Over the last couple of years, Google Shopping campaigns have overtaken AdWords text ads for retailers. We know Google is keen to make more from its product listings and mobile search habits are setting this up nicely for the tech giant and advertisers alike.

So today we’re looking at how to make the most of Google Shopping in the mobile age. In this article we’ll be referencing information from a recent presentation by Martijn Bertisen, Country Sales Director for Google UK, and throwing in some of our own tips along the way.

There’s some really good info in here – so bear with us, even if it’s a little longer than your typical blog past. You won’t regret it!

Here’s what we’ll be looking at today

In this article, we’ll be covering some of the Google Shopping basics and then delving deeper into how to get the most from your campaigns. We know it can be overwhelming when you step back and look at everything you have to do with Google Shopping, but this will all seem more manageable by the time you’re done with this guide.

Here’s what we’ll be looking at today:

  • How mobile dominates early consumer actions
  • Using Google Shopping to capture micro-moments
  • 4 steps to optimising your product ads
  • Improving your data quality with Feed Rules
  • Campaign management best practices

So that’s your overview of what’s going on today. Let’s get cracking!

Mobile increasingly dominates those early consumer actions

Yes, we all know mobile is a big deal, but it’s important we understand how strong the rate of growth still is.

Consumers are seeing more Google Shopping impressions than ever before and mobile is dominating the upward trend.

The increase in Google Shopping impressions is partly down to the fact Google shows product feeds more often now. But we’re also seeing an evolution in search habits from consumers and the vast majority of those early actions are on mobile.

We’ve seen this kind of consumer journey many times before, of course. This is precisely the kind of buying process Google is promoting with its micro-moments philosophy to help explain the different buying/search intents consumers experience as they move closer towards the purchase.

First, people want ideas. Then they want the best product they can get in their price bracket. And, when it comes to making the final purchase, they consider two options: do they buy local or buy online from somewhere further afield?

Using Google Shopping to capture micro-moments

This journey can be broken down into three key stages:

  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Decision

This is important because you want to be optimising your Google Shopping campaigns (ad wider marketing strategy) for consumers at each stage of this buying process.

Capturing those “I-need-some-ideas” moments

According to Google, more than 40% of shopping related searches on Google are on broad terms like “summer dress”. These are those “I-need-some-ideas” moments where consumers have a vague idea of what they’re looking for, but they need that spark of inspiration.

If you can be that spark, you’ve got yourself a lead to work with – and this are by far the most common type of lead you have to work with.

Aside from getting your Google Shopping campaign seen for those generic searches, you should think hard about TrueView for shopping campaigns on YouTube. With more people turning to YouTube for inspiration on their next big purchase, this is a channel more retailers should be taking seriously.

Capturing those “which-one’s-best” moments

Once consumers know what they want, their next step is fairly predictable. They want the best possible product they can get for their budget and this drives their search habits.

At this point, users are searching for “best [product type]”, looking for buying guides, checking prices and looking out for user reviews to feel confident about their upcoming purchase. These are the kind of searches you need to present for to capture people’s attention in the “which-one-is-best” moments.

Capturing those “I-want-to-buy-it” moments

This is the one that really matters. Capturing leads at earlier stages of the buying process is all about guiding them closer to this moment and maximising your ability to capture new leads at this final stage is crucial.

Consumers at this stage are weighing up various considerations:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Location (either buy in store or delivery distance)
  • Confidence in the retailer
  • Click and collect options
  • Delivery cost
  • Customer reviews (more about the retailer than the product at this stage)

So first of all, you need to make sure your shopping campaign is visible in those “I-want-to-buy-it” moments. However, you also want to make sure the vital information is provided – particularly the key aspects above that could decide it for consumers.

4 steps to optimising your product ads

There are four key areas to optimise your product ads for Google Shopping campaigns: titles, images, descriptions and product categories.

Optimise your product titles

Your titles sure have a lot of work to do. Not only do they need to convey descriptive information, they also need to stand out from your competitors’ titles and generate excitement. Here are some guidelines to get you started:

  • You don’t have to use all 150 characters (but additional info can make all the difference)
  • Drop unnecessary descriptive words
  • Include attributes like brand, gender, colour and size where appropriate
  • Add “Plus Size”, “Petites” and “Maternity” to titles when appropriate (think keywords)
  • Add season terms like Mother’s Day or Easter to titles when appropriate
  • Consider removing information that’s clearly visible in the image
  • Don’t keyword stuff

Here are some examples from Google to give you a better idea:

As you can see, the brand should sit at the front of your title in most cases. That said, we have seen instances where placing key info ahead of the brand improves performance. Let’s take a look at that TV example from the table above for a moment.

Screen size is often the defining factor in TV purchases, even after users have chosen their brand. So it might be worth testing this at the front of your title to compare performance. So Vizio 52” TV, Black, #A783x63 becomes 52” Vizio TV, Black, #A783x63 and you can take this even further.

Is the word TV really necessary in there when you have a product image accompanying it? Take a look at this title for a Toshiba TV which focuses on the key selling points: size, brands and resolution.

That’s a far more descriptive and compelling title.

Optimising for impression vs clicks

When you create titles for your product ads, there’s always a tension between optimising for impressions and optimising for clicks. Broader terms should mean your ad gets seen by a larger audience but using more specific keywords should encourage more targeted users to click.

For example, listing a pair of shoes without the size will mean more impressions, but it probably won’t generate as many clicks as listings that match the size users are searching for. This tension of impressions vs clicks is something you’ll have to work with over a longer period of time. You might find more generic terms are great for getting people lower-intent leads on your site, for example, while more specific listings attract people closer to buying now.

Remember, it’s not a case of doing one or the other; you want leads from all stages of the buying process.

Optimise your product images

The key thing to know about optimising your images for Google Shopping campaigns is that Google is more than capable of handling high resolution images. So don’t worry too much about scrimping on file sizes; go for the best detail you can and let Google handle the rest.

As for producing the images themselves, consider the following:

  • Stick to white backgrounds
  • Avoid text in your images
  • Shoot your products from an angle
  • Fill the whole image with your product

If you can, take your own product pictures rather than relying on the same standard images as every other retailer. This gives you the freedom to take images from a different angle and make them stand out.

Optimise your product descriptions

Unlike the kind of descriptions you might be used to creating for your website, product descriptions for Google Shopping campaigns are more to the point. There’s no space for copywriting here; you really are describing the key essentials and nothing else. This is where you place the key info that differentiates this specific product from others – either in the same product range or made by a completely different manufacturer.

For example, a fridge might include the following info: colour family (e.g. stainless steel), maximum storage capacity, the presence of a through-door cubed or crushed ice and water dispenser, humidity-controlled crisper, etc.

Forget the sales copy and calls to action. Just stick to the essentials and make sure you only include plain text (no HTML, etc.).

Go granular with your categorisation

With your product listings ready to go live, there’s one vital step remaining to get them seen by the most relevant audience.

As the example shows above, selecting categorisations like Trainers > Adidas isn’t going to help Google match your listing to search queries. Instead, go for granular with categorisations like Trainers > Adidas > Mens > Originals > Dragon. Google will still be able to match you up with more generic search queries (although the competition will be much steeper), but this will give you the edge when users are searching on more specific terms.

Improving your data quality with Feed Rules

Feed Rules in Merchant Center speed up the process of submitting product data to Google, reduce the risk of errors and fix any mistakes faster. This is useful for any Google Shopping campaign but absolutely vital when you have large amounts of products and campaigns to manage.

Aside from the use cases listed in the image above, you can also use Feed Rules to do the following:

  • Add missing required data
  • Create IDs to group products together
  • Speed up promotion updates
  • Group product listings with errors for faster corrections
  • Create rules to change attributes in bulk
  • Restructure your campaigns via rules rather than manual edits

Using Feed Rules in Merchant Center can save you bundles on the campaign management side of things. Especially when it comes to errors cropping up after you’ve gone live or you decide you want to restructure things further down the line. Doing this all manually is no fun at all and – more to the point – leaves a lot of room for further errors.

Campaign management best practices

The first place to start with Google Shopping campaign management is to nail down your objectives and KPIs. Yes, we know you’re in this to sell products online but you’ll need to pinpoint specific goals and know how to measure them to get the most out of this platform.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many product lines do you have?
  • What budget are you allocating to each of them?
  • Which of your products drive the most revenue?
  • Are there underperforming product lines to think about?
  • How does seasonal shopping affect you (fashion seasons, public holidays, etc.)?

By answering these questions, you can arrive at specific goals – eg: maximise revenue from your most profitable product line while lifting your worst performing line into profit. Next you need to set your numerical targets: budget, sales targets, profit targets and time scales. And, finally, you’ll want to identify your KPIs so you can track performance across your campaign to ensure you’re on track to meeting your goals.

Campaign structure

With your goals clearly set out, you can now start thinking about campaign structure. As we touched on in the previous section, not all product lines are the same. You can often categorise product lines into a number of categories:

  • Best sellers: The products you sell in greatest volume.
  • Most profitable items: You make the most profit from each sale.
  • Seasonal products: Popularity peaks at certain times of the year.
  • Steady sellers: Those lines that sell consistently throughout the year.

Your list may vary depending on the nature of your businesses. The point is, you want to structure your campaigns to prioritise certain products and product lines.

Devote more of your budget into the high-priority campaigns and be prepared to devote more time to optimising these campaigns – first of all, to make sure you’re on target, but also on the lookout for opportunities to beat your initial target.

If your product lines aren’t easy to categorise by performance (often the case for large eCommerce brands) then you might need to be more granular with your campaign structure.

In the example above, each product category is divided up into three priorities (high, medium and low). From here, you can either create three campaigns – one for each priority – or nine separate campaigns, where each product category has three priority campaigns.

The ‘Shopping Puzzle of Success’

To help visualise the core components of campaign management, Google has come up with the “Shopping Puzzle of Success”. Despite the sketchy title and graphics, it does a pretty good job of summarising the four key areas you need to keep on top of.

Max conversions with remarketing and eCPC bidding

To get the most from your Google Shopping budget, you need to optimise your campaigns for maximum conversions – but you also want to reduce the cost of each conversion while you’re at it.

Google Shopping comes with two key weapons to help you make this happen, which you may (or may not) be familiar with from the rest of your regular AdWords strategy.

With remarketing for Google Shopping, you can target previous visitors as they search for products in Google. Which means, once they start searching for your products (or other keywords you choose to target), they can see your product ads as they’re actively searching on Google.

This makes remarketing for Google Shopping an incredibly powerful tool for maximising conversions and reducing CPAs (cost per conversion).

Next up, you have enhanced cost-per-click (eCPC) bidding, which automatically adjusts your bids based on how likely a query is to result in a conversion. So, when consumers type in queries with a high buying intent, Google will automatically raise the bid and lower them for queries with lesser intent. Which means your ads show more often to Google users who look like they’re ready to buy.

Key takeaways

To sum up, we’ve looked at three main areas to get the most out of Google Shopping in this guide. First, you need to make sure your product feed is in order and fully optimised for visibility. Next, you need to think about your campaigns, which starts with nailing down your goals and KPIs, before you organise your campaign structure into different priorities (low, medium and high).

Finally, you want to make the most of Google Shopping features – particularly RSLAs and eCPC – to maximise conversions and get the best return from your budget. Always remember that new features are coming to AdWords and Google Shopping all the time as well. So be sure to stay in the loop with the latest developments because these can really give you the edge.

We’re always here to keep you keep you up-to-date with these latest features and answer any questions. Keep an eye out for our social updates and get in touch any time you want to speak to someone directly.