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How to Use Etsy Promoted Listings to Grow Your Store in 2019

By Reading Time: 5 minutes

Note: The term ‘Etsy’ and other Etsy graphics are trademarks of Etsy, Inc. This article is not endorsed by Etsy.

Update: In September 2019, Etsy combined Promoted Listings and Google Ads together into one campaign: Etsy Ads.

Etsy offers a standout opportunity for merchants to start or grow their business for several reasons:

  • It’s cheap to get started—you only have to pay a $0,20 product listing fee
  • There are 41.03 million active shoppers on a lookout for unique products
  • If your listings are optimized, they can rank organically on Google bringing even more shoppers to your Etsy store.

But opportunities come at a price. As Etsy continues to grow, so does the competition among the sellers. In 2018, the marketplace had more than 2.1 million active sellers fighting for shoppers’ attention, up from 1.9 million in the previous year.

If you want your products to appear high in Etsy search results, you need to do two things: master Etsy SEO or/and use Etsy Promoted Listings. While optimizing your listings for Etsy’s search engine takes time, you can set up ad campaigns in minutes. Continue reading to learn how to get started!

My Printful + Etsy success story

I’d like to take a moment to share my biggest success story to date using the Printful + Etsy integration.

In August 2018, I caught lightning in a bottle when an embroidery design I sold on hats was worn by a celebrity. The design sold on every Printful hat that I could offer to the tune of $7,534.25 on Etsy in just 3 days!

My Etsy sales and costs summary

One of the reasons I achieved this with a single design was because Etsy was running Google Ads on my behalf at their own expense.

My listing was converting traffic at such a high rate that Etsy’s automated system determined it made sense for them to pay Google to advertise my listings. That’s how my products began showing up at the top of Google search results in the “Sponsored” products row.

While this doesn’t happen every day, it’s worth knowing that you can get lucky by giving your listings an extra boost. But of course, that shouldn’t be your only motivation to use Promoted Listings on Etsy. 

What’s an Etsy Promoted Listing?

Promoted Listings is an advertising program on Etsy that gives you an opportunity to showcase your products in a designated place on search results.

On average, 1 out of every 4 rows of results on Etsy is reserved for Promoted Listings. 


How do Etsy Promoted Listing work?

Etsy Promoted Listings use an auction system when you can specify how much you’re willing to pay (per click) for a better ad placement.

Since you’ll be competing with other sellers, you should know the four main factors that affect your listing’s performance at an auction:

  • Your bid—the highest amount you’re willing to pay for one click on a particular listing
  • Listing quality—how likely shoppers are to click on your listing when it appears on search results
  • Relevance—how closely your listing’s title or tags match the shopper’s search terms
  • Timing—like the time of day, product seasonality, etc.

How to set up Promoted Listing on Etsy? 

In my opinion, every product you sell on Etsy should have Promoted Listings enabled. 

Think about it, if you make your listings eligible to be advertised and your ad isn’t shown—you won’t be billed. And if keywords associated with your listings have low competition, you will receive a paid ad placement at a low cost.

How to set up Etsy Promoted Listings:

1. Log into your Etsy account and click Shop Manager


2. Within Shop Manager, click Marketing followed by Promoted Listings and Start advertising on Etsy.


3. To get started, you will have to set your daily budget for all of your Promoted Listings campaigns. This should be the maximum amount you’re willing to spend per day to advertise your products. 

How much to spend on Etsy Promoted Listings? The minimum daily budget is $1.00. I recommend setting a high budget and experimenting with low CPC bids. 

4. Configure the settings by clicking Manage in the Ad Performance section.


5. In a new window, click Advanced settings to finish the campaign setup. Enable all of the following:

  • Advertise new listings automatically. I recommend advertising new listings automatically with max CPC set up to ensure that spending doesn’t get out of hand. 
  • Show bidding options. Always enable this. Trusting Etsy’s algorithm to determine your bids is a bad idea that can waste your ad dollars. 
  • Set maximum cost per click. Decide on your maximum CPC based on the overall profitability of your campaigns and what you can afford to spend. Don’t forget to test different bids! 

Pro tip
In addition to setting your max CPC bid across all listings, you’re also able to set custom bids on a per-listing basis under the Bid column of the Ad stats and settings section.

6. Finally, to enable Promoted Listings on your existing listings, scroll down to the Ad stats and settings section in your dashboard. Select the listings and click Turn On next to Advertising status.

That’s it! The products are now eligible to show up in Ad spots within search results.

3 tip to improve your listing quality

To increase your chances of winning a Promoted Listing auction, improve your listings with the same methods you use to make them more appealing to shoppers. 

1. Optimize Etsy Promoted Listing for search

I won’t go into too much detail because Etsy SEO is a subject on its own, but here are the basics you should know.  

When a buyer runs a search, Etsy’s algorithm does two things to determine which products shoppers should see. They are:

  • Query matching. Etsy analyzes listing titles (up to 140 characters), tags (up to 13), categories, and attributes.
  • Ranking. After query matching, Etsy ranks all the matched listings based on each buyer’s likelihood to purchase the items. Ranking factors include relevance, quality and age of the listing, shipping cost, and more.

That said, your listing should be not only optimized, but also attractive and informative enough to encourage more clicks and purchases.

2. Use attention-grabbing images

Etsy also tracks the click-through rate of your listings, so do everything in your power to get noticed.

Etsy lets you add up to 10 photos per listing. Show your item’s most important qualities by:

  • Including closeups—try to showcase the item’s size, texture, and the way it falls.
  • Adding a background image to your regular mockup—help the product stand out in the sea of listings by adding a little wrist to your product background.
Pick up more tips on how to stand out in Etsy search using the thumbnail background on my blog.
  • Using diverse mockups—pick flat lay or/and mockups with a model to show your item in a lifestyle setting. 

You’ll have to choose one of your product images to be the primary image of your listing. This image will appear on Etsy’s search results, so pick wisely.

3. Write informative product descriptions

Product descriptions play a significant role in increasing conversions—which then helps your Etsy rankings. 

Write product specs that are both informative and fun to read, and don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

Printful’s product generator includes basic product descriptions and automatically generates high-quality mockups of your design. Use them as a base to create unique product listings on Etsy that encourage clicks!

Monitor your campaigns

Once your ads are up and running, monitor them to ensure you’re staying profitable. The easiest way to do this is to track your Advertising Cost of Sale, or ACoS.

ACoS = ad spend / sales

To calculate your ACoS, go to your Promoted Listings dashboard and divide the number from the Cost column by the number in the Revenue column.

Let’s take a look at the example below:

Promoted Listings dashboard

Let’s say your campaign generated $247 in sales with an expenditure of $108, then the ACoS = 108 / 247 4 = 43,7%. This means that you’re spending around half a dollar on ads to make one dollar of sales.

As a rule of thumb, profitable ACoS percentage should be close to your profit margin percentage. 

Pro tip
If you’re able to run Promoted Listing campaigns at break-even, it’s still a good idea to boost your sales with advertising. Each sale can lead to a positive review which is extremely valuable to your Etsy shop!

Start promoting your Etsy listings

If you’ve never tried ads on Etsy, test the waters by setting a smaller daily budget to discover the magic behind Promoted Listings. You can never know when your next big sale will come if you’re not willing to experiment. 

As for the last tip, remember that every product you’re selling is unique, therefore the competition isn’t the same either—your winning bid strategy might not work for the mugs as well as it worked for t-shirts. So adjust the bids for each product and learn from your victories and failures along the way to find what works best for your business. 

Ryan is a blogger & passive income advocate who’s always looking to find an edge in the competitive space of ecommerce. Visit his website to learn more about him.

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