While you certainly have seen these Google Shopping Ads on the top of your Google search screen urging you to purchase, the real question is have you leveraged this online advertising tool to your advantage?
This article will present some of the reasons why Google Shopping Campaigns are an effective campaign strategy, the basics of how to get started with a Google Shopping Campaign, and some best practices to make sure you are using your advertising budget wisely.
Why Google Shopping Campaigns are Important
Google Shopping Campaigns provide a smart way for anyone selling a product to receive a higher amount of targeted visibility. In other words, when people come searching (remember Google receives nearly 6 billion searches/day), then Google provides an easy way for those looking for products, like the ones you sell, to show up on the first page of Google with all of the most pertinent information to a consumer:
– A picture of your product
– A short, yet detailed description
– A link to your website
– The price of your product
– Any promotion information that is relevant to the potential sale
In short, Google Shopping Campaigns makes retail-consumer exchanges simply by helping you organize the products you have listed in your Google Merchant Center within the AdWords interface, so that you can create customized shopping ad campaigns. These ads are then displayed on Google and on relevant Google partner websites.
Here are some additional benefits of Google Shopping Campaigns:
– Intuitive and retail-centered campaign creation
– Powerful and insightful reporting tools
– New competitive metrics including Benchmark Max CPC, Impression Share, and Benchmark CTR
– Competitive data and advanced optimization options
– Campaign priority settings (priority level, not bids, determine eligibility for impressions)
– Historical performance data preservation (even if you shuffle product groups around)
– Targets are automatically created for you at each product group
– Ability to browse your products in the AdWords system
How to Create a Campaign
To get started with a Google Shopping Campaign, you will need to link your Google Merchant Center product data to make it available in AdWords. If your Google Merchant Account and Google AdWords Account are not linked, then it will be impossible to create a shopping campaign in Google AdWords. Here is how to link your two accounts.
1. Login to your Google Merchant Center account, and click on “Settings,” and then “AdWords.”
2. Once you get to this page, you will see a button to “Link” the account. Press link and you are ready to login to AdWords to begin. In the event that you have more than one AdWords account, simply press the “link other account,” enter your AdWords customer ID and hit save.
Once you have linked your account, you can use the AdWords interface to create, organize, and browse your product inventory for your shopping campaign within the “Product Groups” tab. And, you can do this all without ever having to reference your Google Merchant center again.
Let’s take a closer look.
Let’s say you sell a wide range of different new and vintage roller skates. Selling your products online would be a great way to branch out and get new business. Thus, it would be a great idea to run a promotion with a Google Shopping Campaign. Here’s how.
1. Sign into your AdWords account.
2. If you are starting from scratch, you will need to click “Create your first campaign,” and follow the steps including choosing your budget, creating your ads, selecting keywords, entering your billing information, and selecting your campaign type. In this case, you would be selecting a “shopping” campaign type.
3. If you already have various campaigns set up, you can simply login and click on the “Campaigns” tab. Click “+Campaign” and select “shopping” campaign just as you would if you were creating a campaign for the very first time.
4. Once you have created a new campaign, you can select the details of your campaign that include the following:
– Naming your campaign (e.g. “Roller Skates”).
– Select the Google Merchant Identifier from the drop down list. If you have more than one Google Merchant account associated with your Google AdWords Account, this is where you would select the proper merchant account ID to automatically link your roller skate products with your new Google Shopping Campaign.
– Selecting desired Display Networks including Google and other Search Partners.
– Select devices you want your ad displayed on. This defaults to include all devices, which makes the most sense since people search using desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and tablets.
– Pick desired targeted locations.
– Select your bid strategy including your default bid and max ad spend per day. You may also opt to have AdWords select the best bid for you, but include a max ad spend per day to ensure you don’t go over budget.
Keep in mind that following the steps listed above is just the beginning of getting your Google Shopping Campaign up and rolling. While your ads will officially be active, it’s important to optimize your campaign, so that you are advertising exactly how you want to.
For more detailed information about how to optimize your Google Shopping Campaign, check out this tutorial video from Google.
Google Shopping Campaign Best Practices
1. Set advertising goals and tailor your campaign to stay in line with your goals.
Google Shopping Campaign ads are no different from any other paid search ads when it comes to the importance of sticking to your advertising goals. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a new type of advertising, but take the time to optimize and customize each of your shopping campaigns in a way that is in line with your goals.
2. Use Performance Metrics
Google Shopping Campaigns comes with some awesome new performance tracking metrics, so make sure you use them. Tracking performance and adjusting campaigns according to your results is one of the best ways to make sure you are hitting your marked goals. Here are a few things to look for when using performance metrics:
Check sales vs. spend – Make sure your sales far outweighs your advertising spend. You can always adjust your bids as necessary to make sure you are hitting your profit goals.
You can check this information by adding the conv. Value/cost metric to your customized columns.
Check your performance levels – With the new metrics, you can check both good and bad performers at the brand, sku, and product type levels. Once you have reviewed the performance, adjust your bids up or down.
Check your competitive metrics – Under the “product groups” tab of AdWords, you can see competitive metrics. If you notice your impression share is low, or that the Benchmark max cost per click is higher than your max cost per click, it may serve you well to raise your bids.
Also, if you notice the Benchmark CTR (click through rate) is much higher than your click through rate, then it probably indicates you are doing something wrong. Your product prices may be too high, your copy might not be compelling, and/or your images may be low quality. It may be time to delve a little deeper, and switch things up to stay competitive.
Checking the competitive metrics and comparing what you’re doing to the benchmark will give you some helpful insight as to how to improve.
Give special attention to seasonal promotions and/or your best sellers
You can use the campaign priority setting in the Google Shopping Campaign interface in order to prioritize your campaigns, from low to high. This means if summer is coming up and you have a special summer promotion, you can put that campaign on high priority. Keep in mind it will stay on high priority until you either go back in or set it back to low, or your budget runs out.
Use the Bid Simulator tool to your advantage
The bid simulator icon in the “Max. CPC” column gives you top performance estimates. After you have determined which of your brands and items are converting the best, you can use the bid simulator to increase your bids.
These are just a few of the ways you can use the new tools in the Google Shopping Campaign interface to your advantage. Just remember to always track your performance using the new tools, adjust bids properly, and to start using these shopping ads to your advantage.
Ashley R. Cummings is the owner of Searchlight Content and a freelance writer, specializing in online marketing, education, and travel. Connect with Ashley on Facebook or on Google+, and learn more about her on LinkedIn.