At first, a Google Shopping ad seems like the perfect option for an online retailer trying to get its products to more customers. By allowing you to divide your inventory into product groups and assigning your campaign a bid and budget (similar to AdWords), you can increase the likelihood of customers discovering your products when they perform a Google Search.
These campaigns have certainly seen their fair number of successes, but far too many marketers have watched their marketing budget drain away without getting real results to show for it. So, what could be causing such disparity in your Google Shopping results?
Below, you’ll find a few of the biggest, most problem-causing culprits:
1) Unoptimized Uploads
If you have an extensive lineup of products, it can be tempting to simply upload your web database or XML files to get everything into your Google Merchant Account at once. But as Search Engine Journal warns, this can cause serious incompatibility issues with your Google account.
Avoid such issues from the get-go by sorting your products with common descriptors like color, size, and UPC or GTIN. By editing and organizing your data before sending it to your Merchant Account, you can avoid these common pitfalls and keep your campaigns properly organized.
2) Poor Product Titles
Shopping campaigns are different from a typical AdWords campaign in that you don’t get to choose the search terms in which your products appear. Needless to say, this can cause serious issues when your products show up in irrelevant searches.
However, further optimization of your product feed — especially by adapting the product title — can mitigate this problem. According to Reese Garcia of KlientBoost, amongst a host of factors, a product’s title is what Google considers its most important signal for matching a search query with an accurate result. And it makes sense, if you think about it — why would Google show a particular product to a prospect, if it weren’t a clear-cut match with what was being searched for?
Interestingly, the first words that appear in your product title tend to have greater weight than the words that come later. While you can’t gain total control over keywords, adjusting the product title to reflect your desired search terms will go a long way in helping you capture relevant traffic. This is especially true when trying to separate customers looking for branded or generic products.
3) Pushing All Products
You may have a lot of products available in your online store — but this doesn’t mean they should all be part of your Shopping campaign. Your main goal should be to drive traffic to your most profitable SKUs, as this will generate the greatest return on investment.
For many marketers, the problem arises when other low-margin SKUs are still included from the campaign. These are the items that are generally relegated to the “Everything Else” bin in your Shopping campaign — the place where all the leftovers go that aren’t the campaign’s primary focus.
If you forget to exclude the “Everything Else” category, some of your marketing dollars will still go toward bids for these low-revenue products. In severe instances, this could even cause the majority of your marketing spend to go toward items that generate minimal revenue.
4) Bad Bidding
The higher your bid, the better chance you have of gaining visibility with your potential customers. The problem? Many of these bids fail to account for product price and profit margin, resulting in campaigns that lose money rather than increase revenue.
For best results, most marketers recommend that you start with a lower bid amount than you would use for a typical SEO campaign. In the early stages of your campaign, this bid amount should be reviewed several times each week so you can raise the bid as needed to increase visibility.
Even after this initial phase, bid amounts should be re-evaluated weekly.
You can also customize bid amounts for different audience groups, SKUs and price ranges, allowing you to bid more on previous customers or those who abandoned their shopping cart. At all times, however, you should consider the profit margin of your product and the average conversion rate for your site to ensure cost-effective bidding.
5) Low-Quality Images
Even if everything else is properly in place, you won’t get very good results from your Shopping campaign if you don’t use the right images. Google actually has very specific requirements for product images (including file format, dimensions size). Thumbnails, upscaled images or photos that include watermarks or promotional text are also prohibited.
Aside from Google’s regulations, it is also important to consider your image from the perspective of the customer. The image is the first thing they’ll notice about your listing.
Is your product highlighted from an attractive angle? Does the photo use proper lighting? Does it have a white background to make the product stand out even more?
Such considerations may seem minor, but when our brains judge images in milliseconds, even a tiny improvement can yield a higher clickthrough rate.
Make Shopping a Success
A Google Shopping campaign could be just what your business needs — if you plan it properly.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure actual sales results from your campaigns so you can grow your business without putting your marketing dollars to waste.