Today, I had the pleasure of speaking at On The Edge Retail in London. When I was putting together my presentation idea, I wanted to keep it relevant for the retail industry, which is what led me to talk about Google Shopping.
A study by the team over at Marin Software last year indicated that advertisers were expected to allocate 33% of their entire paid search budget towards Google Shopping by the end of 2014. Considering how new Google Shopping campaigns are, this figure really surprised me as I was expecting it to be lower. After reading the study, it makes it clear that Ecommerce businesses really need to up their game when it comes to the optimisation of Google Shopping campaigns; with the ever growing competition, costs are going to steadily rise. The earlier you work to optimise your campaigns, the more you will benefit in the long run.
I have embedded the actual slides from the event below for those of you who would like to have a look through. In the next section, you will find an overview of my talk written up as a blog post.
I have read so many posts that talk about just having one campaign and splitting that campaign down into Product Groups and/or Ad Groups. However, in my opinion, it is best to have multiple campaigns. If you go down the one campaign route, your targeting options are extremely limited. For example, if different products sell better at different times of the day, your ad scheduling settings would only be able to be set at campaign level. Going down the route of having multiple campaigns stops this.
Some ideas for breaking down your campaigns:
On top of this, I would recommend that you retain your ‘Catch All Products’ campaign and have it set at a low priority (see next paragraph for more on priorities) so that you always have a campaign fall back for new products or products that don’t fit the format of your broken down campaigns.
Before you start breaking your campaigns out, think carefully about the format you want to follow. This is especially important if you have lots of products as you want to be able to keep track of what campaign each product falls into. If a product sits in more than one campaign, you can use Campaign Priority to tell Google how important each campaign is. For example, if you had a flash sale on certain products, you could pull them into a separate campaign and set the priority as High to ensure that campaign gets preference over the other campaigns that those products are sat in.
Whatever you decide to do, take things slowly and let the data guide you before you split all the products out into lots of different campaigns.
The Data Feed is where you can really gain a competitive advantage. So many feeds are not fully optimised which means products are not showing as often as they could be and they may not be showing for the most relevant product searches.
Above all, you need to make sure you are making the most of all the different field attributes available to you. Google have a very handy document that you can refer to which I strongly recommend you read.
A feed should be updated at least once per day. Google seem to rank feeds higher the more frequently they are updated.
One of the more recent additions to the Google Merchant Center is the diagnostics section. It alerts you to any potential issues or threats to your data feed and tells you what you need to do to fix the issue. As a merchant, you should be checking this area very frequently to ensure that all the ads you want running are actually running.
If you are ever uploading a new feed, I would recommend doing so in Test mode first. This will alert you to any problems with the feed so you can fix them before actually uploading a live feed. This is best practice for any new feed being uploaded.
One of the most frequent reasons that an ad gets disapproved is because a price has changed or an item has gone out of stock. If you run a business where these two things change quite quickly, you need to make sure you are uploading a new feed every few hours. There is also a fall back option to help reduce price related disapprovals; Schema Markup. I will talk about this in the next section.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Schema Markup can be used as a backup for your Google Shopping feed. If Google checks the landing page and compares it against the feed and finds discrepancies for a product, that product will become disapproved and will no longer be shown in the results. This is not good, especially if this happens to be one of your best selling products.
This is where Schema comes in. You can tag up the key elements on your product pages (this is good for SEO too!) including the price and availability elements. If a price changes or the item goes in-out of stock and it does not match the data feed, Google will default to Schema and pull in that information instead until you update your feed again.
Schema does not replace your Google Shopping feed, it should be used alongside it.
Although the data feed has a lot of different attributes, you can’t segment products in AdWords by all of them. You are limited to just eight different options. However, you can also make use of Custom Labels. Google allows you to have five of these and they basically enable you to tag up your products with whatever you like so you can segment and bid more effectively.
Here are some examples of how you could use Custom Labels in your AdWords campaigns:
So, we have spent a lot of time looking at the data feed and what you need to do to maximise potential in that area, but we haven’t spent much time looking at the optimisation of your actual AdWords campaigns. We have looked at lots of different Google Shopping campaigns and it is surprising to see how many are set up and just left to run. You wouldn’t do that with your Google Search campaigns, and you definitely shouldn’t do that with your Google Shopping campaigns.
I am going to talk you through some of the optimisation techniques and reports that you should be using. Google Shopping should essentially be treated in the exact same way as your text ad campaigns with the addition of a few extra reports.
Use this report to see performance breakdown for the product group or the campaign. You can really drill down to see which products are working for you and which ones are not and then make changes to your bid strategy based on your findings.
Go through your campaign and ad groups applying a filter to ascertain which products are costing you, but are not converting. You should consider making changes to the bid on those products, lowering the amount so that you are not wasting so much of your budget on products that don’t convert. Some advertisers may exclude products from their campaigns if they are not converting, but I always think it is best to lower the bid down to £0.01 as you still have a chance of appearing in the main Shopping section of Google with a low bid.
A very handy feature in AdWords is Lost Impression Share. If you notice that you are losing out on a high percentage of the available impressions for your product, you need to improve the Quality Score. With Google Shopping, not much is known about QS, but it will undoubtedly have something to do with the bid and CTR. Increase your bids to be seen in higher positions and entice more clicks.
Even though your Google Shopping campaigns are not based on keywords, people still use keywords to search for and find your products and click through on your ads. It is important to check the SQR frequently; this will pull out any negative keywords unrelated to the products that you sell. You can add these at campaign or ad group level.
Another handy feature is the Benchmark CTR and Benchmark CPC columns. These are not usually on by default so you will need to go and switch them on. You can then see how your CTR and CPC compares to other advertisers in the same auction. If you have a lower CTR and/or a higher CPC than the average, you know you have some work to do to improve this.
There are two new features that I want to touch on briefly:
If you have any special promotions on particular products, you can highlight this nicely within your advert in the search results. This is something that can really give you an edge over your competitors.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the special offer really makes the ad stand out from the competition on the page and entices more people to look at your offering. The advertisers who took part in the Beta test of this saw a 7% increase in CTR and a 11% decrease in CPC!
If you want to get a piece of the action, you will need to request access directly with Google as this is not available to everyone yet.
If you have physical store locations that contain stock, this new feature could be a great for you. Google will highlight in the advert whether or not a product is currently in stock at the searchers nearest store.
Have a look at the example below from Currys.
The ads show ‘In store’ at the bottom when an item is in stock at the local store. When you click through, this is what you see:
This is very handy if you sell products that customers typically like to see in person first before they actually buy it. Expensive electronics are a good example as some people like to go into the store and look at TVs etc before they hand over their money.
The Local Inventory Ads also help drive more footfall into stores. In a study that Google did, it showed that 83% of online shoppers were more likely to visit a store if they could check availability beforehand.
Like with the Merchant Promotions, you will need to apply to Google if you want to take part in these type of ads.
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