Lucie Heseltine

By Lucie H


The best shopify PPC marketing tactics to increase sales in 2021

In our latest blog, our Paid Media Lead Lucie, explores how PPC marketing tactics can be used to help drive visits and boost sales on your Shopify website.

The best shopify PPC marketing tactics to increase sales in 2021

Now that you have created and launched your shiny new Shopify store, you need to start thinking about how you're going to attract new customers to it, and encourage them to purchase your products.

One extremely effective way to do this is through the use of paid media, which can help you drive sales, build awareness and re-engage with previous site visitors. Let’s have a look at some of the key tactics you can employ to increase sales on your Shopify website using PPC.

Drive direct sales to your Shopify store through Google Shopping

Google Shopping allows retailers to digitally advertise their products to users who are actively searching for them. For example, say you run an online shoe store, Google shopping allows you to display your sparkly silver stilettos next to other, similar products, so that people searching for sparkly silver stilettos are presented with options from multiple retailers.

A screenshot of women's shoes available to buy on google.

In the past, Google shopping has been pretty fiddly. For your ads to show, you had to create a manual feed of all your products which was then uploaded to your Google Merchant Centre. It could be a time consuming and frustrating process, particularly if you had a large inventory.

The good news for retailers using Shopify is that it has never been easier to get your products on Google Shopping. Thanks to a Google and Shopify integration, all of the products available in your online store are automatically synced with your Google Merchant Centre.

Think of your Merchant Centre as a digital stock room. Your products are ready and waiting to be displayed across the web, all you need to do is create some shopping campaigns in the Google ads interface.

Our advice for this stage?

Segment, segment, segment. The more granular the campaigns, the more control you have over bid and budget management, and the easier it will be to optimise your campaigns. Don’t just throw all your products into one shopping campaign, that’s a recipe for disaster.

It’s also worth having a play around with Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns which use automated bidding and ad placements to show your ads to a relevant audience across the Google search results, display network, YouTube and Gmail.

You don’t have as much optimisation control, but that can be a huge advantage if you don’t have the time to manage your shopping campaigns as closely as you would like.

We’ve been experimenting more and more with smart shopping campaigns, occasionally using them strategically to advertise certain products that aren’t generating a positive return on ad spend as part of our traditional shopping campaigns.

Make your Shopify store more visible online with paid search ads

Paid search ads are often considered to be the bread and butter of any paid media strategy. The concept is simple, your customer searches for a product, they see your ad. It’s the yellow pages of the 21st century. There are a number of benefits of using paid search to advertise your Shopify store:

Positive reinforcement of your brand’s authority through double serving

If your ads are featured in both the shopping and search results, also known as double serving, it can have the very positive effect of painting your brand as a leader in that particular product area. Looking again at our search for sparkly silver stilettos, ASOS features prominently both in the shopping results and in the search results. So, as a shopper on the look out for this product, we instantly trust that ASOS are experts in this area. It’s the reason we buy coffee from Starbucks; they’re everywhere!

Use of ad text to outline key promotions or sales

Don’t just set and forget your ad text! Use those crucial characters to highlight anything you want your potential customers to know about what you're offering. It could be ‘Free Next Day Delivery’, ‘48 Hour Sale Now On’, or ‘Klarna Payment Available.’ We've found that the ad headlines are the most effective place to shout about such things, so don’t be afraid to test different messages. You could even try launching an A/B test to split test the effectiveness of various headlines or descriptions.

A screenshot of an ASOS Google advert for silver heeled shoes.

Dynamic search ads

Unlike traditional search campaigns, in which your ads are triggered by the specific keywords that you choose to bid on, dynamic search ad (DSA) campaigns use the content of your website to decide whether or not your business is relevant to a specific search query. Google then generates an ad that is highly relevant to the query, and automatically sends the user to the correct landing page of your website.

These types of campaigns are perfect for Shopify stores that have a large inventory of products. It saves you having to create huge numbers of campaigns with thousands of possible keyword combinations. However, there are some factors that can determine whether or not DSA campaigns would work for your Shopify site. For example it is crucial to have well optimised pages and a logical site structure that allows Google to recognise themes and terms, and there is some manual work required to decide which product or category pages you want to be included in the campaigns, and which you want to exclude.

Revenue based bidding strategies

It’s no secret that Google has been gradually encouraging more and more reliance on automation. For some advertisers, (and, let’s face it, marketers!) this has been the source of much trepidation. Will giving over more control to Google lead to us spending more but with worse results? Although we would advise caution when accepting the many, many recommendations Google throws at you, implementing certain automated bidding strategies is actually one that can lead to positive results.

The most important metric for you as a Shopify store owner is likely to be revenue, or conversion value as Google ads refers to it, but asking Google to focus on this alone can mean that it has a tendency to throw the kitchen sink, and your entire budget, at trying to reach this goal. However, there is a way to reign Google in!

We have seen some excellent results from using the Maximise Conversion Value bidding strategy in conjunction with setting a target return on ad spend. This tells the system to focus on achieving as much revenue as possible, while still working towards a ROAS that makes sense for you. When you switch to this bidding strategy, don’t be too ambitious with your target ROAS. Start small and build up (advise it to hit 120%, then 150% and so on). You also need to allow bidding strategies some time to work. They go through a ‘learning’ period during which Google works out the optimum search terms, demographics and circumstances for your ads to be most effective. Don’t just switch it off after a week if you aren’t happy with the results.

Ad extensions

Another advantage of using search ads to advertise your Shopify site, is the plethora of features available for you to include in your adverts. Ad extensions are essentially extra tit bits of information that you want your customers to know.

The key ad extensions to use when you’re advertising an ecommerce store

  • Sitelink extensions - these are handy links that take the user to anywhere on your site that you deem to be relevant. This could mean links to similar or complementary products, to new products or to a sale or promotion you are running. You can add these at the ad group, campaign or account level. As with your shopping structure, the more granular the better. Aim to add them at the ad group level to ensure prospective customers are always seeing the sitelinks that are the most relevant to them
  • Promotion extensions - got a 20% sale running until the end of the week? Promotion extensions let you highlight this in your ads. You can include key terms and conditions like promo codes or minimum spends and schedule when you want the promotion to start and end.
A screenshot of a Google advert for women's party shoes
  • Price extensions - provide transparency about the prices of a selection of your products by adding price extensions. Similar to sitelink extensions in principle, price extensions provide links to specific products on your site. Where they differ, is in the information they provide, with the price of each product being front and centre. Our advice is to use these strategically. If you know that you are fairly price competitive they can give you an edge over the competition by highlighting this in the search results. Conversely, if your products have quite a high or premium price point, displaying these prices alongside your ads can be a way to pre-qualify users before they click on your ad, saving you the cost of a click.
  • Image extensions - Hot off the press! These extensions were announced in the 2021 Google Marketing Livestream and are currently being rolled out across Google ads accounts. They allow you to add thumbnail images to your search ads which can help your ads to both appear more compelling and steal more of the screen space, thus increasing your likely click through rate. As a retailer you could use them to add images of relevant products to your search ads. These extensions only show on mobile devices at the moment, but watch this space for any updates. As soon as they are available in your account, they are worth adding!

Increase brand awareness of your Shopify store with YouTube ads

Ok, so now we have a plan for those customers who are shopping online for the perfect pair of sparkly silver stilettos. But what about the users who are not actively looking? What about the fashionistas, the wedding guests, the party animals who online shop regularly, but are not shopping for a new pair of shoes right at this moment? How do we reach them?

Enter YouTube. In Q3 of 2020, data revealed that YouTube was the most active social network in the UK, frequented by nearly 80% of internet users. Your perfect customer is almost certainly hanging out there. When you advertise on YouTube, your ads appear before or during videos that are being watched. You can choose to target your ads based on the interests/demographics of the user, or the content they are watching at the time.

Up until recently YouTube had been considered to be primarily an awareness driving channel, getting your brand name in front of a large and targeted audience for a fairly low budget. However, in the last couple of years, Google has been keen to present YouTube as a sales driving force. They introduced Trueview for action campaigns, which allow retailers to connect their Merchant Centre to their YouTube campaign, allowing them to show cards featuring their products directly underneath their ad.

In June 2020, Google announced that they were taking this a step further, experimenting with new formats that allow users to scroll through an advertiser’s best sellers while watching their video ad, essentially replicating the sensation of glancing into a shop window and seeing an array of sparkly shoes.

We personally have yet to see masses of direct sales from YouTube campaigns. It still seems to work better as an upper funnel activity. In fact, in our experience, running a YouTube campaign for a particular group of products, has actually led to an almost instant uplift in searches for that specific product, and a subsequent increase in Shopify store sales!

Update: Since this blog was written, we now prefer to use the 'messy hexagon' model when describing a typical customer journey. Whilst the traditional 'AIDA' sales funnel stills holds value in some circumstances, we believe the messy hexagon provides an alternative and more realistic view of the customer's path to purchase.

Drive users back to your shopify store with dynamic remarketing

Deciding on the perfect pair of shoes can be really stressful. Most prospective customers spend time shopping around; visiting various websites and deliberating over multiple options before hitting that ‘buy now’ button. Once a user has looked at the best pair of sparkly silver stilettos you have on your Shopify website, how do you make sure that they remember them as they are continuing their search?

Remarketing ads are an effective way of re-engaging with previous site visitors. By hooking up your newly created product feed to your campaigns, and by adding the Google remarketing tag to your Shopify site’s backend, you can supercharge this activity, by following your previous site visitors around with images of the very pair of sparkly silver stilettos they were agonising over hours, or days, ago. You could even entice this indecisive shopper back with an offer or images of similar, or complementary products... ‘You’re right mysterious stalker display ad, that bag WOULD go perfectly with the sparkly silver stilettos! And 10% off? SOLD’.

An advert for women's razors and beauty products

A full funnel strategy for driving Shopify store sales

We're really only just scratching the surface of what you can do to leverage PPC tactics to drive sales in your Shopify store. The main thing to remember is that it should be used to nurture every stage of the customer journey:

  • To build awareness of your Shopify site - consider YouTube advertising
  • To increase consideration of your Shopify site - use search ads at key decision making moments
  • To drive direct sales on your Shopify website - try Google Shopping and smart shopping campaigns
  • To re-engage with previous Shopify site visitors - implement dynamic remarketing ads.

The bottom line is that just because you have a shiny new Shopify store, doesn’t mean it’s instantly going to be flooded with prospective customers. Users are unlikely to stumble onto your website, you have to be proactive about directing them to where you are online and nurturing them down the sales funnel.

That's where we come in!

Need a hand pulling together your Paid Media strategy?

We're here to help! Get in touch

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Paid Media Lead

Lucie is our lead on all paid media activity, overseeing our talented paid media team and managing the strategy and implementation of all paid search campaigns across multiple platforms. Fully Google qualified and working directly at Google prior to joining Extreme, there's not much Lucie doesn't know about PPC!

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