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Facebook launched Business Manager to help companies manage and organize their Facebook Pages and advertising accounts without being tied only to an individual personal account.

Facebook Business Manager is a free tool developed by Facebook to allow businesses and agencies to securely manage their company’s Pages, ad accounts, catalogs and pixels in one place, without sharing login information or being connected to their coworkers on Facebook.

In this guide, we will cover how to set up Facebook Business Manager and explore its many features and benefits for your company or agency.

Top 10 Facebook Business Manager Benefits

Facebook created Business Manager to help solve pain points for companies. It has numerous advantages over the previous system.

Here are the top 10 benefits for setting up your company’s Business Manager.

  1. Manage multiple Pages and ad accounts from one Business Manager.
  2. Securely share and control access to their ad accounts, Pages and other assets on Facebook.
  3. Easily add or remove employees and agencies to your account.
  4. Grant different permission levels based on business objectives.
  5. Access valuable pixel data
  6. Quickly build custom audiences for your advertising efforts.
  7. Access the Catalog and build product sets with ease.
  8. Business level reporting for multiple accounts.
  9. FB Support will refer to business manager when troubleshooting issues.
  10. Manage billing details and see spend thresholds.

AGENCY TIP: If Facebook is a major place for client advertising, be sure to thoroughly train your team and communicate with your client as to how you’ll be using the platform.

We’re going to walk you through how your company can take advantage of all these features by setting up your Business Manager account.

Facebook Business Manager – Part 1

The setup process is only a few steps, but you need to make sure you have the right person setting it up. Facebook recommends the primary admin be in charge of setting up the Business Manager.

For smaller companies, this may be the CEO, and for larger companies, this may be the CMO, Marketing Director or Social Media Manager. This person will be responsible for inviting users, granting them access to manage work Pages or accounts, and getting the billing information set up (if needed). It’s also recommended that you have more than one admin on an account in the case of a person leaving a company or unforeseen issues.

Step 1 – Getting Started

Facebook is great about moving you through the process, so carefully follow their instructions. Here is the information you need to get started. Navigate to the Business Manager home page and Create Your Account.

Step 2 – Info About Your Business

Add Your Business Details. If you are creating this for your own business, then select “Promote its own goods or services” at the bottom. When you have populated the information, click submit.

Once you click Submit, you will need to verify information via the email you input to receive full access to the account.

Step 3 – Connecting Pages and People

Congratulations! Now that you have your initial Facebook Business Manager set up, you should see be brought to a page that looks like this:

At this stage, you will need to add your Facebook Business page. This is required for most types of ads on Facebook. Remember, this is your Business page, not your personal page. Remember that you must have access to at least one business Page or you will have to create one.

The next step is to Add Ad Accounts.

The next step is to add the relevant People who will need access to your Business Manager. By default, it will assign the person to the role of Employee access. If you want to grant someone Admin access, you will need to manually flip that from off to on.

RO TIP: Only provide admin access to those users who really need it.

Here’s more detailed information on the roles.

Business Manager Setup – Roles

It’s now time to finish setting up your Business Manager and familiarizing yourself with the layout. Start by clicking on the Settings Tab in the upper left corner next to the Home Tab.

You should see your account navigation with People at the top. I’m going to walk you through each tab so you can know what to expect and where to find certain information.

This is where you can add people who will be working on your Pages and ad account.

AGENCY PRO TIP: Have a process in place with your agency team and the client as to how people are added or removed.

To add someone, click on Add New Person and you will see a pop-up that gives you the option to add someone as an Admin or Employee by entering their email address. Facebook recommends adding work email address. This is good advice, especially if you don’t know the person’s personal Facebook email.

Once you make your selection, you can choose which pages and accounts this person can access. Keep in mind to pick the proper role that will allow that person to do their job.

PRO TIP: When setting roles, be sure to pick a role that allows the job to get done, but is not more than what is needed. This helps protect the account from potential liability.


Facebook has made it easier for you to manage multiple Pages without having to switch between different profiles. The major benefit of adding Pages to your Business Manager is so you can have everything you work on in one place. Another advantage is seeing who has access and what permissions they have for the company’s Facebook Page(s).

Again, you can assign Pages to people by picking through a couple options that best fits that person’s job duties. Here is what each role can access on a Page. Remember, you can always change this later.

Ad Accounts

The process here is just like adding people. You will need to click on Add New Ad Account. From here, you are presented with three options:

    1. Create a new account – do this if you have never set up an ad account before.
    1. Claim an ad account – do this if you already have an existing ad account and you just want to pull it into this Business Manager. Keep in mind you can’t claim an ad account that’s owned by another Business Manager.
  1. Request access to existing ad account – this is mainly for agencies or businesses that need access to an existing ad account.

Another feature to the ad account is the ability to once again assign people with varying access levels. Here is what each role can access on a business ad account.

Product Catalogs

Another cool feature of Facebook Business Manager is uploading a product catalog. The catalog is essentially a product feed very similar to Google Merchant Center. Once you set it up, you can serve ads based off your website products to potential customers.

Here’s how Facebook defines a catalog:

“A catalog holds information about the items in your inventory. You can use the information in a catalog to promote your inventory and business across Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network and Messenger. There are different types of catalogs for different businesses, including e-commerce (businesses that sell products), travel (businesses that sell flights, destinations or hotels), real estate and auto.”

AGENCY PRO TIP: Combine your product catalog with your Facebook custom audiences to serve dynamic product ads to previous website visitors.


The Facebook Pixel is a “piece of code for your website that lets you measure, optimize and build audiences for your ad campaigns.”  This is a critical part of being able to run successful ad campaigns once you have Business Manager set up. It is easy to set up, and at Inflow we recommend using Google Tag Manager to install the pixel if you have already have a container set up on your site.

PRO TIP: Install the pixel on your website as soon as you can, even if you aren’t running ads yet. This will allow FB to collect valuable data on your website visitors, and give you a running head start when you do start advertising.

Final Thoughts

Business Manager solves a lot of companies’ concerns with user access and permissions by having everything in one central location for the company admin.

While Facebook has made parts of management a lot easier and streamlined, it does have a steep learning curve for a new user. However, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Namely, for companies that have lots of moving parts and just need one central place to manage their Facebook operations.

One of our great hopes for the platform moving forward is a central location for agencies to run multiple reports across several ad accounts at once.

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In this guide, you’ll learn the best practices for tracking inbound phone calls to your eCommerce store.

If inbound calls are an important part of your business and you want:

  • More conversions
  • Less wasted ad spend
  • More accurate + insightful analytics

Then you’ll want to apply the actionable tips here to your marketing campaigns.

Let’s dive right in.

(Or, please get in touch if you’d like us to help you implement call tracking solutions for your website.)

Call Tracking: Misconceptions and Challenges

In our experience, many businesses assume that they don’t need inbound call tracking or that they are already doing enough on their own.

It’s a reasonable assumption. They know the number of incoming calls and the sales from those calls, after all.

But which of those inbound calls came in as a result of a keyword bid, and which ones came in from an organic search? It sounds like common sense, but we’ve seen that many businesses aren’t fully tracking the ROAS for inbound calls.

The challenge for eCommerce stores is figuring out how to track ROAS accurately without knowing what ads or other marketing sources their calls are attributed to.

Most attempts at inbound call tracking involve either:

  1. Attempting to manually track these calls or
  2. Roughly estimating how much revenue came from these calls vs other platforms each month.

In short: a lot of legwork yielding questionable reports.

You can track clicks. But in order to properly track an ad that drives a click, a call, and ultimately a sale—you need call tracking software (AKA click-to-call tracking).

A good marketing strategy relies on accurate reports. But Google Ads and other reporting tools will sometimes show different, overlapping measurements for clicks and calls.

How Does Call Tracking Work?

With a call tracking tool, clicks and calls are segmented. You get an accurate report of how many calls you receive from your paid ads vs clicks.

Call tracking for inbound leads uses JavaScript to assign a different phone number (either local or toll-free numbers) to display for each visitor depending on how they arrived at the website.

Potential customers will see one number for a paid ad, another for an organic SEO listing, and another for a direct visit, etc.

Integrating with Google Analytics, this dynamic number insertion (DNI) segments people by tagging each call with its source (direct referral, paid search ads, organic), and presents that information to you in a dashboard:

Now the business has a factual overview of their call sources.

If you aren’t tracking calls yet, it could be that:

  • You know you should be tracking it but aren’t sure how to do it correctly.
  • You’ve ineffectively tried to track it yourself or hired it out to agencies or consultants who didn’t know how.
  • You haven’t tried to track it because you don’t want the added cost of tracking more than just the incoming calls and the results from those calls vs attributing it to their paid campaign.

The solution is to implement call tracking software and train your sales team on how to use it effectively.

Our Recommended Call Tracking Tool

The tool we typically recommend to any business that isn’t currently tracking calls is CallRail* (Full Disclosure: We’re a CallRail affiliate because we use them and genuinely think the product is useful as per this section. But the strategies in this article will work regardless of which call tracking software you go with).

This call tracking tool integrates easily with Google Analytics (or Google Data Studio), your other existing software, and your call center to show you keyword level call data.

CallRail displays the exact traffic source, keywords, and phrases that converted into calls, along with other useful datamaking tracking inbound calls a much more scalable process.

There are other call tracking tools out there, but we use CallRail the most often to help companies track call revenue as linked to their paid ad spend.

Nearly every time we integrate it—if not every time—this software reveals that companies could be allocating their ad budget more effectively.

Additionally, CallRail can function as a CRM for calls.

One of our clients in the plumbing niche integrates CallRail with another call tracking service that is more limited in its paid source tracking. This allows the client to see what they need to see (dispatch reports, invoice details, etc.).

It also allows us to see what we need to see (calls attributed to service types and campaigns) in order to allocate their ad spend effectively.

What is Keyword Level Call Tracking (PPC Call Tracking)?

Call tracking can be integrated through Google analytics to see metrics at the keyword level. This allows your eCommerce business to further optimize ad spend and identify new opportunities to target in your campaigns.

How does it work? You can see the Google click ID and associate it with the call it resulted in.

Adding a monetary value and date, you can import that back into Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords).

Google and the call analytics platform will connect the dots by attaching value to each call and keyword targeted in your campaigns. This allows managers to intelligently optimize paid campaigns for inbound calls.

Why Integrate PPC Call Tracking?

Missing call data leaves a hole in your ROAS measurement, leading to lower conversion rates, wasted ad spend, and inaccurate reporting.

In addition, some brands simply have a customer base or culture requiring a lot of phone calls (certain customer demographics, products that require lots of questions, etc.). For them, it’s essential to track call activity accurately to know ROAS and marketing metrics.

Call tracking for PPC at the keyword level yields more revenue in a number of ways:

  • Understand the intent of phone leads: What are they looking to get, what questions or objections are they raising, and what is their path to convert?
  • Determine your true ROAS: Not tracking the calls resulting from paid ads means you can’t quantify.
  • Maximize budget: Drill down into lead generation sources at a granular level to find the best keywords that convert into calls and sales.
  • Track conversion rate accurately with multi-channel attribution: Integrate call tracking data with Google analytics to ensure the missing phone data piece is included, and see what marketing channels website visitors and callers find your business through (PPC, SEO, social media, email, etc).

Callers into your business are the most engaged leads. When a customer dials after viewing an ad, this signals a strong intent to consider or make a purchase.

Phone call leads convert at 10 times the rate of web leads, according to Invoca.

For further affirmation: call leads converted 10-15 times more frequently than web leads, according to a 2016 report by BIA-Kelsey.

Clearly, optimizing for calls is very valuable.

Our Approach to Call Tracking

In a previous case study, we helped a client that specializes in appliances (and other products for homes and businesses) integrate call tracking data into their marketing campaigns.

Our changes to their campaigns were based on analyzing the call data, which increased ad costs by about 9%, but increased revenue by 199%.

Why did it go up? After integrating call tracking, our team saw which products were best-performing. These were different products from what the client had assumed were the most lucrative.

We used that data to improve their Google shopping ads and product-related search campaigns. In turn, lead generation tracking on the client’s end confirmed our hypothesis that those other products were the better ones to target with ads.

There are some important best practices to make call tracking as effective for your business as it was in this example.

Best Practices for Call Tracking

Above all: inbound call tracking should be simple to set up and as automated as possible—while providing valuable insights to your marketing efforts.

These best practices will help to that end.

1. Have Your Phone Reps or Call Center Use a Tool

In the interest of keeping it simple and automated, train your sales reps to tag calls in real-time.

Built in phone tracking features from call centers and pay per call networks lack the ability to integrate with your paid ad campaigns, so training phone reps on your sales team to tag calls in a tracking tool is key.

Whether a business gets 5 calls a month or 5000: it’s important to know where these calls come from and what the user is looking for. Then, to optimize campaigns and spend allocation based on this information.

Inbound call routing based on this information is important: Especially when just one call can result in a high ticket purchase or a qualified lead.

2. Improve Your Call Performance

Call tracking lets you see exactly what happened after a lead makes a call. You can optimize your call center’s process and performance using this call status data.

For example, you can see that 100 inbound calls were made the previous month. Out of those calls, you’ll know how many were answered, unanswered, got a busy signal, or went to voicemail.

Looking at the hourly blocks when those calls came in, you can see that from 3 to 5 p.m. too many calls went to the busy signal. Or that between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. there were too many unanswered calls.

By integrating other platforms (Google Ads, email CRM, Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.) we can see what calls came from existing customers vs. new customers, and what the results were.

You can also use it to get insight into how sales is following up with and handling leads to make sure that sales processes are being followed.

3. Pair Your PPC Ads with Keyword Tracking Numbers

As we’ve mentioned, you’re probably used to seeing clicks on your Google Ads…but you may not be seeing calls.

By pairing those ads with keyword tracking numbers you can see call conversions and their impact in your total conversions report:

Using a tracking parameter attached to each ad for the keyword pool, when a call from a PPC source comes in, you can see:

  • What campaign it came from
  • The keyword
  • And the landing page they were driven to

This is the foundational data for optimizing your campaigns toward callers.

4. Integrate Your Dashboard

Create a phone call dashboard in Google analytics or Google Data studio. Then, track the following to make your advertising efforts (and dollars) go farther:

  1. What % of calls are coming from a direct, organic, or paid source? (The higher the % calls coming from paid the more important call tracking is.)
  2. What specific products are users calling to purchase / inquire about?

Clearly, more budget and other resources should be allocated to selling those products.

Using the dashboard you’ll also be able to track:

  • Time of day
  • Call duration
  • Call volume
  • Revenue for each call
  • Cost of acquisition (and how to lower it)
  • What products drive the most revenue
  • What channels generate the highest quality leads
  • What keywords are the highest converting and which are wasting money
  • And of course, the ROI and value of call tracking itself
5. Tag and Track Detailed Analytics

Your phone call data is a potential goldmine once you get even more granular.

Example: One of our clients in the home renovation niche downloaded calls received over a month into a report.

They filtered the report for calls that came from paid ads. Then tagged:

  • What the user called for
  • If the call got revenue and how much
  • If the lead was qualified or not
  • The product type

This data came in handy to evaluate where to drive leads to. If a certain landing page was getting more revenue, they could now change ads to drive more leads to that page.

Looking at every touchpoint that leads to a call through multi-channel attribution, you can understand the online behavior of callers, including where they are in the customer journey, and optimize campaigns in this way.

6. Mine Calls for Keywords and Intent

Call recording is a useful feature within most call tracking software that helps you to better understand your current and potential customers.

Pay attention to what customers want in phone conversations by using these call recordings to tag their intent (if call reps haven’t tagged them beforehand).

If you get a lot of calls around one of your specific products or services, you can mine customer language from the recording or transcripts of their calls to discover new keywords to target with your ads that better match their intent.

Example: A client that offers both fireplace and plumbing products/installation/repair anticipated a greater demand for the fireplace segment in early December (when people use their fireplaces the most).

So, to drive a high amount of leads we allocated more budget to fireplace-related keywords.

We soon realized that more incoming calls were for plumbing than for fireplaces, therefore, we adjusted ad budgets to terms that take advantage of the greater demand for plumbing.

7. Take Action on Your Budget Allocations

As the example above shows, it’s important to look at the dollar value of calls, and to stop paying for keywords that aren’t shown to yield revenue, conversions, and leads.

Look at which ads are driving the most calls, and use keyword level call tracking to see the exact terms driving those conversions.

Then: Increase your allocation to the highest converting keywords!

Example: If a keyword creates 10 calls and a total lead value of $1000, and another keyword creates 5 calls with a total lead value of $1000, you would bid on the one attracting higher value customers.

In line with this scenario: a client of ours in the home renovation niche offering window products realized they were wasting spend on blind-related keywords.

Instead, we shifted the focus to target shutter-related keywords that performed much better for them according to revenue tags in CallRail.

8. Hire an Effective Agency for PPC Call Tracking

Many busy eCommerce businesses would prefer to hire out this aspect of their digital marketing analytics rather than do it themselves. (It’s also what we’re here for.)

To provide you some guidance in hiring this out, pay attention to these red flags and good signs.

Red Flags:
  • Does your business receive inbound calls? It’s worth asking. If an agency or consultant is pushing you to track calls but calls aren’t an aspect of your business, then you shouldn’t hire what you don’t need.
  • Are they charging extra fees for call tracking beyond the tool’s pricing? Call tracking is a necessary aspect of tracking ROI from the agency’s performance, so the client shouldn’t pay additional fees on it.
  • Plus, a software like CallRail may give the client a discount for going through an agency, rather than the client signing onto CallRail alone.
Good Signs:
  • Does the agency or consultant understand all the pieces that go into your business, including inbound calls from customers?
  • Are they showing you the value of call tracking?

Wasted ad spend is common, and a good agency should help you maximize what you spend. Call tracking is simply part of doing that (or should be).

We help our clients to understand how valuable call tracking is by showing them exactly where they are currently wasting their paid ad spend. The proof is in the tracking.


If your business receives calls, then you need to be tracking them in pursuit of accurate and effective marketing.

It’s particularly important to be tracking calls if:

  • You have higher prices than competitors. (People want to call more frequently before making a significant purchase to talk about the product.)
  • You are a business positioned to value yourself on having more expertise, customization, and/or service offerings—people may call more for those reasons.
  • You are a business with older demographics who tend to prefer doing business over the phone.

Tracking the return or churn from these ad-attributed calls should be standard practice—yet many businesses aren’t integrating call tracking into their analytics yet.

Implementing this will help you to maximize ROAS thanks to attribution of calls to paid ads and other mediums. It’s all about better allocating advertising spend and product/service offerings.

We always aim to help our clients to automate their call tracking as much as possible, using the data to create additional trackable revenue through SEO and paid ad campaigns.

With call data you can make better decisions within the dynamic of paid ads, your products and services, feedback from customers, and ad budget allocation.

So, if your business is getting inbound calls (and/or making outbound calls): we recommend you integrate call tracking.

We know that it might seem overwhelming to integrate this software and tracking process while keeping up with other business-related tasks, so we’d love to help you get started. 

If you’re interested in tracking calls or implementing other solutions for more eCommerce conversions and lead gen, please get in touch with us.

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We’ve developed a framework for structuring eCommerce Facebook Ad campaigns, which initial results show can achieve 3x ROAS while targeting top-of-funnel cold audiences in a new way.

We think it’s a big advantage to target these audiences, because typically eCommerce brands limit their campaigns to high-frequency remarketing that targets existing audiences for immediate sales. As a result, they miss out on huge opportunities.

So far, our new framework has:

  • Helped us scale ad spend by 58% while maintaining a 3x ROAS
  • Boosted purchases by 63%
  • Increased average purchase value by 44%

In this framework, we think beyond “buy, buy, buy!”. As a result, we keep our prospect pool fresh by building new custom audience lists, which lets us access a much larger total audience. It also boosts paid and organic brand searches. Above all, this creates a sustainable long-term sales pipeline. We’ve based this approach on Avinash Kaushik’s ‘See, Think, Do’ framework.

At Inflow, we work with dozens of eCommerce companies to generate sales through Facebook Ads. You can talk to one of our Facebook advertising specialists to see how we can help you increase ROAS. Get in touch now.

How We Applied ‘See, Think, Do’ to eCommerce Facebook Ads

If you haven’t come across Avinash Kaushik’s ‘See, Think, Do’ framework before, he splits his prospects into three categories:

  • See: The biggest possible relevant audience, who haven’t yet shown intent.
  • Think: A subset of the ‘See’ audience who have shown intent.
  • Do: A subset of the ‘Think’ audience who are most likely to make a purchase.

This is typically used as a high-level marketing strategy framework. How did we apply it to the nitty gritty of an eCommerce Facebook Ad campaign strategy?

Typically, eCommerce Facebook Ad strategies jump straight to the ‘Do’ stage. With pressure to hit short-term targets and see quick returns, spending cash on awareness-stage audiences is not a priority. Top-of-funnel has a reputation for being costly, cumbersome, and ineffective for eCommerce — and this is especially true in eCommerce social media advertising. But as we’ll see, there’s more than one way to target people.

For some paid digital marketing channels, jumping to ‘Do’ is logical. For example, Google Ads qualify intent by way of keyword search, and so it makes sense to sell hard when bidding on bottom-of-funnel, high purchase intent keywords. However, relying on Google Ads alone limits your audience size to people who are actively seeking an item. You miss out on everybody who doesn’t yet know they need it.

Facebook, on the other hand, is the perfect platform for reaching pre-awareness prospects. You can target by who the person is and what their interests are, rather than what they happen to be searching for at that specific moment. Nonetheless, from what we’ve seen, eCommerce marketers still tend to focus on bottom-of-funnel advertising on Facebook, i.e., retargeting existing audiences.

This seems to be based on the idea that bottom-of-funnel campaigns are necessary to achieve a good ROAS. A strategy aimed at getting exposure to a new cold audience is feared to be too costly. But by using our ‘See, Think, Do’ based Facebook Ad strategy, we’ve been able to hit broader cold audiences and scale up the spend while maintaining solid returns.

How We Scaled the Performance of Aviator Gear’s Facebook Ads

Aviator Gear is an online store for custom military aviation gear. Their product catalog includes caps, patches, challenge coins, airplane models, stickers, and much more. By structuring their Facebook Ad campaigns around ‘See, Think, Do’, we target potential customers at the top of the sales funnel and achieve 3x ROAS overall.

Here’s how…

The ‘See’ Stage

KPI: Cost Per Mille (CPM)

The main goal of Aviator Gear’s ‘See’ stage is to reach as many relevant people as possible. Their target audience is relatively specific: mainly male, military, former military, or interested in military. And of course, US-based. But this is still very broad — and most of these people won’t know about what Aviator Gear offers.

To maximize reach, we set the campaign objectives in Ads Manager to ‘Reach’ (as opposed to Conversions). As a result, Facebook’s algorithms push our broad creative to a wide audience with our targeted demographics and interests. The goal is cheap impressions, at scale.

For Aviator Gear, we achieved a super low CPM of $1.07 for this stage. Compare this to a conversion-focused prospecting campaign, which would typically result in a CPM of $8-10!  

At this ‘See’ stage, we want to pique the interest of our broadest possible target audience. They’re now aware of the brand, and they interact with the ad in the news feed or visit the homepage. This is when the ‘Think’ stage begins.

The ‘Think’ Stage

KPI: Cost Per Engagement (CPE) / Landing Page View

For this stage, we drop the cookies and set the remarketing engine in gear. We build custom audiences and target the more qualified people who have visited the Aviator Gear website—or interacted with the brand on Facebook—with unique value propositions for relevant products or categories.

These ad creatives depend on various aspects: including where the audience went on the website and/or how they interacted with the Facebook post.  

For these ads, we use Facebook’s ‘Conversion campaign objective’.

For example, if the initial ‘See’ creative focused on model airplanes, we’d keep the value proposition at ‘Think’ tightly-bound to model airplanes. After all, this is what compelled that person to declare some interest in the first place, right?

We usually see the best ROAS here by keeping the ‘Think’ creative tight to the ‘See’ creative, but emphasising unique selling points and features in much more depth — e.g. “handcrafted”, “mahogany wood”, and other aspects. At the ‘Think’ stage, we are trying to compel the prospect to show meaningful engagement.

We also integrate Google Ads here. When someone clicks on an Aviator Gear ad in paid search or Google Shopping, they populate a Gclid (Google Click ID) that stays valid for their session. We know that this user is lower down the funnel, because they’ve already searched for what we offer. So, we build a custom audience based on URL rules (i.e. URL must contain Gclid) and hit these prospects with unique value propositions within their Facebook feed.

It’s worth mentioning that high-ticket items naturally demand more consideration from a prospective buyer than low-ticket items. This means you need to show some love in the ‘See’ and ‘Think’ stages, ideally with video ads and/or carousels that really pique the interest. For low-ticket items (e.g. a $2 patch), you can weigh the budget heavier on the next stage… ‘Do’.

The ‘Do’ Stage

KPI: Cost Per Purchase

Now, here is a tasty statistic: we see a 10x ROAS for the ‘Do’ stage, after putting our custom audiences through the ‘See’ and ‘Think’ stages. What makes this final action-oriented step so effective?

First, we retarget the top 25% of key landing page website visitors (based on time spent on site) from the ‘Think’ stage, and launch a bold Conversion campaign with strong ad copy and calls to action.

As you know, abandoned carts are a pain in the neck (see our piece on cart best practices), so the other part of our ‘Do’ stage is to get hesitant people across the line. We implement a dynamic Catalog Sales campaign to showcase the product they already added to the cart, again using strong CTAs such as “buy now” and “jet back to your cart”.

Important note: We don’t currently offer a comeback incentive (e.g. “complete your order now for 10% off!”) but this would be another weapon to try in your Facebook Ad remarketing arsenal.

Then, we take these campaigns even deeper by splitting up ad sets based on when a prospect added a product to cart. This structure breaks down into 0-5 days, 6-20 days, and 20+ days. As a result, we can bid more aggressively for the hotter recent leads.

We do ongoing optimization for this stage, using the ‘Time Lag Report’ on Google Analytics to track purchase behavior and tweak the time windows based on what the data shows.

Final Thoughts…

Overall, we’ve seen 3x ROAS on the combined (‘See, Think, Do’ framework) campaigns and 10x ROAS on just the ‘Do’ portion after sending customers through the previous two stages. The ability to achieve a good ROAS on cold audiences is exciting in terms of the potential for getting new customers.  

Many eCommerce brands limit themselves to conversion-focused creatives, which are great for getting a good ROAS on customers already exposed to your brand, but less effective for top-of-funnel prospects. The obsession with conversions also pushes ad prices up. By selling hard with high-frequency ads from the outset, they burn through a small audience quickly, and don’t build new lists for retargeting campaigns. This has a law of diminishing returns, making Facebook Ads more expensive.

From the initial goal of impressions at the ‘See’ stage, you can build qualified custom audiences cheaply and use Facebook Ads as a sustainable channel for eCommerce store customer acquisition.

As you nudge users down the funnel, aim for engagement and sales more explicitly. With its potential for high ROAS, the ‘See, Think, Do’ approach has put top-of-funnel prospects back on the radar for your eCommerce business.

At Inflow, we work with dozens of eCommerce companies to generate sales through Facebook Ads. You can talk to one of our Facebook advertising specialists to see how we can help you increase ROAS. Get in touch now.

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We know from working with hundreds of eCommerce brands that they are always looking for the best ways to utilize user generated content (UGC). In this case study, we are sharing a few tests we ran for Mountain House—an eCommerce business that sells freeze-dried foods for hikers, hunters, and camping enthusiasts—showing how adding UGC in strategic places on an eCommerce site can increase the conversion rate.  

Specifically, we curated and displayed photos on the main category pages, which lead to a conversion rate lift of 13%.

In this post, we are sharing what we learned in the process including:

  • The psychology of why this worked.
  • How to leverage UGC content and social media to improve conversion rates.
  • How you can apply these learnings in your eCommerce business.

To see your best possible conversion rate, you need an advanced strategy designed for your specific audience, and we can help. If you’d like our CRO experts to see what conversion best practices can be applied to your eCommerce site, contact us here.

About the Mountain House Instagram Contest CRO Test

An important part of having UGC work for increasing conversion rate is the quality of the photos. eCommerce brands should think of their user generated content strategy similar to their own product photography. High-quality photos will increase desire for the product and likely, the conversion rate.

So for Mountain House, instead of pulling random UGC photos, we chose stunning images that capture customers’ attention from a contest that Mountain House ran on their Instagram profile.

Mountain House has cultivated a loyal and large brand following with more than 45,000 followers on Instagram. They ran a contest collecting UGC photos from loyal customers and Instagrammers in the summer of 2017. This concept—along with the AB test we ran—put the best content on the category pages and exceeded all expectations.


Variation: 13% lift  

Specifically, we curated and added awesome contest photos to category pages as a value add to drive home that people buy and love these products (as shown above).

We used ReadyPulse to curate and pull in these images dynamically. We did it by category and specifically pulled out our favorite ones for this test. We looked for unique places and customers doing cool things, and not just your typical — “I’m holding the product in front of a door photo.” That’s not engaging.

Because Mountain House has a diverse customer base comprised of camping and hiking enthusiasts, outdoor adventure seekers and preppers, this contest helped to reinforce the brand perception of one of their key customer segments: everyday people who go hiking and hunting on the weekendsand how they love consuming these products.  

And, the customers who got their photos featured feel special. They feel like the brand recognizes them, which builds more brand loyalty, and then they are more likely to keep buying the products.

How to Incentivize Your Customers to Create Compelling UGC Content

UGC content works well when you tap into your most engaged customers on social channels, and then give them a reason to get excited to share content with you.

You need to incentivize them by empathizing with them and understanding their motivations.  

In this example, we needed to be able to give credit to them in a way that gets them the “notoriety” that they’re looking for. This means having a prize that motivates people to want to engage. In this case, it was a year’s supply of freeze-dried food.

Location of UGC Matters: Don’t Just Test UGC in One Place and Declare It a Success or Failure  

Since the homepage is the page that almost everybody lands on, and probably gets the most traffic, it is a natural place to run CRO tests for the first time.

However, we often see brands quick to call something a success or failure after only testing it on the homepage for a short time. That’s not always going to be the spot with the most significant impact.

Our CRO tests with Mountain House prove that. We first did a test on their homepage. This was the original test. It was less impactful, and it only resulted in a small lift.

Then, we tested it further down the funnel. We added it on every single category page. The category pages are where it resonated with visitors. No matter where people navigated to, they saw it.

You can also test adding UGC on product pages. For example, if you’ve got only a handful of products or you’ve got a huge Instagram base, putting it on the product page is definitely something worth trying.

We wouldn’t recommend adding it on ‘add to cart’ and ‘checkout’ pages though, because you don’t want to push people to your Instagram page and further away from completing a purchase.

This UGC strategy can work well with any brand that has visually captivating products and a large concentration of social influencers. For example, this could also work well if you sell juicing products.  

Leveraging Social Proof to Generate More Sales

The underlying reason why this worked so well is that it shows real people using their products in real life. This may seem obvious, but few eCommerce businesses leverage this social proof effectively.

In addition, it is easy to underestimate the power of social media platforms. Everybody thinks of social media as something that people interact with, but only some companies understand how it can affect their conversion rate. This clearly proves that this kind of content from social media can be used strategically on your site to achieve the latter.

If you have a strong brand and a social following with engaged users, you can use UGC content like Instagram posts to increase your conversion rate.

Don’t throw social media channels to the wayside just because you think it’s only for GenZ and millennials and won’t ultimately influence purchasing decisions.


While this UGC campaign worked well for Mountain House, every site is different. It’s helpful to benchmark your results against the best in class sites.

Every year, our CRO experts evaluate 25 top sites through our 154-point matrix, which breaks down the most important eCommerce features.  

If you’d like our CRO experts to see what conversion best practices can be applied to your eCommerce site, contact us here.

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In March of 2016, we began adding approximately 150-word descriptions to the tops of category pages for one of our clients, in addition to updating pages that already had some copy. This client was an eCommerce business offering a wide range of products grouped into 400+ categories. Our goal was to increase organic traffic to their category pages.

Over the course of about 18 months, we found these category pages to have 46% more organic sessions—compared to the 18 months prior. While we can’t attribute these positive results solely to the page descriptions because there were many other tactics being used simultaneously, we believe they are at least in part responsible for this increase in traffic to this page type.

In general, we think this SEO tactic (adding short 75 – 100 word descriptions to category pages) is something many eCommerce sites could possibly benefit from exploring as part of their overall SEO strategy.

While no tactic works 100% of the time, we feel that testing to see if adding short descriptive copy on category pages produces a positive impact is worthwhile for most brands (we discuss possible exceptions below).

In this post we will cover:

  1. Our process for creating the page descriptions—including reasoning behind specific decisions that were made.
  2. Which sites may be more or less likely to benefit from this strategy.
  3. Other tactics that we commonly deploy when optimizing category pages.
  4. Specific considerations that you should think about when making SEO decisions for your store’s category pages.

If you’d like to talk with someone on our team to see what actions could be taken to improve SEO for your eCommerce business, you can start a conversation with us here.

The Importance of Category Pages for eCommerce SEO

Before we dive into the process we followed for creating the on-page descriptions, I want to step back and take a look at where category pages fit in eCommerce SEO.

When we talk about foundational pages on an eCommerce site that we want to optimize, we’re typically talking about the (a) homepage, (b) product pages, and (c) category pages.

  1. Homepages are typically seeking to rank for the brand name and more general keywords related to that business, whereas…
  2. Product pages are optimized to rank for more specific search phrases when they’re most relevant to the user.
  3. Category pages are where we optimize for the many users who begin their search with a more general term of what they’re shopping for, when they would usually expect a list of products rather than get taken to a specific product.

Users who search terms that are best answered with category and product page results show high product/conversion intent, and that’s why these pages are particularly valuable to rank for.

Now let’s look at the steps we took to create category page body copy for our client.

Our Process for Creating the Category Page Descriptions

With this particular client, we started with a batch of category pages that we prioritized based on organic traffic and revenue potential. When we finished that batch, we moved onto the next batch of priority pages. And we’d work on 10-15 pages at a time.

For each batch of pages, we followed these 3 steps:

  1. Keyword Research and Selection
  2. Keyword Organization
  3. Writing the Copy
  1. Keyword Research and Selection

For each category page, we began our keyword research using Google Search Console and Keyword Planner (although today we typically use Ahrefs). We looked at current page rankings and competitor keywords to identify which phrases looked promising.

We selected keywords based on key criteria including:

  • They showed good traffic potential
  • Searcher intent matched the purpose of that category
  • Keyword difficulty wasn’t too high

  1. Keyword Organization

Once we chose our keywords, we organized them into primary, secondary, and tertiary keywords.

The following keyword type descriptions are from our eCommerce & SEO Copywriting Guide (updated last year) where we write about optimizing product and category pages in depth.

  • Primary Keyword – this keyword has the best combination of relevancy and search volume.
  • Secondary Keyword – this keyword has the 2nd best combination of relevancy and search volume, and should be rather unique from the primary keyword.
  • Tertiary Keyword – this keyword has the 3rd best combination of relevancy and search volume, and should be rather unique from the primary and secondary keywords.

  1. Writing the Copy

We then wrote 100 to 150 words trying to incorporate the keywords described above naturally within the copy, titles, and headers.

Back then we were recommending 150 words, but more recently we’ve been recommending 75-100 words. This is in part due to wanting to balance SEO with other factors like conversion rate optimization (CRO) and user experience—which we’ll discuss more below.

For Whom Does this Strategy Work Best?

As of right now, we think this tactic applies to the majority of eCommerce sites.

For clients that have category pages that are ranking well but coming up just short of page one (with page two performers for good related general keywords), we have seen that these sites can really benefit from adding body copy.

We have also seen cases where clients saw no improvements in traffic.

If a client comes to us and their category pages are already ranking well for the general keywords that we would want them to, we may not see much additional benefit from adding descriptive copy to those pages.

And if you’re an extremely large brand like Nike or Home Depot, with a lot of authority, this may not be a high priority tactic to test (along with other common SEO tactics).

But for the vast majority of sites, by signaling to search engines about the contents of the page, the body copy can be both helpful for the user and give a better shot at getting that bump from page two up to page one.

Let’s now take a look at some other tactics we use to help them get that bump.

Other Tactics We Deploy When Optimizing Category Pages

Adding page body copy is just one of a number of other category page SEO tactics we can test. Here are some others that we’ll also analyze and/or use when we think they’re necessary or appropriate.

Descriptive Title Tags

A title tag is the category name and it should be descriptive and specific. For example, if the category page only contains yoga pants for pregnant women, we’d use something like “Pregnant Women’s Yoga Pants” for the title tag instead of just “Yoga Pants.”


Interlinking is the tactic of linking to 1-3 related categories or subcategories contextually within the category description. Sometimes it’s a mix between categories and links to popular products within that category page.

Category Maintenance

This is the practice of making sure we maintain categories by fixing broken links (from other pages) as categories and subcategories are deleted.

Checking Technical Aspects

  • Canonical tags
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Site speed

Reviewing How Filters/Facets Are Currently Working

In an effort to not waste crawl budget spending time on thin pages that are essentially duplicate content, we check to see if filter/facet pages are indexable and crawlable.

Other Considerations for Category Page SEO: Conversion Rate and User Experience

Because context is so important when it comes to SEO, tactics like adding category page body copy is mostly used on a case by case basis, and not just simply done no matter what.

When we consider using this tactic of adding on-page descriptions, we think about balancing SEO with conversion rate optimization (CRO) and user experience concerns.

In particular, one of the biggest issues to consider when adding descriptive text to category pages is the risk of conversion rate reductions due to pushing products down the page. At Inflow, since we also have a CRO team, we have the privilege of discussing these issues with them on a case-by-case basis when working on SEO for a client.

To make decisions about balancing CRO with SEO, we think about things like:

  • Are the products going to be pushed below the fold?
  • Will the content take away from the product browsing experience?
  • Is it possible to add the content elsewhere besides the top of the page?
  • Would this page benefit from using “read more” links?
  • Is endless scroll being used (which would prevent us from being able to add content at the bottom)?

And when we consider balancing user experience with SEO, we ask questions like:

  • Could the user benefit from some explanation of the category and/or links to popular products to help them start exploring?
  • Is there helpful content that the site has produced that we could link to for those that need more information before browsing products?
Adding Descriptions to the Bottom vs. the Top of Category Pages

Before we wrap up, I want to touch on the tactic of adding copy to the bottom of category pages, as this topic comes up often in eCommerce SEO. Our overall stance on this topic is that it could insinuate to search engines that the content is not important.

Google has suggested that content this far down the page is deemed unimportant (because if it was important, why would it be at the bottom of the page?). Most readers may not get this far down the page and the content can be seen as over-optimized.

To summarize, for clients with opportunity to improve rankings for category pages, we explore the possibility of adding content if we believe there’s a lot of opportunity, but also keep in mind all of the possible issues mentioned above.

When it comes to the time it takes to see results from tactics like adding category page body copy, it could take as little as a few weeks—and on the flip side, it could produce little results.

The key is to always be thoughtfully testing and trying to make improvements to overall site quality.

Are you in eCommerce? You can always reach out to see if this or other SEO tactics would be a good fit for your business. It’s what we do!

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This content pruning case study demonstrates how deindexing blog content can lead to a better ROI from content overall.

Based on our experience auditing hundreds of online stores, we know that deindexing “dead-weight” pages is a relatively easy method to boost your SEO and revenue.

Most eCommerce stores focus on improving their content and expanding on it to improve their SEO. As you know, this often requires significant time and resources.

It’s counterintuitive, but you can increase the traffic brought in by your existing content without adding new content or improving existing content.

This can be done by deindexing low-performing blog posts.

Pruning low performing content typically requires way less work than adding more content. Thus, pruning is a tactic with a great ROI for eCommerce thanks to the high SEO impact and low investment of time and effort.

In this case study, we’re going to show you:

  • The criteria and process we use to quantitatively evaluate which content to deindex or remove.

  • How to determine which content to keep and allow Google to crawl.

  • How pruning pages for one of our eCommerce clients led to a 64% increase in revenue from their strategic blog content.

In short: If you want your best-performing strategic content to bring in even more traffic and revenue, you’ll want to read this case study. (Or contact us to see whether your site could benefit from a similar SEO strategy.)

The Benefits of Pruning Blog Content

It’s a persistently common misconception that more content is better.

Google released their Penguin update in 2012 to reward sites for having quality content. This was Google’s algorithm adjustment to improve user experience during a time when many websites tried to rank through mass-publishing low-quality content (like those 300 word keyword-stuffed articles).

Despite current best-practices, the idea that more content will always help a site rank hangs around quite stubbornly.

The bottom line is: You can’t assume that all of the pages on your site are helpful. The pages with low stats might be dragging your overall quality down.

In our audits of online stores, we’ve seen many lifts in traffic and revenue following a full content audit of both blog content and content in the store or shop pages. This involves a comprehensive analysis, followed by executing the action steps that will lead to improvement.

Usually, this results in deindexing up to 5%-20% of a store’s product and category pages in order to create better SEO results.

That said, we know that sometimes it takes a small SEO win through pruning a limited amount of content and seeing the results to get the confidence to do more.

For that reason, we’ll occasionally suggest starting with a strategic content audit (sometimes called a blog content audit) to “prove” the results from pruning non-catalog content first.

After seeing the positive and measurable results, most clients go on to perform an audit of catalog content as well.

For the subject of this case study—HomeScienceTools.com—a store we assisted, benefited with a 64% increase in strategic content revenue after we helped to prune their blog content.

Pruning Dead Weight: A Real Life Example

HomeScienceTools.com is an online store that provides educational scientific products.

The “Learning Center” blog on this store is hosted on its own subdomain.

We performed a content audit of this section of the site and handed off our recommendations of pages to prune in early August, 2018.

This was followed by pruning roughly 200 pages, or about 10% of total pages from the blog’s subdomain. Starting with the worst quality offenders.

These pruned pages had little or no organic traffic, total traffic, conversions, and links pointing to them. These metric factors are the basic criteria for what constitutes an underperforming page.

The results after removing this blog content?

Rankings went down very slightly for HomeScienceTools.com primary domain initially, then went to spike up quite a bit in the 90 days after pruning (a typical pattern we see) – with a continuous increase.

Clicks and impressions to the store reflected the upward trend in rankings:

The stats after pruning blog content from the subdomain?

  • Organic sessions to content grew 104%
  • Transactions grew 102%
  • Strategic content revenue grew 64%
What HomeScienceTools.com Had to Say

We followed up to see what this store’s impression of the process was.

According to Brandy Hansen, marketing director at Home Science Tools, doing this audit was part of a general track of continuous audits and improvements to the website.

On the subject of continuous improvement, Hansen also stressed that they were seeing results continue to trend up past these cited numbers. In her own words:

“At Home Science Tools, we continually focus on improvement what needs to be done to take our service, business and offerings, to the next level. This audit was timely, necessary and strategic; it helped us not only appropriately remove underperforming assets but synergistically brought together what we needed in order to escalate our organic growth.”

In other words: this was a crucial part of a larger overall growth framework for improving performance, and it provided tangible and significant results.

A full-on audit of the site’s vast amount of catalog content could yield similar but larger performance improvements.

However, even limiting the scope of pruning to the blog content alone allowed the best content on the site to stand out to Google in terms of quality…and get recognized by the algorithm with better rankings.

Link Equity Distribution

One reason that pruning low performing content works is because of its impact on link equity distribution.

The big idea here is: if a page doesn’t bring you value through total traffic, conversions, or links pointing to it, then it’s dragging down the potential benefits provided by quality pages that do carry their own weight.

In that case, pruning the low performing content can (and should) be seen as a business decision to stop flow of resources (link equity) to a part of the business that doesn’t bring value.

What is Link Equity?

Link equity is a search engine ranking factor predicated on how links distribute value and authority to pages.

When thinking about link equity, I liken it to having a set amount of money in a bank account.

You can distribute a link’s equity any number of ways, but the more pages you distribute equity to, the smaller the amount transferred to each page.

Websites that distribute their link equity over a smaller number of pages tend toward more strength and value per page, and thus a higher quality overall.

Many sites unintentionally dilute their link equity over many low quality pages. A content audit and pruning helps to optimize link equity distribution and improve performance.

How to Identify and Remove Low Performing Pages

While you will be quantitatively evaluating pages according to their metrics and pruning them, there’s more than one way to prune.

Actual removal is generally better for SEO (for crawl budget reasons), but sometimes the content warrants a “noindex” tag.

There are going to be some low performing pages that meet most of the criteria for pruning but provide other value to your business.

For example, tag pages on a blog where categories are also present, because they help with navigating a site:

Example of a blog category / tag page on our own website listing published case studies.

In cases like tag pages that provide usability or some other value outside of their SEO and revenue metrics, a “noindex” tag reduces their weight from your site’s SEO while still allowing the page to remain usable outside of the search engine results.

The Strategic Content Audit Process

When we perform a content audit for client sites, part of that larger process is a sub-process specific to auditing strategic content.

The criteria are quite detailed but also systematic and easy to follow. You can get started with this process by downloading our content audit toolkit.

The outline of this process is:

  1. Make a copy of our “Strategic Content Audit Template” Google Sheet.
  2. Export strategic content URLs and their data to Google Sheets
  3. Determine Action and Strategy
    4. Look for Pages to Prune and Consolidate
  4. Look for Pages to Keep As-Is
  5. Look for Pages to Improve
  6. Prune Outdated and Off-Topic Content
Where should you draw the line on what to prune and what to keep?

A good general guideline is to prune pages with little to no organic traffic, little to no conversion data, and little to no links from external websites by removing them entirely.

Pages that don’t match this criteria but have other intrinsic value to your business or customers, such as blog tag pages, should remain on the site because they enhance user experience but cause SEO issues when overdone and indexed.

In these “keep” cases, you can either deindex the page or improve it if it needs to be indexed. While tag pages don’t usually need to remain indexed, the content that should be indexed are FAQ, About, and Author pages, and you can mark those pages for improvement if they aren’t performing well.

Results and Impact on Traffic and Revenue

We perform this strategic content audit process very often for clients.

As mentioned, it’s part of a general site audit where we find adjustments and improvements to make.

For clients who aren’t ready to do a full-on audit, we’ll often recommend to get your feet wet with a strategic content audit and track the results.

What tends to happen is a noticeable improvement from the strategic content audit (as in this case study). That proof helps clients become comfortable with pruning their low-performing catalog content, too, to create similar results.

A site with over 500 pages can benefit greatly from pruning. Generally, a bigger site will see bigger results from this process as the results become magnified by the size of the website.

To show you other cases of amazing results brought on by auditing and deindexing content, look at these case studies for further reference:


Regular marketing audits are essential to running any online business. Auditing content should be a regular audit for online stores, as eCommerce stores often deal with index bloat from too many low quality pages.

Dipping your toe into content auditing by pruning strategic content is a great place to start if you aren’t ready to do a full-on audit of your online store.

We have experience from helping hundreds of online stores perform this and other SEO audits. If you’d like to see how we can help, please contact us about auditing your site today.

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In this piece we’re going to take a systematic look at how we optimize Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) eCommerce campaigns to find the best performing strategies.

We’ll be covering a total of 16 different strategies that apply for Google Shopping ads and Smart Shopping Campaigns, Dynamic Remarketing, Search Ads, In-Market Audiences and finally Dynamic Search Ads.

For each Google Ad type, we’ll be covering:

  • The core strategies we use to get the best return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Use-case scenarios where we’ve seen good results from implementing these strategies.
  • Some of the newest features and product offerings — and how to make the most of them.

Because these strategies all fall inside two of Google’s main product offerings, we’ve split this guide up into two parts:

Part 1: Google Shopping ads

We’ll walk you through 7 different strategies that bring the best ROAS for eCommerce companies. We’ve gone into a lot of depth explaining how you should be building out and optimizing your shopping ads from scratch.

Part 2: Google Search ads

Here we cover 9 of our favorite internal strategies for maximizing ROAS from search ads. We’ll also answer the question: does my company need to run search ads in tandem with Shopping Ads?

  1. Google Shopping Campaigns (or Product Listing Ads/PLA’s)
  2. Google Search ads

First we’ll start with a quick review of the different Google Ads platforms and their use cases. If you know these already, feel free to skip ahead using the links above to get straight to the strategies of choice.

(Who We Are: At Inflow, we work with dozens of eCommerce companies to increase traffic, conversions, and sales. You can talk to one of our Google Ads specialists to see how we can help you increase ROAS. Get started now.)

What’s the Best Google Ads Platform for Selling My Products?

You’re probably already using Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) to sell your products, but if you’re not, it’s important to have a bit of background info on the Google Ads ecosystem.

Google Shopping ads (also known as Google Product Listing Ads, or PLA’s) are probably the best fit if you’re a B2C selling products online.

All you need to participate here is a product feed and an eCommerce website.

Google Search ads is perhaps the most well-known of the Ads products due to its longevity and it’s where your text ads are displayed when they match keywords you specify.

Search Ads is different to Shopping Ads because of the way the platform operates. Search Ads gives you more control over keywords, and in turn, shows text ads within your Google search results.

Shopping Ads, on the other hand, are based upon your Product Feed — which needs careful optimization to target the right searches. The product feed contains all the necessary information relating to your product: brands, quantities, sizes, colors, and so on.

This renders a shopping-product ad within the Google SERPS, as well as the relevant pricing and review information.

If you’re a big online retailer, you’ll probably be investing most of your paid ad spend on a mixture of Google Shopping ads and Google Search ads. Participating in both platforms often leads to enhanced product visibility across the customer buyer’s entire journey, from research through to purchase.

This is key when you consider how the customer’s research and purchase journey spans across multiple devices and is made up of many micro-moments — even if you’re only running search ads to cover branded queries.

Our Tried-and-Tested Google Shopping Strategies for Maximizing ROAS

Here at Inflow, we’ve helped hundreds of online retailers from all kinds of industries to maximize their return on ad-spend (ROAS). This is the number one goal afterall.

What follows are 8 of the strategies that have worked best for us on Google Shopping ads over the years.

Note: Do You Trust the Reliability of Your Google Analytics Data?

It goes without saying that you need to be 100% sure of the accuracy of any analytics data before you start investing in Google Ads — or in any other kind of marketing activity.

We always spend time digging into Google Analytics, or whichever reporting tool is being used, to ensure the historic data looks clean and there are no nasty surprises.

If we can’t measure performance to a good degree of certainty, we can’t measure the growth we’re about to deliver. (Then we can’t create case studies like this one.)

Having a reporting tool is not a prerequisite, but we love it when a client comes to us with at least 6 months historic data to delve through. (A full 12 months of data is even better when you’re in a seasonal industry.)

1 – Our 3 Tiered PLA Structure: To Bid More Aggressively on Specific Search Phrases to Maximize ROAS

This is by far our favorite way to achieve the best ROAS from a PLA campaign.

In a nutshell, the 3-tiered campaign structure allows you to focus your spend on the search phrases that drive your sales — something which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

There’s no point wasting spend on non-performers: you want to focus on Search Queries that drive the highest ROAS.

Below we’ve listed the 3 step approach we take when building out campaigns using the “Negative Keyword Waterfall” approach:

Step 1: Review Your Historic Search Volume to Find the Search Terms That Drive Your Revenue  

You need to find the search query themes that generate the most transactions for your company.  

The goal here is to create two groups; one that has the high converting search terms, and another with the low – medium converting search terms.

The best performing search queries group will likely contain several branded terms, with specific model names, SKU codes, part numbers, and other searches that show a high purchase intent.

Step 2: Begin with 3 Shopping Campaigns — Tiers 1, 2 & 3 with the Required Priority Levels

We will setup these 3 campaigns with a shared budget, and each with a different priority level.

(Note: When learning this strategy, remember that in this context, priority setting doesn’t reflect the group’s priority, it’s just the order in which Google will cycle-through the campaigns).

Tier 1 will have the highest campaign priority setting, which indicates to Google that search queries should start here.

This tier, like all the others, contains every product available on the site but with many negative search phrases applied (which we’ll come to shortly).

In tier 2 (or campaign 2), we’ll adjust the priority setting to medium and this is where the average to medium performing search terms live.

In tier 3 (or campaign 3), we’ll adjust the priority setting to “low” and this is where the best converting search terms exist.

Step 3: Build and Apply the Negative Keyword Lists

In tier 1, we will be applying negative keywords based on the search queries we want active in tier 2 and 3.

By adding these negative keywords to tier 1, it prevents them from landing in tier 1 and pushes them to the next tier in the funnel — Tier 2.

At tier 2, we again add negative keywords but this time only the best performing search terms.

At tier 3, we don’t need any negative keywords applied as any of those lower value search phrases should have been filtered out already from tier 1 or 2. This was the ultimate goal —  to be able to exclude those lesser converting searches and to bid more aggressively on all searches making it to tier 3.

(Note: We’ve seen some agencies get a little zealous with the amount of tiers they create and it becomes very difficult to maintain — the smallest change in any campaign can completely wreck the entire system. For that reason, we typically keep it to a 3 tier setup).

2 – Identify Your Store’s Best Sellers So You Know Where to Prioritize Your Budget

One of the easiest ways to grow your ROAS is to do a deep audit of your Google Ad campaign to identify historic best sellers — then bid higher accordingly.

You can combine this strategy with the tiered approach outlined above in strategy #1, where you bid your best sellers up on the product or product group level.

Take a look at your historic data (if it’s available) and identify those top selling products.

You can also use the likes of Google Analytics to find best sellers and eCommerce conversion rates, plus the relevant ROAS/ROI metrics.

3 – Regularly Audit and Optimize Your Google Product Feed for Better Overall Performance

If you take away just one thing from this piece, it should be this: your Google Product Feed is essential for succeeding with Google Shopping ads.

Auditing your feed is one of the first things we do when working with a client. This is a vital part of the campaign as it’s a vital cog in the Shopping ads algorithm, so it deserves a lot of attention.

We recently wrote a more detailed piece on how to optimize your Google Product Feed that explains exactly why and how you should be optimizing your feed and covers how to setup and execute your campaigns.

In short, you need to ensure your feed contains all the required product information. If not, you risk a) not showing up when people are searching for your products, and b) being charged a higher CPC to show your ads.

It’s also vital to keep product titles relevant without keyword-stuffing. This not only helps to enhance visibility for those high intent searches, but it also helps to boost CTR from the ads.

4 – Our Mobile-Optimized Strategy for Improved eCommerce ROAS

Our own research has confirmed that mobile shoppers behave differently than desktop shoppers — no surprises there. The actual queries that convert on mobile aren’t necessarily the same ones people use from desktop.

But many eCommerce teams don’t have a specific approach when it comes to mobile users, aside from reducing mobile bids — which can be a wasteful approach.

We repeat the search query analysis as mentioned in strategy #1 to segment mobile customers so we can determine a historic mobile-only ROAS.

If we find a gap here, we setup our own tiers with the appropriate negative keywords for mobile users. In the end, we may have 6 tiers setup for a client; 3 for desktop and 3 for mobile.

This beats simply adjusting bids on mobile or desktop. It’s a more holistic and strategic approach to optimising for the customer’s device at that moment, and for the entirety of the customer’s journey.

We find it pays to go into much depth with this.

5 – Seasonality Is Often an Untapped Opportunity (Find Those Crucial Periods for Your Client & Bid Aggressively)

If our client’s in a very seasonal industry, it’s crucial to keep time of year in mind and bid on products/product groups within the tiered structure accordingly.

For example, you should bid higher on flip flops in the summer and snow boots in the winter—but the tiers will remain the same.

By bidding higher on the best converting products in summer, you can maximize ROAS during these peak months when there’s a bigger search demand.

And during those quieter periods in winter, we’ll reduce bids but ensure we’ve still got a good presence — so we often find ourselves bidding differently depending on the time of year.

Take one of our wholesale retailers as an example. They operate in the back to school vertical, so understandably they get peak traffic ahead of the new school year. Search behavior changes in the lead up to these months.

We want to ensure we’re visible during periods of high search activity, whilst ensuring budget for the year isn’t exhausted.

We’ve seen this work across a range of seasonal verticals, and it isn’t something that we’ve noticed many other agencies or in-house teams doing.

(Note: It’s important to fully understand the 3 tiered approach before diving into this strategy or the mobile specific one. The inventory listed will need to be the same across tiers, otherwise you may experience leakage!)

6 – Let Google Optimize (With Supervision!) When There’s No Obvious Tiered Structure or Search Query Tiers

Smart Shopping Campaigns utilize a mix of your product feed and Google’s machine learning to take care of campaigns on your behalf.

We like to bundle any products into a Smart Shopping campaign when they don’t necessarily belong to another tier as explained in strategy #1 above.

These are the smaller products, maybe those lower-priced accessories, which can be left for Google to deal with. Google will then optimize for best-fit based on transaction history: but it doesn’t always mean Google will do the best possible job.

We’ve witnessed occasions where there wasn’t much transaction data for Google to use. Then when we saw a couple of mobile transactions occur Google went very aggressive on mobile — and caused ROAS to plummet.

In this case it would’ve been best to wait until there was more significant transaction data available before leaving it in the hands of them to automate.

7 – Using Dynamic Retargeting to Boost Your PLA’s eCommerce ROAS

As annoying as some people might find them, retargeting ads do convert, and extremely well.

Over time they’ve been shown to have a great ROI so they really work well to supplement your search marketing strategy.

The dynamic retargeting feature from Google Shopping enables you to automatically show ads to people who came to your site without completing a purchase.

It makes use of your product feed to determine the products they display and can intelligently group these together based on what’s likely to convert best.

Using dynamic remarketing is a fairly straightforward strategy to skyrocket eCommerce performance — it’s a must for any online retailer.

An example of a dynamic retargeting ad
The Best eCommerce Strategies for Google Search Ads

We’ve covered 7 Google Shopping Campaign strategies above in quite some depth.

But whilst it’s easy to forget, running Google Search ads in tandem with Shopping Ads is a good strategy to cover all your bases.

Here are 9 more essential strategies we use to maximize eCommerce brands ROAS from search ads:

8 – How to Best Structure Your Google Ads Account for More Granular Control (And a Better ROAS!)

Often the best way to setup your client’s account is to actually just mimic their own navigation menu.

They’ve gone through the effort to build it out the way they have — so it’s probably been made that way for good reason.

If they’ve got a top-level page that contains a category of products (eg shoes) and then sub-categories that contain brands (adidas, nike) then it probably makes sense to have a shoe category, and individual brand-specific ad groups within your Google Ads account.

Setting up in the way above saves a bit of time when it comes to structuring the account, and will make budget control easy too.

With this approach you can also get as granular as you like when it comes to ad group and keyword grouping.

It will also help when other people on your team need to dive in to manage the account, as well as keeping things clean for the reporting team later.

9 – Deep Link to Best-Sellers Within Text Ads & Make It Easier for Your Customers to Checkout

Often within your store’s categories, there will be a handful of outstanding, top selling products.

Instead of directing customers to an individual category page it will often make sense to take them direct to the best selling product page instead — that’s usually where they end up anyway.

You could easily have a few text ads setup on rotate which deep-link to a handful of the top-selling products, and simply monitor which ads bring in the most conversions.

You can run A/B tests on this in the background and keep a close eye on the products that really push the needle on your ROI.

This makes the path-to-purchase cleaner for the customer, and helps to improve your Google Quality Score, too.

In this instance, the keyword/search intent, ad text, and landing page experience is all well aligned and optimized.

In the cases where there is no clear best-seller, it would make good sense to direct the customer to the most relevant category page instead. This approach is often used when bidding on the less specific, short-tail keywords.

10 – Have an Industry-Specific (But Agile!) eCommerce Approach and Test Everything

The strategy we use at Inflow for running Google Search Ads will ultimately depend on the industry the client operates in, and of course the eCommerce platform they use.

We’re forced to tailor our approach to suit our clients (and more pertinent: their shoppers) so when it comes to strategy we’re always flexible to changing our tactics to suit what works best.

It’s important to have an agile approach when it comes to eCommerce marketing since things change quickly and the search landscape is constantly evolving. You need to always be open to new opportunities and test everything!

We like to use Google Experiments within Google Ads to test how variations of campaign setups perform versus our original campaign, helping to shape our ongoing strategies.

11 – Don’t Neglect Any Google Ad Extensions, Especially Price Extensions

We always ensure that every possible extension has been built out when a campaign goes live. Setting up all eligible extensions will give you a better Quality Score on your account and enhances your chances of taking up more valuable real estate within the SERPs.

The obvious choice when it comes to eCommerce clients has to be the Price Extension. This will highlight the product price within the text ad when someone’s shopping for your product.

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When most people think about optimizing their Google Shopping ads, they focus on optimizing their campaigns, bid strategy, and execution.

While this is important, we’d argue that the more significant wins come from optimizing your data feed.

Your data feed is a subset of all of your products. It’s a digital product catalog that contains attributes like product title, description, GTIN, category, etc. This is what’s used to determine how often and for what keywords you show up for.

Google Shopping consists of two products – Google Ads (formerly AdWords) and Google Merchant Center. Google Merchant Center is where your data feed lives and Google Ads is where you can optimize your campaigns, set your budget and adjust your bid strategy.

We’ve divided this guide into two parts:

Part 1: Data Feed Optimization: Getting your data feed optimized is the foundation of successful Google Shopping Ad campaigns for eCommerce companies. Most guides on this topic don’t cover this in-depth but we’ve dedicated an entire part to this step. We’ll outline our experience in how to properly manage Google Shopping ads for hundreds of eCommerce companies.

Part 2: Campaign Setup and Execution: Here we’ll teach you the nuts and bolts of setting up, optimizing, and executing your Google Shopping ads campaigns. (Note, this will be published soon, and then we’ll link to it here.)

In this post, we’ll walk you through these four steps for how to optimize your data feed:

  1. Optimize These Five Attributes (At a Minimum)  
  2. Monitor Google Merchant Center Regularly
  3. Update Your Feed Regularly
  4. Analyze and Cross-Reference Ad Performance Data
Why Does Data Feed Optimization Matter?

The more information that you have in your data feed, the more relevant you are for people’s searches. In turn, Google will reward you by showing your ads more frequently and for less money.

Optimizing your data feed is like building a house. The data feed is the foundation on where you build all of your Google Shopping campaigns. If the foundation is off or your data is bad,  you will have a hard time performing well on Google Shopping.

Here are a few things that happen when your feed isn’t optimized.

  • You won’t show up for certain searches.
  • It will cost you more money for your ads to show
  • Your competitors will take up more space than you.
  • You won’t get correct visibility which could lead to overspend.

For example, say you sell Nike shoes. If your titles only contained basic information such as, “Nike red shoes” and didn’t contain size information, color information, or model information in your product title, then you would not show up for some of the highest intent searches.

If you did end up showing up, you would be spending a lot more for that ad than competitors who implement a feed optimization strategy.

Optimize These Five Most Important Attributes GTIN

The GTIN is the UPC of the online world. When you’re a reseller or a manufacturer of goods, you use that information to track your products across Google’s Surfaces and to keep an eye on MAP pricing through the Manufacturer Center.

The only time that you don’t need a GTIN is if you’re selling one-off goods—meaning you sell one-off antique furniture, used products, or when you’re selling things as a bundle. When you have the GTIN, it’s important to include it because of all the information it provides.

Product Titles

One of the biggest mistakes that we see brands making is keyword stuffing their titles—and it ends up backfiring. Google will penalize you for long titles (i.e., anything over 75 characters). If your title is over 150 characters, they won’t approve your ad.

Product titles are important because Google Shopping is all broad match. There’s no phrase or exact match. The algorithm uses the title to identify what the person is actually searching for and matches those keywords with the feed.

The key is to be precise and include the most relevant information in your titles. However, it is important not to keyword stuff your titles. Your title should reflect how your customers or prospects are already talking about your product.  

For example, if you sell jeans, you need to include all of the main keywords in the titles, such as: ‘Men’s Levi’s Boss Jeans Size 34’. The more relevant information that the user includes in their searches, the more likely they are to buy.

If your product title is only “men’s jeans” you’ll appear on all of the general searches, but you’ll miss out on the higher-intent searches that are the most likely to result in a purchase.

This can happen when you directly import the titles from your Shopify store directly into Google Shopping without optimizing them.  

If you are having issues optimizing your feed or just want a second pair of expert eyes on it, you can reach out to us and one of our Google Shopping experts will help you out.

Product Type

In our experience, Google is increasingly putting more relevance to the product types. They contribute to the overall “quality score” of your data feed.

We recommend you follow the structure/breadcrumbs on your website. This is the best way to get proper visibility over all your products.

Product Category

The product category is how Google categorizes products inside Google Shopping itself.

Because there are over 6,000 default categories, we recommend you get as granular as possible. Some of these categories can go down five tiers or more. You will want to use a categorization tool to help you with this. Here is a full list of categories to help with this process.

For example, if you sell reading glasses and you haven’t optimized your product categories, your products might be showing up under drinking glasses instead of reading glasses.

Product Description

The description carries less weight than the other four attributes above because it takes about two clicks to see (as opposed to the title, price, and brand, that show up immediately in the shopping results—without any additional clicks from the user). However, this is still worth optimizing because of its use of added relevancy.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your description:

  • Put your product title at the end of your description.
  • Add high relevance keywords into your description
  • Identify added HTML that was not removed. There are many times that these pieces of code will get caught in the description.
Understanding Google Merchant Center

With text ads, you can see a quality score, such as an 8 out of 10. However, with Google Shopping campaigns, you don’t get a numerical score. Instead, you have the Google Merchant Center.

The Merchant Center acts as a QA source to make sure your data is clean and accurate. When you upload your data feed into Google Merchant Center, you’ll see errors, warnings, and disapprovals.

While Google will still show your ads for certain searches, it will end up costing you more money than your competitors who have optimized feeds. So, when you start seeing these errors come in, you want to clean them up ASAP.

There are three different levels of issues in the Merchant Center—by account item, feed, and account level (with account level being the worst).

Account Level Warnings

Account level warnings can lead to larger issues such as Google shutting down your Merchant Center. If you get an Account Level Warning, such as a verification issue, you should fix it immediately so that you can keep your ads running.

Feed Level Warnings

There’s also a feed check, where they’ll go through your data feed and make sure it’s delimiting correctly, and all the files are set up and readable.

Item Level Warnings

SKU or item level warnings are at the product level, meaning that they’ll go through all of your products. They’ll let you know if you are not including specific attributes, and give you a warning or a recommendation. This is where most issues are found and will need to be fixed in the data feed.

Update Your Data Feed Regularly

To improve your campaigns, get in the habit of updating your feed anytime your product prices, availability, or inventory levels change.

For example, if you sold 500 products last month and now you are only selling 350, you need to update your data feed. Otherwise, you’re paying to market 150 products that you aren’t currently selling. Worse, they’ll 404 in the Merchant Center and bring down the quality of your feed.

In addition, when working with our clients, we ask for a dynamic file meaning that we pull in your new file of all your products every single day. We optimize those products through a custom tool and then upload it in Google Merchant Center.

This should be done by someone who has feed optimization experience because many times when you try to do this on your own (or use one of the $50/per month automated app optimization platforms), you won’t have an analyst looking over the feed. This results in random keywords being added into your titles with inaccurate attributes. You’ll end up with a feed that isn’t fully optimized, and it could cost you more money in the long run.

At Inflow, we do all of these optimizations in-house, which means that we don’t make cookie cutter optimizations like most of the tools out there.

Analyze Ad Performance Data

You should also cross-reference Google Shopping data with search volume and other ad data sources. Some key things to look at are conversions, search volume, and negative keywords for your Shopping ads.

This is a great place to start looking for additional optimizations to add back into the feed. By analyzing the feed and campaigns from this level, it should help you steadily increase performance over a longer period of time.


Optimizing your data feed is a powerful way to improve Google Shopping ads performance, lower cost per click, and generate more sales.

We’ll be sharing more details on Campaign Setup and Execution in Part 2 of our guide—stay tuned!  

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For eCommerce companies looking to increase organic traffic, “scaling” content production, that is, building systems to produce a higher volume of content is usually a strategy that is on their radar. We hear this often from clients: “We’re looking to scale content production”, or “In the past, we tried scaling content production, then this happened”, etc.

The logic is simple: more content for Google to index should lead to more organic traffic.

Loosely speaking, that logic is sound.

But Google continues to update their algorithm to emphasize content quality above all else, hoping to keep giving searchers better and better results for their queries.

So, eCommerce companies looking to “scale” content production volume need to do so carefully. If that scale in content creation comes with a reduction in quality, in Google’s eyes, then it can either (a) render your content marketing efforts fruitless or, worse, (b) actively hurt rankings.

We see these mistakes made often. For example a company “scales” by hiring a bunch of junior copywriters (and maybe junior SEO team members) generally resulting in:

  • A lot of low-quality content with little authority and inaccurate information
  • A lack of brand authenticity or connection
  • A traffic spike without the accompanying conversions and new customers

In other words, lots of time, effort and marketing spend with little to show for it.

But there is a better way.

In this guide, we want to lay out an operational plan to scale content production while maintaining high-quality content, so you can reap the most SEO benefits possible.

Specifically, we’ll cover how to:

Content Strategy: Maintaining Quality While Scaling Volume

A great content strategy is important for all brands looking to scale content since it helps you think through your needs, define and track your goals, and reduce the chance of spending foolishly on content promotion (or, the wrong hire!).

However, content strategies—and how to put them together—are covered a million different ways around the web, to varying success. This doesn’t make this less important (it’s critical, in fact) but I don’t want to spend all our time on this vs. the operational game plan since that element is largely forgotten.

So when it comes to content strategies, follow the great advice you’ve already seen out there, and:

  1. Ensure you think through & define all the items that are applicable to you on this list.
  2. Plan for how you want to display E-A-T on your site.

Google and other search engines are placing a greater emphasis on “E-A-T”, or “Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness” for all websites, broadly speaking. Specifically, to a greater degree, to all YMYL Sites (Your Money or Your Life) sites—websites covering content related to finances, medical advice, legal information, etc.—as well as anyone accepting & processing private data (aka: all eCommerce cart pages due to credit card processing!).

Whether or not your site has E-A-T (spoiler alert: it should,) you should think through how well you show your E-A-T to your customers—and Google—on your website.

Quick example: if you are a YMYL site selling medical devices, you wouldn’t want some junior copywriter doing research on the internet, regurgitating three different articles, changing some copy around, and then creating a new post. That’s a recipe for inaccurate information and low authority. (And just because it might be accurate doesn’t inherently make it authoritative.)

You need to look at your website as a whole—including each piece of content and all pages—and objectively ask, “Is this supporting the goal of my website? Is this helping or hurting my E-A-T?”

  • Always showcase E-A-T through your Homepage and About page. Clearly explain how long you have been in business, along with the relevant degrees, certifications, and awards that are applicable to your industry. Also, ensure that security and trust seals and badges are present & functional.
  • When creating strategic content, showcase E-A-T on all of your writer and/or editor pages. These pages should highlight the expertise, industry experience, etc. of the specific writer/editor in question—as it pertains to the subject matter they cover.

Try to remember that showing your expertise, authority, and trust isn’t just about Google and growing your organic search traffic—it’s about actually being an expert, having authority, and developing trust with your customers/consumers.

Here is a checklist we put together to help.

After all, if you don’t have E-A-T, why should they trust you enough to buy anything from you or work with you? Improve your E-A-T to better connect with your customers, increase sales/leads, and grow your business.

Scaling Your Content Operations: Building the Right Team

When it comes to building content teams, people often focus on the ‘what’ and forget the ‘how’. They approach it by hiring a bunch of writers, who don’t have contextual expertise in what the business does, nor real content marketing strategy experience. This creates challenges in building a high quality and scalable content marketing system.

Start with Content Responsibilities

You need to define the team structure to execute against your content strategy in a way that works for your business—considering the job functions, roles and ownership you already have—and what gaps you need to fill.

Start by defining your content team’s RASCI:

  • Who’s Responsible: who is owning the various critical project elements?
  • Who’s Approving: who needs to approve the plan and work?
  • Who’s Supporting: who is executing the various project elements? And who’s responsible for what pieces?
  • Who’s Consulted: which stakeholders have needs that must be defined and met as a part of the project?
    • Make sure you don’t forget your SEO, social media & email channel owners as stakeholders.
  • Who’s Informed: who do you need to keep looped in?

Don’t just plan based on who you already have hiredplan for what you know you’ll need to execute your strategy.

The primary responsibilities of any content team include:

  • Ideation
  • Planning
  • Copywriting
  • Researching
  • Editing (i.e. brand and copyediting)  
  • Optimizing (i.e. SEO, conversions, readability, etc.)
  • Distribution
  • Analysis
  • Expertise (i.e. Depending on the team, this is usually either the writers or editors.)

You’ll also want to think through:

  • Who or what team is ultimately responsible for the expertise, authority & trust (or E-A-T) of your content?
  • Which responsibilities will be owned by what roles in your content team?
    • With training & involved stakeholders that evaluate performance & provide feedback loops, consider that some responsibilities (say, copy editing, social sharing, on-page SEO and content ideation) can be carried out by trained team members.)
  • Whether you want to hire full-time, part-time or externally for each role.
  • Where and when will everyone work?
    • Not everyone needs to be in the office 24/7.
  • All the tools, resources and processes needed to help the team do those jobs.

The way you structure your marketing team will vary based on the needs of your business, your brand, and your strategy/goals.

Here are three “outside the box” team structures we’ve seen work well:

1) Invest in Editors Internally; Outsource to SME Copywriters

Are there content marketers in your subject matter already out there blogging and making a name for themselves—that you can hire as freelancers?

Then focus on building an editorial team to help own ideation, brand/tone/style execution, SEO on-page execution and copy-editing, and outsource the copywriting. The SME copywriters will bring their existing audience & authority in association with your brand.

For example, if you sell gardening equipment, you can reach out to bloggers or content creators in the gardening space who already have an expertise and a following. You can hire them to write the content, and have your editors edit it so that it’s on brand.

2) Hire SME Internally; Outsource to a Content Agency

When you’ve already hired subject experts internally, but they are too busy to write strategic content as often as you’d like, a content/inbound agency might be a good fit.

In this scenario, anyone can submit content ideas, the content agency writes and edits it, and the internal SME reviews & signs off on it prior to publication.

3) Hire SME Editors & Specialized Ghostwriters

When expertise is expensive or highly specialized—like when you need to create medical content, but can’t afford to hire a bunch of doctors to write it—consider hiring a smaller team of SME editors with expertise that are willing to read, edit, approve, and put their name/reputation onyour strategic content.

Then seek out specialized ghostwriters that you can hire internally to write & research content, ensuring accuracy & minimizing the time investment on the part of the Senior editorial team.

In each of these scenarios, the key is to ensure that there is someone (or some team) who is in charge of subject matter expertise. They should bring the authority of their expertise to the content. Then you build a team around them that executes on the tasks they cannot support on, thus reducing your costs and increasing your scale.

Plan for Content Production Processes & Tools

After you have your roles & responsibilities defined, it’s time to think through the processes & tools they’ll need to make your workflow actually flow according to plan. We’re talking about processes that will affect content strategy and result in high quality content, not just a “style guide” that most companies already have.

Start with defining those things that multiple people or teams will touch, so you can clarify things like handoff timing & expectations of what’s included in that handoff. Examples may include:

  • Content ideation
  • “Claiming” a topic to write about
  • Turning in content for review
  • Content approval & publication

Ensure your teams are organized and have methods for easily sharing insights required by other teams.

One such example here is a tool called a Content Matrix: a visual representation (or mapping) of all of your strategic content & the pages on your site you want to drive traffic to (usually services you provide or stuff you sell) along with their corresponding target keywords, personas, customer funnel stages, calls to action, etc… the sky is the limit!

A Content Matrix efficiently maps your content and what you want to do with it, enabling things like:

  • Visibility into what content has already been created (or could be improved)
  • Visibility into what SEO targets an existing piece of content is targeting
  • Prioritization of what content you want links built to
  • What gaps you might have in content (or goods) for a particular persona, or in a particular stage of the customer funnel for a key persona
  • Clarity on what CTAs might be meaningful on a specific piece of content (based on the persona + customer funnel stage that persona is in & where you want them to be)

Sidenote: Here is a downloadable content matrix template that our team created.   

Don’t forget about ongoing training & feedback loops.

Let’s say you’ve decided not to hire a huge SEO team internally, and instead, you are outsourcing to an inbound agency (might I point out—we’re pretty good at this!)

On smaller projects, it’s pretty easy to hand the logical tasks (like in the following list) to this team:

  • Who’s going to own on-page optimization?
  • Keyword research?
  • SEO topic ideation?
  • Hub page strategy & organization?

Then you want to scale your content, but you don’t have a huge budget to also scale up your SEO.

This is where training and feedback processes can help.  

For example, you can document your processes, tools, and SOPs to train team members on lower-level tasks & ask SEOs to have a consistent process for evaluating their work to create an ongoing feedback loop. You can create similar processes for social media and improving conversions. This also makes it easier to onboard and ramp up new hires.

Evaluate Your Results

Because your content strategy, team structure, and goals aren’t static, you need to build in a process for re-evaluating them at a set cadence.

You should regularly check your KPIs and evaluate your performance against them, taking time to note which content pieces (and types of content) are moving you further towards or away from those goals.

When something works in unexpected ways (e.g. viral growth,) you want to lean into that, but this can also end up distracting you from the end goals, which may or may not be a good thing. Having this process in place ensures you make these changes intentionally instead of chasing shiny objects.


In sum, this is how you can build an authoritative operation plan that supports your content strategy to maximize SEO traffic and conversions.

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