Retailers who optimize their AdWords campaign structure receive huge benefits. By intuitively structuring your approach at the campaign level, you can improve ROI, strategic planning, and overall ease-of-operation.

Campaign structure matters particularly because daily budgets get set at the campaign level. You could have an impeccable bidding strategy, for instance, but your AdWords campaign structure and budget allocation would still limit the success of your bidding strategy.

The catch is that there is no single “silver bullet” for campaign planning. Each retailer will have different audiences, different goals, different products, etc. Also, a structure that works well, for now, could be improved upon as the business further evolves.

To help out all retailer types, we have curated a set of structure options that work well in general. Over years of developing successful AdWords campaigns for many different clients, these options emerged as the simplest yet most effective approach. Your mileage may vary, but all the structure options listed below are both intuitive and flexible.

If you’re a retailer looking for a better way to structure AdWords campaigns, here are a few methods you can try.

Start With a Product Category AdWords Campaign Structure

A huge portion of retailers simply organizes their AdWords campaign structure by product category. It has become the most basic and universally accepted method out there. Google even explicitly recommends it in their AdWords guidelines.

Using a product category structure makes life easier. You get to use the existing categories your company has created to manage inventory. The fact that these categories match sales reports also makes tracking performance and ROI easy.

Product category structures also comfortably fit the way most retailers manage product and promotion strategy. Leadership tends to think of performance at the category level, even if just one specific item is the ultimate profit-driver in that category.

For this reason, we recommend that retailers just starting out with AdWords or trying to overhaul their marketing strategy begin this way. You establish a benchmark to measure performance from, and you likely have less friction when trying to get the ball rolling with your new campaigns.

Why a Product Category AdWords Campaign Structure May Not Work for Everyone

A product category-based AdWords campaign structure may not work past the experimental phase for some retailers. This situation occurs for many reasons, but the most common ones are:

  1. You have a limited overall budget but want to compete for high volume searches. This scenario requires more careful planning and a focus on high-performers. Otherwise, you could quickly spend through your budget with little to show for it.
  2. Your product categories have an extremely uneven mix of low-margin items and products with a high-profit margin or a tendency towards high marketing ROI. Many retailers have primary money-makers in each category they want to focus on as well as low-margin items that offer poor ROI at any sales volume.
  3. You prefer to run item-specific offers, promotions, and sales. These generally don’t apply to every product category or every product within a category.

Plenty of retailers fall into one of these categories. Others find that a product category structure doesn’t seem right for some other reason. If that’s the case, you can try one of the following alternative approaches.

Split Campaigns Based on Performance and Priority

This approach works well for all three exceptions numbered above, but especially well for #1. Splitting your campaigns by performance maximizes the ROI from your budget while controlling spending on low-ROI campaign.

Start by creating performance tiers. Assign products or promos with great performance to tier 1. “Performance” can refer to ROI, sales volume, conversion rate, or any other preferred metric.

So, for example, a company could create a tier 1 campaign for [garden chair], [denim jacket] and [car cleaning kits] since these are the items that rock their e-commerce. In the bottom tier, they can have low-earners assigned to long-tail keywords with low bids, bumping up their ROI.

Use labels and adgroup naming for easier reporting, so you can know offhand what’s in each tier.

However, note that this approach may not work well for retailers or items that have strong seasonal performance. It would force these companies to constantly retool their campaigns throughout the year.

Split Campaigns Based on Location or User Lists

Same as above, but instead of looking at products, you look at high-performing segments.

This approach helps you optimize your messaging to appeal to specific audiences. Many marketers find greater success by breaking apart purchasing groups according to similar traits. They then approach them each with unique messaging.

Split Campaigns Based on Keyword Intent, With an Eye on Profit Margin

Many AdWords campaigns focus on a specific type of search intent. For instance, some might target people looking for a specific brand-name item, like [Beats Bluetooth Earbuds].

Other campaigns may want to steer away search volume for people looking for [Beats Bluetooth Earbuds] towards an even higher-margin item. Say, for instance, the retailer specializes in audio equipment, and they have a purchasing deal with a particular supplier. This supplier lets the retailer sell equipment white labeled with their own brand name. Selling Beats headphones nets them just a 12% margin, but selling their own items nets them 22%.

In this case, the retailer will want to take a few different approaches based on keyword intent. Each approach corresponds to a different AdWord campaign category. Here’s an example:

  • Campaign 1: All “cheap” “discount” or “offer” related product keyword searches
  • Campaign 2: All brands + generic product group campaigns
  • Campaign 3: House brand campaigns only, which can use competitor brand keywords to drive traffic to your brand

Google Shopping campaigns pioneered this approach since it benefits product-specific campaigns. But, the strategy can also work well for keyword performance in paid search.

Choosing a Method and Working With an Experienced AdWords Marketing Agency

Symphonic Digital can help you choose which AdWords campaign structure best fits your unique product mix and goals. We provide consulting and strategy as well as total end-to-end management for paid search. We can also fit your paid search campaign with other campaign goals to create an omnichannel strategy that drives success.

Optimize your AdWords performance and get strategic guidance when you contact us today.

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