Gone are the days of simple display ads. Today’s ad formats are smarter, bolder and more dynamic than ever before. As usual, Google is leading the pack. Google Shopping ads combine social proof and high definition images with clever automation tools. The result is a powerful ad type you can use to drive your holiday revenue to new heights.
But as with any ad type, your ROI is up to you.
How do you squeeze more profit out of these ads over the holiday season? How do you ensure that you’re using your ad spend efficiently? It turns out that there are four pillars to effective Shopping ad usage, and in this post, we tell all.
What are Google Shopping Ads?
The main factor that differentiates these ads from normal display ads is that they’re replete with product information. A Shopping ad contains, at minimum:
• A product image
• Product price
• Merchant name and other brand-specific data
Specifically, these rich ads contain info from your Merchant Center data feed. One reason they’re so effective is because you can display them to consumers who have already expressed interest in your product. So, if you’ve already done some brand building, these ads can be very powerful. But even if you haven’t, you can still earn substantial profits with smart ads like these.
As with any type of modern ad, smart ads allow you to:
• Use your own custom ad copy
• Specify a budget
• Bid on price
• Measure the effectiveness of your campaign
• Split test different ads
• Utilize automation strategies
Each year sees the arrival of more eCommerce stores, and some of these newcomers are supported by whip-smart marketing teams. So it’s no surprise that eCommerce startups are setting out with marketing in mind these days. After all, it takes a killer marketing team to cut through the noise of the holiday season and snag sales.
Many of these marketing gurus will be relying on the tactics listed in this post. Now you can join them.
Shopping ads are the main tool of the savvy eCommerce marketer for a couple of reasons, hinted at above. Let’s take a deeper look. These ads:
• Are Made for eCommerce specifically. These ads are smart and allow you to leverage your user generated content for added social proof.
• Feature high-def images. Take advantage of your stellar photography. Now you can feature your best product images in your ads. No more overly strict file size restrictions to hinder image quality.
• Allow you to highlight and feature specific products. You can, for instance, choose to feature an entire category or just your best sellers. It’s up to you.
• Allow you to engage in strategic pricing strategies. With Google Shopping ads, you can hold special promotions at any time, giving customers a reason to visit your site.
• Look great on mobile. Shopping ads are very large on mobile. Because they support high-def images, they’re very clickable, too.
To get started with Shopping ads, you’ll need to create a new campaign in Google Ads. Then simply add your product inventory to the system as product groups. More on how to do that here.
4 Ways to Supercharge Your Shopping Ad Campaigns
#1 Run Promotions
An oft overlooked reason to use Google Shopping ads is the ability to run promotions. Consumers expect promotions, exclusive offers and discounts over the holiday season. It stands to reason, then, that during this time of year, they’re on the lookout for price drops. Indeed, consumers are more sensitive to sales now than at perhaps any other time of year.
Take full advantage of this expectation.
An easy way to do that is by showcasing your promotional prices. To do so, you must first request access to the Merchant Promotions program. You can do so from here. As of 2020, this ability is available to merchants located in the following countries only:
• United Kingdom
However, Google is unrolling the feature for new countries all the time.
Once Google grants you permission, you just need to set up your promotions feed. The promotions feed allows you to specify promotions for a group of products. When your shopping ads are displayed, Google will check this feed for applicable sales. Nice and simple. You can also create promotions for individual products using the related promotions tool.
This is handy for low volume items, limited time items or seasonal items. You can find this tool in the Merchant Center, under Merchant Promotions. In summary:
• Use the promotions feed for medium to high volume items
• Use the promotion tool for low volume items
When creating promotions, it’s vital to use custom labels. Custom labels are a feature of Shopping ads that many new marketers miss out on. You add these to your product feed, and they allow you to group products strategically. Use cases include:
• Specifying whether an item is available for a limited time
• Specifying that an item is available seasonally
• Identifying best sellers
With labels, you can easily restructure your Shopping campaigns on the fly. This is particularly powerful when combined with split testing.
Here’s what you need to know about custom labels:
• You can apply up to five labels to each product. These are numbered 0-4.
• A product can have more than one label. Imagine the possibilities. With five labels each, you can get very granular. This allows you to fine-tune your campaigns.
• Each label contains three pieces of meta-data. These are, custom label, Your definition and Your choice of possible values. ‘Custom label’ refers to the label identifier, which, as mentioned, is a number between zero and four. ‘Your definition’ is a custom name you give to the label. ‘Your choice of possible values’ is a list of values, each separated by a comma.
So, with this in mind, we can come up with an example that might look like the below.
Custom label: custom label 0
Your Definition: Season
Your Choice of possible values: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
As you can see, you could use this label to tag an item as seasonal.
Here’s another example.
Custom label: Custom label 1
Your definition: SellingRate
Your choice of possible values:
Note that definitions and values do not contain spaces. So, for instance, you would always type ‘SellingRate’ and never ‘Selling Rate.’
#2 Take Advantage of Product Ratings
One of the best reasons to use Google Shopping ads is the ability to incorporate user generated content. For instance, you can—and should—include product ratings. These are the small stars that appear at the bottom of your ad.
Note: product ratings on Shopping ads refer to the item in question, not to the store as a whole.
Showcasing reviews gives your ad social proof. This, in turn, makes the consumer more likely to click through to your store.
Without a doubt, this is one of the main factors that separates a great eCommerce store from a good one. Google pulls ratings from various trusted third-party sources. To use this feature, the platform must be able to find at least three such reviews online. The total number of reviews for the item is displayed to the right of the star rating, in parenthesis.
Additionally, to use this feature, your product must have a unique identifier that Google recognizes. Acceptable identifiers include:
• Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)
• Stock Keeping Units (SKUs)
Overall, a Global Trade Item Number seems to be the most reliable identifier—Google seems to recognize it without issue. Some users have reported problems when using SKUs.
#3 Use Retargeting
Retargeting is one of the most advanced advertising techniques, regardless of ad type. However, retargeting, when paired with Shopping ads, is particularly powerful. Few things are more frustrating for the tech-savvy marketer than the following scenario. Imagine that a user clicks through to your site but can’t buy from you right then for some reason. Well, you’ve exposed them to your brand. That has some value…in theory. But you spent good money on the click, and the customer didn’t convert.
What to do?
With a retargeting campaign, you get a chance to re-engage. This way, you can leverage the fact that the user chose to click on your ad at least once—and was exposed to your brand. They may remember who you are, or they may have even bought from you in the past. This means, of course, that they’ll be more likely to convert than a cold lead stumbling upon your ad for the first time. That makes them a valuable lead indeed.
Note: retargeting is also known as remarketing.
With a retargeting list, you can show ads to people who have visited your site before. What’s more, because Google Shopping ads are so smart, you can show the visitor the product/s they were viewing when last on your site. This targeted re-engagement makes it very likely you’ll get the sale the second time around.
Retargeting is something of an art and a science. It takes practice. But don’t give up; learning to retarget pays off.
#4 Take Advantage of Automation Options
The final step in supercharging your holiday Shopping ad campaigns is to use the available automation rules. After all, the holiday season is incredibly hectic. The last thing you want to do while enjoying festivities with family is babysit your ad campaigns. Fortunately, Google provides a bevy of automation tools to make this chore much more tolerable.
These tools are known as marketing automations.
Marketing automations allow you to react faster. With these tools, you can easily account for changes in the market, the performance of your ads, or price changes made by your competitors.
To access these tools, login to Google Ads. Then click the dot icon near the statistics table. Finally, select “Create an Automated Rule” from the drop down.
You’ll need to experiment with the available rules to see which may be of the most use to you. But in general, there are two rules you should have in place at all times:
• Increase bids. Generally, if an item is receiving low impressions, you want to change that. This rule allows you to automatically increase your bid on these items. If an item has had zero impressions in the last 30 days, it’s a prime candidate.
• Decrease bids. If an item has high impressions but low ROI, you may want to automatically decrease its bid. This will stop the bleeding and will keep your powder dry.
We hope this post has given you some solid insight into how to get the most out of your Google Shopping ads this holiday season! If it has, could you give us a share? Thanks!