Your Complete Guide To Google Shopping Compiled by Digital NRG
Google Shopping is a very quick and easy way for consumers to make a purchase online. Does this mean that Google Shopping is the correct route to market for suppliers and retailers? Is Google Shopping relevant for low cost or high priced products? How easy is Google Shopping to set-up and maintain? Will you see a return on advertising spend (ROAS) utilising Google Shopping or is it a “loss leader” promotion to get shoppers to your website to be upsold and remarketed to?
Digital NRG, probably the UK’s most experienced Google Shopping agency, answers all of these questions and more.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is the current name of the service that allows internet users and shoppers to search for products and compare prices. Previously the service has been called the uninspiring, but exact match keyword phrase “Google Product Search”, and was also once called “Froogle” which although a nice play on words of Google and frugal, may have given advertisers the impression that people who use the service were solely looking for cheap deals and was not the marketplace for quality products at reasonable prices.
Google Shopping displays images, brief details and review scores of relevant products to the search made by the potential customer. The images and Google Shopping advertisements are placed above the natural search results.
Some people may mistakingly believe that getting your products in the Google Shopping section of the results can be achieved through website optimisation (SEO). Although SEO will certainly help the website generally, and will definitely help products within the shopping section, Google Shopping is NOT part of the organic search results and to display your products in the shopping section requires paid advertising. Google Shopping is a “spin-off” or additional way to advertise through Google Adwords.
That said, do not be put off by having to spend money on promoting your products. As with all Google advertising, if set-up and managed correctly, Google Shopping can deliver a great return on investment and can be a very economical way of generating sales.
Since January 2017, merchants have enjoyed a 52% of click share for retailers marketing and the first time shopping clicks exceeded those of clicks from “text ads”. If you are a retailer – Google Shopping is delivering the volume.
Will Google Shopping Generate a Good Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS)?
Every savvy business owner knows that the success of a thriving business comes from getting sales at the lowest price possible. However you drive awareness or promote products there is usually a cost involved. This can be the cost of printing and distributing a leaflet, through to creating an advertisement and buying TV ad slots. If you are retail premises, simply putting up a promotional poster involves a cost. All of these costs are called “advertising costs” and should be measured to determine the revenue or “return” generated from the spend.
Whilst measuring the return directly generated from a poster, radio or TV advertising can be a challenge, with Google Shopping you can measure the return on your advertising spend in minute detail allowing you to make sensible business decisions around budgets and the “return on advertising spend” (ROAS).
How To Correctly Measure The ROAS
How Google measures ROAS, may be different to your normal understanding of the term. It will certainly be different from the understanding your Finance Director or Accountant will have on ROAS. If you are setting goals or targets within your Google Shopping campaigns it is important to fully understand the difference in accepted measurements.
Firstly, let us understand exactly what ROAS means in Google AdWords. Return on Ad Spend is a term that Google has defined as “sales divided by ad spend”. So if you invest £1, and you get back £5, Google would measure that as a 500% return (How Google Measure ROAS).
But in finance terminology, the return is widely understood to mean the profit returned in addition to the initial investment. So if you invest £1, and you get back £5, that is not a 500% return, it is a 400% return. You got your initial £1 back and £4 additional revenue, for a 400% return.
So Does Google Shopping Deliver a Good ROAS?
In simple terms of £1 spent and £X generated in revenue, the answer is “Yes”. If you add to this cross-sell opportunities and additional sales achieved through remarketing, the answer is a resounding “YES!”
At the start of 2017, Google released data on “Google Shopping Performance by Category” for the previous 12-months. Although this looks at the shopping market in the USA, there is no reason to doubt similar results cannot be achieved through Google Shopping in the UK.
Across all of Google Shopping, we are seeing a ROAS (measured the way Google measure ROAS) percentage return from 226% (Home products) through to 993% (watches and jewellery) and an average across all categories of 542% ROAS.
Setting Up Google Shopping
If that sounds like a return on investment that would benefit your business and drive up revenue and sales at an acceptable cost of advertising then you may have decided to start a Google Shopping campaign. To get the best results from Google Shopping, you need to create or set-up and then manage the campaigns effectively. The data compiled above is for all advertising across all customers. Some will have created and managed the campaigns correctly, or through an experienced Google Shopping agency, however, many advertisers will be the business owners or less experienced Google Shopping agencies that will have “dragged down” the overall results.
Here are our instructions and best practices for creating an effective Google Shopping campaign.
- 1. Create the Necessary Google Accounts
To be able to advertise in the Google Shopping section you will need two specific types of Google accounts:
Google Adwords – Google Shopping is an extension of the main Google Adwords service and so you will need an “Adwords” account. If you have or have previously had, a Google Adwords account to run “pay per click” (PPC) advertising you can use this account. It is not necessary to create a new account for Google Shopping. Within this account, you will set the budgets and goals and also measure the results.
Google Merchant Centre – The Google Merchant Centre is where you will create and manage all of the settings related to your products. In here you will set the descriptions, tax information, delivery information and so forth.
Firstly, you will need to verify that you actually own the website you are looking to promote. Google provides code to be added and then verified on your website. To do this you will need access to either the back-end (admin area) of your website or the hosting account where the website is hosted.
Once your website is verified, work down the information required regarding delivery, carriers and fees. The one piece of information that can catch people out is the UPC. “UPC” stands for Universal Product Code. UPC barcodes were originally created to help supermarkets speed up the checkout process and keep better track of inventory, but the system quickly spread to all other retail products because it was so successful. Each product should have a UPC code.
To upload products to Google Shopping you need to create a “feed” in the Google Merchant Centre. This can be a spreadsheet, completed to the requirements set by Google or an automatic feed from the website, depending on the type of e-commerce website you have. If you are selling outside of the UK you need to create information for each product by Country.
Google Analytics – That is enough to start Google Shopping, however, you may wish to connect the Google Shopping campaign to the Google Analytics, to be able to fully measure, track and trace the customers’ journey through your website. This is essential if you are promoting “introductory products” that may lead to cross-sell or up-sell opportunities.
- 2. Decide on the Products to Sell Online
What products do you want to sell most of? I know the easy answer is “anything on the website”, and while that’s true, a better approach is to think strategically if you want to maximise sales, revenue and profits.
- Introductory products – Do you have a line of products that are not your core products or even your most profitable, but they are a great entry point for your business. Maybe these are lower priced products that your customers need to buy frequently, or that they will need in order to make a higher priced purchase.
- Consumable products – Just like razorblade companies who sell razors (often at a very low cost) with the main goal of selling blades, or supplemental products, such as balms. Their aim is to make the profit on the consumables once the shopper is “hooked” or tied into their products. Google Shopping is a great market to capture the initial sale and the frequent consumable sale.
- Higher price and/or higher margin products – It is obvious that the products you make the most total profit on, or with the highest profit margin are products you should spend time and effort on to sell through your Shopping campaigns. These work well especially if you are competitive on price or have a great USP for your product.
- Products with low competition and demand – Such as “brand” products or products new to the market. If you happen to be in this coveted position, take advantage of it. Low competition usually means a lower “cost per click”, high demand delivers volume. The perfect storm! Google Shopping is perfect for this product – regardless if this is a low, mid or high ticket price product.
For each product you sell through Google Shopping you need to consider the cross-sell or up-sell opportunities and ensure that these are clearly displayed on the website product page or even better in the checkout basket. For example, with for introductory products, could the up-sell product be discounted or bundled with the first product? For consumables, could there be a discounted rate for bulk-buy purchases? For the high price products are there products that complement the main purchase? Low competition/high demand products will benefit from either complementary products, warranties or bulk-buy discounts.
- 3. Get Your Product Information Correct on Your Website
To avoid the disappointment of your products not showing in Google Shopping you need to pay very particular attention to the product details on your website.
Price – the price of the product on the website must be an exact match for the price you have uploaded to Google Shopping. Some businesses have tried to upload a lower price on Google Shopping to encourage shoppers to their website and sell at a higher price on the e-commerce site. To overcome this, Google cross-checks the selling price on the website is the same as on Google Shopping. Any difference, at all, and your adverts will be withdrawn. If you sell to trade and display prices without VAT, be extra sure to put the correct settings in place.
Product Description – For each product, you have a very limited number of characters as the title of your product. Think of these titles as an area to add the search terms people might use. Also, ensure that if a shopper is searching for a specific product, they are taken to that product. e.g.:
For a Google Search for “mens shoes UK size 11” I am shown results for:-
- Classic Oxford Shoes – showing an image of a pair of brown, not black shoes.
- Patented Leather Black Shoes – but on landing on the product page I am given US sizes and prices in $dollars
- Clarks Shoes – size 6, not 11
- Brown Loafers
- Black Ballet Shoes
Ensuring each and every product has its own description and image relevant to the actual product will generate a better position in the Google Shopping area, better “click-through-rate” to the website and a much better conversion to sales.
Shipping – similar to prices, the cost of shipping or shipping option prices must be clearly displayed on each product page. If you are selling to countries outside of the UK, the shipping costs must be displayed on the page when a shopper from that Country lands on the page.
- 4. Set Competetive Prices
Although shoppers using Google shopping, as with most shoppers, are looking for the best price, Google Shopping is not just for quick cheap sales. In the example of the shoes used above, a mid-priced pair of black shoes size 11 would get more conversions compared to the other results shown.
Does this mean you can set your prices high and get fantastic results? Not necessarily! If you are selling products that have a model number or are very specific in terms of description, then you need to be competitive in pricing. If you have a “higher spec” product that relates to a generic search then the unique selling point needs to be clear in the description and, if possible, the image.
- 5. Be Mobile Friendly
Regardless of the products you are selling, in the main, most of your traffic and product searches will be on mobile devices. There are a few exceptions if the purchase requires some consideration by the shopper, for example, buying a car, where the purchaser will want to research and understand the different options available. Even then a very specific product with very tight descriptions and page links COULD do well in Google Shopping on a mobile phone.
Outside of considered purchases, it is a “rule of thumb” that your traffic will more likely come from a mobile device and is shown out in results from our own statistics at Digital NRG and the statistics we receive from Google.
Although your website needs to be “user-friendly” for all devices, special consideration should be given to mobile users. Firstly, is the product page responsive? Does it change the size of the page and allow navigation through the page, regardless of the device used? Are the images clear and still “sell” the product and/or USP on a smaller screen? If you have multiple images of a product are they easy to access on a mobile? When the page resized are the prices clear to see? Are the “quantity” and “buy” buttons clear to select?
If the potential customer has to spend more than a few seconds reviewing the product or image, or cannot easily make a purchase they will leave the website and all of your good work will be undone. Your advertising budget wasted.
- 6. Don’t Forget Search Engine Optimisation
Although Google Shopping is a paid advertisement, your shopping campaigns will benefit hugely if the website, and in particular, the product pages are optimised for search engines. Optimising an e-Commerce website is good practice anyway. You may benefit from “free” traffic from the search results of relevant searches.
In optimising the product page (and the adverts) you need to consider two important factors – customers intent and customers language.
Customer Language – research wins over knowledge here. You know your products, you know your industry or market sector and so you know the language your potential customers use – right? Wrong (probably)! Your potential customers are using THEIR language to find YOUR products. Utilising the Google Keyword Tool, add the keywords that you would use to find your products. Google will then return the words and search terms that your customers are actually using – and more often than not, those keywords have a greater volume of search – and potential for you to sell to.
Customer Intent – Consider where the customer is on their journey to buy. For example, if you optimise your product page (and advert) for “Football Boots” they will likely appeal to a shopper still in the research stage. If your advertising is optimised for “Nike Football Boots” the shopper is at the “consideration” stage. Optimising your adverts for “Mercurial Superfly Academy Neymar Mens Football Boots” will appeal to the shopper at the “buying” stage. A good shopping campaign puts a little of the budget into the “research” and “consideration” stage, and the vast majority of the budget in the “buying” stage.
Finally, ensure all the product images are optimised as well. For all of the benefits mentioned above, but in addition, there is a growing trend of people using the “image search results” to find the product they are looking to buy and visiting the website. Optimising the images well, will again, drive “free” traffic from these search results.
- 7. Test and Test Again
Google Shopping is NOT a “set and forget” system. Many advertisers do just this and that is an opportunity for you exploit. However, there is a difference between “tinkering” and testing.
When you first launch your Google Shopping campaign you will want to increase your bids a few times to start acquiring impressions and click-throughs to your products. Do not be afraid to increase your bids incrementally within the first few weeks or month. If your Shopping ads are not getting impressions or clicks, and the quality of your feed is sound, then you need to bid more. Always increase your bids in small incremental steps – 2p to 10p at a time until you start seeing impressions and clicks.
It is rare for a new shopping campaign to hit its daily budget. In the early stages of your campaign, Google will show your product listings more conservatively and test how shoppers respond to them. As your performance improves over time, more especially the click-through-rate from your adverts to your product page, Google will steadily show your ads more frequently for relevant searches.
When testing bidding, keep these general rules in mind.
Use lower bids for long tail keywords – Usually lower bids will still get great exposure for long tail and less competitive searches. So the keyword “Football Boots” will command and need a higher cost-per-click than “Mercurial Superfly Academy Neymar Mens Football Boots”. Usually, the longer queries will convert better as well. Lowering your bids means your budget will go further. So, usually, lower bids equate to more traffic, more conversions and a better ROAS.
Use higher bids for brand awareness and competitive keywords – if you are looking to launch or grow a brand then you are directly competing with other major brands in that market. Initially, you are likely to see a good number of impressions, with a lower click-through-rate. Increasing the bids will increase exposure and the number, if not necessarily the percentage, of people visiting the website. This builds the brand and with remarketing the ROAS can be recovered.
Regular reviews and changes – we mentioned earlier that there is a difference between “tinkering” and testing. After the initial stages where you are updating bids 2 to 3 times a week, you will want to reduce the testing to a more realistic timescale. Once you have your shopping campaigns gaining sales (at a profitable ROAS) then a daily review and adjusting bids on a weekly basis are fine. If you have less than 50 products in your feed then a weekly review and monthly bid adjustment will suffice. If your feed has over 100 products or your Google Shopping campaign budgets exceed £5,000 a month, then at least daily checks and 2 or 3 bid changes a month is sensible.
- 8. Maintain Stock Levels
This may seem like common sense, but must be noted. You have spent weeks creating, adjusting, reviewing, amending and managing the Google Shopping campaign only for the product to be sold out or “out of stock”. Frustrating in terms of sales, even more frustrating, depending on how long your manufacturing or purchasing chain timescales are, to get the product stock levels back up again – you could lose all that history and trading data you have built up with Google. If stock levels are running low, reduce bids and slow sales down until the stock is replenished.
- 9. Increase Conversions with Remarketing
As with all Google Advertising (and social media advertising and visitors from organic searches for that matter) the key to making a good sales campaign a GREAT sales campaign is remarketing. This takes a number of forms.
Remarketing to website visitors – you have done the work and spent the money. Unbelievably, not every visitor the website will buy – but you know they are interested in your product. Remarketing to these customers continually reminds them of your offering. After a determined length of time (relevant to your customers’ usual buying cycle) offering a discount will also bring them back to your website. Remarketing drives up the conversion rate of your sales and has a huge impact on ROAS. If 3% of your website visitors buy from you and a low-cost remarketing campaign adds a further 3% of sales, you have DOUBLED your conversion rate, sales revenue and profits.
Customer Lists – How many times have you bought from a website and made a note of the website address? Probably never. Google Shopping allows you to upload the email address of your previous customers and if they are known to Google, target these customers with your products. Perhaps you have a new version of a favourite product or a new complementary product. Uploading your customer list to Google allows you to bid more aggressively against your competitors on getting your adverts in front of your known audience.
Look-a-like Audiences – Probably the most powerful “remarketing” tool of those available. Known by Google as “Similar Audiences”, this is a relatively new, and great list type, offered by Google. This is where Google creates an audience that is similar in search behaviour to your other remarketing lists. So you can create an audience that is similar in search behaviour to your customers (similar to Customer Match), or similar to all visitors or any of your other remarketing lists. This allows you to bid more aggressively when someone behaves like your best customers. Why is it so powerful? – it opens up your advertising to a HUGE audience that is similar in behaviour to your known customer base or previous customers.
Google Shopping Summary
Google shopping is now more effective than “text ads” for retailers, yet there are fewer retailers using Google Shopping. Better market and less competition.
If managed effectively, Google Shopping can deliver a fantastic return on advertising spend.
Remarketing tools, custom and similar audiences allow for powerful targeting of likely customers.
Google is developing and testing “Google Local Shopping” making it even more relevant for online sales for e-Commerce websites and local “bricks and mortar” retail businesses.
Using a Google Shopping Agency
If managing your Google Shopping campaigns is difficult for you or your business, maybe because of time restraints or limited knowledge or experience, then consider using an agency to create and manage your campaigns. A good agency will charge a small fee for the service. Compared to managing the campaigns “in-house” the Google Shopping agency fees will be paid back in saved time and better results, normally making it a “zero cost” service.
Digital NRG has over 500 Google Adword customers, many with Google Shopping campaigns. We have a UK based team that are experts in creating and managing effective shopping campaigns. Our team has experience in campaigns for low-cost, high-volume products, high-price and low-volume products and unique or niche products. With local Account Managers throughout the UK, we can offer a professional, efficient and effective service tailored with a local and personal touch.