Segmenting Product Data – Develop Your Plan With Custom Labels

Pretend that you are a new advertiser and have decided to start advertising using Google Shopping. You have successfully uploaded your products into Google Merchant Center and you have completed your basic settings. Google has approved all of your products and you have linked your Merchant Center account to your Google Ads account.

So, you are done, right?

The fact is that although you may be now able to advertise using Google Shopping ads you are far from done if you wish to run successful Google Shopping campaigns.

Many accounts I have reviewed over the years unfortunately stop after the initial setup is complete leaving a merchant’s entire line of products to linger in a single Google Shopping campaign. Running a single Google Shopping Campaign is difficult to optimize and almost impossible to use in order to be able to generate profitable sales.

This article is written for advertisers wishing to squeeze all possible sales and profits out of Google Shopping advertising and discusses why failing to segment their product feed is such a costly mistake.

Why Should You Segment

When advertising Shopping ads inside of AdWords, similar to Search ads, advertisers will typically see the best results by segmenting their products into smaller groups of similar products using different Shopping campaigns.

The reason to segment your products is that segmenting allows you to more easily optimize your bidding and control your keywords based on past results. Although these are more advanced concepts, for now we just need to know that we want to be able to segment our data feed.

For those wanting to skip ahead in the process to discover the cool stuff like how we are going to optimize bidding and control keywords, you can read these past articles:

Positive Keywords – A Better Way to Control Unwanted Searches

Effectively Optimize Google Shopping Based on Your Past History, Nothing More

However, before we can delve into advanced strategies, we need to first set the basics with the best ways to segment your data inside of your Merchant Center feed. Once we have successfully segmented our data, we will have everything we need to fully optimize our advertising inside of the Google Ads interface.

Segmenting – Having A Plan

Let’s first again quickly review how Google Shopping works:

It Starts With A ‘User Query’
– Google matches –
eligible products in Google Shopping campaigns using
Keywords – Taken from the title and description
then they use a
Real time auction

This formula determines the ad rank or order in which products appear within Google Shopping.

First and foremost, your products need to be eligible to appear. This means having some minimum required data within your data feed including item name, price, image, product id, URL, brand, condition, shipping, tax, gtin or mpn and description.

These are the current basic fields Google requires for non-apparel items. For apparel items, there are even more additional fields including color, gender and age group that are needed.

In addition, to all these required fields, Google has another 40 or so fields they use in order to help match products in user queries along with allowing users to filter data in the Google Shopping tab. The more data you submit inside your feed the more likely your products will appear for relevant searches and will increase when they also appear if users are filtering products within Google Shopping.

Populating data into required fields and into suggested fields is a great start; however, our goal as advertisers is not to be able to just advertise it is to be able to advertise and make a profit.

Inside of a product ad group within a Shopping campaign inside the Google Ads interface, advertisers are allowed to subdivide their products by the following fields – Category, Brand, Item ID, Condition, Product Type, Channel, Channel exclusivity or Custom Label 0, Custom Label 1, Custom Label 2, Custom Label 3 or Custom Label 4.

While most data fields are used by Google to match relevant products with users’ queries the only purpose of custom labels is to allow advertisers to add the data, they wish to use in order to be able to subdivide their feed inside of Google Ads.

For step by step instructions on how to subdivide product ads, you can read my article How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability.

For now, we need to have plan for deciding what data our custom labels should contain where it will make sense for us to segment.

For my private clients, I typically use custom label 0 and 1 to further identify the item either by name or item type.

For custom label 2 I use as a pricing tier – $0-10; $10-$25; $25-50, etc. This will allow me to implement a tiered bidding strategy.

Finally, for custom labels 3 and 4 I typically use to identify either new items or best-sellers.

Here is a look at mapped data file for one of my private clients. Pay attention to the custom labels.

Remember the purpose of adding custom labels are so you can easily segment in order to adjust bids based on sales or spend.

Although your custom labels may vary, this template should serve you as a pretty good roadmap.

Final Word

Being able to control the data in your Google Merchant Center feed is essential to the success of your Google Shopping campaigns. And although implementing advanced strategies such as Positive Keywords, The Adding of Negative Keywords and other optimizations based historical data is much more glamourous and can even be quite fun; first you need to have your data feed properly optimized.

Given this fact it is important that get under the hood so to speak and before you start advertising you first fully understand how Google Shopping ads work.

Second, you must have complete control on your data feed.

Don’t worry there are many great data optimization companies that can help format your data feed and that provide the tools to easily map the feed from data within your website.

However, the strategy of what data to use to populate the custom labels is going to determine how you advertise using Google Shopping and that is something where the strategy should come from you!

Like any strategy, it shouldn’t happen on the fly. Instead it should be measured and calculated in order to provide the most optimal results. This of how it makes sense to segment your data and then add the custom labels to make segmenting possible.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com

New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize

Last week, I was contacted by a former private client. When last we worked together, he had been running an e-commerce health supplement business and had just sold his interest.

Now, a couple of years later, he was back at it with an all new e-commerce health supplement business.

He was confused and looking for help to figure out what was going on with his account.  He had submitted a feed to Google Merchant Center using the free Shopify app (he had a Shopify store) and had an agency set up a Google Shopping campaign, but he wasn’t receiving any traffic.

What Was Going On?

After looking at his Google Merchant Center account and his Google Ads account, I quickly diagnosed his issue.

First, the “free” feed app linking Shopify and Merchant Center is a major issue for any retailer wishing to customize their feed and especially a company that retails health supplements, whose products are on the fringe of Google policy.

Have you ever heard the saying ‘you get what you pay for’?

Although there is a fee involved, most ecommerce retailers would be better advised to use a 3rd party data optimization company to format and have the ability to customize their data before sending their feed to Google Merchant Center.

The cost of data optimization companies typically ranges anywhere from $10 a month to $100s a month, but what you will get back in conversion rates based on the ability to optimize Google Shopping accounts if your product offerings have any volume at all will far outweigh the cost.

Using a data optimization company gives you the ability to add custom labels (the lifeblood of proper segmentation with Google Shopping) as well as the ability to tweak titles and descriptions so they don’t appear exactly as they do on the webpage.

For health vitamins, some ingredients are an absolute policy violation and will cause disapprovals just by having the name of those on a page. However, some ingredients are not absolute but will cause a disapproval if they are listed in the submitted title or description; although they will not trigger a red flag by simply being on the landing page.

Although health supplements are an extreme example, most retailers could benefit incrementally by being able to optimize their product titles in their data feed in terms of improving CTR and relevancy for keywords. Using a data optimization company allows retail advertisers to quickly make those tweaks without having to change the title or description on their actual product pages.

Here is the bottom line –

Using a free option to submit feeds regardless of what e-commerce platform you are using is generally a bad idea. In order to run a successful Google Shopping campaign, you need to first have a strategic plan with your data feed. This will give you the ability to segment your Shopping campaigns and effectively be able to optimize bids based on history.

For information on properly optimizing Shopping campaigns based on historical data see my article – Effectively Optimize Google Shopping Based on Your Past History, Nothing More

Google Smart Campaigns

The second issue this retailer was facing was using a Google ‘Smart’ Shopping campaign to send his products with a bid strategy of ‘Maximize Conversions’.

Google’s promotes their Smart Shopping campaigns as a way for advertisers to simplify their campaign management while maximizing conversion values and expanding their reach.

Campaigns that use the Smart Shopping setting are eligible to appear across Google’s Search Network, Display Network, YouTube and Gmail. However, you are leaving all the control up to Google.

In addition, the ‘Maximize Conversion’ strategy has Google attempting to only serve ads when ads have the best chance to convert.

Sound pretty good, right?

How Google Smart Campaigns Work

Google uses an advertiser’s existing product feed as submitted to Google Merchant Center and combines eligible products with Google’s machine learning to serve ads across their list of networks – Google’s Search Network, Display Network, YouTube and Gmail.

A merchant determines their budget and bid strategy and Google automatically tests ads for different combinations of products and keyword searches promising to deliver retailers the maximum amount of conversion value for their ad spend.

A major issue with Google Smart Campaigns is that retailers have no knowledge of where their ads are appearing or for what keywords or at what cost.

An advertiser fortunately can access how many clicks they receive and at what costs. For this retailer, his average cost-per-click was over $6!  This was astronomical as his bids hovered around $1.10 a couple of years ago for basically the same product line.

The issue for not being able to view data on which keywords you are appearing is a major drawback. For this particular advertiser, Google wasn’t matching items and searches very well. Even for a search for an exact product names his products were not displaying in Google Shopping.

Now how does Google Smart Campaigns sound?

Recommendations on What to Do

The first thing I would recommend for this advertiser is to make a change from using Shopify’s free data feed app to a paid 3rd party data optimization company.

Currently using Shopify’s free app, this retailer had approximately 25% of their products being disapproved in Merchant Center. This could be much lower.

By using the Diagnostics links in Merchant Center and using the ability of a 3rd party data optimization company to adjust the title and description this merchant should be able to significantly reduce their disapprovals.

For more information, see my article ‘There Can Be No Google Shopping Without a Google Merchant Account’.

Next, there are some options with the how the AdWords account is setup. The first and easiest solution would be to change the bidding strategy goal. Smart Shopping campaigns are always set to ‘Maximize Conversions’; however, advertisers have the ability to change the ROAS (return on ad spend) goal. By lowering the ROAS goal the retailer could potentially gain more clicks.

However, I would highly recommend that this merchant split out their campaign into multiple campaigns. It would make sense to split out the campaigns by brands at least for the top-selling brands.

To effectively split out the account into different campaigns, it will require a plan when submitting the data feed to ensure that everything is properly formatted to allow for segmentation.

Once the account, is divided into different brand-oriented campaigns, the customer can test continuing using Smart campaigns or make the switch to manual campaigns.

By starting to mange and optimize in a ‘standard campaign’ retailers are able to access data on exactly which products are driving traffic, converting, spending and for what keywords. This allow optimization of the products as well as the ability to use advanced strategies such as the Positive Keyword Strategy – ‘Positive Keywords – A Better Way to Control Unwanted Searches’.

Last Word

This company incredibly paid an agency a few hundred bucks to setup this campaign! Besides being ill-advised the work to setup this campaign took 5 minutes max and costs the advertiser not only a setup fee, but an ongoing monthly retainer. This demonstrates the importance of knowing how Google Ads work regardless of whether or not a retailer decides to manage their account in-house or outsource to a SEM agency.

Next, I am an advocate of testing. With so many types of ads available; bidding strategies and now new automated bidding strategies what works best for one account, may not work the best for all accounts.

A few months back, Google started showing a ‘Optimization Score’ on every campaign which includes a score between 1-100% as well as recommendations. The recommendations are a fantastic way to make sure every campaign has key conversion elements such as ad extensions (for search ads), keyword targeting, the use of audiences, etc.

However, the only way the Optimization Score goes to a 100% is if a campaign uses Google’s Smart Shopping, an automated bidding strategy.

This may and in fact, most of the times, is not the best option for advertisers. Before making this switch, make sure you are aware of the downfalls of letting Google handle your bids and PLA ad placements and know that you will be flying blind with Google behind the wheel.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing  (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.  

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

About The Author - Andy Splichal

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google, Vegas & Dumb Money!

Google gives advertisers a tremendous opportunity to reach millions of potential buyers and even some training on how to properly use Google if you do the research.  However, Google will take practically anyone’s money that is willing to spend it with them. In Las Vegas, this is called dumb money.  It is what makes Vegas rich, hell it is what makes Google rich.  But, there is a better way.

Back to my Las Vegas example – one of their most popular games is blackjack.  A relatively simple game, blackjack can be played by anyone over the age of 21.  You start with two cards and try to get closer to 21 than the person representing the casino does without going over.  If you do that, you win.  Easy right!Make Each Click Count - T.O.P. Guide To Success Using Google AdWords

Similar to Google, anyone can sit down and start to play as long as they are willing to part with their money. However, some people who wish to play the game first would like to get more educated on rules and strategies to increase their chance of success.  There are books on blackjack strategy that if learned will increase your odds.  There are similar books regarding Google advertising that can increase your odds of success, I should know, I wrote one!

So what to do, where to start especially if you are busy store owner with a thousand things pulling you in a million different directions?

Well from talking to hundreds of store owners, I have found that there are four specific routes taken and here they are:

Do Absolutely Nothing – This is the easiest option for you. You decide not to sell on Google, maybe electing to advertise on Amazon or a different marketing channel.  For store owners, especially online ecommerce store owners this can be turning your back on the potential for huge number of sales.  Plus, if you rely on purely Amazon, you are at Amazon’s whim in addition to paying Amazon a steep commission and not even owning the customer.

Do It Yourself – Taking your lumps as you learn. Just like the person who walks into the casino the first time, you are welcome to jump right in and play.  Typically those players lose, but who knows, we’ve all heard of beginners luck right?

Hire An Agency – Let a SEM agency that you select handle everything for you. Again, maybe they know what they are doing, maybe not.  If you are small to medium sized business, typically large SEM agencies have a great sales person; however, once you sign on, your account typically goes over to a junior marketer, maybe right out of college.  They may very well also take their lumps; however, they get to do it with your money. And, if you don’t know the basic best-practices, then how will you even know?

Educate Yourself – At least with basic best-practices in advertising on Google AdWords and Google Shopping. Just the like the blackjack newbie It can be daunting and it will take some time. However, if you don’t learn at least some fundamental best-practices, it can be disastrous for your marketing budget. 

With this in mind, I have created numerous tools to help Google advertisers intelligently advertise using Google.

Recently, I release a case study and bonus training video showing the #1 Secret to optimizing your Google Shopping Campaigns.

[Click Here For Immediate Access]

Google Search Ads are difficult enough.  You have keywords, keyword types, device adjustments, writing ads, creating ad extensions; the list goes on and on.

With Google Shopping, now you take out the keywords and replace with submitting a product feed to Google Merchant Center.  Optimizing that feed and linking eligible products into your AdWords account it can be overwhelming. However, once you have your data feed set up, I have found one way that produces faster results then all others and we call it the #1 Secret To Substantially Increasing Your Sales While Reducing Ad Spend In Google Shopping.

We recently released an in-depth case study documenting the #1 Secret To Substantially Increasing Your Sales Using Google Shopping along with a bonus training video that you can now access by clicking on the link below.

[REQUEST THE CASE STUDY & ACCESS THE TRAINING VIDEO]

This case study details two Google AdWords accounts for two different websites owned by the same company that both contain the same products.  For one account we applied the #1 secret for increasing sales and decreasing wasteful spend, while the other account we did not.  By applying the #1 secret to the account, the first account nearly tripled sales while generating a lower CPA.   

One of my favorite movies is the 1998 movie Rounders with Matt Damon and there is one line I always remember, which is this: ‘If you don’t see the sucker in the room, then you are the sucker’.

Don’t be the sucker! I encourage you to request the case study and watch the corresponding training video.  Your marketing budget will thank you for it.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

A Death By A Thousand Cuts Really HURTS…

What do you think is worse? Taking a strong punch to the gut or receiving a thousand of paper cuts? Truth is that both are probably very painful in their own way.  Similarly to a poorly optimized Google Shopping Campaign. 

Let me explain…

When it comes to a poorly optimized Google Shopping Campaign, typically it is more of the later. While there is not a single switch to turn on or off that which will stop the financial bleeding, there is an array of factors that generally causes the slow bleeding to your bank account. Those small cuts will eat into your potential profits when using Google Shopping every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Like the title implies, there are literally thousands of paper cuts that can costs a Google account to bleed money; however, I don’t have time to go into all of them. Below are the 3 most frequent ‘cuts’ that I come across when performing personal AdWords Assessments for customers include the following:

1. Not properly implemented Google Analytics – Without Google Analytics or some other analytics program installed that properly tracks conversions and spend, it is nearly impossible to know key metrics such as ROAS and ROI. Why is this important? Because without being able to identify numbers, you cannot adjust product bids (either up or down) in order to maximize sales and minimize costs.

2. Not adjusting mobile bids. This is an easy fix if analytics is properly installed. It also, is a relatively quick fix. However, just because it is easy to implement, don’t think that means that it is not important. In fact, it is so important that I created an entire training video on the subject. If you haven’t seen it already – check it out by clicking on the link below:

[Bonus Training Video – The #2 Way To Increase Profitability With Google Shopping]

Mobile clicks seldom have the same conversion rates or the same average conversion value as desktop bids and bidding the same across all devices is one of those papercuts that really hurts!

3. Set It & Forget It – Just because you optimized your campaign fully last week, last month or even last year, in no way does that mean that your account is still running at an optimal level today. The bulls eye is always changing when it comes to finding the right bids on the right devices and using the right keywords when it comes to using Google and Google Shopping. Unfortunately, many business owners are unable due to time or due to lack of knowledge spend the time it takes to keep their account running at an optimal level.

I can’t remember seeing an AdWords account that doesn’t have room for improvement and typically lots of improvement. With so many moving parts, Google AdWords in particular Google Shopping can be difficult to manage unless you or someone on your team has spent years going through the ‘Google Learning Curve’.

Given my mission to help business owners stop wasting their money on poorly performing Google AdWords campaigns, I offer a complete personalized AdWords assessment in order to reveal what paper cuts are affecting your bottom line.

I only offer 10 of these assessments per month, so if you want to see increased results quickly, I invite you not to miss this opportunity.

Request A T.O.P. Complete AdWords Assessment

For a limited time, I’m offering a $100 discount on the assessment, plus the assessment is 100% fully guaranteed.

Don’t delay and let me reveal what can be done to immediately increase the profits in your Google AdWords and Google Shopping campaigns.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

 

Adjusting Google Shopping Bids For Individual Products {updated 2/6/20}

Even though an individual campaign may be showing overall profitable results, if you dig into a campaign you most likely will find products that are converting well below your average cost per acquisition and some that are converting well above (the 80/20 rule).

However, and this is assuming you have already segmented your Google Shopping campaigns. Given that you have, how do you optimize individual product bids for Google Shopping ads?

First, your campaigns must have enough historical data to be relevant in your decisions. Google provides several competitive metrics advertisers can use when deciding whether to raise or lower bids for individual products appearing within Google Shopping. These competitive metrics include Benchmark CTR, Benchmark Max CTR, Search Imp Share, Search Lost IS (rank) and Click share.

In order to enable various competitive metrics to display while in the Campaigns view, click on the ‘Columns’ button and select ‘Modify columns’.

Once the modify columns window opens, an advertiser needs to select ‘Competitive metrics’ under the ‘Select metrics’ columns and add the each competitive metric that they wish to view.

Here are the more important metrics to view when decided whether to raise or lower an individual product bid:

Search Imp Share – The impressions your products have received divided by the estimate number of impressions your products were eligible to receive (available for both the product group and the individual item level).

Search abs. top IS – Short for ‘Search absolute top impression share’ this is the percentage of your Search ad impressions that are shown in the most prominent Search position.

Search Lost IS (rank) – Short for ‘Search lost impressions share’ this is the percentage of impressions your ads did not receive due to poor Ad Rank or insufficient bidding (available for both the product group and the individual item level).

Click Share – The clicks you received on Google’s Search Network divided by the maximum number of clicks that you could have received (available for both the product group and the individual item level).

For optimizing an individual product bid, I prefer to look at the Search Impr. Share in conjunction with Cost, Avg. CPC and Conversions.

Below are some examples of how I use these metrics to determine when to raise, lower or keep current Shopping bids for individual products:

When to Raise a Product Bid

When there is sufficient historical data, Google will add a small graph next to an individual product’s Max. CPC column that when accessed will display how many impressions and clicks and advertiser can expect to receive by adjusting their bid for any product. 

When optimizing products in Google Shopping manually, I tend to look for products with conversions that have a relatively low Avg. CPC where the Search Impr. share is below 50%.

Below, the product ‘a1010blem’ has a bid of $0.59, with 6 conversion in the last 2 weeks and a Search Impr. share of under 50%.  In addition, the 6 conversions have generated a total of $2,112.25 in total sales on a spend of $23.26 for a ROAS of a whopping 89.18.

This historical data makes this product an excellent candidate to investigate whether raising the product bid is viable.

By clicking on the small graph icon, Google opens a Bid Simulator window that shows what clicks, costs and impressions this item can expect if the bid is changed to one of the bid options listed. This is where experience comes into play.  I typically will raise the bid to a level that makes sense based on past experience managing similar products within the account. 

Here, by raising the bid from $0.59 to $1.10 we will see our search impression share increase to 78.10% and our click share increase to 81.52%.

Quick note, raising bids is a great way to bring more traffic to a product that has historically done well in terms of conversions, but it will also increase your spend and may result in products being displayed for a broader range of search terms.  It is highly recommended to continually monitor changes (especially when raising bids) to maintain levels of profitability.

When to Lower a Product Bid

Conversely, sometimes it is necessary to lower a specific product bid that is receiving clicks, but zero or few conversions. 

Below, is an item ‘ckcc1216s7x-black’, where the bid is at $1.25, the search impression share is 89.38% and the average CPC is $0.60.  This product has received 131 clicks and incurred a cost of $79.21 over the last two weeks. 

After checking to ensure there are no issues on the website or in the Merchant Center account thus ensuring that there is no issue with the product, I decide to lower the bid. 

By again clicking on the small graph icon located next to the Max. CPC field, I can view Google recommendations of how many clicks, impressions and costs I can expect the item to incur by lowering the bid.

In this instance, I am going to lower the bid from $1.25 to $0.94.  This will still allow this product to still receive some clicks and impressions; however, the product will be shown less often allowing other products in this subsegment to appear more often for the same keyword searches. I will continue to monitor and review the bid once additional historical data is available based on the newly adjusted bid.

When to Not Adjust a Product Bid

For advertisers, just as important as raising and lowering individual bids is determining when to NOT adjust a bid for a particular product.

Below, the product ‘cpcc1216s7x-maroon’ has a bid of $1.25, with 2 conversion in the last 2 week; $47.33 in spend and revenue generated of $239.90. This calculates to a ROAS of 5.07.

With all the criteria I use to raise a bid, I would like to view how many additional impressions, clicks and costs Google expects this product to receive if I raise the bid.  Therefore, again I click on the graph icon next to the Max. CPC field.

For this item, even if I increase the bid approximately 50% from the current $1.25 to $1.74 it would only add about 150 more impressions, but would double spend from $16.10 to $32.10 (almost 100%). 

Also, keep in mind that this is raising the Max CPC.  When looking at historical data, I can realize that this product has been actually incurring an average CPC of $0.83 per click.  With this information available, I decide that raising the bid is not a good value and that it does NOT make sense to raise the bid and will leave the bid at $1.25.

Profitability Report

The process of manually adjusting bids works great if you need to optimize a handful of products, but what if you have hundreds or even thousands of products that you want to optimize for profitability?

For accounts with large offerings, I use a self-created process that I have aptly named my ‘Profitability Report’.

Automated rules are not available for Google Shopping items.  Therefore, the purpose of the profitability report is to naturally raise product bids for items that convert, while lowering bids for items that are not converting using a systematic form.

Creating The Profitability Report

  1. Click on reports icon in top tool bar.
  2. Select Predefined Reports > Shopping > Shopping – Item ID.
  3. This should populate the following key performance indicators (KPIs): Item ID, Clicks, Impressions, CTR, Avg CPC, Costs, Cost/Conv and Conv. Rate.
  4. You will then want to add Conversion Value, Campaign and Ad Group.  Note, adding a column is done by dragging the desired field from the left menu to the table. It may be necessary to click on the 3 horizontal lines to display all options.
  5. Save As ‘Profitability Report’
  6. Note, once the report is saved you can schedule the created report to automatically run so next time the report will be available in advance.

Using The Profitability Report 

  1. Click on reports icon in top tool bar.
  2. Download the profitability report for the desired date range (suggestion is weekly or bi-weekly).
  3. Create a new column for rate on ad spend (ROAS) – conversion value/costs.
  4. This is where some discretion comes as far as optimizing and campaign goals including the overall profitability you are trying to achieve. For the accounts that I privately manage, if the ROAS is between 2 -5, I raise by 20%; if between 5-10 I raise 35%; if over 10 I raise 50%. Most of my accounts, I use a $5 threshold for costs; however, this can be adjusted depending on the accounts volume.
  5. To make it easier, I add a comment field with the action to on the item and highlight with a color – example green for all items that need to be raised.
  6. Next I sort by poor performing item ids. To do this sort by cost from largest to smallest.
  7. Set your criteria. For example, in the accounts I manage I lower bids by 25% on any item that spends over $10 with $0 sales and lower bids by 10% on any item that spends over $5 with $0 sales. Again, I color code the items that need to be decreased in order to easily determine.
  8. I then sort the excel sheet by Notes and then Ad Group.
  9. You now have an easy to read file where you can make actionable changes.

Final Word

Optimizing bids for individual products can be a labor-intensive process.  However, it also can be a rewarding process in gaining the highest return on advertising (ROAS) available for your dollars.  In addition, there are other factors to consider before raising or lowering a product bid such as: is the product in stock, is the product a seasonal seller and are there other factors that can account for increase/decrease sales such as a competitor discounting.

However, by taking advantage of Google’s competitive metrics, advertisers can optimize their Shopping Campaigns at the product level. Quick warning, for this strategy to be the most effective, advertisers should ensure they have previously segmented their Shopping Campaigns. For a review on segmenting, refer to my article – How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability {updated 1/28/20}

Google Shopping has the potential to produce one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) for ecommerce retailers advertising online. For those new to online marketing, that is a good thing, in fact, perhaps the most important thing!!! A high ROI means that the money that is invested in a marketing channel is generating a high return of sales for the investment.

ROI Calculation = (Gain from investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

Over the last few years, I have consistently seen client’s Google Shopping campaigns attain a higher ROI than that attained from either Google Search or Display (retargeting) advertising making it an important part of Google advertising for ecommerce retailers. However, being able to achieve a really high ROI can typically only be attained by using advanced techniques such as segmenting Google Shopping campaigns, which this article is dedicated.

A Quick Review – How Google Shopping Works

Google Shopping results are displayed at the very top of the page before the organic listings (as seen in the example below).  Google Shopping results can also be viewed by clicking on the Shopping tab in the upper menu next to the default ‘All’ link.

Google uses a real time auction system just like search results to list products in Google Shopping. In order for products to appear, they must be included within a merchant’s approved  Google Merchant Center Account. The Merchant Center account must also be actively linked to an active Shopping campaign within the Google Ads interface. For directions on how to get started with Google Shopping, see my article Google Shopping – What It Is, How It Has Changed.

Once connected to a Google Merchant Center account containing approved products, Google Ads allows advertisers to optimize their listings based on populated fields contained within their submitted products. For detailed information on what different fields Google supports, read this article – Top Tips To Optimize Google Shopping.

In addition, Google also allows advertisers to add promotions to their Google Shopping listings, which is another great way to increase click through rates (CTR).  Note, Google promotions are added through the Merchant Center account as well and not within the Google Ads interface.  For those wanting to learn more about promotions, I have an article dedicated to Google promotions as well – Enhancing Google Shopping With Promotions.

However, even if you have a Google Shopping campaign that is being optimized and you are running meaningful promotions, there remains a problem. If all Shopping listings are contained within the same campaign, advertisers are restricted because they must have the same settings across the entire campaign.

What this means for advertisers is that they can of course adjust bids on the campaign as a whole based on location, ad schedule, devices, but what if they want to change settings thus effecting bids on different products or a category of products? Of course, they cannot if all of their products are contained within a single campaign

This is why segmenting Shopping campaigns is essential for many retailers if they wish to fully optimize their Google Shopping listings based on location, time of day or devices. One of the more advanced techniques for those just starting to use Google Shopping, segmenting Shopping campaigns can improve Shopping results and provide advertisers a distinct advantage over their competitors.

Creating Multiple Google Shopping Campaigns

The first step in creating a new Shopping campaign containing a sub-section of a feed’s product offerings is to create a new Shopping campaign. In order to do so while in the Campaigns view click on the blue plus button and select New Campaign.

Next, you will select the campaign’s goal. For Shopping campaigns, you will select ‘Sales’ and the blue ‘Continue’ button.

Then, you will need to select the new campaign type. For Shopping campaigns, you will want to select Shopping and the blue ‘Continue’ button.

You will then need to select which Merchant Center account you wish to link your campaign; select the country where products are being sold and whether you want to run a Google Smart Shopping campaign or a Standard Shopping campaign. (Note, this selection cannot be changed once a campaign is created).

For my private clients, I manage Standard Shopping campaigns as it gives you more control over where and at what costs your Shopping ads will appear. However, be careful because Google defaults your option to the newly released Smart Shopping campaign.

For information on Smart Shopping campaigns, see my article – New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize.

Google will then prompt you to name your new campaign; set your budget; select your bidding strategy and decide if you would like to use Google’s Enhanced CPC to automatically raise your maximum bid if a click seems likely to lead to a conversion.

Next, is a setting named Campaign priority. You will find this setting useful when segmenting your products within campaigns.

The default on Campaign priority is Low.  Best-practices would recommend that this setting be changed to either Medium or High since is contains a sub-set of the full product offering.

This setting is a safeguard. If a product is contained within multiple campaigns, the product will be shown depending on which campaign has the higher bid.  However, if a product is in multiple campaigns where there are different priority levels, the priority level is the determining factor for which campaign the product will be pulled.

Finally, you will want to specify which Networks you want your products to eligible to display. This is a fairly new option. Until recently, Google Shopping ads would only display within the Search Network. Now, the default is to have Shopping ads appear within the YouTube and Discover Network as well. This is a great option for increased exposure, but I have found these placements do not generate near the ROI of having products appear only within the Search Network.

For additional information on having Shopping ads appear within these networks, read my article – New Changes to Google Shopping Could Cost You Big Time!

Finally, select which location to serve your ads, the start and end dates of your campaign and click on the blue ‘Save and Continue’ button.

You will then be asked to select some settings for your first Ad Group including the Ad Group Type, Ad Group Name and your initial bid.

Note, the Ad Group Type – Product Shopping is the standard Shopping Ad and what I recommend for private clients.

Finally, we are ready to start determining which products should be in the campaign.  By default when an advertiser creates a new campaign, Google brings in the entire product offering in the data feed linked from the advertiser’s merchant center account.

However, the point of segmenting is to include a subset of products within the new campaign.  In order subdivide, click on the + symbol next to the All products.

A window will then pop-up allowing retailers to subdivide according to fields they have populated within their products that are currently approved within Google Merchant Center Account. (Again for a refresher on setting up a feed, review my article – Google Shopping – What It Is, How It Has Changed.

In the example below, I am looking at the feed subdivided by Custom_label 0, which for this particular feed contains the different categories as seen on the website.

In order to add a subsection, simply click the box adding a checkmark to the right of the name and click ‘Continue To Edit Bids’. Note, multiple categories can be selected if an advertiser wishes to use the same settings for all subsections that are to be included within the new campaign.

Once a subsection has been added, advertisers can adjust their bid on the entire product group.

Once the subsection is added and saved, a campaign will show the subsection(s) along with another subsection named Everything else.  Since we are subdividing and the rest of the products are found within the main Shopping campaign, we will not want the rest of the products or ‘Everything else’ displaying within this campaign. Therefore, we need to exclude those products.

To exclude, simply click on the bid column next to the product group that should be excluded and select the radio button next to Excluded and save.

Once you have saved properly, there should be the word in Excluded grayed out next to the Product Group that is no longer eligible to display within this campaign.

That is it, the new campaign has been created with the desired subsection of products and settings can now be optimized based on these products rather than by all products that were originally in the main Shopping campaign.

A best-practices tip here – although setting a high priority level setting should prevent products being shown in other campaigns, I always recommend excluding the newly created subsection in other campaigns that you do not wish for those items to be shown.  In order to exclude those products, navigate to the main Shopping campaign and follow the same steps as above, only this time excluding the subsection that is now in the new Shopping campaign.

Final Word

Obviously the newly created campaign will not have historical data needed to optimize, but it will populate over time. Once the data starts coming in, there are 3 ways to change bids based on results all which have the potential for impactful results in the new campaign. These 3 ways to optimize include: Locations, Ad Schedule and Devices.

If you have taken time to have a plan when mapping out your data, you will most likely find that the way you want to optimize these areas of bidding along with the negative keywords that you add will be different between campaigns. Being different is one of the ways why it makes sense to segment product data into different campaigns. For those with a substantial number of product offerings, just like classic search campaigns, segmenting your product offerings will greatly outperform a non-segmented campaign.  

With Shopping ads, Display ads (particularly retargeting) along with Search ads, advertisers have the ability to advertise their product offerings in a variety of different ways.

When deciding which method of advertising is viable for an advertiser’s business goals, an advertiser must closely monitor results in terms of costs vs sales in order to optimize accounts that generate the most profitable ROI.

Google Shopping is an effective tool for doing this, but it must be properly configured in order to fully optimize results.  Segmenting Shopping campaigns with the steps above is an advanced technique that can help to generate an ROI, but like the setup of most campaigns requires work and constant monitoring.  Perhaps this is why it has the ability to generate such great results, because the vast amount of advertisers are not taking the effort to employ this tactic. Thus, leaving opportunity for those who are willing to put in the effort to fully market their products using all the tools available in Google’s every changing Ads platform.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Top Tips To Optimize Google Shopping

A great tool for ecommerce companies currently using Google is implementing an effective Google shopping campaign.  Assuming you have already opened your Google Merchant Center account, uploaded your data feed and have linked to a Google shopping campaign inside your AdWords account, how do you optimize your rate on investment (ROI) or simply how do you get the biggest bang for your buck?

How Google’s Fee Structure Works

Google charges your account for shopping clicks the same way they charge for clicks coming from search.  Advertisers enter an initial maximum cost per click they are willing to pay and this amount is assigned across the account.  When a Google user is shown an advertiser’s product and clicks on it they are directed to the advertiser’s website, the advertiser is then charged.  An advertiser will never be charged more than their maximum bid amount and just like in Google search and display results are open to a real-time auction system in determining the price an advertiser pays and whether or not their products will be shown. Generally the bid is less than the maximum bid amount, but it depends on other advertisers and what they are bidding.  Note, the maximum bid amount can be changed at any time for either the entire ad group or sub-sections of the ad group.

Splitting A Campaign Into Subsections

Splitting an advertiser’s campaign into subsections takes work on the comma delimited (csv) feed that is sent to the Google Merchant Center account.  Google supports approximately 20 fields, see my post Google Shopping – What It Is, How It Has Changed, for a complete list. However, in terms of subdividing your feed Google currently uses the following fields: Category, Brand, Item ID, Condition, Product type, Custom label 0, Custom label 1, Custom label 2, Custom label 3, Custom label 4, Channel and Channel exclusivity.

By having data in these different fields, an advertiser can subdivide their campaign based on attributes listed in those fields as granular as 8 times. 

Review-and-Ratings-SystemHow To Subdivide A Google Shopping Campaign

When products are initially listed there will be a single field under product groups listed as all products with a small gray plus symbol to the right.  Click on the plus symbol.  A subdivide window will open with a drop down menu of what fields are eligible to subdivide a feed.  Select which attribute you would like to subdivide and a list of options available will populate the window.  Advertisers are either allowed to add selections individually by clicking on the double arrow to the right of the individual listing or add all items in the group by clicking on the plus symbol near the top.

SubdividingBy subdividing, advertisers can view where sales and costs are being generated allowing the strategic raising or lowering of bids on a subcategory level in order to maximize costs and minimize spend. Note, for sales/conversions to appear the Google AdWords tracking script must be enabled.

Subdividing the product feed is an essential part of optimizing a Google shopping feed. Without subdividing advertisers are bidding blindly and not able to track what categories/sections/items are generating sales and which are eating marketing budget.

Quick Tip

One of my favorite ways to optimize a Google shopping campaign is using a tiered bidding system based on price.  I use one of Google’s custom labels to enter a price range of the products.  First, I subdivide by brand and then subdivide by the field I use to store the pricing data, usually Custom label 0.  Once this is done, I can use the price of the item to raise the bid for higher priced products and lower the bid for lower priced items.

Here is a quick example of a tiered bidding system.

Items Priced $0-20 – Bid $0.10
Items Priced $21-39 – Bid $0.20
Items Priced $40-65 – Bid $0.30
Items Priced $65-99 – Bid $0.40
Items Priced $99-199 – Bid $0.50

Changing Bids

Once a campaign has been subdivided, changing the bids is relatively easy. Next to any campaign that has been subdivided, there will appear a light gray arrow. Once the arrow is clicked, a drop down with the categories that are available will appear. Simply enter the new maximum CPC (Max. CPC) and save. Note, here advertisers can also exclude an entire subset of products from being included in Google shopping by selecting the radio button next to Exclude and saving.

By no means is this the end of optimizing a Shopping campaign, but it is a good start to see where your sales are being generated.  It also allows advertisers to grab a larger search impression share on higher priced items while not blowing up their AdWords budget on lesser priced, lesser profitable items.

Adding Negative Keywords

When negative keywords are created it restricts an advertiser’s product from being shown. An important piece of optimizing Google search campaigns, negative keywords can also be used in Google shopping to avoid products from showing for non-related terms thus saving budget.

The first step is to determine what keywords are currently triggering your products to display in Google shopping.  It is important to have enough data for Google to display results, so I would suggest changing your date range to at least the past 30 days. Then, select the keywords tab and under Details click on the down arrow and select All.

Seeing-KeywordsA list of keywords will be displayed that have triggered products to be shown within the date range selected. Use the Columns tool to customize the view to see a wide range of useful statistics including costs, clicks, impressions, conversions and many more.  For negative keywords, look for words that do not belong and that you wish your products not to be displayed in the future.

Once you have this list, click on the Keywords tab and scroll down to the Negative keywords link. Under campaign level, click on the Add button and select Add keywords.  Add the keywords that you DO NOT wish to have trigger products to show and save.  That’s it, you’ve just saved marketing budget.

Adding-Negative-KeywordsSubdividing categories and adding negative keywords is by no means the end of fully optimizing a Google shopping campaign, but it is a great start.  Some of the other tools available include adding promotions, altering bids based on the users search device, changing bid by time or geographical region and a few others, but the two techniques described above if implemented properly will go a long way in making sure that you are driving more profitable traffic from Google shopping.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.