Here at The Merriweather Council, we are VERY pro-Etsy. That is probably pretty obvious by now. However, we are also huge proponents of having your own standalone eCommerce site in addition to Etsy. (We recommend Shopify for building that standalone site!)
We wholeheartedly suggest handmade business owners have both!
We love Etsy and believe it’s the best marketplace handmade business owners have available right now.
Are there things I wish they would change? Of course!
I’ve been in a relationship with Etsy for nearly 11 years. Just like any long-term relationship, there are things I have found I don’t LOVE. But, for me, none of these issues were deal-breakers.
There are a lot of great features of Etsy, and one of those is choice. Sellers can CHOOSE to use many functions or not. Such as shipping labels, sales and couponing tools, listing videos, and on-site Etsy ads.
You’ve likely heard me say I do not recommend using Etsy on-site ads. I am not against on-site ads; I just don’t think you need them – I know you don’t need them! Further, it’s not the best use of a marketing budget.
But a little explanation might be helpful here!
on-site ads vs off-site ads
There are on-site Etsy ads – formerly known as promoted listings – and OFF-SITE Etsy ads, which are only about a year old.
On-site ads are entirely optional. Off-site ads are optional to a point. However, I want to focus on on-site ads here, so if you are interested in off-site ads; please check out our episode about those here.
On-site ads are listings that show up in searches in reserved ad spots because of your paid promotional activity.
On-site Etsy ads can be set up in the admin area of your shop. I haven’t run them myself because I don’t believe in paying to promote an Etsy shop. From what I have seen and know about them, there are a decent amount of options for budget and targeting. You can explore that area a bit without actually turning any ads on if you are curious.
For fuller context, I will also talk about general ‘paid promotions’ of any kind that a seller could run to their own shop either through influencers, bloggers, or their own ads on Facebook or Instagram. Please see this post all about promotions of Etsy shop and our advice concerning that!
I don’t love the idea of voluntarily paying to promote an Etsy shop at all other than the requisite off-site ads.
I suggest sellers opt-in for those off-site ads, and I explain why in this episode.
You might be thinking that what I just said doesn’t match up. In the case of off-site ads, I see those more as an opportunity for Etsy. I don’t consider these “paid promotions.” I see them as an additional Etsy fee because you aren’t paying to promote – Etsy is. You only pay if those promotions generate a sale. It’s not a promotion you’re paying for; it’s Etsy’s hand in selling your product. It is a bigger commission to Etsy because they spent more to get the sale than they do normally within their standard 5% commission.
When it comes to Etsy on-site ads (formerly known as promoted listings), I don’t suggest using these. HOWEVER, if you do want to use them, you should not do it until you know for sure your listings are organically well optimized for search, sales, and customer experience. Your Etsy listings will perform better in ads if they are already well-optimized organically.
Many sellers will revert to on-site ads to increase traffic when they are first starting out, which is usually the wrong time because the listings aren’t set up fully or properly yet. And sometimes traffic isn’t the problem.
Sometimes you are getting enough traffic, but your conversion rate isn’t good, which can only mean one of two things: either you are getting the wrong traffic, or your listing isn’t set up to convert to sales.
consider who your ads are being sent to
Promoting listings that organically reach the wrong people will simply bring you more of the wrong people.
Promoting listings that organically do not convert existing visits to sales means you’ll get more visits that don’t convert to sales.
Increasing traffic will not fix that problem. Ads only increase traffic.
The rule of thumb here is: Do not increase traffic until the traffic you already have converts well!!!
If you really do have low traffic, you should concentrate on optimizing your shop for visibility. We can teach that to you in the Training Course for Etsy Sellers.
optimize your listings before you run any kind of ad
On-site ads are a great tool IF and ONLY IF you’ve already gotten those listings performing well organically.
I’m not anti on-site ads, but I wouldn’t put the money there. I think the organic reach is good enough on Etsy, for me personally. It can be good enough for you, too, if your shop is optimized for it!! I see my Etsy shop very much as a tool I use in my business when I want to and not as my business period. If you put more stake in your shop than I do, then the ability to run on-site ads is a great feature of Etsy. I wouldn’t spend on them myself, and it’s not my rec for the sellers we work with, nor is it a part of the strategy we teach in our Training Course. But if you DO want to use them, understanding when and why it would be best to do so is key to getting the best possible results.
Ads are part of a marketing strategy. Marketing strategies only work if you’ve merchandized and optimized properly.
Before you worry about elaborate (or worse, expensive) marketing campaigns, make sure you have your shop or site optimized. That applies to any site you sell on! This is especially important on Etsy because there are so many ways a person can leave your shop and be in someone else’s. That is not as huge of a concern on your standalone site, but on Etsy, it is. Focus on getting the traffic that already comes to your shop to stay in your shop and convert or take other profitable action while they are there before you begin to generate MORE traffic.
More traffic will not help if the traffic you already generate doesn’t do what you want it to do!!
Once that traffic comes and stays, and you learn how to properly optimize your shop for all the opportunities of Etsy, your listings will be MUCH better positioned for on-site ads (or off-site ads) should you choose to use them!!
Be sure to check out these two related posts, which are both relevant and important to this discussion:
*This post is written and published by The Merriweather Council. The Merriweather Council is not affiliated with Etsy Inc. Etsy is a trademark of Etsy Inc. We write about Etsy, from our own experiences, not for Etsy.