Facebook Advertising Case Study: How 2 Facebook Ads Increased B2C Sales by 785% in 30 Days

Find out how our team of paid social experts helped Seltzer Goods increase its revenue by 785% in just 30 days.

Editor’s note: This case study was originally published in June 2020. It has been updated for accuracy and to reflect modern practices.

In digital marketing, you never make promises you can’t keep or set goals you can’t reach. 

But, in some cases, ad copy, the right messaging, and the perfect opportunity all line up to produce results that blow away any conventional expectations. 

In this blog, we’re sharing an incredible Facebook Ads case study about a former client of ours, Seltzer Goods. They’re a B2C brand that sells uniquely inspired home goods for modern living. 

Like most businesses at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, they saw a sharp drop in orders. But, instead of pulling back, they decided to double down and increase ad spend during this time — leading to substantial results, including:

  • 9.68x return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • 785% increase in monthly revenue
  • $4.87 cost per customer acquisition (CPA)

But the success didn’t stop there. In addition to the improvements on the paid social channels, sitewide organic metrics increased significantly, too, with:

  • 6.6% organic conversion rate
  • 183% increase in monthly organic traffic.
  • 931% increase in brand query and product searches 
  • 200% increase in non-branded search query impressions 

Today, we’ll tell you exactly how we made it all happen — so you can replicate these results in your eCommerce campaigns, too.

Four labeled puzzle pieces: 9.68 X R O A S, .87 C P A, 1 happy client, 785% increase in revenue. The first three puzzle pieces are fitted together. The fourth is nearby.

Defining the Scope of the Project

Like many eCommerce businesses, Seltzer Goods was initially hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their challenge to our team: Create more sales from their B2C products to offset the negative effects on their wholesale business. 

Fortunately, Seltzer Goods’ products lent well to the stay-at-home orders during early 2020, especially their artistically unique jigsaw puzzles

The brand had the right products and plenty of inventory to make a splash; it just didn’t have enough awareness of these products among consumers to create the desired sales.

So, we came up with a solution to drive the interest Seltzer needed.

The ingredients:

  • 1 Facebook Ad
  • 1 Instagram Ad
  • Strong creative and ad copy for both
  • A receptive (cold) audience
  • Carefully scaled ad budget

Setting Up the Ads

Although Seltzer Goods had never run campaigns before on their Facebook Ad account, we knew paid social advertising would eventually be a key to their success. So, before we even began our engagement, our team added a Facebook pixel to the eCommerce site.

This gave us a major advantage: Because Facebook had been collecting data on purchasers and site visitors for months, we were able to hit the ground running when creating well-informed ads.

The Campaign

Here at Inflow, we believe in the power of the “See, Think, Do” Facebook Ad strategy. It’s served us extremely well when working with other eCommerce stores, so we used this framework for Seltzer Goods, too. 

An illustration of a funnel with three sections from top to bottom as follows: 1. See: Awareness Media, 2. Think: Engagement media, 3. Do: Conversion Media.

Because we wanted to reach new customers and see how they responded to our ad creative, we started with a single campaign that only targeted cold audiences (with no retargeting ads). By choosing a conversion-based approach optimized toward purchases, Facebook and Instagram would serve the ads to users who were most likely to take action — weeding out the window shoppers.

With this setup, we’d send more qualified shoppers into Seltzer Goods’ sales funnel from the very start.

The Ad Set

When creating an ad set on Facebook, it’s easy to get lost in all the options you can select. 

For Seltzer Goods, we kept it simple and opted into all devices and automatic placements. This would give Facebook and Instagram’s machine learning more options to display the ads, leading to better results for our client.

Screenshot of a Facebook Ad Set titled Placements. Two option buttons: Automatic Placements (recommended) and Manual Placements. Automatic Placements is selected.

Given the lower price point of the product and the likelihood that consumers would impulse buy, we used a one-day click delivery optimization, instead of the default seven-day click optimization. (We recommend using the latter only if your product costs more than $100 or if your customers have a longer buying cycle.)

Screenshot of a Facebook Ad Set. Two sets of options. First option: After clicking Ad. Two option buttons: 1 day click, 7 days click. Second option: After clicking or viewing ad. Two option buttons: 1 day click or view, 7 days click or 1 day view. 7 days click or 1 day view is selected.

The Ad Set Targeting

For our audience targeting, we started with an interest-based audience ad set that was closely related to the puzzles we were selling. 

Then, we quickly added in lookalike audiences for three segments of visitors that took action on the site:

  1. Key page visitors 
  2. AddToCart users
  3. Purchasers (once the seed audiences were sufficient)

Having the Facebook pixel properly implemented and firing on key events such as ViewContent, AddToCart, and Purchase expedited the data collection on the seed audiences and built better lookalike audiences faster. 

Pro Tip: Take note of the age of your lookalike audience. For example, a 14-day lookalike audience could look and behave dramatically differently from a 180-day lookalike audience, particularly during abnormal time periods such as pandemics, holidays, or Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

When implementing the lookalike audiences, we used the existing post ID from the interest-based ad sets. This allowed us to retain social proof (likes, shares, and comments) from the original ads, which would act as a positive signal to Facebook’s algorithm and potential buyers.

Three options from left to right: Create Ad, Use existing Post, Use Mockup. Use existing Post is selected.

Next, we applied a clean and consistent naming convention structure from the campaign to the ad sets, the ads, and the UTM tagging on the back end of the URL. This streamlined our optimizations within the campaign and made reporting much easier. 

Additionally, it allowed us to leverage the power of Google Analytics alongside the native reporting from Facebook Business Manager/Ad Manager, which is crucial in understanding your attribution models and entire audience journey.  

The Budget

For the best Facebook marketing results, we recommend incrementally scaling your budget over time. In the case of Seltzer Goods, we scaled up budgets by 10–15% every couple of days, as long as the ROAS was at least 5x.

A more significant increase can wreak havoc on well-performing campaigns and hurt ROAS or cost per acquisition (CPA) metrics when Facebook has to quickly adjust to new information and determine the best way to serve it. 

Breaking Down Our Ads

While targeting and budget are important for Facebook Ad success, you won’t get anywhere without first having an attractive, engaging ad. 

Facebook A/B testing is key to creating an ad your target audience wants to see. By testing a few options, you can combine the best creative and copy to drive sales, rather than waste money running one ineffective ad at a time.

For Seltzer Goods, we started by running two different ad creatives against the same in-ad copy.

Two Facebook ads for Seltzer Goods. The ads both contain the same copy with the  text: Keep Busy, Stay Indoorsy. Exercise your mind and strengthen your puzzle game with a Seltzer Goods jigsaw puzzle. For our Better Together series, we worked with artists we love to create modern designs that brighten up your indoor life. The image on the ad on the left consists of a slightly opened brightly colored Seltzer puzzle box with an image of ramen on the cover. Puzzle pieces surround the box. The photograph on the ad on the right is of a person assembling a brightly colored puzzle of a dog lying in a room with books and a piano.

The Creative

When creating our Facebook ads, we selected single-image ads in a 1:1 ratio. 

Because the majority of social media consumption happens on mobile devices, the 1:1 ratio gives advertisers the best chance of showing the ads in an optimal format to a wider audience. 

This particular creative captures the fun, bright, and artistic essence of Seltzer Goods’ puzzles and makes it an ideal choice for Facebook and Instagram advertising. By capturing the user’s attention, it stops the proverbial scroll and lends itself to a closer look.

Ad Creative #1:

A photograph of a slightly opened, brightly colored Seltzer puzzle box with an image of ramen on the cover. Puzzle pieces surround the box.

Ad Creative #2:

A photograph of a person assembling a brightly colored puzzle of a dog lying in a room with books and a piano.

Remember, your ad creative (image, video, or carousel) is the most important factor in a successful ad. It’s the one thing that is exclusively yours and the best way for your brand to stand out in the crowded social feeds.

The Copy

For this campaign, we chose to retain the same copy across both ad options for a few important reasons:

  1. It’s relevant. Seltzer Goods recognized the value of people staying indoors during the time period in which we ran the ad. 
  2. It’s positive. Exercising the mind is something that everyone — from doctors and nurses to grandmas, aunties, and your seven-year-old nephew — can agree is good for you. 
  3. It uses a natural call to action. The statement “Strengthen your puzzle game” is subtly woven into the text field and invokes a challenge to shoppers.
  4. It invokes a message of togetherness. Seltzer Goods’ Better Together series featured puzzles with modern designs from artists who meant something to the brand. It’s unique to Seltzer Goods, and, by highlighting this information in the ad, users had one more way to connect with the company. 
  5. It uses positivity and hope instead of hard sales. The copy’s headline, “Brighten Your Day One Piece at a Time” is certainly not your standard ad headline (“Get Your Puzzle Today!” or “Hurry, Supplies Are Limited!”) — but it sparks more joy for purchasers in a time of stress and uncertainty.
  6. It emphasizes a quick turnaround. During a time when out-of-stock issues abounded, using the phrase “In Stock & Ready To Ship” reassured consumers upfront that Seltzer Goods’ products were stocked and ready to go. 

Results & Takeaways

When it comes to paid social advertising, effective creative and copy are your not-so-secret weapons. Stay true to your brand, delight your customers with an ad creative, and you’ll win every time. 

At the same time, scaling vertically and horizontally can also reap huge benefits. But you need good audience data to do it right. 

The more recent your seed audiences, and the larger they are, the better lookalikes you can create — and the more sales you can drive through your campaigns.

Using these strategies, we saw great success with Seltzer Goods’ campaigns, including a 4.5x ROAS (9.68x ROAS with Facebook attribution) and less than $10 CPA ($4.87 with Facebook attribution).

In total, this campaign accounted for 25 percent of Seltzer Goods’ monthly revenue. Sitewide sales during this period, however, were equal to the total from the last seven months of sales — a 785% monthly increase.

So, what did it mean?

Our Facebook Ads campaigns didn’t just affect social revenue. It also affected other channels, too. 

How Paid Ads Affect Other Channels’ Performance

After everything was calculated, Seltzer Goods’ paid social ads only accounted for 25% of the total revenue generated in this 30-day campaign. 

That leaves another 75% of the generated revenue unaccounted for, which we can attribute to other channels — organic, direct, and referral traffic  — that also experienced significant increases in performance.

In other words, Facebook and Instagram ads can (and often do) have a quantitative and qualitative positive effect on other channels, too

Below, you’ll see Seltzer Goods’ top-level source data for organic, direct, and referral traffic, comparing the first month we launched our initial Facebook campaigns to the month before.

In addition to the new cost-per-click (CPC) traffic, direct and organic channels skyrocketed in both traffic volume and conversion rate (185% to 533% and 351% to 903%, respectively), suggesting both an increase in demand and intent.

A table with 10 columns as follows: Source/Medium. The next three columns are titled Acquisition: Users, new Users, Sessions. The next three columns are titled Behavior: Bounce Rate, Page/Session, Avg. Session Duration. The next three columns are titled Conversions: Ecommerce Conversion Rate, Transactions, Revenue. The rows are divided into six sections. The top row displays percentage increase or decrease. The remaining 5 sections are Facebook / cpc, direct / none, Google / organic, instagram.com/referral, buzzfeed.com/referral. Each of the 5 sections contains two date ranges and a % Change. Data as follows: Top section: Users: 989.84% green upward pointing arrow, New users: 1,034.60% green upward pointing arrow, Sessions: 874.19% green upward pointing arrow, Bounce rate: 50.49% green downward pointing arrow, Page/Session: 12.41% red downward pointing arrow, Avg. Session Duration: 37.61% red downward pointing arrow, ecommerce conversion rate: 9.06% red downward pointing arrow, Transactions: 785.93% green upward pointing arrow, Revenue: 785.11% green upward pointing arrow. 1. Facebook / cpc: Mar 26, 2020 - Apr 26, 2020: Users: 25,974, New Users: 25,583, Sessions: 30,181, Bounce Rate: 1.05%, Pages/Session: 3.61, Avg. Session Duration: 00:01:06, Ecommerce Conversion rate: 1.41%, Transactions: 425, Revenue: ,609.11. Feb 23, 2020 - Mar 25, 2020: Users: 43, New Users: 43, Sessions: 43, Bounce Rate: 0.00%, Pages/Session: 1.00, Avg. Session Duration: 00:00:00, Ecommerce Conversion rate: 0.00%, Transactions: 0, Revenue: alt=

While we acknowledge that this particular time frame was opportune for puzzle vendors, we also know that no marketing effort exists in a silo. While other eCommerce clients have also seen increased demand, traffic volume, and transactions as a result of COVID-19, Seltzer Goods is a unique case —  because the only marketing change we implemented was focused solely on Facebook and Instagram ads. 

Increased Referral Traffic

Our paid social campaigns increased the exposure of not just Seltzer Goods’ puzzle products, but also the brand as a whole. With that increased awareness came backlinks and referral traffic from BuzzFeed and Architectural Digest, as well as a better-established social media presence for the brand.

Using Google Analytics, we also saw that some of the referral traffic (such as that from BuzzFeed) found Seltzer Goods through Facebook and Instagram ads. It was quality traffic, too; for referrals from BuzzFeed, users, conversions, and conversion rates increased by 1,206%, 1,001%, and 18%, respectively.

The trend continued when we examined the organic side of these social platforms. For example, the organic Instagram referral source saw an almost 1,700% increase in traffic and transactions — which speaks to an increased level of engagement and intent from the users consuming Seltzer Goods content. 

Increased Organic Traffic

Google organic also showed strong improvement across the board. With a conversion rate of more than 6.6%, we wanted to dig a little deeper. 

Below, you’ll see a comparison between organic traffic during the time period the ads were running and the previous period — a 183% increase in users.

A line graph. The horizontal axis ranges from Mar 27 to Apr 26 in increments of 2 days. The vertical axis ranges from 0 to 400 in increments of 200. Two lines are plotted: Users from Mar 26,2020 to Apr 26, 2020 and Users from Feb 23, 2020 to Mar 25, 2020. All data are approximate. The Users from Feb 23, 2020 to Mar 25, 2020 line starts at 100 on Mar 26 and decreases gradually to 50 on Apr 17, then increases to 100 on Apr 21, and then gradually decreases to 75 on Apr 26. The Users from Mar 26,2020 to Apr 26, 2020 line starts at 100 on Mar 26 and increases gradually to a peak at Apr 15 at 350, then gradually declines to 210 on Apr 26.

At the same time, we saw:

  • 105% increase in total brand impressions
  • 319% increase in clicks
  • 105% increase in click-through rate (CTR)

Naturally, we wanted to know what types of queries were surging in organic traffic. What we found was highly encouraging for anyone struggling to convey the value of Facebook beyond the platform’s attribution model. 

For analysis, we split the site’s organic search queries into two primary categories and subcategories:

  1. All Brand Traffic (“Seltzer Goods”)
    1. Brand traffic + product-specific mention (“Seltzer Goods” + “puzzles/pens”)
      1. Brand traffic + puzzle product-specific mention (“Seltzer Goods Ramen puzzle”)
  2. All Non-Brand Traffic (“500-piece jigsaw puzzles,” “paper plants,” “seven-year pens”)
    1. Non-brand traffic with a puzzle product-specific mention (“Ramen Noodle Bowl puzzle”)

Upon slicing the data further, we saw impressions for “Brand Queries + Puzzle” jump 931%, with an 831% increase in clicks. 

A bar chart titled Impr Change and click Change. The horizontal axis consists of two marks: Non Brand and N B plus puzzle. Two bars are plotted for each mark: Impr change and click change. The vertical axis ranges from 0.00% to 1200.00% in increments of 200.00%. Data as follows. Non Brand: Impr change: 34.46%, Click Change: 62.94%. N B plus Puzzle:  Impr change: 197.72%, Click Change: 1134.78%.

Even more exciting: The non-brand segment of puzzles showed nearly a 200% increase in impressions, accompanied by a 1,134% increase in clicks — the segment with the largest increase in CTR (315%).

So, not only did the paid social ads have an impact on the volume of branded search queries in the search engines, but they also had a remarkable impact on the intent of those queries (further reflected by the increased conversion rate). 

While this is a smaller portion of traffic, it reflects the target market we were engaging and lends credence to paid social’s impact as a branding effort. Remember: There were no active SEO adjustments made during this time that would have had an impact on organic traffic. 

This data is particularly encouraging for two reasons: 

  1. It shows the correlation between strong paid social media campaigns and organic traffic from a brand-awareness, upper-funnel perspective.
  2. It demonstrates the correlation between a strong paid social media campaign and its impact on the bottom of the funnel.

Invest in Paid Social & Reap the Rewards

Let’s be honest: It’s very likely that Seltzer Goods would have seen an increase in puzzle sales, given the demand brought on by COVID-19. 

However, without these strong Facebook and Instagram ads campaigns, the results would not have been as explosive across all digital channels.  

This new brand awareness that led to links and brand searches probably wouldn’t have increased to such a degree, nor would we have expected the lifts in organic social, either. 

It’s hard to parse the exact impact, but we strongly believe that we took a wave of potential performance and turned it into a tidal wave of sales.

Ultimately, Facebook and Instagram ads accelerated the incredible increase in traffic, expansion in traffic portfolios, and improvement in purchase intent. By combining relevant targeting and strong creative that embraces both the brand voice and the advertising platform’s capabilities, we were able to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. 

All of these elements are critical in running a successful digital marketing campaign that has wide-reaching impacts across the entire digital ecosystem. 

Gay Lam.

“Inflow helped us quickly increase eCommerce sales in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. A multi-year strategy for growing sales and conversions was suddenly kicked into high gear. We really love their responsiveness, effort to understand our business, and determination to deliver the highest ROI possible.” — Gay Lam, Seltzer Goods

That said, this success wouldn’t have been possible without something worthwhile to advertise. With several products that radiate fun, brightness, and positivity, Seltzer Goods kept its advertising messaging and creative true to its brand. It delighted its customers by offering great experiences and first-class customer service, including handwritten notes with the purchases — all of which led to a COVID success story.

Follow this formula with your own brand, and you’ll win every time. 

Want an expert to do it for you? Our team can create paid social media advertising strategies that impact your digital ecosystem, measure your results, and put you on a path for continuous improvement. Request a free proposal from us anytime to get started.

Read more of our Facebook Ads case studies below:

An illustration of a puzzle of a smiley face winking.

Our Winning PPC Strategy for eCommerce: How We Increased Google Ads ROAS by 76%

Increase your ROAS and spend less on your Google Ads campaigns with the strategies in this eCommerce case study.

Editor’s note: This case study was originally published in 2019. It has been updated for accuracy and to reflect modern practices.

In our conversations with hundreds of eCommerce business owners, many have told us that their Google Ads campaigns aren’t performing as well as originally thought — and could be working more efficiently for a lesser cost.

Many of these brands assume that setting up their product feed and launching one Shopping campaign containing all of their products is all that it takes to create a profit.

Spoiler alert: It takes a lot more than that to create a successful eCommerce PPC strategy.

If managed correctly and implemented by pros, Google Ads can be a great revenue driver to grow your eCommerce business — but it takes more than just keywords and ad creative to bring it to fruition.

Today, we’ll show you how to make it happen, by demystifying the combination of eCommerce PPC marketing strategies that we use to get results for dozens of online businesses.

In the following case study, we’ll cover:

  • The tiered bidding strategy that drives substantial Google Shopping results
  • And the other PPC best practices we recommend to reduce your brand’s spend

The Real-Life Results

It was this common scenario — frustration in their subpar Google PPC campaigns — that brought this client to our doorstep.

As an online retailer in the camera equipment niche, they needed to improve their Google Search and Google Shopping campaigns for an investment return on their substantial spend.

Six months after Inflow took over their PPC efforts, we helped them exceed that goal, with a 76% increase in ROAS (5.61x to 9.89x) from their previous agency’s work.

A line graph. The horizontal axis ranges from March 2019 to August 2019 in increments of 1 month. The vertical axis ranges from 0 to 1,500.00% in increments of 500.00%. Two lines are plotted R O A S Feb 1, 2019 to Aug 31, 2019 and R O A S Jul 1, 2018 to Jan 31, 2019. All data are approximate. The 2018 line is at 550% in March and remains relatively constant until 750% in August. The 2019 line is at 1,000% in March, decreases to a low of 800% in May, then increases to 1,050% in August.

Even better: Year over year, we netted them a 56% increase in ROAS, from 6.34x to 9.89x.

A line graph. The horizontal axis ranges from March 2019 to August 2019 in increments of 1 month. The vertical axis ranges from 0 to 1,500.00% in increments of 500.00%. Two lines are plotted R O A S Feb 1, 2019 to Aug 31, 2019 and R O A S Feb 1, 2018 to Aug 31, 2018. All data are approximate. The 2018 line is at 550% in March and remains relatively constant until 550% in August. The 2019 line is at 1,000% in March, decreases to a low of 800% in May, then increases to 1,050% in August.

So, how did we do it? 

Keep reading to find out.

Our clients include not only seven- and eight-figure businesses, but nine-figure annual revenue eCommerce companies, as well. Talk to us today to see if our eCommerce marketing experts can improve your brand’s PPC advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, and conversion rates.

eCommerce PPC Strategies Implemented for a 9.89x ROAS

While every eCommerce store presents unique advantages and challenges, by working with hundreds of them, we’ve learned just how important it is to follow a system.

Before we do anything else, we always start with an audit and analysis of the client’s product feed, campaigns, and other KPIs to see what is (and isn’t) working.

For this client, their website had a high search volume and an extensive product catalog of cameras, lenses, and other camera-related equipment. But, due to the store’s scale, there was incomplete and missing information about those products in their Google product data feed. Their current PPC campaigns were also too broad given the different product categories on the site, which created wasted spend.

So, we created a plan to increase the client’s ROAS through the following steps:

  1. Product data feed setup and optimization
  2. Google Search & Shopping campaign restructure
  3. Google Display ad optimizations
  4. Implementation of successful Google campaigns into Bing

By optimizing each of the above, we positioned our client’s products to encapsulate the customer’s entire buying journey — resulting in less spend per click and more sales.

1. Product Feed Setup & Optimization

The Google product feed (found in Merchant Center) contains all of your products and their related information, including: 

  • Product category
  • Brand
  • Quantities
  • Sizes
  • Colors
  • Materials
  • And more

Google Shopping Ads and Display Ads pull this information directly from your store’s feed to populate its search engine results pages (SERPs). This is why optimizing your product data feed is so important.

Google search ads and Google shopping ads for washing machines. On the left, text ads for washing machines. One contains a rating. On the right, 6 shopping ads for washing machines. Each contains the name of the product, the price, the store and three contain a rating.

For this client, we had to ensure that information (like camera brands, lens sizes, and so on) was all present, accurate, and easily found by Google.

Because of their massive product listings, the site had huge potential to be shown for many different specific product queries — but, due to the limited feed data, Google couldn’t match those search queries to products in the store’s catalog.

Now, when a shopper searches Google for a product in our client’s catalog (such as a specific camera lens model), our client’s product is more likely to appear right there as a Shopping ad. 

Hot tip: You can easily optimize your feed using a tool like Feedonomics.

2. Shopping & Search Ad Campaign Restructures

We recommend a mixture of Google Shopping ads, Google Search ads, and Google Display ads for most big online retailers. Implementing all three often leads to enhanced product visibility across the buyer’s entire journey, from research through purchase.

So, with their product feed optimized, we began restructuring the client’s Search and Shopping campaigns.

Because this particular industry has high search volume, it makes it much easier to gain traffic to ads — but also harder to determine the specific combination of queries that drive the highest return.

To address this issue, we created multiple tiered campaigns segmented by product type. In other words, we built different tiers for different product categories — in this case, a lens tier, digital camera tier, video camera tier, film camera tier, etc.

3. Display Ad Optimizations

Product ads that follow customers around the web might seem annoying at first glance. But, in fact, retargeting ads convert very well and have a great ROI. 

Why? Because they market to customers at the end of the buying cycle (once they’ve already visited the store and looked at product pages).

A screenshot of a dynamic retargeting ad with photographs of four types of athletic shoes arranged in square.

Before we came on board, shoppers were visiting our client’s store but not being remarketed to. Using Google’s dynamic remarketing feature, we automatically displayed ads to customers who left the client’s site without completing a purchase.

Dynamic remarketing uses your product feed to determine which products Google displays on its ad network. It can also intelligently group different products together based on what’s likely to convert best.

Using dynamic remarketing is a fairly straightforward strategy to skyrocket eCommerce sales and brand awareness, and we believe it’s a must for any online retailer.

Hot tip: Combine your PPC retargeting strategy with your paid social media remarketing data for cross-platform efficiency.

4. Bing Account Changes

Once we saw what was working in Google, we began transferring those changes to attempt to replicate that success in Bing Ads (now called Microsoft Advertising).

While Bing has a far lower search engine market share than Google, we’ve found that what works well in Google Ads can often work in Bing Ads, too. 

So, why not duplicate the strategies that work in Google to capture shoppers from another search engine?

Of course, this exact approach may not work for every eCommerce business — but, given the lower advertising cost of Bing, it’s always worth the experiment.

Inflow’s Tiered Bidding Strategy: Implementation & Best Practices

When it comes to eCommerce PPC campaigns, patience and willingness to adjust along the way are important. Over time, you’ll identify the highest-return queries and adjust your bids to prioritize them. However, it’s an ongoing process.

In this client’s case, we identified the highest-return search queries based on this store’s different product categories — and then created a tiered campaign for each category.

Below, you’ll find a visual representation of that tiered strategy. The search queries each tier drives are based on negative keywords. For maximum return, we created multiple tiered campaigns for each product category.

Three tiered inverted pyramid, with Google Ads Crawl Direction set as downward direction. Tier 1 - $, high priority, low bid, catch all search queries. Tier 2 - $$, medium priority, medium bid, higher ROAS search queries. Tier 3 - $$$, low priority, highest bid, highest ROAS search queries.

How to Establish Your Tiers

Replicate our tiered approach for your Shopping campaigns by following these steps:

1. Run Search Query reports.

Review historical performance in Google Analytics by running search query reports, going back at least six months. Identify the queries or query combinations that have driven the highest revenue or ROAS for your brand in the past.

2. Filter those queries in Google Analytics.

Identify which terms of these high-return terms have churn (and which don’t). Then, decide which ones you want to filter into Tier 2 or 3.

3. Mark any interesting patterns. 

Because your business and target audience are unique, take note of any patterns or trends that pop up during your review. 

For example, with this client, we saw a pattern of queries containing certain modifiers that tended to convert well. So, we identified the revenue and ROAS for those terms for more informed campaign planning.

4. Build out your findings in a spreadsheet.

Organize any found patterns in a spreadsheet list containing the search query, revenue, and ROAS numbers.

5. Segment tiers according to revenue and ROAS numbers.

Once you have all the data, it’s time to optimize your Google Shopping campaigns. For this client, we used priority settings, bid stacking, and negative keywords to create tiers.

The basic premise is to apply low, medium, and high bids on search terms with low, medium, and high returns — thus optimizing your cost-per-click (CPC). Conversely, apply high, medium, and low priority levels to low, medium, and high bids/returns. 

For context, priority setting determines the order in which Google will cycle through the campaigns. High priority literally means Google takes that campaign into account first.

The Real Client Example

Here’s how this tiered system played out for this client:

Tier 1: 

We placed low bids on our catch-all campaign that drives all general queries. We also added negative terms to avoid targeting queries that we wanted to bid higher on in the other tiers. 

We set this tier to the “high-priority” setting.

Tier 2: 

We placed medium bids on search queries we found to have a higher return than those in Tier 1 (but lower return than the queries we want to filter to Tier 3).

Like in Tier 1, we added negative keywords for the queries we wanted to filter to Tier 3. This tier was set to a medium-priority setting.

Tier 3: 

Knowing what the most profitable search queries were for this client, we placed the highest bids on them. This tier was set to a low-priority setting.

Why the tiered system works: By recognizing the performance of a store’s different relevant search queries, you can have much more control over how much ad spend is allocated to each query, which was key in delivering results for this client.

Other eCommerce Google Ads Strategies to Reduce Spend 

Many factors can influence the success of your eCommerce PPC strategy. Like with most digital marketing efforts, you’ll need to run some tests and continually adjust your campaigns for maximum return.

In our years of working with eCommerce sites, we’ve identified a few other best practices that drive sales with minimal spend. 

As you set up your campaigns, consider incorporating these additional PPC strategies for eCommerce:

1. Always send the best-performing/highest-return queries to Tier 3.

By identifying the highest-return queries, you can ensure less wasted budget by spending the least amount of money on low-return queries and allocating the largest percentage of money to terms you’re positive will actually drive a high return.

2. Use negative targeting.

Negative keyword segmentation in a tiered system allows us to pay less for lower-returning queries. It’s also a helpful tool in regular campaigns for filtering out low-intent or irrelevant search terms.

3. Optimize by device.

After your tiers have run for enough time to gather significant data, further analyze performance by device to ensure no wasted spend.

4. Cut spend on the worst-performing hours/days of the week. 

After gathering significant data, you can use a time-of-day analysis to ensure you’re optimizing for our best-performing days and hours. 

For example, if your PPC ads have higher click-through rates (CTR) in the evening hours than in the early morning hours, allocate more money to the former for a better potential ROAS.

5. Launch Search competitor campaigns.

Running Search ads built around other brands’ keywords and bids allows you to target your biggest competition. (Rest assured that they’re doing this for your ads, too.) 

Don’t know who your competitors are? Start with these seven Google Ads competitor research tools.

Combine this strategy with your regular search ads to maximize your audiences and make it harder for your competitors to succeed.

6. Optimize by demographics.

Run demographic-based analyses for age, gender, and household incomes of your audience. Then, implement your bid adjustments accordingly.

7. Optimize display ads to capture retargeted audience.

While bids and budget are important in your display ad campaigns, you also need to continually update your ad copy to better target shoppers at different stages in the buying funnel. For example, newer users require more brand-focused messaging and calls to action, while previous purchasers do not. 

8. Embrace new ad features.

Google is continually releasing new features and capabilities within its advertising network, like its Smart Display campaigns. Don’t hesitate to test these new features as soon as they’re released!

Being the first to implement these features will often give you a competitive advantage, as other brands may be slower to adopt these new options.

Takeaways & Results

If there’s one thing to know about eCommerce PPC, it’s that it’s a dynamic advertising strategy. You’ll need to continually manage your campaigns and approach for the best results, based on what you learn from tests and past performance.

In other words, Google Ads is not a “set it and forget it” platform.

But, when you do put in the work to continually optimize and improve, the results can be well worth your time. After all, it was this ongoing adjustment to our client’s strategy that delivered a 56% increase in ROAS, year over year.

A line graph titled R O A S. The horizontal axis ranges from November to August in increments of one month. The vertical axis ranges from 0 to 12 in increments of 2. All data are approximate. The line starts at 6.34 in November and increases to a peak at 11.9 in February at a point labeled Inflow Takeover. The line then remains constant, then declines to 8.0 in June then increases to 10.5 in July and decreases to 9.89 in August.

If you learn anything from this case study, I hope it’s how a Google Ads strategy based on systematic review and restructuring can quickly yield a higher ROAS for your eCommerce brand.

Want to see similar results for your business? Every eCommerce website that works with Inflow receives a customized set of strategies like these to maximize their Google Ads campaign budgets.

If you would like us to evaluate and improve your online store’s PPC marketing campaigns (or identify additional growth opportunities), request a free proposal today to see how we can help.