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Etsy Advertising Guide: Grow With Promoted Listings & Ads
Jul 10, 2021

Etsy Advertising Guide: Grow With Promoted Listings & Ads

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Estimated reading time: 17 minutes.

Etsy seller thinking about advertising

Spending money advertising your Etsy store might feel a bit daunting.

How much should you spend? Is it worth it? Will you see any return, and how quickly?

In this guide, we’ll explore exactly what your Etsy advertising options are, both on and off the site.

We’ll also cover the free things you can do to boost sales, and ensure that you’ve maximized every opportunity to succeed on Etsy - paid and unpaid. 

In this Etsy advertising guide:

Are you ready to take the guesswork out of your Etsy accounting?

Etsy is a great place to sell unique products, and it’s perfect for creative entrepreneurs who aren’t necessarily excited about accounting. Discover the easy way of looking after your Etsy finances so that you can spend more time doing what matters most to you.

Download our free guide

Let’s kick off our foray into the world of Etsy advertising by covering what you can’t do, and the rules you’re required to follow. 

Etsy Marketing: What Can’t You Do?

It’s always worth reading the small print before handing your money over, so we’ve done it for you.

Here’s a quick summary of the main points about Etsy ads in 2021, straight from Etsy’s marketing policy:

Etsy’s marketing policy

  • Etsy has the right to make changes and notify you at any time.
  • Etsy reserves the right to terminate campaigns at any time.
  • By agreeing to any kind of automation, you are giving Etsy permission to run something on your behalf. Etsy may experiment a little, but this is always based on its data about trends that should positively impact your brand. 
  • Your ads and promotions should not be offensive in any way.

These are the tip of the Etsy marketing iceberg. Before investing in your campaigns, it’s a good idea to read the full policy here.

Why Bother With Advertising Your Etsy Store?

Paying for advertising? 

It’s a big next step, and often a daunting one for small businesses with limited cash flow. 

There are so many unknowns that present themselves. You might be asking yourself:

Are Etsy ads worth it? How much do I have to spend to increase sales? How do I know where the adverts are and if they’re working?

Although these questions aren’t straightforward, there are plenty of strategic ways for you to use Etsy advertising to your advantage. That’s what we’ll explore here.

The things that advertising on Etsy can do for you

  • Get more eyes on your products and more people visiting your shop.
  • Generate more sales over time.
  • Give you the opportunity to grow ‘risk free’, because you will only be charged by Etsy if you make a sale from the ad.
  • It provides you with insights about your customers and your products too. What do they like? What do they engage with? Which ad streams get you greater results for bigger investment next time?

Is there evidence that advertising works on Etsy?

Sellers have had mixed experiences with Etsy ads. 

It’s true that not everyone has mastered using them, or sees the results they want.

Others that have taken the leap and started using Etsy ads have been pleased with the results, and some have even kicked themselves that they didn’t do it sooner.

For a bit of inspiration, check out Brie and Joâo’s story of promoting their Etsy shop.

They live in Portugal and run Breezy Tee selling towels made out of t-shirt material. After choosing to promote their Etsy shop, they have been reaping the rewards and are sharing advice with other business owners.

“I’m a big fan of trial and error. You’re going to have to try different things, and there’s going to be a learning curve. That’s how we started and we’ve grown so much by taking that approach.” 

Etsy advertising can work great, but there are free things you can do beforehand that may boost your sales without spending a cent.

Let’s check those off first, and make sure you’re getting the maximum bang for no buck before spending that hard-earned cash. 

Free Ways to Boost Your Etsy Sales

Are you maximizing your organic opportunities before moving into paid promotions?

Search Engine Optimization for Etsy

That’s right, SEO applies to Etsy too! 

Just as Google ranks websites based on various factors, Etsy ranks its seller listings. And you can influence these rankings.

Good SEO on Etsy essentially lays the foundation for everything else. We have a guide dedicated to Etsy SEO, so check that out for more detail.

Here’s a sneak peek:

  • Start your SEO strategy with keyword research. This will help you understand what words people search that relate to your listings, and that you should be using when describing your product. 
  • Put your primary keyword at the beginning of your titles, as this counts more with Etsy’s algorithm.
  • Etsy’s algorithm also looks at your tags, attributes, listing quality, customer reviews, market experience, shop location and even your postage prices.
  • New items on Etsy get a temporary search results boost.

Etsy’s guidelines for listings can help you get started.

Social media for Etsy

Social media sites provide a great opportunity for exposure and lots of businesses benefit from their engagement.

They also give Etsy sellers access to different kinds of customers with varying interests, opportunities for user-generated content, up-selling and cross-selling, giveaways and engaging influencers. 

At a glance, here are the top three social media sites and their audiences according to Statista:

  • Facebook: The broadest audience, 25-34yo are the largest segment followed by 35-44. The smallest segment is 13-17yo. 
  • Instagram: 18-29yo dominate, followed by 30-49yo. The older audience, 65+ are the least engaged. 
  • Pinterest: Consistently high for 36-56+yo, with decent engagement of younger people too. 

You can link your social media directly to your Etsy store. This way, you can meet your customers exactly where they spend time, and bring them to your shop seamlessly. 

To do this, head to Shop Manager > Marketing > Social Media

Get more help with leveraging social media for Etsy here.

Linking Etsy to your own website

If you have a website, great! You can link your Etsy store to this too. 

In fact, 54% of Etsy sellers use another sales channel besides Etsy. 

By working on the SEO of your website and boosting its reach through content like blogs and articles, you can spread your Etsy shop far beyond the platform itself. 

Customers are still brought to Etsy to complete purchases, but you can spread your business wings and reach new heights your own way.

Psst… There’s also an Etsy widget for Shopify - just saying. 

Free Marketing Tools Within Etsy

Aside from those organic ways to increase your Etsy reach, there are free marketing tools within the platform itself too. 

Sales and coupons

Etsy’s definition of “sales” (having a sale) is offering free shipping or a percentage discount for your shop or items.

Sellers can select certain features and conditions when they set one up, but sales are public (i.e. visible to everyone).

Sellers can create and distribute coupons for their shop, essentially choosing how, why, and when to give customers a discount.

Coupons are not public, but can be redeemed by anyone who has a code. It’s important to note that coupons can be used multiple times, on different listings, until the expiration date.

To set up sales and coupons for your store, head to Store Manager > Marketing > Sales and coupons > New special offer

Read more about the types of offers you can run and how to do that here.

Targeted offers

This is a free marketing tool by Etsy (that you can opt into) which lets you interact directly with shoppers who have either favorited one of your listings, or have added an item to their cart.

After setting it up, Etsy runs targeted offers by itself with little attention required from you. 

Sellers can also send coupons to customers as a reward for purchasing from their shop, but only shoppers who have opted in to receive coupons via email from Etsy will be able to receive targeted offers.

Read more about Etsy targeted offers here.

Like many online platforms, Etsy offers a small, competitive badge of honor for those that earn it: a Bestseller Badge.

This orange banner on the corner of your listing holds a similar prestige to a blue tick of verification. It shows that this item has a high conversion rate - it sells well on Etsy.

Sellers are rewarded with this badge if they are best sellers within their category.

So here’s a top Etsy advertising tip: if you can land yourself in a category that people are searching for but where you don’t find many sellers, (AKA, a niche), you are far more likely to achieve that Bestseller Badge status.

How to get an Etsy Bestseller Badge

Try to be as specific about your products as possible. Ground them within their niche.

The trick to doing this is by using long-tail niche keywords in your titles.

Lots of people search for ‘jewelry’, but fewer people search for ‘Handmade silver elephant rings’. 

If that’s what you’re selling, this will be much easier to earn a Bestseller Badge for.

Just a head’s-up; this badge doesn’t give you any financial benefits aside from hopefully, more sales.

And the moment another seller overtakes your sales of that niche item, the badge is gone. 

Freebies Aside, How Do Etsy Promoted Listings Work?

Now you’ve built a good foundation, it’s time to take it to the next level: Etsy advertising - the paid kind.

Etsy’s promoted listings and how they work

There are two things you need to do to get started:

  1. First, set your daily budget (up to $25). Choosing this amount is important; once a daily budget is gone, so are your ads. Researching what others say will help you decide.
  2. Then choose how you’d like to promote your store: your whole shop, selected items, or your newly listed - (we’ll talk about strategies later).

“I started with a budget of $1 or $2 and chose to advertise everything, which was about 30 listings. I learned the lesson that you can’t advertise your whole shop with just a couple of dollars.”

- Brie Moore, Breezy Tee.

Etsy ads only cost you money when a click translates into a sale (commonly known as a “cost-per-click” model).

Setting up an Etsy ad campaign, step-by-step:

  1. From your Etsy store, navigate to Shop Manager.
  2. Select Marketing > Advertising
  3. Set that daily budget you chose earlier. Etsy will run auto-bidding in the background to give you maximum return. You won’t be charged unless a customer clicks on your ad.
  4. Click Start advertising

Your ads will be shown in Etsy searches, category pages, and market pages both on desktop and via the Sell on Etsy app.

When you launch a campaign, by default, all your listings are promoted. You can change these settings and toggle on or off individual listings.

Head to Etsy ads > Manage advertised listings to do this from your dashboard. 

You can change your budget at any time by going to Etsy ads > Manage your budget, entering a new one and clicking Update.

You can view your ad spend by heading to Shop Manager > Finances > Payment account > Recent activities. 

You can also set the countries that are able to view your ads, either with your pre-set delivery profiles or by choosing delivery countries separately. Find out how here.

Finally, to switch off your Etsy ads, head to Shop Manager > Marketing > Etsy ads > Other options > Turn off ads.

Etsy’s off-site ads and how they work

“Off-site ads” are when Etsy uses other platforms (Google, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Bing) to promote your shop or listings.

Etsy pays for all of this upfront, and only charges you when you make a sale, which is defined by a buyer purchasing any item from your shop within 30 days of clicking on your advert. 

The off-site ad fee is applied to each order from that shopper.

Off-site ads can be effective, generating approximately 1 out of 10 sales.

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Etsy off-site ads in 2020 took a controversial turn.

When off-site ads became compulsory, some sellers called it a “cash grab” by Etsy, after already being irked by the decision in 2019 to prioritize listings offering free shipping.

It’s worth noting that some sellers are not in favor of Etsy’s marketing sales decisions, so let’s explore next how you can opt out.

Opting out of Etsy’s paid promotions

When looking at the small print of off-site ads as of March 2021, we learn that:

  • All sellers are automatically enrolled in off-site ads.
  • Opting out of Etsy off-site ads is only available to certain sellers.
  • Some sellers are required to participate.

The criteria is as follows:

  • Larger Etsy sellers

Sellers that have earned $10,000 USD or more in total sales in any consecutive 365 day period (after 20 February 2019) are required to participate in off-site ads for the lifetime of their shop (even if the total sales fall beneath this threshold in the future).

The fee is discounted at 12% per sale (capped at $100 USD).

  • Smaller Etsy sellers

Sellers that have earned less than $10,000 USD in any consecutive 365 day period (after 20 February 2019) pay a fee of 15% per sale, but have the option to opt out. 

Opting out takes three business days and sellers still pay for any sales made within 30 days of the clicks made in these three days.

The $10,000 fine line

Once you cross that $10,000 USD threshold (Etsy will notify you) everything changes. 

Etsy can make promoting decisions on your behalf and doesn’t allow you to opt out even if you’ve only had one good year over the $10,000 mark.

Equally, sellers that earn over the $10,000 threshold benefit most out of the advertising, so the returns on your shop might justify the perceived loss of control.

Your Etsy Advertising Strategy

You have a number of options when it comes to promoting your Etsy shop and using sponsored ads.

Promote your entire shop

This is the default setting for Etsy ads.

It’s beneficial to new sellers because it gives the Etsy algorithm time to observe and analyze how existing customers are engaging with your shop, and which search terms you show up for. 

However, this is most effective over a long period of time (i.e. at least 30 days), so don’t expect to see immediate results!

This is good for showcasing all items equally. But if you have a lot of items, then you might need to up the budget (pay more Etsy advertising fees), to ensure decent exposure across the board.

Promote top performers

If you went the route of promoting your entire store for a while, you should have some idea which products are most popular. 

By calculating your return on advertising spend (ROAS), you can see how many dollars of revenue are generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

Return on advertising spend = revenue / budget spent

Of course, Etsy will help you to understand your ad performance further.

“Being dialed into the fashion industry is important to us, so we follow color trends. When a color is trending, that’s absolutely one of the ways we decide which products to advertise…

[And] don’t be afraid to stop advertising the product that’s not working. We’ve had items that got lots of views but no sales and ultimately we took them down

- Brie Moore, Breezy Tee.

Promote new listings

The logic in this one is that new listings have no search history, so you can help them climb the ladder by promoting them early on and giving them a head start. 

It’s especially effective when you already have a well-oiled marketing machine and you just want to add an equally well-oiled cog to it.

It’s also worth noting that Etsy gives new listings a slight boost, which means that over time yours may start to drop off the radar a bit as more products are listed by other sellers.

To combat this, you can set up Etsy’s Auto-Renew tool which keeps your listings jumping to the top occasionally, charging you $0.20 each time.

Be sure to read about experiences from others, to help you determine your own strategy.

Your Etsy Growth Journey

Start small and grow.

If you’re unsure in what order to use Etsy advertising options, here’s a rough journey you could follow. 

A theoretical route you could take to maximize your growth journey: 

  1. Establish yourself on Etsy first. Maximize every opportunity to benefit from organic growth like excellent listings, amazing customer service and smart, ongoing SEO. Remember to ask every customer for a review and build up your reputation. 
  2. Promote your entire store for a while. What do customers like? What don’t they like so much? What are your top sellers?
  3. Promote your top sellers on and off Etsy. Now that you have some data to go by, you could invest in boosting the popular products and monitor their performance. 
  4. Performing well off Etsy? Perhaps it’s time to create your own brand website or invest more time in social media. You have the option of Pattern by Etsy for greater creative freedom within the platform too. 

Essentially, impactful marketing comes down to paying attention. If something isn’t working, change it - even if that throws you out of your comfort zone or isn’t what you expected.

Let the data guide the way, and don’t be afraid to experiment a little! 

Make Sure You Profit With A2X

As your Etsy sales grow, so will your accounting tasks. 

And there’s one in particular that can become a time-consuming nightmare, fast - reconciliation. 

Etsy sends you a bank deposit and corresponding statement. The statement breaks down some of the income and expenses that led to the deposit amount, but not all of them. 

In order to understand exactly how much you paid in fees, for materials, collected in taxes, received in reimbursements or coughed up for shipping, some manual calculations may be required. And if you have tens, hundreds or thousands of transactions, that’s not easy. 

Plus, statements can span months, making forecasting your cash flow even more complicated.

Enter: A2X for Etsy

A2X integrates with your store and accounting software to take care of all that for you. Every bank deposit gets a journal summary which lists exactly what lines you need to know, all calculated automatically.

Statements are split by month and organized via the industry-approved accrual method, so your forecasting is easier and more accurate. 

The best part? A2X is always up-to-date, automated, and accessible from anywhere with cloud access, by anyone you give access to.

If you’re struggling to stay on top of the figures, it’s time to let A2X take care of it for you. It’s accurate accounting, without the fuss. 

Sign up for your free trial today!


How much does it cost to advertise on Etsy?

It depends on you! The maximum daily budget is $25 for Etsy to run your promoted ads. It’s relatively risk free as you only get charged when you get engagement. 

Is it worth it to advertise on Etsy?

It’s true that campaigns sometimes have to run for a few months before you’ll fully know the return, but many see great results.

Boost your chances of high conversion rates using a combination of great SEO and organic marketing, as well as smart paid campaigns.

How do ads work on Etsy?

Shoppers can choose to promote their entire shop, their top performing listings, or their new listings. Ads run automatically in the background according to the daily budget that you set and Etsy optimizes them for you. 

Generally, you are only charged when a customer clicks on your ad and/or completes a sale.

How can I promote my Etsy shop for free?

We recommend Search Engine Optimization within your listings and descriptions, maximizing your reach on social media, and building a blog or website that you can add valuable content to (all linked to your Etsy shop of course).

Can I opt out of Etsy’s off-site ads?

Yes, if you’ve earned less than $10,000 USD in any consecutive 365 day period after 20 February 2019.

No, if you’ve earned $10,000 USD or more in total sales in any consecutive 365 day period after 20 February 2019.

Also on the blog

Are you ready to take the guesswork out of your Etsy accounting?

Etsy is a great place to sell unique products, and it’s perfect for creative entrepreneurs who aren’t necessarily excited about accounting. Discover the easy way of looking after your Etsy finances so that you can spend more time doing what matters most to you.

Download our free guide

Ecommerce accounting is challenging, A2X makes it easy.

Discover how A2X can automatically take all of your accounting pain away.

Try A2X for Free

Before you leave...

Are you looking to take control of your Etsy accounting, to ensure that your business is running like a well-oiled machine?

Download our free guide