Practical Ecommerce

Using Pay-Per-Click Advertising to Sell High-Ticket Items

Online retailers often overlook the potential of pay-per-click advertising to drive sales of expensive products. Campaigns that target these items often bring the double whammy of low conversion rates and a high cost-per-click. There are several ways you can adjust your PPC advertising strategy, however, to capture the elusive higher price-point sale. I’ve listed several of these strategies, below.

Use Highly Relevant Landing Pages to Surprise Shoppers

Online shoppers are unlikely to purchase an expensive item without first conducting thorough research. A good rule of thumb is that the more an item costs, the longer the buying cycle will last. As a result, most shoppers who click on your PPC ad will consider their visits to your site as one small-step along their path towards finally making a purchase.

That is, unless you give them a surprise. By considering the questions and needs of your potential high-ticket shoppers, you can construct landing pages that become invaluable and highly relevant to your shoppers. Here are some examples.

  • Unique product descriptions;
  • Authoritative advice;
  • Multiple product photos;
  • Videos that highlight the features of the product interactively;
  • Common questions and answers;
  • A diverse array of product reviews;
  • Free reports;
  • Quotes and testimonials from reputable sources; and
  • Buyers’ guide with comparisons to related products.

While some of that content should exist on the landing page itself, not all of it has to. The landing page should become the shoppers’ hub for making a purchase, which means you can link to content that exists in other places on your site, or in some cases off of your site.

The best scenario is that your landing page will be so informative, relevant, and compelling that shoppers will buy immediately. While your landing page may help to push the shopper through the buying cycle quickly, this best-case scenario is unlikely, however.

Use techniques on your landing pages to capture your shoppers’ email addresses, like offering to alert them to special promotions, or providing a high-value free report that will be emailed to them. Both Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter allow you to setup “conversions” or “goals” related to activity that precedes an actual purchase — it’s important that you take advantage of those features. By tracking these events, you’ll gain deeper insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your PPC campaigns and landing pages.

Example: High-end Retailer of Home Decor

We have a PPC client who sells high-end home furnishings. Buying cycles in this space are especially long online, because shoppers become overwhelmed with options and suffer from analysis-paralysis. We added new features to the site that enabled shoppers to request consultations, catalogs, and more information, and promoted them aggressively on landing pages. Soon after, we noticed many conversions from these forms, where shoppers provided email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers. The retailer’s sales staff started following-up with these shoppers by phone, and has been able to close a number of very large deals as a result. Some quick analysis enabled us to estimate a value for these non-sale conversions, and as a result, campaigns that once appeared to be woefully unprofitable are now a significant driver of this retailer’s growth.

Rest assured that while many shoppers won’t give you their contact information, we now have the option to stay in touch with them anyway by deploying targeted remarketing campaigns that keep your brand front-and-center.

Remarketing helps ensure shoppers recall your brand when they’re ready to buy. As previously discussed, shoppers are likely to leave your site to conduct more research before making a big purchase. Since they visited your site and hopefully had a “surprisingly relevant” experience, these shoppers are now aware of your brand. But that’s not enough. “Awareness” won’t bring shoppers back to your site weeks after they first visited it, but “recall” will. That’s the primary benefit of launching a remarketing campaign through your PPC program.

Remarketing Explained

Let’s suppose a shopper, Amanda, visits the site referenced above. She is shopping for high-end décor. She found the site to be surprisingly good, but she wasn’t ready to make a purchase. She has to make dinner and pulls up her favorite recipe website, and notices an ad advertising a coupon for the home furnishing site she just left. As she visits other websites in the coming weeks, she continues to notice ads for that particular retailer, with highly relevant promotions related to the décor she was looking to buy. The likelihood that the home décor retailer will get Amanda’s business is now significantly higher than if no remarketing was done.

Remarketing is a feature within Google AdWords that places cookies on the user’s computer when he or she visits key pages of a site containing the code present. After the visitor leaves the site, the cookie will be read by any site that is within Google’s Display Network, including blogs, news journals, and more.

When you utilize Image Ads, you can continue to communicate to users while they are in the research phase. This crucial advertising opportunity allows you to reinforce your brand, promote your value proposition, and bring attention to special deals even when shoppers aren’t on the site.

Remarketing is a great tool for online retailers because it lets you to stay relevant throughout the entire buying process, while allowing the shopper to develop a sense of your brand’s strength and credibility. Displaying your ads during the shoppers’ buying process will cause them to recall their experiences at your store, which helps you generate more high-ticket sales.

Track Phone Calls, Too

Tracking phone calls gives you yet another dimension to judge the profitability of your PPC campaigns. A primary theme of this article is that you have to make yourself accessible during the entire shopping process, to optimize the rate at which you convert high-ticket shoppers into buyers. You also have to win customers’ trust, and making yourself available offline is a major part of that.

Google’s Call Metrics is a great tool to leverage the basics of phone tracking without making a heavy investment in technology or time. There are many paid solutions available, too, that offer robust call tracking, including caller IDs, recordings, and the ability to link sales to specific ad campaigns.

For those who want a quick, easy, and no-cost approach to tracking phone calls, Call Metrics, which is currently available for free within AdWords, is a great solution.

Enable Google Call Metrics in the Ad Extensions tab, where you can assign either a local or toll free number that Google links to one of your existing phone numbers at the campaign level. Therefore, if you have different campaigns to leverage different touch-points within the sales process, you can track which points generate the most calls, and adjust your tactics to take advantage of this. Within the campaigns tabs, you can add columns to show Total Calls, Missed, Received, Total Call Time, and Average Call Duration.

The phone number will be displayed alongside your PPC ads, so it will not affect your character limits related to your ad text. This means you can ensure your ad text is used to qualify your traffic, as well as helping shoppers reach you without going to your site.

For the shoppers who do click on your ad, Google’s Call Metrics allows you to serve the phone number Google assigned you within the text of your web pages. This means that you can continue to track shoppers referred by your AdWords campaigns as they navigate your site. This requires three pieces of code on your site to: (a) recognize PPC traffic; (b) decide what number to serve (default or Google’s); and (c) serve Google’s number when necessary.

Unless you are scheduling your campaigns, you may receive calls at any hour since people can search and see the number at any time. If you have rude or unhelpful operators manning the phones, it could harm your brand instead of bolster it. So make sure your representatives are friendly to callers.

Conclusion

High-ticket sales are rewarding, but it takes a real commitment to convert online high-ticket shoppers into buyers. By designing a smart funnel strategy, optimizing your landing pages and product pages, using remarketing to create recall, and providing an open — and trackable — line of communication using Google Call Metrics, you are building an intelligent process to enhance your chances of success.

Scott Smigler

Scott Smigler

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