eCommerce Beginners Guide – Part 2: In Promotion Ad Copy

Ad copy can be an entirely different beast in eCommerce accounts. Depending on the promotional calendar, ads often have to be changed out more frequently than in a lead gen account.

Here are a few rules of thumb I go by when running promotional ad copy in eCommerce accounts.

Multiple Promotions

I often get asked about running multiple offers by brands and eCommerce account managers:

What do you do when you have multiple offers running at once?

I work with several brands that have a static free shipping or free returns offer and also have a promotional calendar beyond these offers. When multiple offers fall at the same time, I try and squeeze as many offers as I can into a each ad. Needless to say, you have to get creative with wording!

For example, let’s say I have the following promotions running at the same time:

  • FREE Shipping on all U.S. Orders over $75
  • 2 Infinity Scarves for $25
  • FREE Gift with Purchase on all U.S. Orders over $50

How do I get these all into a single search ad?

I may do something like this. Combining the free shipping and free gift with purchase promotions together, given that if the purchase qualifies for free shipping, it also qualifies for the free gift with purchase.


You may find yourself rearranging copy until it fits, but it will almost always fit!

Promotion Codes

Ok, so the deal with promotional codes…don’t put them in the ad copy.

Unlike email marketing, the general rule of thumb for search and display ads (social ads included) is not to include promotional codes in ad copy. I often see this with new advertisers and it’s an unfortunate waste of ad space.


There are several options that are more convenient for the user and allow you to use that extra space in your ad to get users to choose you over the competition in search results or to grab their attention in display.

Think about it, in search we have limited space in our ad copy and a user isn’t going to remember the code once they click through. If the code isn’t on the landing page when they click through, they’ll have to go search for it again and it could end up costing you more in the long run. That is, if they click your ad at all given that competing ads may use that additional space to convince users to click elsewhere.

Same thing goes for display, use that space to catch eyeballs! There isn’t a character limit in display ads like with search, but there’s only so much your potential customer can retain from click to landing page.


So what other options do you have?

Promotion Code on Page

Always include the promotion code in the creative of your landing pages, preferably in a header or banner that spans across all pages rather that in ad copy. Users can see the promotional code while they shop on your site and the ad copy can be reserved for selling the promotion itself with room for the product and any other info you’d like to include. More space for multiple offers if you have them!

Auto Applied Promotions

Another option is to skip the promo code requirement all together. Why not run the promotion as automatically applied in the shopping cart vs. a promotion that requires manual entry of a code at checkout? Unless you need the code for tracking or due to some other limitation inside your eCommerce platform, then remove the barrier. Make all promotions automatic.

Promotion Code URL Parameters

The last and more complicated option is to pass the promotion code through to your eCommerce platform via URL parameters that are added to the destination URL of your ad copy. This option allows for an auto-applied promotion at checkout experience, but still allows you to use a code for tracking and other purposes inside your system. The availability of this option will depend on your eCommerce platform capabilities. Many platforms allow for such application, but not all.

Promotional ad copy does come with its own set of struggles, these are just a couple of things I’ve learned along the way.

In part three of this eCommerce PPC series we’ll tackle how to keep up with promotional calendars and test ad copy, which can be another big challenge for heavily promoted brands.

If you have additional eCommerce related questions or struggles, I’d love to address them I this series. Leave your requests in the comments!