Most people understand how important search engine optimization is to the growth and long-term sustainability of their eCommerce store.
However, very few people know and understand exactly how strong the Google Shopping network can be, or how to properly utilize it to grow their store without losing money.
When you’re targeting major search engines as part of your eCommerce store’s marketing plan, you’re going to leave money on the table if that marketing plan doesn’t also include running advertising on Google’s Shopping network.
It can be scary at first because there’s so many unknowns with Google Shopping, but, today, we hope to clear the fog and help you build your first profitable campaign.
By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’re going to know how to setup your first Google Shopping campaign, and how to avoid making mistakes that could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
How To Build A Google Shopping Network Campaign
To get started, you are going to need a Google AdWords account. If you haven’t already, you can create your AdWords account by clicking here.
Google’s Shopping Network is powered by AdWords and Google Merchant Center. Your actual product feed is going to live on Google Merchant Center, while the ads you create will be based in your AdWords dashboard.
Google Shopping is different from AdWords. With AdWords, you will adjust your campaign keywords. With Google Shopping, though, Google will determine when your products are going to show up based on your feed and your bids. This makes it incredibly similar to SEO campaigns.
You’re Going To Need To Set Your Campaign’s Goals
Your campaign’s goals are going to guide every decision you make, so before you actually build the campaign you’re going to need to set them.
Your CPA, or Cost Per Acquisition is going to be based on how much you’re able to pay to acquire a customer.
For instance, if your average order value is worth $100 and your profit margins are 35%, are you willing to spend all $35 profit to acquire a customer?
If you know the lifetime value of your customers, and know that you can make more money in the long-term, then you may be comfortable spending more than your initial $35 profit to acquire a customer.
Understanding your campaign objective comes down to whether you want to build a customer or generate a sale.
In general, there are two different types of merchants: those who generate sales, and those who generate customers.
Both types of merchants make money, usually, but the merchants that are focused on bringing in customers and understand the lifetime value of those customers are going to have an easier time building a long-lasting brand and business.
It’s important to figure out what your initial goal is when you’re building your campaign, because that goal will determine how much money you’re going to be able to spend on the campaign and dictate how aggressive you can be.
Start By Promoting Your Top Products
Many store owners are going to want to jump in, both feet first, and start promoting every product their store currently sells. This is a massive mistake that could not only cost you big money, but also eats away at how much of your budget you can devote to the true winners in your shop.
Setting Up Your Account
To get started, you’re going to need 3 different accounts. You’ll need to create a Google AdWords account, a Google Merchant Center account, and a Google Analytics account.
AdWords will help you build the advertising campaign. Merchant Center will help you build your actual product feed. Analytics will help you track the progress of your campaign and optimize it to lower your cost per acquisition as time goes on.
Google Merchant Center Setup
Before you get started, you’re going to need to create your product feed by creating an account with the Google Merchant Center by clicking here.
In it, you’re going to create your tax and shipping rules, which are both required before you’re able to start advertising.
Once you have created your account and have set your shipping and tax rules, you’re going to need to upload your product feed.
You can either do this manually by entering your product information into a spreadsheet using the guidelines that Google gives you or by using a plugin, app, or service that takes the data from your store and builds the database that Google wants to see for you.
You’ll be required to verify that you own the site you’re trying to advertise. It’s easiest to do this by logging into your registrar and giving Google access, which can be done inside the Merchant Center dashboard.
You’ll then need to go to “General Settings” and input your sales tax and shipping rules. You can set tax rates based on the state you sell in, and set the shipping rates based on a table or rules, or based on the carrier that you’re using to deliver products to your customers.
Once finished, you’re going to need to go to “Settings” and then “AdWords” and link your Merchant Center to your AdWords account using the 10-digit AdWords ID you’ll be given.
Google AdWords Setup
Inside of your AdWords dashboard, you’re going to want to build a new campaign. Click the “Campaigns” tab, and then click +Campaign on the next page. In the dropdown menu, select “Shopping”.
Now, you’re going to want to give your campaign a name that makes it easy to remember at first glance. Then, choose your country and choose the priority of your campaign.
You’re going to want to disable the Google Search Network checkbox when you’re just getting started, because it includes many different advertising networks like AOL, YouTube, and Google Maps, which aren’t relevant to selling eCommerce products.
Then, you’ll need to set your default bid, your daily budget, and the delivery method of your ads.
In general, it’s recommended to keep your bid within the default bid, but most people can set the range somewhere between $.10 and $1.00, depending on your profit margin and your average conversion ratio. Figure out how many clicks it takes to make a sale and base your bidding off that number.
Your daily budget should be relative to your profit margin. If you turn over $35 for each sale, set your daily budget at $35 to ensure you generate enough data to base your decisions off of.
Google Analytics Setup
Once you’ve set your campaign criteria, you’re going to need to link your Analytics account and build your conversion tracking.
There are two ways to do this. You can generate an AdWords tracking code or you can setup conversions directly in your Analytics dashboard. The end goal is to have your Analytics data inside your AdWords dashboard, and your AdWords data inside your Analytics dashboard.
To link your accounts, you’ll need to click on the Gear icon in the top right of your Merchant Center dashboard, and then click on Account Settings.
Next, click on Linked Accounts, and then click Google Analytics. Follow the instructions you’re given and your AdWords and Analytics accounts will be linked together, and you’ll start collecting data from both.
Build Your Product Feed
There’s 2 different ways you can create your product feed. You can either use a service to do it, like DataFeedWatch or you can build a spreadsheet by following Google’s Guidelines.
Even if you’re automating the process with a service, you’re still going to have to put good data into the service so you get good data back out. If you’re build a spreadsheet, take your time or your feed could be rejected or cost you more money in expensive clicks.
You’ll need to enter data for each of the categories below, in order from most important to least important. Get this part right, and your feed will load flawlessly and you’ll save money.
Your product title needs to be both accurate and descriptive. This is the most important aspect of your feed because, like SEO, Google will use your product titles to determine what you should be showing up for.
Make sure that you include your top keywords along with the name of the product. You’ll also want to include any color, brand, gender, or size differences that will help you show up for more specific searches.
Put the most important information -- aka, your keywords -- at the front of your title, along with the model of the product, if applicable.
Keep in mind, Google has a 150 character limit that you’ll need to stick to. They will cut off additional characters.
Your product descriptions are another critical part of your feed and, while they’re not a requirement, will help increase your sales if you take your time while writing them. Google uses this as backup to help figure out what you should be ranking for.
You’re going to want to accurately describe your products as concisely as possible, while including any other keywords that you’re going to want to rank for. Like your product titles, you will want to put your most important information towards the front of your description.
The Google Shopping network currently has more than 6,000 different categories, so you will need to figure out the taxonomy that they use and then find the category you believe your products should be featured in.
You can only choose one category, so make sure you choose wisely. Get as close as you can to the perfect niche category and then let your Product Type take over.
If Google doesn’t have a super-specific category for your products, your Product Type will help them figure out where your products should be featured.
If you weren’t able to find a specific category for the types of products you’re selling, the Product Type will help Google figure out where they should be showing your products.
The Product Type isn’t necessarily a required part of your feed, but it’s another place you can help Google learn more about your products and potentially lower your cost per click.
You’ll want to use your site’s category breadcrumbs to build the Product Type and be as descriptive as possible. The more data you give Google, the easier it is for them to figure out what your products are.
The Product Image you use is just as important as the title, but not necessarily in the same way. Product Images are going to be what grabs your visitor’s attention and keeps it.
When you’re thinking about which images to use, make sure that the product is completely visible in the thumbnail and that you’re using a white background.
Remove any text, logos, or watermarks because they are prohibited and your product images may be rejected if text is detected.
Then, make sure the image itself is compelling and helps your visitors visualize what the product will be like for them so you can increase your clickthrough and conversion rates.
Your Product Image is going to grab people’s attention while the Product Price will keep their attention and get them to actually click on your ad.
With so many different products listed on Google’s Shopping results, it’s easy for visitors to continue scrolling through the feed, comparing prices as they go.
Pricing is a balancing act. If you’re in a price conscious category, competing on price could lead to generating more sales. However, if your product is unique or has an advantage over your competitors, a higher price could entice more clicks and chances to make a sale.
Whether you are selling your own products or reselling another company’s products, you will need to include the brand name for every product in your feed.
Many visitors will search for products by their brand name, especially those people that have a high intention for making a purchase. Do not leave this out.
If you are selling products such as apparel, you’re going to need to include a few more data points. You’ll want to include the gender, age group, size, color, size type, and sizing system, along with any other applicable criteria.
MPN & GTIN
Your Manufacturer’s Product Number and Google Trade Identification Number are required.
Typically, if you don’t have one, your Manufacturer’s Product Number is going to be your product SKU, and the GTIN can be your ISBN number or UPC code.
Google requires you to have 2 out of 3 for your product feed: Brand, GTIN, and MPN.
The best way to setup sales tax for your products is inside of your Google Merchant Center. You can include the rates and states that you charge sales tax in your feed spreadsheet, if you want.
This is another rule that you can include in your spreadsheet, if you want. The best way to set this up is to include the information inside of the Google Merchant Center dashboard.
You will be required to enter the availability (in stock, out of stock, or preorder), along with the condition of the products you’re selling (new or used). This data is required and your products will be ineligible for listing if you do not include it.
Custom labels aren’t required, but will help you figure out how to optimize your bids once you’ve created the campaign. Use them to describe attributes of your products to make your job easier while you are building the campaign.
How To Setup Your Feed
When you’re running a Shopify store, one of the quickest and easiest ways to build your Google Shopping data feed is to use the Google Shopping app.
It will update your feed every time you update your products or add new products to your catalog.
With it, you can choose to use either the product title or product tag and the app will update your feed, reflecting the choice you’ve made.
Once you’ve got the app installed on your store, login to your Google Merchant Center dashboard, then click the “Feeds” option in the left-hand menu and click on “+ Data Feed”.
Then, choose “Automatic Uploads Schedule Fetch” or “Regular Uploads”, depending on what the Google Shopping app requires you to do.
Next, enter the URL that the Google Shopping app has created for you.
Finally, you will create a schedule for how often your feed should be updated. In general, feeds are set to expire after 30 days. When you’re using the Google Shopping app, you will want to have your feed fetched on a daily basis.
Google Shopping Tips & Tricks
Now that your feed is ready to go, here are a few tips and tricks to help you make more sales while avoiding blowing through your advertising budget.
Take your time while you are building your Google Shopping campaign until you get a feel for the platform.
Cut your losers quick and examine what made them so much different than your competitors, especially if your competitors have been running ads for an extended period of time.
As time goes on, you will start to understand the platform and create winning ads without having to do much tweaking or optimization.
Google Shopping is one of the best platforms to tap into when you’re looking for high converting traffic that’s sustainable and easy to replicate.