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Getting Started with Fashion Advertising & PPC Online

Getting Started with Fashion Advertising & PPC Online

Fashion and apparel products make up the single largest eCommerce segment in the world. Brands and retailers that rely on internet shopping for revenue find that every year the industry is moved by the huge influence of changing behaviors and new marketing strategies.

Fashion advertising online, including fashion PPC, is key to increasing purchases and it’s one of the best options available for keeping up with the increasingly competitive world of online fashion advertising.

In 2019, in the U.S. alone, about $525 billion passed through the internet for clothing and style related product purchases; the industry is expected to reach as much as $953 billion by the end of 2024! At the turn of the decade, 1.2 billion people were regularly shopping online – turning to eCommerce sellers for everything from shoes, to handbags, to jewelry, makeup and more.

So what does fashion PPC mean within digital marketing as a whole? And what options are available for online fashion advertising and paid-marketing? The main options include ads on search engines (like Google and Bing) as well as paid ads for social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Across a wide range of channels, platforms, and marketplaces the pay-per-click model of advertising is one of the most common and successful strategies for retailers. And one of the most successful, since pay-per-click ads offer some of the best ROI of any eCommerce strategy.

eCommerce social media marketing is pretty broad, there are tons of options – but we decided to create a guide specifically for advertising clothing online. We explain how to sell fashion online using all the major advertising networks.

There are a lot of different options, ad types, and platforms, so here’s what’s out there that’s ideal for clothing/fashion PPC.

Search advertising

An example of Google PPC search ads for fashion brands

Search engine advertising is the biggest and most popular method of pay-per-click advertising and it’s one of the best strategies for online fashion advertising.

You encounter PPC ad campaigns on practically every Google search results page. Advertisers set-up search ads to target certain search queries and “bid” based on keyword competitions, AdRank, Quality Score and other Google algorithmic factors.

The big benefit of using PPC for fashion/clothing eCommerce is its strong and rapid results – both are the main reasons why PPC marketing is important.

Search ads offer fast sales and a very good return-on-ad-spend (or “ROAS). According to Google, data suggests as much as $2 ROI for every $1 that’s spent. Fashion PPC advertising can help increase brand awareness by as much as 80%, and clicks that come through ads have a 1.5X greater conversion rate than just organic traffic. Search ads can get more than half of all clicks from searchers looking to buy a product, and eCommerce actually has the lowest cost-per-click in PPC, with an average of $1.16. The only true drawback to fashion PPC advertising is that it does require a budget – but businesses can choose to invest as little or as much as they want.

The two key players here are Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising which both use the same model for paid search ads – and together make up about 95% of all search traffic (Google alone is more than 88%).

Here’s what using PPC for fashion, apparel, and apparel-accessories means for eCommerce retailers specifically:

  • PPC ads can boost impressions and brand recognition by putting businesses directly at the top of page #1 search results.
  • Search ads can help drive traffic to new websites without a reputation.
  • Pay-per-click advertising starts working immediately, making it great for short time periods like new product-line launches, holidays, or seasonal events.
  • It can help generate cash-flow much faster than organic traffic.
  • It helps clear out product stock before the end of a season.
  • It drives head keyword traffic to top-level landing pages and category pages for accessories, apparel, etc.
  • Product ads can appear directly in search results, including with product info (images, avg. user rating, price, etc.)

Paid Facebook eCommerce ads

Facebook is also one of the best options for online fashion advertising, since it offers pay-per-click style ads across its network. With more than 2.7 billion users on Facebook and Facebook Messenger, the platform is hugely important for advertising clothing and fashion.

Do paid Facebook ads really work though? Absolutely. Facebook actually has the highest retail return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) of any social platform – making it a perfect additional tool for fashion PPC-based marketing. It’s such a strong channel that, according to Statista, 41% of surveyed marketers claimed that Facebook gave them the best ROI of any social platform.

Other benefits of advertising on Facebook include its immediate results, its ultra-precise audience targeting options, and its advertising templates that are best suited for selling products. Facebook (and Instagram) are both rapidly expanding options for selling products – meaning that fashion marketers and clothing retail brands have a way to showcase and sell a whole range of shoes, accessories, jewelry, etc.

Facebook’s ad “objectives” give options that are specifically for products. Businesses can build ads specifically for improving brand awareness, consideration, and product sales – all of which can be perfect for fashion advertising online.

“Brand awareness” as an objective means increasing people’s awareness of your clothing brand, store, or product line. Ads set up for “consideration” focus on increasing engagement for brand content (like for fashion digital marketing agencies with content across multiple channels) – with options to increase traffic to the brand’s website, greater content engagement, messages etc.

Conversions are particularly important since this is the fashion PPC technique within Facebook that directly drives sales – afterall 70% of consumers search for products they want on Facebook and Instagram. The “objectives” here mean ads that deliberately focus on driving greater conversion, catalog sales, or even eCommerce store traffic. In recent years Facebook has built out new tools with product sales, eCommerce and even clothing specifically in mind.

There multiple types of product/business ads to choose from:

  • Photo – These are static single product image ads.
  • Video – Video ads range in terms of length and can be set to appear in-stream, in user feeds, or in Stories.
  • Stories – Stories are customizable ads that take up the whole screen. They can be videos or static images and tapping on Stories ads brings the user to your site (or whatever page you set).
  • Messenger – These ads appear between conversations on the Facebook Messenger App.
  • Carousel – Carousel ads are comprised of up to ten static images that the user can scroll through.
  • Slideshow – These ads show short video-like clips made with motion, sound, and text.
  • Collection – Collection ads showcase multiple products in a single ad, all of which can be individually interacted with by a user.
  • Playables – These are interactive demo games that users can preview before they download the app or game.

Instagram eCommerce ads

Instagram is owned by Facebook and they both share the same ad network. Facebook has given businesses an option to extend their same ad content and campaigns straight across to Instagram – with basically a few clicks.

Actually, Instagram marketing for eCommerce is probably one of the single best ways for marketing fashion online. Now more than 80% of users follow a brand on the app. For U.S users: about 11% shop for products on the app (and that’s out of 112 million U.S. users). Instagram claims that 130 million accounts interact with shopping posts every month – as it continues to grow in popularity for younger audiences and shoppers, using Instagram as a channel for PPC fashion advertising will be crucial to sustainable growth.

Facebook also offers “Dynamic Ads,” or automatically created ads based off of user interests and “retargeting” methods. These automatically display clothing products and items to users from a brand catalog they are already interested in.

Here’s what the platform’s different paid ad types look like as options for selling fashion online:

  • Instagram Shopping Post – This is one of the main options available for fashion/clothing product retail. This add type lets brands and businesses tag their eCommerce product in posts (like how regular users can tag friends). When people click on these tags they’re taken to a product description page within the Instagram app.
  • Stories – These ads are vertically oriented and will appear in between regular user/friend’s stories as a sort of interstitial. Fashion brands can use these ads to target website traffic or site/app conversions as a goal.
  • Photo Ads & Video – These ads showcase products with visuals. They can target conversions, store traffic, brand awareness, and more.
  • Carousel – The carousel ad design allows fashion brands to advertise up to 10 different images or videos within a single ad, as a sort of scrollable album.
  • Collection – This format shows a sort of “instant storefront” for selling 4 or more items at a time, letting brands display multiple product cards, just like carousel ads – but these ads feature a “hero” image.
  • Explore – These ads appear in the Explore page of the Instagram app. Instagram themselves have emphasized the growing importance of the Explore feed for eCommerce saying that they intend to grow business and consumer interaction in this part of the app.
  • IGTV –A new ad type meaning a new location for clothing product ads. These are much more similar to story ads in that they provide brands an opportunity for fully produced visual media marketing.

In-app “Shops” on Facebook & Instagram

Shops are designed to make selling online easier with an in-app “storefront” UI that is designed for letting businesses sell products – specifically with a “checkout” process built in to the app.

Shops are far different from regular product ad which can only direct users out-of-app to the seller’s eCommerce website or increase engagement with the brand’s social content. Shops are a huge new opportunity for fashion online advertising since they can improve conversion-rate and reduce exits from the shopping funnel by giving people a way to complete the checkout process more easily.

The idea here is that, by using the Facebook Commerce Manager brands can:

  • Manage their product catalog/inventory within both apps.
  • Set up their Shops for an in-app “storefront” experience.
  • Build collections with product images, names, descriptions, and details.
  • Customize the shop with imagery, layouts, visuals, and custom colors for a design that matches their brand’s visual language.
  • Combine their existing fashion PPC/advertising strategies with opportunities for actual conversions in the app.

For Instagram the shops are shown in the business’s profile, Feeds, or in Stories. In Facebook they are in the business profile, Stories or within ads.

There’s also compatibility with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct and more – as well as Facebook partnerships with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feedonomics.

Search engine shopping marketplaces

Google Shopping and Bing Shopping both offer an opportunity for extended fashion PPC strategies. Google’s shopping now even offers an opportunity for SEO based organic results.

These marketplaces offer paid advertising options for clothing stores, retailers, fashion brands, and even D2C marketers that want to sell style and fashion products directly in search results. Like other online “marketplaces” shoppers can even filter and sort results for price, brand, size, color, and more.

The way these work is that search engines provide a stand-alone section of search specifically for product listings and eCommerce where businesses can have their products displayed with extra information (including images, pricing, brand/manufacturer, avg. user rating etc.) The shopping search tools exist as stand-alone parts of the search engine (just like image search, news, or videos) that are specifically designed for eCommerce.

74% of brands say PPC is a huge driver for their business – something that online fashion advertisers should take advantage of with Shopping campaigns.

In order to get products to appear in Google Shopping, clothing brands and online clothing stores need to import their product data into a free Merchant Center account, or for Bing campaigns they need to use a Microsoft Merchant Center account (MMC).

Shopping ads (called Product Listing Ads, or PLAs on Google) use the product data – not keywords – to decide how high to rank ads, though the results are still primarily based on search queries.

Also Google provides extra options for fashion PPC advertising where brands can choose to have products appear in “surfaces across Google” meaning products can be shown in image search results, the main Shopping tab, Google Lens, and in regular search results as “carousels” as well.

An example of shopping ads in Google image search
An example of shopping ads in Google image search

Shopping ads are perfect for online fashion advertising including for:

  • Generating revenue directly from Google/Bing search pages. Lowering the barriers to conversion for many shoppers.
  • To generate cash-flow or sales more quickly than with just SEO.
  • To help promote brand recognition when competing against other dominant fashion brands.
  • Combining keyword/ranking strategies for both SEO and PPC that work together for better CTR.

Amazon sponsored products

Amazon is the largest online marketplace in the world and is one of the most important apparel/fashion PPC marketing platforms available.

For online fashion advertising on the Amazon retailer platform the main choice is using “sponsored product” ads which display products directly at the top of the search results page, as well as in the product details page.

Are Amazon’s Sponsored Product ads worth it for advertising fashion online? Not only are sponsored products ads one of the best ways to increase product sales and revenue, they also increase brand awareness with greater impressions and can increase click-through-rate (CTR) as well as conversion rate (CR) – which both are organic ranking factors in the Amazon A9 algorithm.

Businesses that use Amazon for fashion pay-per-click advertising can take advantage of options for:

  • Sponsored Products (product listings that are shown at the top of results on product detail pages)
  • Sponsored Brands (search ads meant to increase brand awareness for clothing brands and fashion stores)
  • Sponsored Display
  • Stores (in-platform store-fronts for brands to showcase their inventory)
  • Display Ads (visually focused ads for both on and off Amazon)
  • Video Ads
  • Amazon DSP (or demand-side platform ads for marketing clothing products and accessories both on and off Amazon)

To sell and advertise fashion online, brands and businesses can use PPC ads to increase both Amazon sales and rankings – growing sales revenue and BSR (Best Sellers Rank) even more.

Hiring a fashion digital marketing agency

Strategies for selling clothing and apparel online include a wide range of paid advertising options. But one path we haven’t mentioned yet includes hiring any agency.

Outsourcing the work of running a fashion PPC or paid-media campaign can offer higher-quality results while also making life a lot easier.

Hiring a fashion digital marketing agency to run ads across multiple platforms offers a lot of benefits – mainly with the drawback of cost. Smaller businesses, or sites with small audiences might prefer doing it themselves, but for most businesses the benefits of professional ad management might be too strong to ignore. Hiring PPC management experts means reducing the workload for advertising growth, ensuring better ROI, reducing budget waste, and getting background experience based on clients in the same industry.

Agencies can also make sure businesses use their ad budget more efficiently by monitoring negative-ad keywords, muting/adjusting poorly performing campaigns, and using feedback data to expertly adjust audiences.

Clothing and fashion digital marketing agencies can:

  • Do professional keyword research for shoes, garments, purses, jewelry, glasses, winterwear, sports apparel, professional apparel, accessories, beauty-products, bags, luggage, etc. You name it!
  • Strategize on-site improvements for better ad rank via improved Quality Score
  • Dedicate a team for ad monitoring, creation, copy writing, and budget monitoring
  • Create monthly KPI analysis reports
  • Use experience with advertising tools including Google Keyword Planner, Analytics, Merchant Center, Facebook Insights, Instagram Ads, Microsoft Advertising, Amazon Seller Central, etc.
  • Provide personal account managers for communication on how their ads are performing.

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