If there’s one channel that should be a part of every e-commerce strategy, it’s Google.
More than 30% of online purchases start with a Google search, where listings are streamlined into highly relevant results. That means the search engine offers some tremendous opportunities for brands and retailers to get products in front of potential buyers — and to help them make buying decisions fast. ChannelAdvisor has seen companies bump year-over-year revenue 9% simply by unlocking new ways to reach shoppers on Google.
How can you achieve similar results? It all starts with creating a strong Google Shopping strategy. With the right methods, Google Shopping can be your ticket to more customers and higher sales.
But while opportunities abound, the process can seem overwhelming at first.
As you get set up and start to explore the basics of Google Shopping, several key strategies can help ensure you’re getting as much as possible from this valuable e-commerce channel.
How Google Shopping works
Before you can begin to put strong strategies in place, it’s important to understand how Google Shopping works — and how it differs from traditional search campaigns. With text-based paid search, the focus is on identifying keywords you can use to attract your target audience and drive them to a landing page.
Google Shopping essentially turns this model on its head. Rather than starting with keywords, you begin by uploading your product catalog. Google then uses your product data to find the best keyword matches for you.
With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at two proven methods that can work particularly well for successful brands and retailers.
Smart Shopping for more automation and conversions
As a first step, you’ll need to select your bidding strategy. While it may sound like a relatively simple process, this is where many brands and retailers struggle. Your ability to bid on keywords effectively can have a huge impact on how visible your ads are. But unfortunately, the dynamic nature of search auctions means the “right” bid is often a moving target — one that’s virtually impossible to reach at scale.
Thankfully, there is a way around this problem. It’s called Smart Shopping.
Rather than reacting to historical data, you can use Smart Shopping to take part in proactive, “auction-time” bidding to help optimize campaigns. When you choose to use Smart Shopping options, Google uses machine learning to pull from a full range of data — search queries, locations, devices, times of day and more — to determine intent and show the right ad to the right consumer, at just the right time. Smart Shopping also enables a broader reach for your products with its ability to also display ads in places like Gmail and YouTube.
Segment Your Product Catalog to Further Optimize Performance
Once you have a basic Smart Shopping campaign in place you will want to evaluate the use of Custom Labels and Filters in order to refine your campaign strategy. Just one campaign is basically telling Google that all your products have equal characteristics when in reality there are likely significant variations. For example, some products are a very high price point while others are very inexpensive. Some may have high margins and others have very low margins. The same could be true with brands — some may be very recognizable branded products while others are generic in nature.
The answer is to gather performance data and use this along with your product catalog data to segment your catalog into multiple campaigns. Once this is done you can set corresponding ROAS goals so that Google machine learning is appropriately tuned to the given set of products. As with all things, too much of a good thing can hurt you so you will need to find a balance that provides some granularity but not so much that the automation doesn’t have enough data to work with.
If you’re looking for a way to get products in front of purchase-ready consumers, Google Shopping is a strong channel to consider. And the strategies above are just the starting point. Using Showcase Shopping ads, adding fast shipping tags and making Google Images shoppable are all great ways to maximize spend. As you get more comfortable with the program, you’ll discover all kinds of ways to increase conversions and drive more sales. And of course be sure you are opted in for the free traffic that is available on the Google Shopping tab. After all, free is hard to beat.