out in the show notes or something like that, but it's on zatomarketing.com. Basically, it just has free resources as well as paid resources, and it's courses, and books, and good blogs to follow. And, a lot of that stuff is free. So anyone who really wants to put quite a bit of time into it, really can learn this stuff and that's probably the best place to start as well. If you're interested in smart shopping, I have that smart shopping course on Udemy as well.

Kirk Williams:
I recently wrote a book that's don't think tactical, it's more just my own ponderings. Which is what it's called, Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

Richard Hill:
We will link all those resources up in the show notes, to thank you for that. I know you've just mentioned a book, but we always like to also end the episode, I don't know whether you've got another book recommendation, but with a book recommendation. What would be your recommendation to our listeners? It doesn't have to be anything to do with PPC, it can be anything at all.

Kirk Williams:
The one I have actually is a PPC related. It is by a brilliant guy named Patrick Gilbert, called Join or Die. I forget the subtitle of it, Join or Die, something about the automation. Basically, it is thinking through some of the things I was even nothing about smart shopping, of wanting to learn this stuff before it's too late type of deal. This is Patrick's way of really investing the machines, algorithms, how they work and just putting that all together. It's almost like PPC from 2021 and beyond, and how to do that well. It's starting to become more and more different from PPC before 2020.

Richard Hill:
That sounds brilliant. That's going to be the next thing I do after this podcast, is to order that straight away.

Richard Hill:
Well, thank you so much for being on the show, Kirk. For the guys that are listening that want to find out more about you, reach out to you, where's the best place to do that?

Kirk Williams:
Yeah. I'm PPCKirk everywhere online. So if you want to connect on social, that'd be great, PPCKirk. Or, zatomarketing.com is my website.

Richard Hill:
Brilliant. Well, thanks for being on the show and I'll look forward to catching up with you again.

Kirk Williams:
Thank you so much.

Richard Hill:
Thank you. Bye.

Richard Hill:
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Richard Hill:
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