Arlen: Welcome to the eCommerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson, and today we have a very special guest, Aaron up. Phil, Aaron is VP of Sales for Boost Media Group, a full service digital marketing agency. With over $25MM in managed advertising spend under his belt, Aaron is Google AdWords™ and Analytics™ certified, skilled in SEM, SEO, Digital Ads, Behavioral Ads, Landing Page testing & tuning, A/B Testing… and a host of others. He is the author of “Click Into Lead:Strategies for Internet Lead Generation ”, available on Amazon™. Aaron has been a featured speaker at events such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA).

Aaron: Thanks for that. Arlen appreciate it. I’m glad to be here. 

Arlen: Yeah, no problem. And thank you for joining us. Today we’re going to be talking about ad words and pay per click marketing and advertising, and you’re one of the experts from what I’ve heard. So I’m really excited to dig deep and see, you know, how you can shed some light on AdWords and PPC for eCommerce businesses.

But before we get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today. 

Aaron: Yeah. So that’s a great question. It’s been a interesting road. A lot of twists and turns. How I got into it is a back, uh, you know, before the economy crashed in 2008, I was a telemarketer for a mortgage lender.

I was the guy calling you at dinner time asking you if you wanted to refinance your mortgage. So not. Very glamorous, but I did teach me a lot about sales and setting and sticking to a script. One day I, the owner, who was an older gentleman, Greek guy, a toss me the keys to the website and you basically said, Hey, here kid you, you’re young.

Like you could figure this out, like update the website. So the first thing I ever did was update our website to remove some people who didn’t work there any more to add some new ones to our roster. And with that I was like, wow, I can update a website. And it took me down this rabbit hole of SEO, PPC, website design, learning, all these things, self-taught.

I’ve never had a, a single class in this stuff. Never been to school or it don’t have a degree in it. My degree is actually in real estate, but what happened was, is I basically taught myself how to do lead generation. We were, at the time, we were buying leads from companies like lending tree and others lower my bills, and what was happening was.

Is we were just calling the leads that came in, but I was able to research how these companies were generating leads. I found that they were doing it with DPC, so when someone typed in, you know, a Sacramento mortgage loan in Google, there will be a little ad. It said. Lending tree, and then they would send it to a page, and then presumably once the consumer filled out that page, it would get sent to me.

So I figured, Hey, I can do this myself. I taught myself how to do landing pages. I taught myself how to, how to write ads, how to do keyword research, how to bid competitively, and how to generate the leads. And. So that was pretty cool and it worked so well that people began coming to me. It was such a success that people began coming to me and say, Hey, can you, can you do what you did for my.

company. And that’s how I got into other industries like e-commerce and, and other, uh, different methods of PPC. But my background is finance, and that’s how I got into consulting. And then I later, I started my own agency and then I sold my agency last year and merged it with boost media group. And now I, I’m in a more.

Business development role or solutions role rather than, you know, actually doing the work. But that’s kind of a, in a very long wind. How we arrived at today. 

Arlen: All right. Great. Well, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. So I see you definitely have a diverse set of experiences and I’m sure doing the cold calling, I’m at dinner time with the mortgage group that you are with.

I know you learned a lot with that because I know how hard it is to do cold calls. I’ve done that before and um, yeah, it does take a. You have to have thick skin, I think for sure. It’s so you, you learn a lot though. You also learn about what works and what doesn’t. So I’m sure that is really kind of helped empower you to.

You know, set up your strategies for your current agencies that you’re with. So, yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, it’s good to hear, you know, today, of course, we’re going to be talking about, as I mentioned, ad words or Google ads as it’s now called, or paper click marketing for eCommerce businesses. Now, everyone that’s, you know, has a business as an eCommerce business that.

Gets out there that has a website. Of course, they’ve, they probably know about these types of campaigns, but a lot of these businesses, what I see kind of a mistake a lot of businesses make is that they just jumped right into it and don’t really have a plan together because they know. It’s something that they could do.

They could, it doesn’t take long to set up a paper click advertising campaign. And so you can easily kind of just jump out there. But, so I see a lot of businesses do that and kind of fail because they just jump right into it. So in your experience, but really, what should an eCommerce business have in place prior to starting a, let’s say, a Google ads campaign.

Aaron: Let me first tell you a little horror story, right? Google wants you just to jump in and start spending money. That’s what they want to do. They make it easy as possible for you to sign up. They’ve given out free gift cards like candy. So I’ll tell you a funny story. One of our clients actually accidentally created an account, and what happened was, is we’re setting up ad words for him.

We got to the point where we were. We had requested a credit card authorization we were in, we’re in the process. We’d done the research, we were in process of setting up the account and it calls me freaking out. Aaron adverse charged my card, $2,000 I don’t know why.

Yeah, so what it turned out is like he was just curious about ad words and he, he was just playing around with the ad words. He didn’t realize he had actually created an account. And so. Yeah. If that’s how slick their user interface was. Right. And in when I looked at the account that he created, he, you know, what of the targeting was broad match mortgage loans.

Arlen: Okay. I can see. I now see why the 2000 got racked off quickly. 

Aaron: Yeah, yeah. He ended up spending about $6,000 that he had to try to charge back and figure it out with Google. Yeah, and it was, yeah. You can imagine his pain. You know, when I told him he was targeting the entire 

Arlen: world, right. 

Aaron: He’s only licensed in one state.

Yeah. So like all of his traffic came from like all over the U S and it, yeah, it was just a big mess. So there’s a little horror story, right? Like, Whoa, what happens if you try to create your own AdWords account? It can, it could turn out really badly. To answer your question, what should an eCommerce business have in place prior to starting an AdWords campaign?

The number one thing is the, the site and the post-conversion marketing has gotta be spic and span. And what I mean by that is. It’s got to have fresh, clean web design that sets it apart from competitors and it’s got to have all the little bells and whistles like related items. You’ve got to have like 10 out of 10 user experience shopping experience on the site.

It’s got to load fast. You gotta be loading, especially on mobile under two seconds. And you’ve just got to have that site absolutely clean from a conversion perspective. Right? So it should be converting at four or 5% on an organic basis. Right? Before you even want to think about adding PPC, do it. I in, in my experience.

And the other thing is like after the click happens, you need to have all your followup in place. You need to have your, your abandoned cart emails. You need to have your  bought the product, like request for review emails, share us on Facebook, et cetera. You’ve got to have your email that plugs the review.

A provider, become an affiliate. Click here. And so you’ve got to have your different sequences, maybe three, four different sequences with up to four or five emails per sequence. Got to have all that automation in place because if you’re spending money, the name of the game here is, and you’re talking about strategy, right?

It’s the name of the game here is PLTV. So I’ll break that out. Customer lifetime value. This drives. What you can afford to pay to acquire a customer, or it’s discussing paid advertising. Unlike any other channel, you’ve got filial SEO, social, organic, direct. You’ve got all these different channels. But like when you, when you go to advertise, you have to know what your customer lifetime value is.

Arlen: That makes sense, because I can see, if you really don’t know what that is, it would be nearly . Possible to determine what your budget should be because you know, you could be paying. Way too much and you could exceed the lifetime value of a customer over time. So I, yeah, that really makes a lot of sense.

And you know, as far as the, the horror story that you told, it’s interesting that you mentioned that because they kind of leads me to the next question. As far as lifetime value is concerned with regards to the PPC ad spend, how really does the eCommerce business effectively set. The correct paper, click amounts in the campaign budget, obviously, I mean, you’re in the horror story that you told or the lender that you were dealing with, that was the part that he missed.

You know, he didn’t see what that budget is, or he maybe just didn’t think the ad is live. So you know, when they get to that part of the process, what do they do? Because I can imagine, especially if you’re new to, it can be a little overwhelming to determine, all right, what should my budget be? 

Aaron: Yeah. How do you come up with a budget.

You know? And so Google ads always says, and I love it. They say, Hey, if while ROI is positive, budget is unlimited, right? We’ve all heard that example of like, Hey, I have a magical box where I put in a dollar and I get a dollar 50 out. I’m going to do that all day, right? 

Arlen: Right. 

Aaron: And so budget isn’t that important.

I know that like the readers and listeners like are concerned about budget, and that’s a question that comes up a lot and it’s a great question, but I would say I’m going to give you a little counterintuitive advice and say to heck with budget, like budgets, not important. What’s important is what can you afford to pay to acquire a customer.

Does that make sense? 

Arlen: Yeah, that definitely does, because that really is gonna vary Brady business, so that’ll, I think you’re totally right about that. It does. There’s no really kind of blanket response to say, this type of business, the campaign budget should be this amount. It’s just what can you afford to pay.

Aaron: Yeah. And like you have to have the fundamentals in place. Like you alluded in your last question, you’ve got to have your site, your follow up, and your strategy on lockdown, right? Your strategy should be telling you what is your customer lifetime value, right? Cause your customer lifetime value is going to be based on like how well you monetize that customer, including putting them in an affiliate program, right?

So once you have all that stuff in place and you know what your customer lifetime value is, only then can you really set the playing field up in your. Right. Then it just kind of depends on your cash flow, like how fast you can turn this stuff around, whether you’re drop shipping or whether you’re holding in inventory.

You know, those are all kind of business logic things, but once you know what your customer lifetime value is, then it’s a simple matter of like, okay, what’s my margin and then have my margin. What can I afford to pay per customer? For acquired customers. 

Arlen: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I know that’s going to be helpful for the business owners that are listening and yeah, because there’s, there’s really no, just kind of set, I guess you could say chart they should follow.

It’s just going to be independent of their own business. Now, you know, with this ever-growing world of endless marketing opportunities online, there’s, you know, it seems like every couple months there’s another marketing channel out there, another social media network. Another. Possibility or option for business to do pay per click marketing.

What are, in your experience, what are some other paper click marketing channels that you can recommend a business can try other than Google ads? 

Aaron: Let me give you some general advice when it comes to this stuff. Like you know, there are a ton of traffic sources out there, right? One of my favorite ones to tell people, cause it’s a little bit risky, is you can get some great traffic on traffic junkie.

And if you go to traffic junkie, what you’ll find is a search engine ads on porn sites. Yeah. So, but Hey, it could make sense if you are selling like a. An adult product or a cannabis product, or having products or something. There’s numerous products that would do well in that specific environment, but there’s a lot that would say, Hey, I would never want my brand to be exposed to something like that.

So there’s a little insight. 

Arlen: Yeah, I’m not familiar with that site, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Where that, there’s definitely some brands where, yeah. That, that could make sense to go that route. 

Aaron: Yeah. I mean, and we’re talking like 1.6 billion impressions. I mean, we’re talking about a lot of inventory, and if you sell the right product and it fits, you know, it could work.

Another one that’s a lot less risky, risque is duck duck go, which is a privacy focused a search engine. Right. And it actually has. Some advertising, but what I would really recommend is like, it’s like people oftentimes think they have this idea or fantasy that, Oh, if I could just find the exact right traffic source, then all my problems would be over.

And the reality is that all traffic sources have a conversion rate and what you’re paying per click. For that traffic, it’s going to have a certain conversion rate as kind of a certain customer acquisition costs, right? There is no like magic formula. It’s all about the same. Some convert a little bit better than others.

Some are higher in the funnel, some are lower in the funnel. So what I always recommend is, is like for businesses that are just starting out or just starting with Google ad words, is to maximize Google ads. So are very called it words. Google ads is to maximize. Google ads, meaning you a, w, all of the keywords that are related to your business in your account, and you’re showing up in the top three 90% of the time.

Once you’ve achieved that, once you’ve like secured, when I put this, it’s kind of like real estate or that like gaming used to play as kids capture the flag, right? It’s like you’ve got to have the flat, you’ve got to control. The market and words is the best place to do that. Once you’ve done that and you are losing profitability, then you want to explore other.

Traffic providers. And the reason for that is they’re costly, you know, for you to try TrafficJunky or DuckDuckGo or Bing or seven search, any of these kind of niche PPC providers, you’re going to have to test and you’re going to have to probably spend like a couple of thousand bucks to really test out and prove out if this traffic source is really appropriate and does convert or doesn’t convert for your business.

So. There’s not just the cost, it’s also the time and the measuring it that comes into play as well, which is why I always recommend, you know, go with Google first. 

Arlen: That makes sense. And then I’ve never heard people kind of focus it in like that, because a lot of times I see people go with kind of a diverse approach and it just kind of all over in these different channels.

But yeah, you can spend a lot of money in a short amount of time doing that because like you said, it’s not. The mere fact that you’re putting out there a campaign and then you know you’re going to. Launch it and just start making money. There’s to be a fair amount of time that it has to go into it.

Optimizing your campaign and then you know, testing, seeing what works, what doesn’t, and that whole time, that whole process is going to cost marketing dollars for sure. So I see how you should definitely focus on Google first and go from there and then see if you add some of these other ancillary providers and search networks to your mix.

Will that. Be of a benefit, but you know, you definitely want to make sure you’re in a good position to do that because if there is an expense upfront for, for getting it to the point where you’re actually making some good money now, you know, with all of the businesses that you’ve dealt with and even internally with your company.

What would you say are just some definite dues and even some don’ts with regards to pay per click campaigns? 

Aaron: Yeah, so I would say don’t ever run a campaign without an expectation of target cost per acquisition. This is something that I see happening all the time. This is a huge mistake. You have to know financially.

Right? This is a number that your operations person will give you, right? Or maybe you’re small enough, you do the operations yourself, you have to put on your operator hat, but you have to know what you can afford to pay to acquire a customer. You just have to, you know, and you may say, well, Aaron, I’m, I’m running brand traffic.

I’m just branding for exposure. And it’s like, okay, that’s great, but. What’s the expected cost per acquisition for that traffic? It’s going to be lower or higher, but what is it? So entering the battle without a, without a knowledge, right? And then entering the battle without a plan. Like if you don’t have a comprehensive marketing strategy, like PVC should just be one heart of a, this complete breakfast, meaning it has to be inline with all the other things that you’re doing on social, on email, on.

Affiliate on in traditional ads. If you’re doing that, like radio, TV, print, it’s got to be a holistic marketing strategy that’s based on numbers, cost per acquisition, and actual revenue numbers in the business. And that’s what we help do. And what I can help do is help you create the plan. Some things to do is, I would just do it.

A lot of small eCommerce businesses just . Struggle to drive sales and a lot of times are reliant on like a single channel. Try ad-words, get in there, try it. It’s possible to do yourself, you know, learn about it. Look at study your competitors. Find out what they’re doing. Just get started with it. As long as you’re not selling something that you’re going to get steamrolled by Amazon or Walmart, as long as you have like a fairly distinct product, PPC can work for you because people are searching for this problem.

Right? They’re searching for it and all you have to do is throw your ad up and you can put that product right in front of him. It is a leveling of the playing field. It can allow you to compete and you know, as long as your margins are there, as long as you have margins. Some other stuff is, like I said, I would absolutely just have your site.

Your followup and your strategy just absolutely on point or you’re wasting money. 

Arlen: That’s so true. And I’ve seen companies that have made that mistake where, you know, they may have a fairly optimized paper campaign, they may be showing up kind of top of the list, and then you go to their site and you’re like, they’re either using a a landing page that doesn’t make sense, where you’re like, all right, what do they do?

What are they offering? And then, okay. I can see real immediately right there how they’re just throwing money away because they’re going to lose people. As soon as people get to their site, they’re getting the clicks, they’re getting the traffic to the page, but then there’s a drop off, so I can see how the.

Site is very important and once you get people into the funnel, how are you going to massage them properly so that they can make the sale and you know, so you can really get the conversion. 

Aaron: You bring up an excellent point. Sometimes we’re not even like failing at the strategy level. Sometimes we’re failing at a basic execution level to properly align the search with the product.

Right? Like sometimes I’m sending them the wrong page or sending the traffic to a category page where they should’ve sent it to a product page or vice versa. A lot of times in ad words, you know, people aren’t connecting. This is something that’s so critical, right? I want to make sure we talk about this.

They’re not connecting their merchant center. The merchant feeds with their Google ads account, and I can’t tell you like how bad of a sin this is because otherwise you’re just. Robotically, or you’re guessing about what pages to send the traffic to, right. Are you manually sending it? And if you have your merchant feed in there, then when people are Googling your keywords, your actual product will appear where the image of the product and the price, and that has a click through rate of like four to five times a regular app.

Arlen: Yeah. And I can see that. And just from my own personal experience when I’m, I’m searching for things because it. It’s so convenient for the end user. You’re doing a search for a particular product. You immediately see those products listed there displayed horizontally. You see the price, you see the different sites.

The end customer can just easily kind of make a decision right then and there. Okay. Or, you know, a lot of times people are looking at prices or doing a comparison. They may just click on the lowest price and then go right there. And at that point, you know, they’re not, they may not go any further, they’re not going to scroll further down on the listings and you know, they may just stick to that little to the top bar there and go from there.

So that’s very key. No. I already mentioned one of the thing when you were talking about the kind of the best practices. You mentioned customers can look at some of their competitors, and I’m kind of always a huge advocate from learning from some of the others that are in your specific niche. So what are some examples of some top eCommerce brands that they, in your opinion, do a great job with PPC advertising and what can we learn from them?

Aaron: I kind of really struggled with this question. I would say. It’s so how do I put this? There are quite a few brands that spend money on PPC, but like not all of them are doing it well, like in order to best connect with, you know, I think there’s going to be like a very wide variety of people on this podcast.

I would say. I mean, and I hate to put it, but like look at Amazon really just like, have you studied the Amazon shopping experience. Just go and everybody’s used. Everybody’s a prime account. But have you ran, have you taken Amazon and ran it through like Google page speeds, insights tool and seeing how quickly it loads?

I mean, they have a load time that’s like, it’s unheard of. If you look at it, if you are shopping on Amazon, you leave something in your cart, you don’t complete the, uh, sale. Get emails about it. You’re going to get a push reminder. Next time you’re on the site, you take it out of your cart, you’re going to get ads about it.

I mean, that’s one of the things that’s like absolutely critical. Like why you got to connect your merchant account into Google ads is you can do retargeting ads based on the product that was seen. If you’re not doing that, if you are allowing customers to come to your site and shop and leave. Without sending them a targeted ad.

I mean, you’re leaving an incredible amount of money on the table. I know what you’re going to say. You see, Aaron, I don’t have the budget to be Amazon. It’s not realistic. I get it. I really get it. But look at what they do. Look at their shopping experience, look at their category pages, look at how they, how the you can sort and view and that shopping experience.

So I know it’s kind of a, an odd example, but, um, the, I mean, that’s what I would suggest. I mean, really look at that experience and it is the best. Shopping experience that exists. Yeah. And try to see what you can do, how you can emulate it, you know, for your website. 

Arlen: Definitely. I wholeheartedly agree to that.

And one of the things that listeners are here to do, I always also have to realize is that. Amazon isn’t the way it is just because by happenstance, they have billions and billions of dollars that go behind analyzing every single pixel on their site. And so that’s how you know that it’s every decision that they make about search results, the way their products are displayed, the types of images that they use, all of that.

There’s an incredible amount of . Thought and money and time spent on that. So I say, you definitely can’t go wrong by analyzing everything that they do from their search to their product display, to just really everything, their user experience, customer experience. So definitely great example, and I appreciate you mentioning that because.

Of course they are the elephant in the room, and they’re the kind of the behemoth that some e-commerce sellers kind of shy away from. But, um, you got a level no, you didn’t know. There’s no doubt about it. They’re here to stay. And, um, you might as well learn as much from them as you can because they’re.

You know they’re going to continue to do well. So yeah, thanks for mentioning that Aaron en and everything that you brought up today has been awesome as far as pay per click advertising, and I think we, our listeners have definitely got some takeaway items that are actionable that they can get going with today.

And I definitely learned a lot myself, so I took a few notes for myself so that I’m going to share some things with our marketing team for sure. Well, what I always like to do to close things out to switch years is a to so our audience can get to know you just a little bit better. If you don’t mind, I’d like you to share one fun fact that you can let our audience know about you.

Aaron: Yeah. Fun facts. I’m a pretty boring, I would say my fun fact is that I’m, I meditate. So for about like 30 minutes every day, I, uh, I sit on a cushion and, uh, I meditate and clear my mind and. Practice non attachment. That is 

Arlen: awesome. And you’ve kinda got me beat by probably like 20 minutes. I’m just now trying to get really more into meditation practice in the mornings, in the evenings and um, it’s difiicult.

Uh, yeah, definitely difficult to sit in one space and kind of meditate, clear your mind for 30 minute stretch. So I definitely applaud you for that. Striving to get there myself and, uh, we’ll definitely do it. And like you said, practice the, um. The non attachment and kind of detaching from everything in this kind of physical reality.

It’s a practice that I definitely highly recommend to everyone. For sure. Now, Aaron, I’m, you know, if our listeners that are out there would like to pick your brain anymore about pay per click advertising, Google ads or that whole nine, what is the best way for them to get in contact with you? 

Aaron: Social media is good.

I’m on LinkedIn. Or you can, uh, probably the best way is just to send me an email with your question. You can just put the question in the subject line and you can send the email to [email protected]. And I’d be happy to answer your follow up question or concern.

Arlen: Hey, great. Well thank you for sharing that, Aaron. We appreciate it and we thank you for joining us today on the eCommerce marketing podcast. 

Aaron: Yeah, thank you, Arlen. I’m pleasure to be of service.

Podcast Guest Info

Aaron Opfell 
VP of Sales for Boost Media Group