Tips to Help Improve Your Shopping Campaigns Part 2

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Tips to Help Improve Your Shopping Campaigns: Part 2

A strong Shopping Ads strategy can take your eCommerce business to the next level. We reached out to experts to get their insights on Google Shopping and Microsoft Shopping. We received tips for Shopping campaign structure, optimized product data, and more.

Josh White

Josh White

Senior Paid Search Director, Jellyfish.com

Keep refining your product feed, reassess your best-sellers.

Give your feed some love.

You can structure the best, most granular shopping campaigns ever but if you don’t have an up-to-scratch feed it’s not worth anything. Keep on top of categorisations, continually test and refine product descriptions and the quality of traffic will improve massively.

Don’t rely on black box automation.

Whilst it’s tempting to be drawn in by the ease of set up and initial results of Google’s Smart Shopping, you lose all control to optimise based on search intent or type of product. This makes budgeting and pushing key products a nightmare, and gives you no hope of scaling your shopping efficiently.

You are also unable to control where your advertising spend is pushed, meaning there could be crossover with any of your Display or YouTube activity.

What really are your “best sellers”?

It’s really easy to end up pushing the products which drive the most amount of revenue, but this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same products will drive the most revenue because you push the most media behind them and they are constantly visible.

Take into account products which have a high buy rate from the product pages. These might not be getting the revenue now, but they are an indicator of a growing trend you don’t want to miss out on.

Look beyond last click.

As with all marketing now, understanding the true value of your Shopping activity is key. You need to know the real performance of your shopping campaigns before you start making key decisions.

Make the most of audiences.

Make sure you are tailoring products specifically to returning users, and give them that 1-to-1 relationship online. Consumers don’t want broad, generic ads anymore. Use Google data to pre-qualify users and drive efficiency in your media.

Dominik Dietz

Dominik Dietz

Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, RevolutionParts

Let your new campaign run before making more changes.

Actively manage the Google Merchant Center

There is nothing worse than Google suspending your client’s Merchant Center for violating one of their policies. The most common policy violations I see are typically due to shipping cost discrepancies or product price discrepancies. Google sends out a notification explaining the violation and gives clients 30 days to fix the violation. If the violation is not fixed than Google will suspend the account and it can cause your client’s shopping ads not to run—which no one likes.

Utilize Custom Labels

Custom labels are a great tool that let you organize and segment your shopping feeds. For example, we utilize custom labels to segment products by price ranges, profit margins, etc. This makes the initial segmentation and bidding much easier.

Understand the industry (niche)

You need to really understand the industry (niche) that you are working in and this takes time to learn. For example, I work with automotive dealers that sell OEM parts and accessories online and this industry is a lot different than clothing retailers because shopper intent is different.

Patience

We all want to see our client’s shopping campaigns take off when they first launch, but that is rarely the case. There is always a ramp up period when a new client’s campaign first starts and sometimes, we want to immediately start making changes if things are off to a slow start. This is where patience comes in, let your new campaign run 1-2 weeks before making any changes.

Competitive Pricing

I work with clients in an ultra-competitive environment where competitive pricing is crucial. Remember to think about total cost (price of the product + shipping) and regularly check out the competition to make sure that you are still competitive in the market.

Teddy Gargiulo

Teddy Gargiulo

 Paid Search Account Manager, Spark Foundry

Use a consistent title structure and product type categorization.

Optimizing Titles is Paramount

Optimizing your product titles will improve search relevancy and quality score, and therefore increase the number of auctions you are eligible for. Start by developing a consistent title structure that prioritizes brand name, product name, and descriptive product characteristics. Then, continually mine search queries and add relevant keywords into product titles where necessary. Construct your titles by including keywords in the order people search for them, as that will help you garner more traffic by increasing your expected click through rate.

Analyze What Consumers are Purchasing From Your PLAs

The product featured in the ad consumers click on is often not the product they end up purchasing. A product you have labeled as high profit margin may actually be driving sales of low margin products, while a “best-selling” product may actually be driving orders of a diverse range of SKUs.

Don’t Neglect Product Types

Product types are often overlooked in a shopping feed, but they represent another great opportunity to improve quality score and search relevancy. A proper product type field will have at least three levels of classification in their feed (example: Apparel > Men > Hats > Baseball Hats). The more granular your product types are broken out, the more information Google has to determine if your product is relevant to a particular query.

Standout with Merchant Promotions

One of the ways you can stand out in a crowded PLA carousel is with Merchant Promotions. Whether you’re offering a BOGO deal, a free item, or a percent off, you can add a Merchant Promotion in the Google Merchant Center, apply it to select SKUs, and boost the visibility of your products with a “special offer” callout.

Test Different Images

As search becomes more visual, you can no longer set it and forget it when it comes to your PLA images. Test different product images to see which drive higher click-through rates not only on the Google SERP, but on surfaces across Google that have a more visual focus: Google Images, YouTube, Gmail, & the Display Network.

Stephano Nicolaou

Stephano Nicolaou

PPC Consultant, Phern Digital

Use search term analysis to figure out how to segment your campaign.

Before creating any campaigns, make sure you have built out your feed as best as you can. Even if you aren’t currently using a 3rd party feed manager, you can easily set up a supplemental feed / rules in the Merchant Center to optimize your feed. Every account will have different needs, but make sure you make use of custom labels as they will come in handy when setting bids.

Look into your search term reports to understand how you may want to segment your campaigns. If you sell branded products, you will most likely benefit from funneling your generic and your branded or product-related terms into different campaigns. This can be set up using the campaign priority feature and by applying negative keyword lists to funnel traffic appropriately. It will allow you to increase your visibility on your most profitable terms without wasting budget on lower or no-converting traffic.

The next step is to identify high-volume search terms that you may want to treat as keywords. You can then create individual ad groups for these search terms, again by using negative keywords. There are also some very useful scripts out there to help you with on-going maintenance (the scripts will check your search terms daily and add any irrelevant terms for you).

Once you have a campaign structure that gives you enough control, you will be able to drive the overall account efficiency and maximize your revenue. Make sure you are running on-going search term analysis as it is one of the key elements in maintaining good performance, especially when experimenting with increasing bids. Don’t obsess too much on your impression share metrics—the moment you start seeing broader or irrelevant search terms, you may want to lower your bids!

Gil Hong

Gil Hong

Paid Media Strategy Manager, NP Digital

Think of your Shopping Ads as a group of products you’re curating.

When it comes to advertising on the SERP, Shopping Ads are a way different beast to set up and optimize. You’re not fighting for a single ad spot out of four at the top of the page like Text Ads, but potentially saturating up to 9 out of 9 Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

Since only one PLA gets the click/conversion credit, the remaining products that receive impressions are often neglected or even optimized against. Shopping Ads account structure should be thought of more as a curated group of products to compete for the same SERP rather than just best sellers with the added benefit of pushing out competitors.

When you are deciding which products you want to potentially show a user you’ll need to think about the psychology behind the user choosing an option. Having your best selling product show next to a more expensive and less expensive product can psychologically influence the user to go for a quality product for the price. You can also implement some product feed testing by altering Product Titles which may contain a different unique selling point. A more visual test you can implement with the product feed can include different styles of product imagery such as the product with different color backgrounds, different people using the products, or products displayed at different angles. Other considerations for showcasing different options can include: styles, color options, sizes, use cases, etc.

Make sure to check the actual SERP every now and again to get a sense of any changes made by the competition to make sure your ads are standing out!

Sebastian Talavera

Sebastian Talavera

Account Manager, SearchKings

Understand what Google likes in the data feed and use the right attributes.

Your Data Feed is Your Keywords

It sounds like nonsense, but a good number of advertisers don’t put the time and effort in data feed management. Understanding what Google likes and how they like it (titles, descriptions, GTIN, Brand, Google Product Categories) is key to dominate Impression Share. This might also answer the question: Why are your products not showing for the terms you want them to show?

Campaign Structure – Again, Use Your Feed

There are three fields within your feed that, when used right, can help your campaign structure tremendously. Product Type, Brand and Custom Labels are great for grouping your Product Groups/Ad Groups/Campaigns the best way possible.

Monitor Your Performance with Impression Share and Benchmark Metrics

Complaining about the fact that there is no position metric available is just an excuse. Google provides key metrics that can guide both your optimization and overall competitive advantage. Using Lost IS due to Rank will tell you how much your feed and your bid are limiting your exposure. Benchmark CPC will indicate to you how much other advertisers are bidding for similar products. Finally, a new metric in Beta, Benchmark Product Price Difference, now indicates you how competitive your price is in the market.

Smart Bidding is a MUST for Robust Data Feeds

If you’re running a feed with 500+ products, smart bidding is imperative. However, this will not be as effective if your product grouping segmentation is not done right. If you’re making the common mistake of “all products in one ad group,” this strategy will not work.

Review Your Conversion Attribution Model

Last-click attribution is nowadays rarely effective for eCommerce industries. Considering all the steps consumers take before making a purchase, reviewing the best attribution model for your business is definitely something you should consider before launching your Google Shopping campaigns. My personal suggestion is Position-Based, as it will fairly give credit to all channels that took part of the buying journey.

Zack Duncan

Zack Duncan

President, Root and Branch Digital Marketing

Use location targeting to make sure you are spending money on the right places.

Initially launched as Froogle in 2002, Google Shopping is a Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE) that can drive conversion rates that are 30% higher than text ads.

Google Shopping campaigns involve numerous elements in a complex ecosystem, so below are 3 tips to both get started on the right foot and continue to create powerful campaigns.

Set up Google Merchant Center and Sync with Google Ads

To run Google Shopping Ads, you’ll need the following elements:

  • A Google Merchant Center account
  • At least one Product Feed in your Merchant Center
  • A Google Ads account that is synced with Merchant Center
Be Mindful of Location Targeting in Google Ads

It is possible—likely even—that your advertising budget will not be large enough to bid on every product in your product feed. One of the critical parts of creating profitable Shopping Campaigns is targeting the geographies where shipping is most cost effective for your business. Don’t waste money on clicks in Alaska and Hawaii if you’re only able to profitability ship to states immediately bordering your own.

Separate Campaign Structure

Shopping is similar to other campaign types in that more control is better for advertisers. Rather than having all products aggregated together in a single campaign, separate them into distinct campaigns. For example, imagine a retailer that sells designer dresses at an average ticket of $500 and a margin rate of 70% and trendy t shirts at an average ticket of $30 and a margin rate of 40%. Having dresses and t-shirts in separate campaigns will allow the advertiser to maximize spend where it can generate the most profitability rather than spreading advertising dollars evenly.

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