With the holidays just around the corner, now is the best time to expand your product advertising in e-commerce, which includes Google Shopping campaigns. According to RKG’s Digital Marketing Report, these types of product listing ads consistently demonstrate improved conversion rates over other forms of ads, such as text ads in search.
Unfortunately, as the popularity of Google Shopping ads increases, so do costs per click. That means you’ll need to focus more on the setup and optimization of your campaigns to ensure they remain profitable while still targeting the right audience. Although product listing ads lack the option of traditional keyword targeting, they can still be optimized to help you maximize your ad campaign’s performance.
In this post, I’ll show you the five best ways to ramp up your returns in Google Shopping ad campaigns.
1. Master the Feed to Google
Everything in your shopping ads is fed to Google. You start out with Google crawling your product feed and relying on the information in that feed to determine if any of your products are relevant to the user’s search query. This is incredibly important because the entire foundation of your shopping campaign relies on the proper setup of your feed.
There are two ways you can set up your feed.
Enter your product information into a spreadsheet that matches a predefined setup established by Google.
If your online retail business is on a hosted platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, then you can use integration applications that provide all the product data while also optimizing the formatting for you so it can be read properly by Google.
Integration is an ideal method for e-commerce stores that have large inventories with multiple variations of their products. If you’re only selling a few products, then the manual method might be a better way to set up the campaign to ensure the accuracy of your product information.
Since Google will interpret this data to determine relevancy, there are some key areas you want to pay close attention to. This includes:
- Detailed, accurate headline (remember the 150 character limit)
- Complete product description that is compelling and concise
- Match to Google product categories; this is vital to showing up for appropriate search queries
- Accurate product type selection to align with product categories
- Quality product photos
Each of the above items plays a role in influencing your quality score. The quality score is something that makes Adwords so effective for marketers. It encourages you to create awesome ads and landing page copy relevant to an audience – the more aligned you are, the lower your cost per click will be.
The system is similar to shopping campaigns, though it’s not completely clear how it works. The best approach would be to treat it similarly to text ads, and optimize your feed to the best of your abilities to perfectly align with your audience’s search queries. Your cost per click will ultimately be influenced by the quality of your Google Shopping feed.
2. Create a Campaign Hierarchy
Although targeting specific keywords is out of the question with Google Shopping ads, you can still sway the system in your favor by using negative keywords to influence how campaigns appear. Kirk Williams, CEO of ZATO, provides a complete and detailed walk-through to help your ads dominate the market in no time. Here’s the gist of it:
Start out by setting priorities for your campaigns, then strategically place specific negative keywords at various levels to control which ads appear for which search queries.
High Priority – This ad set will show based on all the usual triggers and matches in Google Shopping, except for any negative keywords that you specified in the set-up stage to prevent your shopping ads from appearing.
Medium Priority – Your high priority campaign will take precedence, and it’ll appear before this campaign for pretty much everything with the exception of the negative keywords you listed. Refine your medium priority campaign by implementing negative keywords you don’t want the high level to appear for.
Lowest Priority – Your medium and high priority campaigns will be served first in order of priority and negative keyword tagging. Save for whatever negative keywords you don’t want to show for; you would leave out the negative keywords from the medium and high priority campaigns where you want this campaign to show up.
While you technically can’t target specific keywords with your primary campaigns, you can still use negative keywords to influence when and how other campaigns are shown. This is a highly effective way to make specific ads show for branded terms over non-branded terms, or forcing a specific (low priority ad) to show for the “negative” keywords that are actually the best terms most likely to yield conversion and sales.
3. Give Shoppers More Buying Options
Based on a study of user behavior among 15,000 conversions, across U.S., U.K., and German markets, PPC firm Crealytics discovered something interesting: most consumers don’t actually buy the products they were looking for in the first place. That includes products they clicked on through Google Shopping ads!
Only 34% of consumers buy the product they clicked on. Another 30% of online shoppers ended up buying a different product by the same brand or designer, while 36% of shoppers purchased a product from a completely different brand or designer.
You don’t have to lose 2/3 of your clicks; just find ways to influence the consumer’s purchase decision once they click on your ad. One way to do this is by transforming the landing page experience.
Rather than sending customers to a specific product page, send them to a category or quick-shop landing page that features the product you want to sell while also listing related items.
Searching for “office desk” revealed a number of Google Shopping ads, including one specific desk from Wayfair.
Instead of being sent to a specific product page when I click on the Wayfair ad, I’m sent to a category page that shows the product I chose alongside other similar products to expand my options and help me find the right desk and accessories.
Keep in mind that Google Shopping requirements state that the consumer must be able to see the listed price and add the item to their carts from the landing page used in the ad. As long as you have those on your category page, then you’re within the guidelines. This will allow you to give your customers more options, which increases the likelihood of a conversion over having them back out and search for items from your competitors. As with all things related to conversion optimization, make sure you continue testing any changes you make in this process.
4. Make Improvements by the Data
The most successful e-commerce companies are crushing their shopping ad goals because they’re paying close attention to their reports. They rely on data to kill what’s not working while leveraging things that are proven to bring in revenue.
Some of the most useful data can be found in the Dimensions Tab of your ad reports. This data should be checked regularly to monitor each ad’s performance. Here’s what you can pull from this data to make your campaigns more profitable:
If you’re regularly running Google shopping ads but seeing few impressions, then your ads just aren’t getting in front of your audience. In this case, either your bids are too low and your competitors are outbidding you, or there’s a problem with the information in your feed and Google isn’t able to show your products to relevant audiences.
Before bumping up your bids, go back through your Google Shopping feed and verify that everything is formatted the way it should be to establish relevancy.
High Impressions; No Clicks
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might have product ads accumulating lots of impressions but not getting clicks on those ads. Typically, this is either due a price issue or your product is appearing for search queries in which the consumer’s purchase intent doesn’t align with your specific product.
For pricing issues, you can use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool to see what other ads appear around yours. If competitors are selling similar products at lower prices, then you likely won’t see many clicks on your ads. This is also a good opportunity to check the quality of your product images, as poor image quality can impact your click rates as well.
5. Landing Pages Still Matter
If the reports show a high volume of impressions and clicks to your website, but the conversions are failing, you’ll need to turn your attention to the landing page and user experience. Even a well-performing product listing ad can’t push a conversion on your site.
If you’re running into conversion issues on your landing or product page, then start reviewing factors that may cause friction while examining your competitors’ products pages for similar ads. It’s easy to get lost while tweaking and optimizing a ton of factors that impact your conversions, so it’s usually best to focus on the most basic points that create friction:
- Is it easy to add the product to cart?
- Is shipping information completely clear?
- If free shipping is available, is that clearly stated upfront?
- Are product reviews and social proof prominently featured on the pages?
- Does the product description accurately outline the value proposition?
Always compare or perform A/B tests when you start making changes to improve your conversion rates. Likewise, if you make any pertinent product changes on your site, be sure to update your Google Shopping feed. This includes updating negative keywords to ensure your ad will only showing up for search users who are mostly likely to click-through and convert.
Google Shopping ads should be treated with the same care and strategic purpose used in traditional text-based PPC ads. You can’t just “set it and forget it.” These ads require constant observation and maintenance to improve their performance. Use the tactics I’ve listed above to help you set up and maintain effective Google Shopping ads this holiday shopping season.
All Screenshots by Matthew Orlic, October 2016