“Ask an Expert” is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about advertising with Google versus Facebook.
The question comes from Matthew Johnson, owner and artist behind Seventh.Ink, a Palm Harbor, Fla.-based t-shirt, hoodie and greeting-card retailer.
For the answer, we turn to Dale Traxler. He is CEO and owner of Beaded Impressions, a retail and wholesale supplier of beads, pearls and jewelry supplies and a longtime contributor to Practical eCommerce’s “Evolving eBiz” blog.
Matthew Johnson: “When it comes to cost-per-click advertising, how do Facebook and Google stack up against each other? I routinely use Facebook CPC advertising because I feel that it better fits my customer base, but am I selling myself short?”
Dale Traxler: “I think advertisers are still struggling to answer this question for themselves, but it is usually the other way around, ‘If I’m successfully advertising on Google, is it worth trying Facebook ads?’ For our company [Beaded Impressions], we believe the combination of the two allows us to reach different customers at different stages of their ‘buying’ cycle.
“Well constructed pay-per-click — also called ‘cost-per-click’ — search advertising usually attracts active, new buyers to your site. So most advertisers expect the click through and conversion rate to be higher than venues where most ads are really ‘brand’ oriented. Most advertisers still view Facebook CPC display ads as ‘brand oriented’ even though you may be advertising a specific promotion or product. That’s because even though you may be reaching a qualified prospect with your ad, they may or may not be in a ‘buying cycle.’ Hence the click-through rates are fairly low compared to PPC search advertising. Beaded Impressions has actually had a similar sales conversion rate using both Facebook and Google AdWords PPC ads. But we’ve found that it depends heavily on our products, seasons, and our Facebook and market presence.
“To answer your question specifically, if you are having measurable success with Facebook ads, then there is a good probability that you will also have success with Google PPC advertising. There is really no way to know for sure unless you try it out. The good news is that it is very easy to set up a campaign within Google AdWords and measure its success. The bad news is that it may take some experimentation to find the right keywords, ads, and bidding strategies to meet your return-on-investment objectives.
“The goal with any search advertising platform is to entice a user to click through to your site with your text ad. The key to success is to develop a strategy that ties together (a) the keyword that will lead to conversions, (b) an ad that will catch the buyers’ attention, and then (c) deliver them to a landing page that contains items that match the search query. I would suggest you set up an AdWords account and start building a campaign.
“One of the first things you will do is select keywords that you think fit ‘t-shirts.’ Then, you will have a chance to see how many searches are being done for various keywords, how competitive the words are, how much your ad spend might be to reach a target number of buyers and so forth. You can actually do all of that in less than 30 minutes even if you have little experience. The AdWords tools are very robust and easy to use.
“Next, you can plug in any known conversion rate (from Facebook ads, or your overall site conversion rate) and estimate your level of success. This estimated conversion rate will likely be different than what you are used to. In fact, it will change constantly, but it is a place to determine if it will be cost effective for you.
“My word of caution to you about PPC on Google is that the competitive space within Google for T-shirts is probably pretty high. You may see that the most popular search terms are very, very expensive per click – if you can even get displayed on the first page. You may need to dig fairly deeply into the ‘longtail’ to find keywords/phrases that will work for your budget.
“Don’t try to bid to the top three spaces; being forth through eighth is just fine. It may take several attempts to get enough overall data to know whether Google AdWords will work for you. But, most ecommerce vendors give it a shot and find some level of success.
“There is plenty of information available online to help with AdWords strategies, so I’ll just leave it here for now. Good luck.”