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Etsy Promoted Listings: A Search Marketer’s Perspective

6 MINUTE READ | January 21, 2016

Etsy Promoted Listings: A Search Marketer’s Perspective

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Jordan Schmitt

Jordan Schmitt has written this article. More details coming soon.

Etsy Promoted Listings - PMG Blog

To preface, this article is not a ‘How To’ or a ‘101’ on Etsy Promoted Listings. I won’t spend time explaining how to get started, what an impression is or how to set a custom bid. It’s not that these questions aren’t important, but there are several blog posts and help articles that are available to take yours through this process (pop down to the end for a list of resources). This post, on the other hand, is a collection of thoughts and suggestions that I gathered as I launched and optimized Promoted Listings for my (talented and wonderful) wife’s Etsy shop. If you haven’t clicked through yet, she is a painter. And a pretty amazing one at that.

Before we jump in, I fully admit that I am coming into this jaded. Many people experience Etsy Promoted Listings as their first form of paid search (or maybe even their first form of advertising). This is not my first foray into paid search; far from it. I’ve been doing this for over 5 years for large fortune 500 companies. But that is precisely why I wanted to write this article. From what I’ve gathered, there seems to be very little perspective from this side of it. Hopefully, I can help a few of you Etsiers out along the way.

Don’t expect Google. Or Bing. Or even Yahoo.

Just don’t. If you’re turning on Promoted Listings expecting anything remotely close to Google Adwords or Bing Ads, you’re going to be sad. Like really, really, really sad. Truthfully I struggled with this a bit at first. One of the main issues that kept nagging at me was that I could not get our budget cap to go up. I wanted to give Etsy more money, they just wouldn’t let me. I’ve never had that problem before with Google.

But, you really have to step back and understand Etsy’s typical seller. Adwords can be extremely overwhelming at first. I see this all the time with newbies in the industry. So, imagine if Etsy created a platform that mirrored Google’s. Yikes! To coin a phrase from some old person that said this to me once: ‘It would be like handing the keys of a Ferrari to a teenager’. So, I decided to put myself in my wife’s shoes and as she says I ‘got glad in the same pants that I got mad in’. Then I got to work.

Dust off your SEO hat and giddy up

Admittedly, I’m no SEO expert. Sure, I can title tag and alt text with the best of them (not really) but my expertise really lies in paid media. I will say though that working with some of the best SEO minds in the industry definitely has its perks.

Tags, tags, tags. This is the bread and butter of Etsy Promoted Listings and where you should be spending the vast majority of your optimization time (product name is also very important, but more on that another time). Granted, you should still be optimizing your tags even if you are not promoting your listings, but it becomes that much more important when you start shelling out money for clicks.

The basics of SEO are really important to keep in mind here. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Remember, it’s not as important to describe your product as you perceive it, but much more valuable to describe it as your customers see it. Or even better, how your customers will search for it. Once you have that down, qualified traffic will find you.

I share because I care

So, I’m sure you’re wondering how our Promoted Listings campaign did? It wouldn’t be very fair of me to close the book here without sharing a few of those numbers with you. It’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is.

Overall, our numbers may not seem super sexy at first. But let’s step back for a second. I’m going to take a different approach to the analysis and maybe it will help you look at your KPI’s (key performance indicator) in a different way as well.

  • ROAS (return on advertising spend) was right around a 2:1 for the life of the campaign. Again, not very sexy. And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, when you factor in margin and time invested, we’re getting very close to a negative return.

But let’s not panic. Remember, we’re looking at the whole pie here. Not just a slice. Looking deeper, here’s what we saw for our overall site metrics:

  • In the first month, our overall revenue was up 245% compared to the previous month. And then up another 230% the next month.

  • We saw a 500% increase in orders quarter over quarter (Q4 vs Q3).

  • Shop views doubled from Q3 to Q4 and product views quadrupled in that same time.

  • Our shop ranked in the top 3 paid and organic results for the term ‘2016 calendar’ for much of December. Many times, we were in position 1 for both. (I’m particularly proud of that one)

It’s no coincidence. Yes, the product is good and yes, this increase was during holiday. But, to be candid, January is going really, really well. We’re on pace to match our order total from December. So… sorry haters.

So how do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time of course. I know, I know. My dadisms are becoming way too frequent. Luckily for you, we’re almost done.

If I can impart any bit of wisdom on the hesitant Etsy seller that doesn’t know if they want to go down this paid search path, it is this. Just get started. Start out slow, sure (maybe only promote a handful of products). But go for it. There is relatively low risk and it can really help your shop take off.  So, if you are on the fence about Promoted Listings, I hope that this gives you a little more confidence to take that leap of faith.

And now it’s come for the part you’ve all been waiting for. Yes! I will happily post one or a few follow ups to this article. I quickly discovered while writing this that there is simply way too much content to cover in one post.

So, until the next episode of Serial, I’m Sarah Koenig. Wait? No.

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