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Using PPC to drive profitable retail sales

by Tug Agency | 21.10.2008
The following is a quick best practice guide to developing and managing an ROI focused PPC campaign for a retail e-commerce website. Tug is a specialist Search Engine Marketing agency with years of experience in the online fashion retail sector. Clients include, Katharine Hamnett, Amplified, Truffle Shuffle & more T vicar.

Get the Keywords right

  • Start with an exhaustive list of keywords. Be ready to prune quickly
  • Concentrate on precise, relevant keywords.
  • If you sell Retro/Novelty t-shirts you should bid on ‘paris hilton t-shirt’ and avoid ‘paris hilton clothes’
  • Organise your campaign into highly relevant ad groups that include only the keywords that convert into sales within your CPA target. Eg. ‘paris hilton keywords’, ‘star wars keywords’, ‘dirty dancing keywords’ etc.

Get the Ads right

  • Test 3-4 ads for each of your ad groups.
  • Write relevant, benefit focused ad copy. Look for the ones that get the highest click through rates and conversion rates.
  • For Retail, our experience shows that the following is the best ad format:
  •  Title: Paris Hilton T-shirts – consumer benefit: ‘They have exactly the item I am looking for’
  •  Description 1: All your favourite Retro & Novelty Tees – consumer benefit: ‘They also have other items I might like’
  •  Description 2: Order today, Get it tomorrow! – consumer benefit: ‘I can get my items quickly and easily’
  •  Display URL: – branding and call to action

Get the Landing Page right

  • Land consumers onto the most relevant page on your site.
  • Ideally you would have a page that only includes your breadth of Paris Hilton t-shirts.
  • Links to the rest of the range should be obvious and easy to navigate.
  • Other consumer benefits such as free postage & packaging, and sales should be obvious. Cross-sell similar items.
  • Ensure that the sales process is quick and easy

Analyse and Optimise for Profit

  • Track and record the value of each sale at the keyword level
  • When optimising, include your margins and the cost of media in your reports, to determine which are your profitable keywords
  • Depending if you are looking for volume or only profitable individual sales, prune your keyword list accordingly.

Let PPC influence the Product Range

  • Some items are not easy to describe and are not searched for. Concentrate on the keywords for items in your range that are searched for regularly, and then cross-sell your other items on the landing page.
  • If you see a high number of ad impressions and clicks for an ad group, with a low number of sales it could be that a product range is popular but you don’t have the breadth of choice being searched for. Let the PPC data influence your range.
  • Ranges that are popular should be broadened and stocked regularly to support the PPC campaign.

PPC working with your other Marketing Communications

  • If you have a recognized brand, include this prominently in your PPC ad copy. ‘Official Site’ is a strong consumer benefit.
  • Support good PR with ‘As seen IN’ and ‘As seen ON’ ad copy. This traditionally drives higher sales for several days after the release.
  • Brand awareness banner campaigns can greatly increase your PPC brand sales, which are traditionally the cheapest.
  • Support your PPC campaign with a robust SEO strategy for your broader keywords that drive traffic but have a higher conversion cost through PPC
  • Ultimately PPC should be driving your regular sales, filling in the troughs, made by the peaks from your other bursts of online and offline communications.

Prepared by Nick Beck, Founding Director, Tug SearchTug Case Study: Driving ROI Focused Sales

See the Case Study: Driving ROI Focused Sales


We had managed our Adwords campaign in house since day one. After a couple of years the campaign grew to a size where we couldn’t dedicate enough time and resource to manage our Google advertising efficiently. We outsourced our PPC management to Tug who not only took over the day to day management of our campaign but streamlined what we had into a much more profitable and accountable marketing tool. Regular reporting and in depth updates means we’re safe in the knowledge that Tug are representing our brand fantastically well and turning every penny we spend on PPC into pounds of profit.

Pat Wood, Founding Director