One of the biggest challenges facing e-commerce retailers is getting and remaining profitable.
While there are many tools for selling online that can help you achieve this goal, few, if any, are as effective as Google Shopping.
When properly executed, Google Shopping campaigns can serve as a top driver of revenue and site traffic, while maintaining an overall low cost to operate.
The problem is, not everyone is savvy to the best and most effective methods for optimizing their campaigns for success.
So, let’s go over some best practices for maximizing profitability and success in Google Shopping.
Great Campaigns Start with Great Data
An often overlooked, yet extremely vital, contributor to the success of a Google Shopping campaign is your product data feed in Merchant Center.
Ideally this is something that is addressed before ever building a campaign and showing an ad on Google Shopping.
However, if you already are running Google Shopping, it’s not too late to go in and make some optimizations that can drastically improve performance.
A basic rule of thumb with data feeds is the more information, the better.
When consumers enter search queries related to what you’re selling into Google, whether or not you appear is entirely based on the information found in your feed.
Fields such as gender, color, age group, brand, material, product type, and product category are essential to ensuring that your ads are appearing in relevant Google Shopping searches.
For some industries, such as apparel and media, many of these fields are required for your feed to be approved in Google’s Merchant Center.
However, they aren’t required for all industries so conducting independent research will go a long way.
Additionally, keyword-heavy and attention-grabbing product descriptions can help your products on Google Shopping stand out as seen in the example below from Sperry.
Product Title Optimizations
Product titles are arguably the most important field in your data feed when it comes to earning visibility in Google Shopping results.
Not only does Google match search terms to relevant product titles, but one of the first pieces of information a consumer sees from you is your product titles.
Having a descriptive and straightforward title will make it easier for Google to pull up your products in searches that present the best opportunity for a sale.
The best practice for product titles is to front-load relevant information, such as brand, product type, product category, etc.
The more general and broad your title is, the less likely it is to appear in relevant searches.
As seen in the above example, the first product started with a very open-ended title. That product could show up for any number of searches.
By adding more pertinent information, like the fact that it’s a travel dog bowl, you narrow your searches down to shoppers looking specifically for that type of product.
While Google allows a maximum of 150 characters for product titles, they typically only show the first 70 characters. Keep this in mind when writing product titles, since you’ll want to include the most important product attributes in the beginning of the title.
The Ideal Google Shopping Campaign Structure
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the best, most effective way to structure campaigns in Google Shopping.
Unfortunately for many them, while they may make you some sales, they’ll never be able to live up to their fullest potential.
A common mistake made by e-commerce retailers on Google Shopping is grouping several products into one product group and setting them all at the same max CPC bid.
This is inefficient for a couple reasons:
- When a consumer enters a search term into Google, their bots look to find products that closely match what’s being searched for. If they must look through several campaigns, into several ad groups, into several product groups to find a product, chances are it will either show up towards the bottom of the results or not at all. The less hurdles the better.
- If a sale is made in a product group that contains several products, you won’t be able to determine which product sold. This can lead to wasted ad spend, lower ROI and impression crowding. Ideally, you’d want to focus ad dollars on products that produce results, and away from products that may not be selling as much or at all.
ID-Level Google Shopping
To combat the troubles caused by grouping products together under the same max CPC bid, it’s recommended that Google Shopping campaigns are built on the pure ID-level.
This means that each product ID in your catalogue will be its own product group with its own individual bid.
Setting up your campaigns with this structure allows you to monitor the performance of each product on its own and develop the most cost-effective bidding strategies for your e-commerce store.
The advantage come from being able to identify both products that are working well and products that are wasting money.
With this vital information, you’ll be able to shift your ad budget towards your top performing products and stop wasting on products that are over spending and generating little or no return.
You’ll also be able to identify several other issues with ID-level bidding as opposed to product group level bidding, such as:
- Potential product landing page malfunctions
- Wasted ad spend from non-relevant search queries
- Over/under bidding
Overall, pure ID-level structured Google Shopping campaigns help product higher ROI, provide you with more control over bids and ad spend, and a more granular view of general ad metrics.
Easy Google Shopping Campaign Optimizations
Now that ID-level Google Shopping campaigns are up and running, it’s time to focus on performing optimizations that will maximize overall performance and drive up your ROAS.
With that, it’s important to understand that it typically takes several days for your optimization efforts to bear fruit.
It’s recommended that changes in an individual Google Shopping campaign are made no more than 2 times per week.
Ideally, a round of optimizations will be made only once per week to allow Google time to index your new CPC bids, modifiers, negative keywords, etc., and for enough data to gather for you to make an informed decision on the next move to make.
Making changes too often can completely undo any potential progress that’s been made, and negatively affect your Google Shopping campaign performance.
So, before we dive into actual optimization tips, please keep in mind that patience is an extremely valuable asset when it comes to managing successful Google Shopping campaigns.
Utilizing Filters to Reduce Wasted Ad Spend
A major benefit of building your Google Shopping campaign on the ID-level is that you’re able to monitor performance of each product individually.
With the help of filters in AdWords, you’ll be able to identify products that are spending too much money with little to no return and scale them down.
Let’s say you don’t want to spend more than $10 advertising a product in Google Shopping without it making a sale.
Build a filter as shown above to identify these products and separate them from the rest. This should narrow down the list significantly and make it easier to change bids manually in AdWords or AdWords Editor.
In this case, since you want to reduce ad spend, consider lowering the bids by at least 25%. This will narrow the search queries that this group of products will show for in the future to ones that are more relevant.
The lower the bid the more long tail search terms will be required to make your product appear in search results.
Scan for Potential Negative Keywords
Although you can’t bid on specific keywords in Google Shopping like you can in expanded text ads and display ads, you are able to ensure your products don’t show for certain search terms.
Inevitably, your products will show in Google Shopping results that are unrelated to what you’re selling and will get clicked on.
This leads to wasted ad spend and can negatively impact your indexing in Google.
To find these potentially negative keywords, navigate to the keywords tab and view the search terms.
From here you can view statistics, such as clicks, impressions, cost, and conversions, that will help you determine which terms are good to show for and which should be excluded.
If you notice certain search terms seem to be spending a lot of money, getting a lot of impressions, not getting a lot of clicks, not making conversions, or any of the above, you should consider adding them to your negative keywords list.
To do so, simply click on the box to the left of the search term, then click the “Add as negative keyword” button on the top of the list.
Pro Tip: When conducting search term research, it’s recommended you use at least 60-90 days of data.
RLSA – Audience-Based Remarketing
One of the most common sense, yet most commonly overlooked, campaign optimizations for Google Shopping is RLSA, or audience-based remarketing.
What makes this such a powerful tool is the fact that, not only is cost effective, it’s also incredibly easy to set up and manage.
It’s not a separate campaign like dynamic remarketing where you need to go in and update bids, adjust placements, etc., and regularly manage it.
Simply build the audiences in Google Analytics, add them as targeting in your Google Shopping campaign settings, set the bid modifier, and let it make money for you.
Adding RLSA has been shown to reduce the average cost-per-acquisition by 53%, and has led to average of 10% increased conversions.
This is because you’re focusing ad spend on shoppers that have already shown interest in your site and/or your products.
The idea is to increase bids on these groups of people, since the likelihood of them converting is higher than a brand-new visitor.
To get started, it’s recommended that you focus on 4 main groups of people:
- All Visitors – anyone who clicked your Google Shopping ad and came to your site
- Abandon Cart – shoppers who put an item in their shopping cart, and never went through with the checkout process
- Abandon Checkout – shoppers who began the process of checking out, but never fully completed the purchase
- Bounced Visitors – people who came to your website and immediately left without performing any actions.
For the first 3 audiences, the idea would be to set a bid modifier that increases your CPC bids so that your product shows up first, or close to it, the next time they search in Google Shopping.
For the 4th audience, bounced visitors, you’d ideally set a negative bid modifier so that you decrease the likelihood of showing up in their search again, since they’ve shown a disinterest in your store. This is a money saver, since you’re cutting out non-converting traffic.
Pro Tip: When adding audiences to your Google Shopping campaign, be aware of the targeting settings, of which there are 2, Target & Bid and Bid Only. The most ideal application for RLSA is Bid Only, as this will only adjust your max CPC bids based on your modifiers. If you set to Target & Bid you will set the campaign to only target these audiences of people, and will greatly reduce your overall web traffic and visibility in Google Shopping.
Utilizing the Dimensions Tab
There are many tools and data points that Google AdWords provides its users that can help make well informed optimization decisions.
One truly useful tool is the dimensions tab.
AdWords dimensions provide you with in-depth data about your Google Shopping campaign and presents it to you in a simple to analyze fashion.
You can see which item IDs are performing best or wasting the most ad spend, you can see which of your product categories is your most profitable, and even review search terms.
Two data sets that can be particularly effective for optimizing a Google Shopping campaign are:
- Time > Hour of Day
- User Locations
Time > Hour of Day
Use this data set to optimize your campaigns for your peak performance time, and to reduce ad spend during periods where sales typically aren’t occurring.
This will have a dual effect on your campaign, as you’ll see your wasted ad spend decrease while at the same time ensuring your fully available to show during peak conversion-making hours.
A common issue in Google Shopping campaigns, especially ones that have high amounts of products, is that their daily budget runs out too early in the day.
By setting an ad schedule in your settings, you’ll gain full control when your money is spent, and ensure you don’t run out of daily budget too early.
Not only can you cut ad spend during non-peak hours, but you can also set bid modifiers that raise bids during higher traffic periods of time.
This will help provide you with a slight boost in the auctions during these times and can lead to more sales.
Try a slight increase at first, and measure results before getting overly aggressive.
This data set shows you exactly where your site visitors are located and allows you to view statistics on them down to the zip code.
Gathering information here can be another way to redirect your ad budget towards areas that convert at a higher rate and away from areas that money is wasted.
Just like with ad schedules, setting location targeting can increase ROAS, lower your CPA and help ensure your advertising dollars are spent where you want them to be spent.
Pro tip: If you’re targeting the entire United States, the most effective and easiest way to add location targeting is on the state level. If you’re targeting specific regions in a campaign you can get more granular down to the city and zip code level for maximum control.
Device Pure Google Shopping Campaigns
As mobile phones grow closer to becoming the device of choice in e-commerce shopping, retailers on Google Shopping are seeing more of their ad spend going to mobile devices than ever before.
The problem is, if you have just one campaign with all your products, a majority of your budget may be going to mobile and causing you to run out of budget early.
This could be causing to lose out on valuable sales not just on mobile, but on desktop and tablets as well.
A great way to remedy this is to build out your campaigns and separate device targeting into their own Shopping campaign with their own dedicated daily budget and strategy.
To do this, build a mirror to your existing Google Shopping campaign, and set the bid modifier for mobile and tablets on the original campaign down to -100%.
Now your original campaign will only be eligible to show ads for users searching on their desktop.
On your mirrored campaign, set the bid modifier on computers down to -100% to ensure that this new campaign will only show for mobile and tablet device users.
Since shopping behaviors across device platforms differ, a bid that works well for desktops may not be the best for mobile or vice versa.
This is an easy way to gain control over your budget and maximize your ROI.
Google Shopping is a fantastic tool for e-commerce retailers to utilize.
The problem is, many aren’t aware of best practices when it comes to optimizing their Google Shopping campaigns for success.
It all starts with a full, accurate data feed and an ID-level campaign structure.
Once campaigns are built, it all comes down to a combination of know-how and patience to begin seeing excellent results.
Utilizing the easy tips from this article, retails should be able to get their Google Shopping campaigns profitable and ready for growth.
Rich Aviles is a content marketer with Sales & Orders, which provides management software for Google Shopping. He’s also an avid camper, lover of dogs and a fan of everything Yankees/Rangers/Giants/Knicks. Find him on Twitter @richaviles_.