After four years of being an Account Manager, I still feel the pressure of switching my mindset from the thinking of an E-Commerce account to a Lead Generation account and vise versa. While they are the same in many ways, there are several differentiations between the two. Should you be scared if you have only had e-commerce accounts and your boss calls and says that you are taking the next lead generation account? No way! Look at it as an opportunity to expand your skill set and to refresh what you have already learned in training at the beginning of your time as a PPC mastermind.

This small guide is going to focus solely on Google Ads as a jumping board into the rest of the pay-per-click world. Many of the ideas and differences indicated in this article can and will carry over between various platforms, however, every platform is different and will require adjustments not only based on the platform but the account(s) that you are running. So let’s get to it!


Many may think that keywords are the same across both types of accounts. However, I’m here to tell you that is not the case. When thinking about keywords, you must first think of the product or products you are promoting and then combine that thinking with the audience.

For e-commerce, you want to be intentional but can safely make some assumptions. For example, if I search for a ‘women’s tunic blouse’, you can safely assume that is what I’m looking for and you as an advertiser will want to get in front of me if that’s a product you sell.

For lead generation, it’s slightly more vague. If your product requires a sales team to step into the process once a user’s information is processed, you need to make sure that the user is qualified and fits the demographic and/or audience you are intending to reach. As an example here, if I search for ‘how to budget my money’, an accounting firm that aims to help small businesses, should avoid bidding on that term. However, if I search for ‘budgeting for small businesses’ you are safe to assume I’m in the market for something other than a little spreadsheet that calculates how much I spent on coffee and what’s left for bills.

Bottom line: Keywords show intent but they can also simply be someone not looking to purchase and rather just doing a quick Google search. Use keywords as the first point to qualify users.

Ad Copy

We all love writing ad copy, sometimes. This is the second point that is going to vary between e-commerce and lead generation.

For e-commerce, I love a good deal. If I’m searching and get the following two ads, which one do you think I’m going to click on?


Me personally, I’m going to click on the second ad that shows the following value props;

  • 5 star-rating
  • $10 off your first order
  • Free shipping
  • Free returns
  • Styles 

While I have been looking to buy the first brand for a while, I’m giving only a quote from a customer, and information about the styles.

For lead generation, it’s a different ball game in some ways. A user wants to know what you offer, your experience, and what it’s going to cost them.


For the ads above, I simply searched for “injury attorney” and immediately I’m given the information that it won’t cost unless they win for me. I’m also given the information on a free case review and that they cover car accidents. In this situation, either one would be fair to click on so I would probably start at one and work my way down.

Bottom Line: While they may not differ vastly, you have to throw in specific value props pertaining to your business. Give the user what they want because if you don’t offer it, you may save yourself some $$ by avoiding that click.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

To me, this is the biggest difference between the two, so I’ll keep it simple and to the point.

For e-commerce, we want to know how much revenue we are generating. Return on ad spend (ROAS) will 9/10 be the metric that you want to focus on when determining the success of your campaigns. One exception to this is if you offer an on-going subscription, it may shift slightly to lifetime value but the end goal would still essentially be revenue. As a side note, while I have always focused on this for my e-commerce accounts, always listen to the client and ensure that you are aligning yourself with what their goals are and the KPI’s they want to focus on.

For lead generation, the majority of the time, if revenue is not tracked, you will most likely focus on conversions and cost-per-conversion. For example, if you are tracking form fills, you will want to know for every form fill, how much is it costing us. This is something that needs to be discussed with the business to determine the value of a conversion so that an appropriate goal can be set.

Bottom line: You will focus on different KPIs for each business type, however, you always want to confirm with the client or business what they are focusing on internally. Because if that doesn’t align, you will be optimizing toward a metric that may not matter in the long run and essentially hurt their business.

Conversion Goals

Last but certainly not least. Things are tracked differently between e-commerce and lead generation. This is the main thing that sets them apart and that you need to know!

For e-commerce, the main conversion goal is typically going to be purchases. When a user hits that ‘complete purchase’ or ‘confirm purchase’, you want to track what they bought (this is typically done via Google Analytics or similar platform) and how much total they spent. Simple.

For lead generation, there are a plethora of conversion actions that can be tracked such as;

  • Complete form fills
  • Phone calls
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Subscriptions
  • Video views
  • Chats
  • ..and more.

You don’t want to discount an action that a user may take when it comes to lead generation. From experience, by tracking more conversion actions it gives you the ability to learn how people interact. For example, for one of my clients, I know that if a user calls the business and completes a newsletter sign-up, they are more like to purchase the product in the interim.

Bottom line: Know what’s valuable to the business and what actions customers are taking prior to investing in the overall product or service.


This is a minor list of difference between lead generation and e-commerce that focuses solely on Google Ads. There are a ton of other blog posts that dive more in-depth into the strategy between the two but without a core foundation, sometimes it’s hard to think about long-term strategy. My suggestion to you is to always step back and consider the user, the audience, and what the goal is of the business.


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