Google Shopping's role in the e-commerce landscape has ebbed and flowed over the last few years. But with recent changes made to Google Shopping, it has now become a critical tool for e-commerce retailers to increase the visibility of their products and drive sales.
To shed some light on the current state of Google Shopping and to learn how retailers can leverage Google Shopping effectively, we spoke with Google Shopping expert Anders Dohrn, Head of Paid Media at Ambition, a leading paid search agency located in Denmark.
Table of Contents
- Google Shopping’s Role in E-Commerce
- Getting Started with Google Shopping
- Common Mistakes Merchants Make When Starting in Google Shopping
- The Power of Using Google Shopping to Drive Sales
- The Role of Augmented Reality in Google Shopping
- Critical Metrics to Measure Success in Google Shopping
- The Future of Google Shopping
Google Shopping’s Role in E-Commerce
It seems that Google Shopping has come in and out of relevancy over the last couple of years. How does it work today and how important is it for e-commerce retailers?
Google Shopping has evolved a lot and so has its importance to e-commerce retailers. Generally speaking, the way it works today is that you create a product feed with all your products. Then, in the Merchant Center, you can manage your products and lastly you create and manage paid search campaigns in Google Ads.
The biggest difference between now and a few years ago is that Google is pushing Shopping into different areas of the Google ecosystem. Shopping results can be found as a result of normal Google queries, Google Images, and, in the future, in YouTube ads. That makes Google Shopping much more powerful than it used to be.
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Getting Started with Google Shopping
If I am, say, a Shopify merchant and I want to get started on Google Shopping, do you have suggestions about how to get started effectively?
Success on Google Shopping depends on the quality of your product feed. When you generate your product feed, you provide information about different attributes of the product like the product title and price for each product.
Some of those attributes are mandatory like the price and image url and such, but some of them are optional. To increase the chances of being found as a result of a search, you want to make sure you are giving Google as much information about your products as possible by filling in every last attribute you possibly can.
We see a lot of customers creating okay product feeds from a product listing perspective--they have high-quality product images and attributes and such--but they are missing some of the business information. For example, Google has custom labels where you can upload your gross margin, whether the product is on sale, if the product is a best seller, etc. Providing those extra pieces of information allow you to set up shopping campaigns afterwards with a more targeted focus, get better data back on your products, and really take your Google Shopping strategy to the next level.
Are there any keys to setting up a successful product feed besides giving as much information as possible about each product?
Optimized product titles are really critical. Take the example of Levis jeans. A consumer who searches for "Levis 501 Jeans for Men" is expecting the products that are returned in the query result to have the text from their search in the product title. Many companies, when they are writing their product titles, forget to consider what terms a user is going to use when searching for their product.
If you can match the product title with the terms you expect customers to use to search for a product, you are going to get much better results.
Common Mistakes Merchants Make When Starting in Google Shopping
The most common mistake you see people making, then, is not providing all the information about their products that they could be?
Yes. Most people or brands do the required fields and attributes, but to truly be successful requires providing information on the additional attributes that allow you to better align your campaigns with your business goals and target market.
We also see that people in general only set up a single shopping campaign for all their products. We recommend not doing this, and instead recommend segmenting your campaigns. That requires, for example, having a campaign for your products that are on sale, and then another campaign for generic search queries, and another for branded search queries, and another campaign for when a user is searching for a particular SKU (for example: Levi's 501 jeans for men).
By segmenting campaigns, we can split up the search queries and be a bit more targeted in our campaign strategy, which helps improve conversion rates.
The thing with Google Shopping is that, if you do a general campaign for all of your products, it's hard to differentiate the user’s intent if, for instance, all the generic search queries are mixed with the branded ones.
By segmenting campaigns, you can split up the search queries and be a bit more targeted in our campaign strategy, which helps improve conversion rates.
The Power of Using Google Shopping to Drive Sales
In the past, Google Shopping may not have been a focus for e-commerce retailers. But now, with the recent updates made to Google Shopping, how critical is it for retailers to have a product feed?
The Google Shopping feed is critical because you can use it for so many things. You can use it for Google Shopping and dynamic remarketing. Shopping ads are also now more integrated in the Google Platform. For example, Google now has this "Showcase Shopping" feature where you can swipe through a gallery of images. This is accessible in several Google products like Google Search, Google Images and the Discover Feed and YouTube Homepage feed.
Google also has plans for Youtube Ads which I assume will also allow for Google Shopping to crossover into Youtube.
Google is really pushing to get Google Shopping expanded across the Google platform which obviously adds to its power in terms of driving sales.
Furthermore 3rd party vendors are now using the product feed to build and maintain search campaigns. So now you can rapidly build search campaigns for all you products and categories and then automate the process so you, for instance, only advertise for the products that are in stock.
The Role of Augmented Reality in Google Shopping
We just did a post on 3D modeling and Shopify just announced this year their support for AR in their stores. What are your thoughts on the role of AR in Google Shopping?
It is very powerful as a differentiator in terms of how your product images look, especially while the technology is in its early stages. Back to the Levis pants: if you are showing the same product image that all the other merchants are showing for the same product, there isn't much of a reason for a customer to click on your listing over the others.
I think new ways of presenting products like 3D models offer a great way to make your products stand out to consumers and give them a reason to click your listing over other listings.
Optimizing Google Shopping Listings for Mobile
We have entered a world where much of search happens on mobile devices. What impact does that have on retailers?
Yeah, we are definitely in a mobile-first world today. I think that a lot of companies forget this because they focus on the last-click attribution, which is where the actual purchase takes place, which usually occurs on a desktop. But this ignores the rest of the customer journey which often involves as many as 40 or 50 touchpoints, many of which happen on mobile devices, before converting.
Critical Metrics to Measure Success in Google Shopping
You mention not looking just at the last-click attribution and there being many different touchpoints in the customer journey. If I am new to Google Shopping, what metrics should I be focusing on to gauge success?
Of course, we want to look at the return on ads-spend. But also, the softer metrics, like impression-share the click-share, are important. This is especially true for your best selling products and products with a high gross margin. You want to make sure you are getting those products in front of the eyes of your target customers and impression-share and click-share rates can help you measure how effectively you are achieving that. That said, focusing on a non-last click attribution model and the return on ad spend is crucial for a e-commerce retailers success.
The Future of Google Shopping
What do you see going forward for the future of Google Shopping?
In general, Google Shopping is really the performance-driven part of paid search for e-commerce. Search also can be, but for performance, I would invest in optimizing for Google Shopping. Knowing that Google is pushing Shopping to other platforms, and knowing the power that will mean in the future, it is well-worth anyone's time to invest in getting your products in Google Shopping.
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