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11 Dec 2018

Introductory Guide to PPC Promotion for Custom Merchandise

Opening your Print-on-Demand (POD) store has been a success, you’re getting some sales but now’s the time to get serious!

You want more customers, and organic promotion only gets you so far. Serious POD retailers often turn to PPC to help amplify their reach and bring on board new customers.

You can’t simply assume you know what your customers are searching for. Do the research and position yourself right where your consumers are! In this guide, we’ll show you how…

What is PPC?

PPC Stands for pay-per-click, it’s a type of advertising where, as the name suggests, you pay each time a customer clicks your ad.

There are a lot of platforms available but for the purposes of this guide, we’re going to focus on Google Adwords because it’s the biggest and (arguably!) best.

I’ll give you an example, let’s say I’m an illustrator, and I’ve got this cute dog-inspired hoodie:

I’ve maximised the number of people I can get to see this organically, so I want to reach other people who might be interested in buying it.

There’s a number of different ad’s that we can use:

Graphic display ads:

You can also create YouTube video ads and in-app mobile ads.

Other platforms you can use include Bing Ads and BidVertiser.

Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC. This is where advertisers can bid for ad placement in search engines ‘sponsored links’ when someone searches using a keyword that’s related to your product.

For example, if you bid on the keyword ‘custom dog t-shirts’ you could have an ad in the first four listings like the example below:

Any time that someone clicked on the ad, sending a visitor to your website- You’d pay the search engine a small fee.

To build a winning PPC campaign, you need to be ready to put in the work. From researching the right keywords to turning those keywords into a well-organised campaign and ad groups.

It’s worthwhile to put in the effort to create relevant and intelligently targeted PPC campaigns. Search engines will reward you if your campaigns make the grade, by charging less for ad clicks- as a result, your profits will be higher.

Keyword research

Before I create an ad, I need to do some keyword research.

Download the ‘Keywords Everywhere’ Chrome extension as a tool to find high volume, low competition keywords to rank for around your products.

The add-on allows you to access:

  • Monthly search volume- this is the average of the total of searches that people have performed for this keyword over the last month.
  • CPC (cost per click)– the amount that advertisers are paying for a single click for this keyword with Google Ads.
  • Competition data for your list of keywords– this is a gauge of the number of advertisers that are running ads on a specific keyword.

So, say for example I search ‘Dog T-shirts’:

I can take a look at the metrics, either directly on the search engine, or by opening up the extension.

This gives you search volume, difficulty of ranking organically and estimated cost-per-click for paid ads.

This is important since you want to make sure that, when you’re paying ‘per click’ you’re not paying an exorbitant amount. Remember what your margin is per sale and make sure you’re not making a loss here.

Understanding performance marketing lingo:

  1. CPC (cost-per-click)- this is the price that you pay every time your advert is clicked.
  2. CPM (cost-per-mile)- this is a pricing model, where for example, you pay a flat rate for 1000 displays (impressions) of one of your ads. Note that is not 1000 clicks – but simply 1000 times the ad has been shown. If your ads get high click through rates (CTR) – then this could be a pricing model to consider.
  3. CAC (customer-acquisition cost)- this is the cost of convincing a potential customer to buy a product or service.
  4. LTV (lifetime value)- LTV is the projected revenue that a customer will generate during their lifetime. So for example, if your customers tend to repeat purchase, you might be willing to pay a bit more to acquire a customer (CAC)
  5. Conversion Rates– This is the percentage of your customers who visit your website and convert their desired goal. Typically we refer here to a visitor who completes a purchase. So for example if you had 100 visitors to your store and 1 purchased, then your Store Conversion Rate would be 1%. (Ps. the average benchmark for eCommerce is 1.33% – so you want to be aiming for this amount.)

Monitoring and analytics

Both Google Adwords and Google Analytics are helpful tools to get insights and detailed reports. They both have individual strengths, but together they’re unstoppable! Here are a couple of different reasons why:

You can complete the picture of user behaviour– AdWords helps the visitor find you, and reports on their ad spend and performance. But it doesn’t show you what the visitor does once they’re on your website. But bring in analytics here, and you’re able to see the path your visitor has followed once on your site.

You can get additional data– adding analytics gives you access to extra data such as bounce rate, pages per visit and average visit duration. You can also import all of this data to your AdWords account if you wish.

You can see what’s not performing well and why– On AdWords, a low performing keyword will simply show as not working, whereas if you use analytics, you can identify why the keyword isn’t performing.

You can also set up ‘negative keywords’ for low-performing traffic, some keywords may have differing ‘user intent’ and negative keywords can invite an unintended audience.

Setting up your first campaign

**For the purpose of this guide, we’ll be using Google Ads**

The whole ‘Campaign Setup’ is done on one page, first up, set your location:

Locations – where are your customers?

Then onto languages:

Languages – which languages do they speak?

Bidding – what do you want to focus on?

You can hover over an option to see what it is. Ranging from Impressions – ‘views’ of your advert for awareness – to ‘Clicks’ (for traffic) through to Conversions, which are visitors who take a particular action on your website, app or shop that you define.

Let’s imagine we don’t have Conversion tracking setup on our website yet (we’ll cover that in a more advanced future guide) so we’re going to keep this nice and simple and focus on ‘clicks.’

We just want people to head through to our website and hope our awesome product pages do the rest from there.

Budget – here we get to define the maximum amount we want to pay.

It’s somewhat confusing in wording –

For the month, you won’t pay more than your daily budget times the number of the average number of days in a month.

You might spend more or less than your daily budget on individual days. But, as a super simple example, if you set £5 as your daily budget – you’d never pay more than £155 in a given month.

It’s important to factor in whatever your bidding focus was in the above step here. A conversion is clearly worth more than a click, which is worth more than an impression.

Ad groups – these contain one or more ads, which target a shared set of keywords.

You set a bid, or price, to be used when an ad group’s keywords trigger an ad to appear.

These help group your ads in clusters. This gives you the option of having a variety of different creative ads, with one intent, theme or message.

Targeting – who do you want to reach?

There are different targeting options:

  • Interests and habits
  • Previous interaction with your business.
  • Research and planning behaviour.

It’s a good idea to choose only one of these for each ad group to make sure your messaging is tailored.

If none of those work for you, you can target by demographics instead. In categories such as age, gender, parental status, and household income.

You can narrow your targeting by identifying particular keywords, topics and placements.

(We’ll cover keyword research in the next section)

Automation – Google can expand on your targeting to find new customers.

For now, we’ll select ‘No automated targeting.’

What we want right now is a baseline to work from. This means we want to be in control of our targeting.

Next, it’s time to create and add individual ads to your Ad Group. This is what your audience actually sees.

To create an ad, you first need to define your product or service, add categories, services and tags.

Next, you need to write your ad copy. You’re required to add two headlines and a description, and a preview appears on your screen.

You then have the option to then preview what the ad will look like on different devices.

And you’re done!


Setting up and launching your first PPC campaign can be daunting, but now you should be able to get started on researching your keywords and setting up some basic ads to test and drive new and relevant visitors to your website.

One final bit of advice is that after initial setup of PPC campaigns, it is usually better to ‘tweak’ and optimise instead of starting over if you’re aren’t seeing the results that you would like. Keep an eye on the competition, avoid knee-jerk reactions, go in small and refine along the way.

Good Luck!

PS. if you want to learn more about PPC then do keep an eye on the Kite blog as we’ll be sharing a more detailed PPC guide in the near future. However in the meantime this article from provides a great overview.