Leveraging the Power of Google Shopping in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
If you’ve ever felt that your search engine marketing needed a little… extra, you might want to take a look at Google Shopping. Also known as PLAs — or product listing ads — they’re a formidable tool for online retailers, especially when combined with an Adwords and organic SEO strategy that’s already in place. Together, they’re a ticket to SEM success!
Don’t feel like you’re late to the party — despite being around in one form or another since 2002 (!), Google Shopping is somewhat underappreciated. It’s growing fast, but today accounts for only 20% of paid search clicks in retail, meaning that you and your business have plenty of room to make a move.
Getting started with Google Shopping
If you’re completely new to Google Shopping, it’s a comparison ads engine and sub-category of Google Ads. Shoppers are interested in a product — say “Nike sneakers” — and are shown the image, price, and short description of a selection of given Nike sneakers from different retailers who have paid to be listed.
Even though campaigns are managed through the Google Ads platform, it differs in that it shows listings based on the information you provide and not keywords. Even so, you bid for your listings to be featured in the same way, paying for clicks and bidding for more prominent placement.
The whole system is managed through the Google Merchant Center, which is where you upload all the information about your products. The Merchant Center must then be linked to your Google Ads account, where you then bid on listing options.
The benefits for your marketing strategy
So, why might your business be interested in succeeding on Google Shopping? Well, if managed correctly — and used by companies with the right profile — it can constitute a significant part of your marketing strategy, right up there with paid search and SEO.
One of the reasons that it’s so powerful is that, like paid ads, when a shopper clicks on one of your products, they’re directed back to your site to make the purchase. If your Google Shopping campaign is powerful, that means a whole new source of traffic for your website.
And it’s not any old traffic either. Because Google Shoppers know exactly what they’re clicking on (remember, they’ve seen an image, price, and short description before they’ve even clicked through), the traffic you do get is pre-qualified and very warm. Conversion rates with this type of visitor are higher (some say up to 25% higher), because they know they want to buy before they’ve even made it to your site!
Pre-qualified leads can be price-sensitive
A nice aspect, when compared to paid ads, is that since your traffic is so well qualified, you can afford to pay a higher CPC because you know the likely ROI will also be much higher. With a search ad, the chances of the lead converting is hard to call — the ad they clicked on may or may not lead to a conversion or sale. With a Shopping listing, however, customers know exactly what they are getting and are much more likely to convert once they make it to your site.
There’s a downside to this, however. As your potential clients can see the price of your product (and everyone else’s) right there in the Google Shopping carousel, they can be extra-sensitive to price if yours seems higher than the competition. Also bear in mind that if you have giant competitors, they won’t be averse to offering huge reductions in their Google Shopping ads to snag otherwise indecisive customers!
Refine your image and copy
Here’s another way that Google Shopping can offer benefits across your marketing strategy. Your product naming and image process needs to be crystal clear here since the image and name account for 80% of what your potential client sees.
Images and product names are a relatively limited field to perfect, which means you can afford to spend a little more time figuring out how to differentiate and optimize your product.
Pay attention to product photos. Think about using images that differ from the manufacturers’ photos or creating your own with a tool like Design Wizard.
Also aim to spend some time coming up with well-thought-out names (and descriptions, to a lesser degree), and consider adding any special differentiators (for example, like free shipping) right there to the name field.
Once you have the image and text perfected here, you’ll be able to use the results all over the internet. We think you’ll agree that there is no product listing around — on or off Google Shopping — that wouldn’t benefit from a little extra love and care.
Another place to harvest great reviews
Another point to bear in mind — Google Shopping offers two ways to rate listings. Firstly, you can of course rate the product, but you can also rate the seller — you! Google Shopping offers your business yet another way to demonstrate to buyers — and Google — that you’re an enterprise to be trusted and as we all know, when it comes to online social proof, the more evidence the better.
A perfect place for retargeting
If you’re investigating the possibilities of a retargeting campaign as part of your marketing strategy, Google Shopping can be an excellent alternative entry point.
If your website already has a good conversion rate, funneling new sources of retargeted traffic via your Google Shopping listing can send your conversion rates for that segment through the roof. The higher converting retargeted traffic, plus the high conversion rate of Google Shopping customers, plus your existing high website conversion rate makes for a formidable combination.
Lessen your grip on paid ads
A final marketing takeaway from Google Shopping is that as well as being a great converter, it’s also really easy to use. According to the 2017 Merkle Digital Marketing Report, PLAs like those in Google Shopping produced 53% of retail Google Search ad clicks and are associated with a 30% higher conversion rate than comparable text ads.
Add that to the fact that Google Shopping is very easy to add products to and maintain — and it requires less copywriting chops than other ads — you might even find it a preferable option to traditional text ads. Since making and managing search ads is the bane of many marketers’ lives, we can imagine that more than one of you will jump at the chance!
Google Shopping is worth some of your time, marketers! It might become a trusted tool in your armory, or it might even end up replacing an existing campaign, but either way, the possible benefits are too good for you not to at least check it out. If you’ve got a strong website, great images, a perfect product description, and competitive prices, you’ve got a killer combo!