As if your customers weren’t distracted enough, your ads have a lot of competition.

When people search for products on Google Shopping, browse Facebook, scroll through Instagram, and shop on Amazon, there are thousands of advertisers vying for their attention.

How do you cut through the noise?

In this blog post, we look at the 9 simple tests we put our ecommerce ads through to guarantee the highest possible engagement, CTR, and ROAS. Let’s dive in.

1. Does the main product image disrupt the scroll?

Does your main image stand out against a backdrop of competing images?

For the product image, you'll need a visual that disrupts your customer's tendency to keep scrolling and scanning. It should draw in the eye without distorting your product (or the truth).

Analyze the ads that compete in searches for your product. What characteristics do their product images have?

After your analysis, determine which characteristics you want to keep and which you want to break away from based on your objectives. What characteristics will disrupt the scroll? Typically, what works best is being different enough to stand out while retaining familiarity. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as presenting your product from a more interesting angle. Or using a lifestyle shot instead of a simple product photo. Sometimes your ad will fare better if it uses an alternate image or a product variant with more unique colors. In other words, show your product from a more interesting angle (literal or figurative) than the other competitors’ ads on the page.

Try out different images to see what works best for your ad. 

Please note: Stay away from gimmicks. Not only will this hurt CTR, but it could also get your ad rejected. The product should always be the focal point.

2. Does the ad employ a good mix of image types?

Use a variety of product shots, lifestyle images, and use-case/user-generated photos.

Make sure you don’t miss any opportunities to show off your products.

Include lifestyle images. These are photos that show how your product fits into real life—in other words, it’s not the product by itself on a white background or sitting on a table with nothing else around it. In fact, lifestyle images can help shoppers get an idea of what it would be like to use the product in their own home or office and even if the size will work for them.

In the example above, along with more traditional product photos, the NBC Studios Shop is also using an image right out of its hit TV series The Office in which beloved character Dwight holds the product – a bobblehead of himself. 

You may not have a TV series to showcase, but you can still make things interesting by showing your product “in the wild.”

Capture in-use views as well as zoomed-in close-ups of key features such as buttons, seams, and stitching details – especially if those details will be important when deciding whether something meets their needs (and maybe even inspire new uses). Tap into user-generated photos. Show multiple angles of the item. If it makes sense, show the product with an overlaid dimension chart. 

The point is you want shoppers to have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their purchase. This means showing off all sides and angles and use cases so customers know exactly what they're getting before clicking "buy."

3. Does the product title pique interest?

Use the product title to help shoppers imagine the possibilities.

The product title is one of the most critical elements of your ecommerce ad, as it’s the first thing that potential buyers will see on Google SERPs, Facebook feeds, and Amazon search results. It’s also a great place to begin building trust with potential customers by establishing what you promise them (and how).

You’ll need a concise and informative product title that instantly conveys all of the following:

  • What the item is
  • What key features would make someone want or need this item in particular
  • What makes it different from similar items (that way, people know why yours is better)

4. Is the product title informative without being overwhelming?

What keywords are shoppers scanning the page for?

Your product title should inform but not overwhelm. It's your first chance to give customers an idea of what they're buying, so make it count!

Don't be too long or short; keep it under 60 characters and give them the big picture in less than 10 words.

Use keywords, but don't "keyword spam" — you want people to trust you and feel safe taking action on your listing. If you need help finding the right words for your products, check out Google's keyword planner tool or use a tool like SpyFu for suggestions. You can also glean ideas from competitor listings.

Keep things simple by using active voice verbs when possible; this makes the listing flow better while still giving customers all the info they need with minimal effort from them.

5. Does the product description follow through?

Does your product description elaborate on benefits and features?

The product description is where you need to be the most persuasive. The customer should be able to understand why they should buy the product from your listing, and what specifically makes it worth their money.

Focus on the benefits of your product 

Rather than focusing on features or specifications (which can be boring), explain what problem your product solves for people who use it. 

Do this by writing about how your product solves a problem, fits a need, and why people will enjoy using your product over other options. Educate the reader with details about how they will benefit from your product.

For example, if you want to stoke your brand’s durability, you could explain how the materials and construction of your workwear withstand the demands of the toughest work environments without tearing or stretching.

Reinforce benefits with key features 

Once you've mentioned a benefit in the description, expand upon it by listing out the key features that support those claims. 

For the “durability” example above, you should list the technical details that reinforce your claims such as 15 oz cotton, dual-layer denim, and Cordura-lined pockets.

6. Does ad text highlight the selling points that matter most to customers?

Does your product description elaborate on benefits and features?

As you’re writing your product description, remember that you only have so much room to work with. That means it's important to highlight the selling points that matter most to customers.

For example, if your lipsticks are designed to last long without resorting to harsh chemicals, call out each of those points. Let potential customers know that your product will last longer than other brands they may be considering and won't irritate their skin. The key is to meet their expectations and differentiate your product quickly and effectively. By doing so, you separate your product from the rest — and get the click.

7. Does the ad link directly to the product page?

Make it easy for customers to find the exact product they want. And don't make them take any extra steps to reach the product they were interested in. If you’ve ever clicked on a product ad that actually got your attention only to end up on a category page or a brand’s homepage, you know that it’s not a good user experience.

Only link to the most relevant page for your ad. For example, if you run an ad for a specific pair of boots, don't send people who click on it from Google Shopping over to your website's Boots category page where they have to scroll to find the model that caught their eye. Or worse, send them to your home page where they have to search around to find them. Always link directly to the specific product pages.

8.  Were all links in the ad tested?

Test your links. This should be done for every ad and listing you run online, but it’s particularly important if you use tracking parameters (such as [utm_source="google+shopping"]). It's also highly recommended to do this if your site uses mobile-specific pages that require alternate URLs (such as [m.mystore.com] vs [www.mystore.com]).

If so, double-check that it’s not going to a different URL by accident. 

Does your link go to the right URL? Are there any redirects happening that might push some users to the wrong page due to cookies or device preferences? Does the link take customers straight through checkout without stopping over at the product first? Does your site use scripts?

Make sure that ads take customers where they expect to go (i.e., directly to the product page). Try to test against any possible scenario to avoid wasting your customers' time and losing a potential sale.

9. Does the product page reflect ad content and vice-versa?

This one is simple.

Ensure that the product page reflects the ad content and vice-versa. If your on-page product information does not match the information in your ad, customers will lose trust and click away. 

That's not to say you have to parrot the info; in fact, it's better if there's a slight differentiation between ad and page. You can dive deeper into the product on your product page without worrying about character limits.

But there is some general housekeeping that needs to take place.

Make sure images from your ad are present on the page (and vice versa). Make sure the ad's title and description information are not just present on the page, but also go further in educating and enticing the reader. The product page should dive into features and benefits with greater detail.

The key is to deliver on the promise of the ad while carrying the customer's attention further toward making a purchase.

10. Is the price competitive?

Setting the right prices for your products is a balancing act... Ultimately, every small business will have to do its homework. Retailers have to consider factors like cost of production, consumer trends, revenue goals, funding options, and competitor product pricing. | Lindsey Peacock, Shopify

If your product is priced too low, it will likely incur heavy click costs, drain your budget, steal clicks from your other ads, and ultimately cost you profits. Too high, and you may "price out" budget-conscious customers.

Using a “cost-plus” pricing formula is a smart way to maintain parity and reduce wasted ad spend. A cost-plus formula takes into account your costs and desired markup to generate a reasonable selling price. 

We use a pricing formula borrowed from Shopify. Say your materials cost $5. Your labor costs $25. Your shipping costs $5. And your marketing and overhead costs are $10. That adds up to $45. If you wanted to add a 35% markup on top of the total, here’s what the formula would look like:

Cost ($45) x desired markup (1.35) = Target selling price ($60.75)

Unfortunately, this formula doesn’t take competitor pricing into consideration. Be sure to check competitor pricing on each channel you advertise on. If 50% or more of your competitors are priced below your target selling price, you may want to consider filtering that particular product from your channel feed. That way you can focus your budget on products whose target selling prices are competitive.

Successful ecommerce campaigns hinge on ads that engage

As an e-tailer, you have a ton of competition from both organic content and other retailers' ads. That means your products’ ads need to go the extra mile if you want to outperform competing campaigns.

Do your ecommerce ads pass muster? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the ad engaging? 
  • Does it catch the eye?
  • Is it clear, concise, and easy to understand? 
  • Is it easy for customers to read, understand, and act on?
  • Does it provide potential customers with all the information they'll need to take the next step in the buying journey? 
  • Does it state the unique or special way your company approaches the product? 
  • Does it convey value?

Creating powerful, engaging ecommerce ads is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Luckily there are tools to help you automate and simplify much of the process. 

If you're having trouble formatting product ad data to fit your ROAS goals, talk to us. We work with thousands of brands, retailers, and agencies to do just that. Our software and service are designed to simplify how you transform basic product information into ecommerce ads that sell.

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