Google Shopping – A Business Owners Guide

If you run an eCommerce business online, generating new sales is always going to be at the forefront of your mind. Your existing sales channels; paid search, organic search, ECRM, affiliates etc. may be experiencing strong growth or they may be in decline, but whatever the score a new sales avenue is always a welcome addition to your marketing strategy.

Over the course of 2018, affinity has seen Google shopping spend increase substantially amongst our clients. The search result landscape has evolved into a shop window for your business and shopping ads are now at the forefront, especially on mobile devices which, for some eCommerce clients, has grown to well in excess of 70% overall traffic share.

Google shopping is an advertising service which allows you to upload a feed of the products on your website and advertise them directly in the Google search results, displaying your product image, price, delivery charges and finer details such as colour, brand, a detailed description etc.

The pricing model works in a similar method to traditional search ads. As a business you or your advertising agency will set up campaigns promoting your feed and pay per interaction. There is a catalogue version of ads which display on mobile which is charged per engagement, however for the most part you’re paying to drive traffic straight to the product pages on your website.

So, why is Google shopping so successful?

Traditional text ads which sit at the top of search results are a bit of a fine art. Refining the language and messaging in a small snippet of text to drive a qualified visitor to the site is no easy feat and for advertisers it’s a continual process of test, learn and improve.

Shopping ads bare all straight away. Users searching for a specific product can compare prices, reviews and delivery charges before they even click through to your site so you’ve already instilled the expectation of the user before you’ve paid for their visit.

Understanding the audience & driving sales

With traditional media buying on Google AdWords, the majority of targeting adopted by advertisers is to bid on key words and phrases that will match what a user is searching, and then it comes down to your bid and ad relevancy as to where you appear in the search listings.

For Google Shopping, the data contained within the feed you submit is absolutely key. Relevancy to what the product is, and what users search for when they’re looking to find that product are the key drivers in what searches you appear for as the marketplace doesn’t enable you to focus on targeted key words.

As we move into 2019 one of the key phrases you are likely to hear from marketing professionals is “feed optimisation”. For advertisers running shopping feeds, ensuring their feed is as relevant as possible will be critical as the marketplace is getting more and more competitive each month.

Examples of key Google shopping feed data attributes:

  • Product title
  • Product description
  • Price
  • Delivery charges
  • Google product category (this helps Google to better understand what type of product it is)
  • GTIN or MPN numbers (trade item numbers or manufacturer part numbers help Google to group matching items together for better user experience and price comparison)

Getting started, what sort of return can I expect?

As with all new marketing ventures for a business the key factor to consider is return for your capital expenditure.

Google shopping has proven to produce a healthy return for the clients we have launched on the platform, it’s been the major growth area in 2018 for many of them but as with everything completive, your business has to have a clear edge to make it successful.

The cost of advertising depends on many factors, how competitive you want to be in the marketplace, how often you want to show, how many other advertisers are competing in your marketspace… maximising the return comes from understanding the margin of your products and the lifetime value of acquiring new customers and finding the balance within the auction-marketplace to deliver a profitable return.

Managing Google shopping adverts successfully and the first steps

As a specialist digital marketing agency our role is to deliver value to your business, giving you the benefits of professionally-run campaigns and an expert team to lean on for advice whenever you need it.

The key elements to running successful shopping campaigns is ensuring you have a stable feed that’s reliable and maintains products eligible to show in the marketplace in line with Google’s guidelines, optimising your feed to contain information that’s as relevant as possible for user searches and a proactive approach to ensure you consistently maximise your return.

If you aren’t currently running any adverts via Google shopping and your business has any affiliation with eCommerce then put simply, you’re missing out. Your business’ marketing budget for 2019 should absolutely contain budget for shopping ads with a contingency for growth after measuring its initial performance.

fig. 1 – example of Google shopping listings