Compared to the traffic that my online store gets from Google, Bing traffic is pretty much an afterthought. For example, last month my store got 18 times more organic traffic from Google than Bing and an order of magnitude more orders as well.
As a result, I’ve never ever paid much attention to Bing.
Anyway early this year, I finally decided to give the number 2 search engine a shot. And it turns out that I’ve been leaving a lot of money on the table by waiting so long.
Even though Bing gets significantly less search traffic, the Bing ads platform is awesome from a pure sales and conversion perspective.
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My Experience With Bing
When I first considered Bing advertising, I debated whether the platform was even worth my time to learn. After all, I spent a lot of time and money learning how to make Google ads profitable.
Was it worth spending a similar amount of time to learn a brand new platform that offered 18X less traffic?
It turns out that my fears were completely unjustified.
Microsoft created the Bing Ads platform to be almost an identical clone of Google Adwords. And I mean completely identical in every way!
Every menu looks the same. Every option is almost identical. And the bidding and keyword research works almost exactly the same as well. In fact, they even have a tool that allows you to import your Google Adwords campaigns into Bing verbatim.
With just a couple of clicks of the mouse, I instantly imported all of my previous Google ads, ad groups, negative keyword lists….everything within minutes!
This made getting started with Bing extremely easy and an ingenious move on Microsoft’s part.
Some Dangers With Importing Your Campaigns Blind
Once I imported all of my campaigns from Google, I was very tempted to just start running my Bing ads right away. After all, every campaign appeared to be imported properly and every ad looked pretty much identical when I put it side by side with Google Adwords.
But upon closer examination, I’m glad that I took some time to analyze the campaigns closely before activating them.
It turns out that Microsoft took a few liberties with my ads that weren’t 100% obvious at first glance and I would have wasted a lot of my money had I not caught it in time.
For one thing, the Bing “Content” network is automatically enabled for all ads by default. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bing content network, it’s essentially the same as the Google Content Network.
Ads are shown on content sites like blogs and other news publications. Users who are reading these publications typically don’t have the intention to buy when they see your ads so it takes a completely different strategy to make these types of ads profitable.
If I had enabled my ads on the content network by default, I would have wasted a lot of money right off the bat.
The other side effect of using the Bing import tool that I did not appreciate was that it converted my “Modified Broad Matches” into “Broad Matches”.
As an example, the keyword “+wedding +handkerchiefs” is only supposed to match for phrases that contain both keywords “wedding” and “handkerchiefs”. (ex. white wedding battenburg lace handkerchiefs)
But when converted to broad match, they will match with any search that Bing deems is close enough to “wedding handkerchiefs”. If someone typed in “festive snot rags” for example, it might show my ad.
The final change that didn’t convert properly from Adwords to Bing was the geographical targeting of my ads. Because most of my customers are from the United States, I typically only show ads in the US.
But by default, Bing ads are shown everywhere.
My Results With Bing
Those minor annoyances aside, I was up and running with my ads within a day. And I thought that I’d also add that Bing support was extremely helpful along the way.
There were a few menu items that I did not quite understand and the phone support guys were able to explain things clearly.
Also at the time of this writing, the Bing Product Ads documentation was terrible and I had to call support to get a straight answer on their product feed format. Hopefully, they’ll beef up their docs soon.
Anyway before I show my results, here’s what industry experts typically say about Bing Ads versus Google ads.
Industry experts say that…
- Bing ads tend to convert better than Adwords ads
- Bing ads typically offer cheaper CPCs. For example, Wordstream claims that their customers average 33.5% cheaper CPCs on Bing than Adwords.
- Bing ads typically yield significantly less traffic (more than 50% less).
Meanwhile, here are my results with Bing compared to Adwords.
Note: This data is based on only a single campaign. Right now, I’m running a lot more campaigns on Google than Bing as I ease myself onto the platform.
To keep things as apples to apples as possible, I conducted these experiments with an identical campaign that was imported from Adwords. I also ran my Bing ads for several weeks to allow them to settle in before comparing the conversion data.
Please note however, that I did have to adjust the bids slightly with Bing in order to place my ads into the same approximate positions as my Google Adwords ads which have all had long established quality scores.
Here’s a high level summary of my results.
- Bing ads brought in 59% as many clicks as Google (for that single campaign) even though I typically get 12X less clicks from Bing organic search. (This was way more than expected)
- Bing ads brought in 39% as many conversions as Google. (This was lower than I expected)
- Bing ads had a lower conversion rate than Google by 32% (This was totally unexpected as I’d heard that Bing converts better than Adwords)
- Bing ads had a higher CPC than Google Adwords by about 13% (This surprised me too but this number might be due to differing quality scores on both platforms)
Note: These results are only for Bing search ads. I’m still compiling data for Bing Product Ads Vs Google Shopping.
Overall, I’m extremely pleased with my results with Bing Ads simply because they provide my online store with yet another untapped revenue source that is super profitable.
Even though my results were atypical of what other people have seen with their ads, the Bing ads platform works extremely well. And because the user interface is identical to Adwords, the learning curve is really low.
I was a bit surprised that the conversion rate on Bing was lower than Google for an identical ad set. But I attribute this fact to the differing nature of users on Google versus Bing.
Note: I have other products that are converting better on Bing than on Adwords but I did not mention them in this post because the traffic levels for these products were too low on Bing to draw any meaningful conclusions.
As a result, your mileage will vary depending on what you sell. But the moral of the story here is to never discount any source of sales just because you don’t get much organic traffic from a platform.
If you are not using Bing ads, then you are probably throwing money down the drain.
photo credit: Overtime
Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.
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