Google Can Keep Their Stinkin’ Ping Pong Table Because I’m Not Doin’ It

In this article, I discuss the perks of being an official Google partner agency. What that means for us and for our clients.

In being an official Google partner agency, Google offers my agency a variety of perks. One of those perks are rewards points based on how much our clients spend along with how well optimized our clients’ accounts are based on Google’s criteria of automated metrics.

These reward points have never done much to incentivize actions with us at True Online Presence. Our focus has always been to do what is right for our private clients first and foremost. My sole goal with working with a private client managing their Google Ad spend is optimize their Google account with the purpose of increasing both their sales and profitability.

Now as a disclaimer, I did redeem some Google reward points about a year ago for a shiny new Google colored bicycle that I sometimes tool around my neighborhood riding. So, even though the points don’t incentivize us, I’m admitting to you that I do sometimes open and look at the Google reward point updates and some of the swag gifts they are offering.

Before I go any further, I’m not accusing Google of being diabolical and out to get their advertisers. However, truth be told, like with any mega company, Google has their own agenda that sometimes may not fully align with that of their advertisers.

I think that Google’s rewards system is genius in nudging agencies to optimize clients’ accounts in the direction that Google would prefer. It is a classic example of positive reinforcement and the bigger the rewards that Google offers the more effective this strategy becomes.

With all that said, a few days back I opened the Google rewards updates email that I received as I wanted to see what Google was currently promoting.

The first page that opens for a Google Partner Agency is an introduction page to Google’s Product adoption. Google refers to product adoptions as “challenges that are designed to help you improve the quality of clients’ accounts. Product adoption targets are specifically tailored to your company’s clients past performance”.

For my product adoption, Google was offering 11,000 points for converting at least 27% of my private clients shopping campaign ad spend into Smart Shopping campaigns (I’m currently at 0%) and 6,600 points for having at least 12% of my client ad spends dedicated to using display advertising (I’m currently at 3%).

Translating that into goodies and swag gifts, an agency would need 10,610 to redeem for a Google Ping Pong Table; 15,300 for a Google Pixelbook; and 16,260 for an official Google Foosball Table.

Now there are other ways for an agency to earn Google reward points; however, Google is currently being very aggressive with trying to have agencies such as mine move clients into using Smart Shopping campaigns and to spending more with Google display ads.

This begs the question as to why?

First, let us look at Google Smart Shopping campaigns and what they are.

By using Google Smart Shopping campaigns, advertisers no longer define their bids, negative keywords or devices they wish to advertise. In addition, the option to adjust bids by time or day or location no longer exist. Instead, advertisers are trusting Google to make those decisions for them.

I have written about both smart shopping campaigns and different automated bid strategies and the drawbacks from using them quite a bit at blog.trueonlinepresence.com, if you are looking for more information on the pitfalls and exactly why you should mostly avoid.

However, in a nutshell the biggest drawback of using these automated strategies is that Google assumes the control from the advertiser on how and where to spend their ad dollars. Instead, advertisers blindly trust Google to make the best decisions with their advertising spend.

Another factor to consider is where your ads appear now and where they will appear using Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Currently, when advertisers create a standard shopping campaign, they are opted into Google’s Search Network. Google’s search network includes all Google sites as well Google.com.

In addition, ads are by default opted into also being shown on Google Search Partners, YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover. However, currently advertisers with a standard Shopping campaign have the option to opt out of showing ads anywhere other than within the Google search network.

However, with Smart Shopping campaigns the option to remove certain networks is no longer an option.

In addition, with Smart Shopping campaigns advertisers cannot see specific product bids, what keywords their ads appear for, what networks their ads appear in or in what device their ads are running. This takes a whole lot of trust.

And trusting Google is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, wouldn’t you say?

Why would Google prefer advertisers even use Smart Shopping campaigns you may ask?

Of course, Google wants its advertisers to be successful. Because if advertisers are not profitable using Google, they will most likely not advertise anymore. I think we can all agree on that? But there are different levels of success when it comes to advertising with Google.

If Google is slightly reducing advertisers’ profitability while substantially increasing an advertiser’s ad spend and at the same time also being able to test different lesser used marketing channels such as display ads, then this may make perfect sense for Google.

However, is this an ideal strategy for you the advertiser?

If Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns and other automated campaigns performed better, I would have no problem implementing them across all of my client’s accounts.

In fact, it would make my life much easier and allow my team more time to work on other things to help increase client’s conversions. 

However, I’ve tested all of these types of automated campaigns extensively and only once has an automated campaign outperformed one of our private clients manually optimized campaigns.

Now granted, we are doing more than the majority of agencies optimizing accounts particularly using Google Shopping strategies and best-practices as I detail in my new book Make Each Click Count Google Shopping.

However, heed my warning. When you are working with an agency or interacting with a Google representative, be aware that they are getting incentivized to increase your spend and to have you switch to using automated bidding strategies (which also will increase your spend).

I believe that the reward system is a very effective way for Google to make sure agencies are incentivized to help Google push their automated strategies.

However, my agency first and foremost works for our private clients. Our private clients with their goals of increased sales and profitability is our sole focus.  

Given that, it doesn’t look like I will be earning the rewards points for changing my clients over to Smart Shopping campaigns anytime soon.

Now On To Display Ads

Remember when I told you earlier that Google was offering 6,600 points for having my clients total spend for display advertising reach 12%?

Display advertising for those that may not know is when ads appear within the Google Display Network outside of the Google Search Network.

There are over 2 million websites within the Google Display Network.

Now display ads are typically promoted as being effective for building awareness and brand recognition. However, since they appear when users are not actively shopping or searching, they have a much lower conversion rates and generally are not nearly as profitable.

That is why the only display network ads I typically run for my eCommerce clients are dynamic retargeting ads. Dynamic retargeting ads work to show a product that a shopper looked at on your website where they did not purchase.

These type of display ads I find to be much more effective and therefore they are the only type of display ads that I typically use.

Dynamic retargeting ads work to keep businesses and products where a shopper has shown interest in the forefront of a shoppers’ mind. In addition, these type of display ads also give shoppers the impression that you are a large company that advertises across many sites.

In addition, to standard display ads not being effective, they are also riddled with fraud. If you listened to a recent Podcast episode that I did with Neil Andrew of PPC protect, he says within that interview that up to 80% of display ads are actually fraudulent clicks.

When it comes to display ads, it is important to keep in mind your advertising goals. With my private clients, the goal is typically profitability.

With display ads is your goal in advertising profitability or for brand awareness?

I love that term brand awareness. Brand Awareness means advertising knowing you are not going to get many if any sales. Instead, your goal is letting people know who you are and what you are.

And especially for those of you that are a small to mid-sized eCommerce company, who the heck cares they see your name if they aren’t going to buy?

So, with Google rewards system, they are offering 6,600 points for increasing clients spend to advertise more on a network that historically provides poor results and is riddled with fraud.

Darn, it doesn’t look like I’ll get the Google rewards points for display ads either!

Final Word

Google continues to redesign their search results trying to determine the optimal layout for its users. The more users continue to use Google the more advertisers will seek to advertise.

However, the number of advertisers is not infinite. If an advertiser is not successful showing profitability in their sales (depending if that is their goal) then most likely they will not continue to advertise with Google at least not for very long.

The more advertisers, the more competition and the more expensive Google will become.

Fortunately, for us, our private clients and those who have read and implemented the strategies inside my book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, using Google as a marketing channel continues to work driving profitable sales.

But those companies where their Google advertising may not be as well-run may indeed find becoming profitable using Google ads a challenge.

For those advertisers, they may be better off letting Google handle their ad placements and ad spend through Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. In fact, why they are at it, they may want to try to increase their brand recognition through some Google Display Ads (although I would highly advise against it for most eCommerce companies).

By letting Google manage campaigns in this way, they will most likely see better results than just setting up a single shopping campaign that has all their products with just one bid. This is what I unfortunately see all too common in companies starting to advertise with Google Shopping that do not have a plan.

However, with either letting Google run their ads or setting up a Shopping campaign and not optimizing it, these companies are missing an opportunity to use Google Shopping as a significant and profitable marketing channel simply because they do not know how it works or do not have the time to manage it. 

Fortunately, for our clients, this is not that case.

Although, sadly it doesn’t look like team True Online Presence will get that new Google Ping Pong table anytime soon!

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 trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

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 discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing 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.

Solving Puzzles: The Rubik’s Cube & Advertising Using Google Shopping

Growing up in the 1980’s, I can still remember the fad of the Rubik’s Cube. Kids of all ages would challenge themselves and others to solve the puzzle by aligning all the colors on each the sides.

Once you were able to solve the puzzle, the next step would be to see how fast you can solve the puzzle.

Over the years, there have even been competitions on how fast people can ‘solve the cube’. Today, the world record currently is at an amazing 3.47 seconds!

There are certain steps that you need to take to solve the Rubik’s Cube and if you are interested in learning those steps, you can easily find them by searching YouTube.

All master Rubik’s cubers have one thing in common – they have a process.

I admit that personally I stink at ‘the cube’. I recall only being able to ‘solve the cube’ once and it took a couple days and it was mostly done by stumbling upon the solution.

However, for businesses that advertise using Google Shopping they may find themselves trying to solve the problem of why their sales suddenly decline or why costs suddenly skyrocket.

Now this is a puzzle that I could enter a competition in solving!

Below is a recent thread between myself and a member of the Make Each Click Count Facebook group as well as some running commentary that I have added.

If you are currently using Google Shopping, you may want to pay attention to the steps (to the process) that I take to identify the issue and then solve the problem of lower sales:

Commentary – He has been running Google Shopping ads a few months. However, the same ads which were performing well a few months back are now not performing nearly as well.

Commentary – Suggestion to fix an immediate issue (incorrectly using negative keywords) and questions to identify whether the reason for the decline. Trying to discover if the decline in performance is due to a change within the Google Ads Interface.

Commentary – It looks like nothing has changed. Immediate responses are typically to change your pricing or change your bidding or both (which commonly lower the profitability of your account). Note, that before you make immediate changes you will want to make sure you identify the problem.

Commentary – More questions and answers working to determine whether the problem is consumer based or advertiser based. If the problem is consumer based, such as less searches or if someone has the exact product at half the price, then the fixes will need to come from outside Google Shopping. However, if the problem is advertiser based, then we should be able to identify and find a solution within Google Shopping.

Commentary – We have now identified the issue (decrease in click-through rates). Now we must determine the best course of action.

Commentary – I believe the best course of action is to introduce Positive Keywords to the account. By formatting shopping ads in such a way, the advertiser can reduce negative keywords for unwanted terms that need to be added and he will be able to gain more market share for his relevant keywords. In addition, without those unwanted mostly irrelevant keywords, he will be able to identify his true CTR for converting search terms.

Commentary –This advertiser took immediate action to fix his advertising. He immediately ordered and read the chapter of my book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping that was recommended. There were just a few hours between my post directing him where to find more information on Positive Keywords and his post that he had purchased the book, read the recommended chapter and implemented the strategy. Wow that is dedication to wanting to improve his results and do it fast!

Google Shopping for many eCommerce retailers can be an incredibly successful source of profitable revenue; however, it does take work. There are many moving parts and many places where you can go astray (including blindly following Google’s recommendations).

Final Word

The above was a thread between myself and a member of the Make Each Click Count Facebook Group. This group is FREE to join and offers immediate access to myself as well as other marketing experts, many whom have made guest appearances on my Make Each Click Podcast.

In addition, my book that was reference in this thread, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, is currently available as an immediate electronic download by clicking here.

Or if you prefer the softcover edition of the physical book mailed to you, you can request to do so during checkout for a few dollars more.

Solving the puzzle to fixing issues with Google Shopping is not too complicated if you take the calculated steps to correctly identify the problem and are able to implement a proper solution.

However, that is the same thing the guy solving the Rubik’s cube in sub-five seconds says as well:>

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 trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

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 discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing 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.

Piling On Using Bid Adjustments With Google Shopping

In my recently released book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, I dive into detail on the most effective ways to optimize product bids based on historical data.

Within the book, I have dedicated different chapters to optimizing bids based on each of the following: optimizing based on mobile device; based on customer location; based on when your customers shop and based on defined audiences.

With all these options, a well-optimized campaign will rarely adjust bids exclusively at the product level or even at the campaign or ad group level.

Not to say that it is unimportant to adjust bids at the product level, in fact, adjusting bids at the product level is one of my fundamental strategies for effectively optimizing Shopping campaigns.

You can read about the complete strategy in this article – Effectively Optimize Google Shopping Based on Your Past History, Nothing More.

This article revels not only how to adjust bids on the product level, but how to create and implementing my proprietary Google Profitability. Through this report advertisers can naturally increase bids for items selling at above average profitability levels and decrease bids for items not selling at profitable levels.

However, as good as the results are for optimizing solely at the product level based on history, many times it is necessary (especially with accounts with large product offerings) to make sweeping bid adjustments based on either the device, location, ad schedule (time of day/day of week) or audience.

In fact, many times a well optimized account will be utilizing multiple bid adjustments within various campaigns.

What Happens When You Are Changing Bids Using Multiple Adjustments?

When you are using bid adjustments at multiple levels, your bids can quickly become drastically larger or smaller than the product bid you have initially set at either the product level, ad group level or campaign level.

This article examines what might happen when advertisers make multiple bid adjustments to understand why and how it will affect final bids.

Note, these are examples based on fictional numbers and are not meant to be replicated within your own account.

For this example, to make it easy, let us assume all our product bids are set at $1.

Now, let us assume that we reviewed our devices and have determined that traffic comes through mobile devices has a conversion rate of 1% while traffic coming from desktop devices has a conversion rate of 5% (not entirely uncommon).

Given that data, it would be wise to do a bid adjustment such as decreased bids by 40% on mobile devices (-40%) and increasing bids on desktop devices by 15% (+15%).

If you are interested in how this is done, here is an article that discusses your mobile bidding strategy – Mobile Equality – It Almost Is Never Fair, Nor Should It Be So.

Next, let us assume that we after reviewing our account’s User Location Report and there are several states as an example California, Texas and New York that have very high conversion rates and profitability levels while there a few states such as Alaska and Hawaii that have very poor conversion rates.

In this case, it would be wise to increase the bids based on location of California, Texas and New York say 25% and decrease bids in Hawaii and Alaska say -25%.

If you are interested in the full location bidding strategy, here is the article – Increase Your Conversions By Knowing Your Customer’s Location

Next, for my private clients, I am also constantly reviewing the time of day and day of week that conversions are more profitable through the use of Ad Schedules.

In our ongoing example, we will assume that there are higher conversion rates during the week/during the workday (9-5) than they are during the weekends, evenings or early mornings.

In that case, it may be prudent to increase your bids Monday through Friday during working hours (say increase 25%) and decrease bids during evening hours or weekends (say decrease 25%).

Again, I have an article dedicated on exactly how to setup ad schedules and optimized on the data discovered that you can review here – Increase Your Conversions By Knowing When Your Customers Shop

Finally, as you may well be aware, users who have previously purchased from your website or those that have previously visited your website are generally much more likely to purchase.

With that fact in mind, it is typically an effective strategy to create audiences to target these groups and adjust bids to ensure higher ad rank when either previous purchasers or previous visitors are searching for a product you offer.

For private clients, I typically will setup a couple of difference audiences that include Past Customers and increase bids 100% (because it is typically well worth that increase) and Past Browsers and increase those bids by 33%.

There are more audiences you can create, but for this example, we will stick with those two. If interested in details on how to create audiences, you can read more details here – Using Audiences to Increase Conversions

Now We Do The Math –

Based on the assumptions laid out above, it is time to practice some quick math to determine our product bids for different scenarios.

First, we will calculate how much the product bid would be for a user doing a desktop search, during the workday, located in California and oh yeah, they have also purchased from us in the past.

Here is the math as I figure it.

$1 (original bid) x 115% (device bid adjustment = $1.15
$1.15 x 125% (location bid adjustment) = $1.44
$1.44 x 125% (ad schedule bid adjustment) = $1.80
$1.80 x 200% (audience bid adjustment) = $3.60
The final bid adjustment, one would expect would be around $3.60!

See how it adds up!

Alternatively, here is the other extreme:

The product bid for a user doing a search using a mobile device during the evening in Hawaii who has never purchased or visited from our website in the past.

$1 (original bid) x 60% (device bid adjustment = $0.60
$0.60 x 75% (location bid adjustment) = $0.45
$0.45 x 75% (ad schedule bid adjustment) = $0.34
$0.34 x 1 (no audience bid adjustment) = $0.34
The final bid adjustment, one would expect would be around $0.34!

As the great marketer, Frank Kern, often says: ‘Math is not an exact science’. He makes that statement to be funny, but for us it is kind of true.

Since Google does not reveal the order of how they calculate layering bid adjustments, actual bids can fluctuate slightly depending on what order priority is given.

However, what is important to know is that if you are making adjustments based on sound historical data, your bids should be well optimized based on different scenarios. However, it is important to realize why your bids could be substantially higher or lower that your original bid!

How Do You Even Know If Bids Are Highly Inflated?

One of the most effective ways to increase profitability in a Shopping campaign is by regularly reviewing your Search Terms Report. When reviewing your search terms for unwanted terms it is also important to review the Average Cost Per Click.

This is were some puzzlement may come into play.

Back to our example where we are bidding $1 for all products, it may be discovered within the Search Terms Report items with Average Cost Per Click over $3 or under $0.35.

This would typically happen where there are only a handful of clicks (1 to 3), but yet these highly inflated or deflated bids may be common if you are using multiple bid adjustments at different levels.

Final Word

The price you are paying Google per click can be important in terms of budget (especially tight budgets); however, with ecommerce companies there are much more important metrics to measure when it comes to calculating profitability.

Key metrics such as ROAS (return on ad spend) and ROI (return on investment) are going to be far better indicators of the overall health of your online marketing opposed to your average cost per click.

Afterall, for most savvy advertisers only profitability can determine your ad budgets and how much it is prudent to spend per click, per campaign and per account.

In order to maximize your profitability, adjusting bids based on historical data at the product level or at the device, location, time or by audience are effective ways to ensure you are increasing your position within Google for customers more likely to purchase.

Just know that if you are changing bids at multiple levels that it may continue to pile on to your final product bid based on the criteria of the final users Google search.

Remember to stay safe and stay healthy!

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 the Make Each Click Count book series.

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, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing 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.

My New Book – Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping – Just Released

Last week, my new and second book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping – Revealing Profits & Strategies was released on Amazon!

One question that I was immediately asked was “do you think it is wise to release your book in the midst of a worldwide pandemic?”.

My answer was a resounding YES and there is more than one reason why that is the case.

First and foremost, especially for e-commerce companies selling products online, due to the recent shifts in overall buying habits it has never been more important for companies to optimize their online marketing.

Overall, online sales have increased in a steady upward trajectory over the last 15 years. Recently, in 2019, e-commerce sales increased to 16% of all sales an increase from 14.4% in 2018 and 13.2% in 2017 according to Internet Retailer.

Although nice steady increases, many experts predict that the COVID-19 pandemic will change the way shopping is done and specifically accelerate the percentage of shopping that will forever be done online.

In 2020, online shopping could increase to as much as 50% of all sales. As new shoppers become more accustomed to shopping online and become more adept at doing so, the percentage of online sales could increase even higher than 50% over the next few years.

If you are selling products online, you should be filled with optimism. If you are not selling products online, you should be thinking about how and where you can start.

Either way, this book provides a ton of fundamentals and strategies to help business owners become profitable selling products using Google Shopping, the largest comparison-shopping website online.

Second, as companies prepare to either resume or expand their online marketing, it is essential for business owners to know exactly how their online advertising dollars are spent.

Before our current crisis and perhaps even now many ecommerce store owners simply would hire out their outline marketing to a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) agency.

Outsourcing paid marketing is common practice as many store owners either do not have the knowledge, the time or both to setup, manage and optimize their online marketing. This is especially true with Google Shopping with all its moving pieces including creating a Merchant Center account and optimizing bids in the Google Ads interface.

However, blindly trusting a company to have your best interest in mind could be a serious mistake and may not be a wise spend of your advertising dollars.

My new book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, has been written in an easy to understand format with stories, screenshots and directions that will make it easy to understand how well your current Google Shopping campaigns are being managed even if you decide to outsource.

For those business owners, who decide to outsource their Google Shopping, it would be wise to read through this book to ensure their current advertising is producing to the best of its ability.

For business owners that are running their own Google Shopping campaigns, this book brings methods learned and strategies developed over two decades managing hundreds of thousands of dollars that can be quickly implemented into your campaigns.

Especially, in our current climate, being prudent with advertising spend is essential. This book will help business owners do just that whether outsourcing or running Google Shopping inhouse.

Am I Doing Anything For My Book Launch?

I learned a lesson from my first book 5 years ago that you need to do more than just publish a book and expect a ton of distribution.

In fact, did you know that the average book published on Amazon only sells a lifetime total of 250 copies?

This book is such a valuable resource to anyone who is selling products online that it absolutely needs to get it into as many hands as possible!

Therefore, I have substantially reduced the price of the kindle version to $1.99. Now through June 4th, buyers can purchase the kindle version at Amazon at an 89% discount.

Click Here to Purchase on Amazon

And although it makes me a little sick to the stomach offering what has been my main focus over the last 12 months of writing this book for $1.99, I must remember my ultimate goal.

My desire is to get this book into as many hands as possible who will be able to benefit and increase their profitability using Google Shopping from reading this book.

After June 4th, customers will continue to be able to purchase the book on Amazon for the standard price or they can purchase direct at www.makeeachclickcount.com where they will find a few more special offers not available on Amazon.

What Are Others Saying About The Book?

I am extremely proud of this book and feedback is proving to show that this book may be my best so far!

This book just received ‘The Official 2020 Best of Los Angeles Award’ for its content and we were greatly honored.

In addition, the reviews on Amazon have been extremely positive (see below).

For a writer, one of the most important aspects is the feedback. It helps you grow in so many ways, not only as a writer and teacher, but as a person.

I encourage all who order this book to read a few chapters and write an honest review of what they were able to take as far as strategies and lessons on improving Google Shopping.

You can read all reviews, by clicking here.

If you are looking to improve your results using Google Shopping, I encourage you to read this book and to place your order before June 4th to take advantage of the currently discounted price.

Also, if you have any questions, I also encourage you to reach out directly through this blog or email us at [email protected].

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 book series.

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, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing 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.

It’s Back To The Future With Google’s Free Shopping Ads

Last week, Google announced that after 8 years, they will once again start showing free ‘organic’ ads inside Google Shopping.

For retailers, being able to show products for free means that any retailer can have their products showing within the Google Shopping tab as part of the surfaces across Google program.

For advertisers already listing products in Google Shopping, it will mean bonus shopping traffic at no charge.

For shoppers using Google Shopping it will translate into more variety and more merchants and more products from which to shop.

Reasons For Offering Free Listings

Google is giving the reason they are once again making Google free is to help businesses negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is true that by allowing merchants to list products at no charge within the surfaces across Google program, they are allowing millions of merchants and shoppers to connect without taking their Google’s usual cut.

It is also true that Google has vowed to give small and medium sized businesses $340 million in ad credits that advertisers will be able to use between when they are issued sometime in May and the end of the year. For more information go to this link – https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9803410?hl=en

The free shopping listings is not an idea that just materialized. This has been in the works from Google to combat Amazon in the fight for market share of online shopping.

By allowing more advertisers to list their products, Google will be able to give their shoppers a better shopping experience by allowing for more selection. And although not originally altruistically motivated, one should applaud Google for speeding up the release of the program as well as the ad credits soon to arrive for eligible small businesses.

What Does It Mean For Existing Advertisers?

It is important to note that free listings are only going to be eligible to appear within the Google Shopping tab. The prime real estate on the main search results page as well as the top of the Shopping tab page will still be reserved for paid ads with no change to how they are currently structured.

Therefore, by making sure you are opted into showing inside surfaces across Google program, paying advertisers should see some additional free traffic. This free traffic will be a nice bonus to existing advertising, but it should not be expected to replace the volume of traffic being generated through paid ads.

Free product ads should start automatically being displayed inside the Google Shopping tab, but to make sure your products are eligible you will want to ensure Google has opted you in.

To confirm opt in, select “Growth” and then “Manage programs” in the left navigation menu and select the “surfaces across Google” program card or make sure it already shows ‘Active’.

Note, that this account has surfaces across Google as active. This confirms that products are eligible to appear for free in the Google Shopping tab.

You can also now view inside your Merchant Center dashboard the number of free traffic visits alongside the paid traffic visits. Although it is early in the program, the image below shows the number of free traffic visits for this account approximately 2% of the daily paid traffic.  

Like I said earlier, don’t expect the amount of free traffic to replace your current paid traffic!

Instead paid advertisers should think of the additional free traffic as a nice supplement.

What Does It Mean For Those Not Previously Advertising With Google Shopping?

For those not currently advertising in Google Shopping, you will now be able have your products list within the surfaces across Google program at no charge.

In order to be eligible, you will need to first open a Google Merchant Center account and then you will need to upload your products into Google Merchant Center.

The most popular way to upload products in through a data feed. Many e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Big Commerce have free downloads you can use.

For complete instructions on opening a Merchant Center Account; best-practices and full tour of the interface, refer to my article There Can Be No Google Shopping Without A Google Merchant Account

It will be important to note that once you have opened an account, uploaded your products and opted into the surfaces across Google program your products will be eligible to appear inside Google Shopping tab.

However, the products opted into the free surfaced across Google will not get priority placement. Priority placement will still be reserved for paid ads.

With that said, there will be opportunity to receive free traffic through Google Shopping that was not available last week and with some work new advertisers can take advantage of this new opportunity from Google at absolutely no charge.

Final Word

This appears to be a win-win situation.

First, for Google, it gives them more products to display to their shoppers providing a better shopping experience.

Second, for paying advertisers, they are not losing any of the priority placements inside Google Shopping. Therefore, they are not losing any optimization work that may have been done optimizing their custom labels for product ads and bidding inside the Google Ads interface. Paid advertisers also are going to pick up some free incremental traffic to help supplement their paid Google Shopping efforts.

Third, for new advertisers not currently using Google Shopping, this is an opportunity to test Google Shopping absolutely free. I consistently find Google Shopping to have one of the best ROIs available for e-commerce retailers and now it is available on a limited basis to all retailers at no charge.

Overall, this is a change from Google where I can’t see anyone who will not benefit and there is plenty of room to be excited whether you are a paid advertisers, want to show your products for free or just want more options when shopping online.

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.

Sneak Peak – Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping – Revealing Profits & Strategies

Below is a sneak peak into my soon to be released book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping – Revealing Profits & Strategies.

Introduction

Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping – Revealing Profits & Strategies is your guide to unlocking profits inside Google Shopping and magnifying those profits using the latest techniques and strategies typically applied by the only the top Google Ad agencies.

The fact is that Google Search ads have continued to become more competitive as more and more businesses advertise their products and services using this original Google ad type.

Although opportunity still exists using Google Search ads, most eCommerce advertisers tend to achieve substantially higher profits and generate a substantially higher volume of sales using Google Shopping.

There are two main reasons that overall sales and profitability both are typically higher for companies advertising with Google Shopping ads compared to Google Search ads – how they work and how they are setup.

First – How Google Shopping Ads Work

When Google Shopping ads are displayed, users are shown the product image, price, product name and the name of the merchant before they even click on an ad. In addition, when they do click an ad, users are ALWAYS directed to the product page EVERY time. There is never any confusion on the shopper/user side.

For Google Search ads on the other hand, even with the best well-written ad copy some shoppers may be expecting something different when the click on your ad then when they land on your website.   

This confusion and surprise will lead to the customer quickly returning to Google (called a bounce). However, even when shoppers bounce you, the advertiser, are still charged for the visit.

Second – How Google Shopping Ads Are Setup

For Google Search ads, advertisers go into their Google Ads account, create a list of keywords, create an ad and typically the ad is live within a few hours.

This simplicity of setting up an ad is the main reason that especially Google Search has become more and more competitive.

In order to run a Google Shopping campaign, advertisers first must open and format their Google Merchant Center account. Upload their products into that account and link their Merchant Center account to their Google Ads account.

In order to run a well-optimized Google Shopping campaign, advertisers must then segment their products into different campaigns and adjust their bidding on products, device, location, etc.

Being a bit more complicated is a good thing for the advertisers willing to discover what is available in Google Shopping as being more complicated weeds out the competition that is either too lazy or too distracted to take full advantage of what is available using Google Shopping.

With so many moving pieces to optimize with Google Shopping, it is no wonder that automation such as Google Smart Shopping campaigns are becoming more popular (we will dive into these more in the chapter – Is Using Google Smart Shopping Campaigns Smart for Retailers?).

For now, know that what is laid out in this book is the current best-practices for quickly increasing your profits and sales using Google Shopping.

Won’t This Book Become Outdated?

The short answer is YES. 

It is hard to believe that it has been almost 5 years since I published my first book – Make Each Click Count – T.O.P. Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

In the 5 years since that book was published, the Google interface has changed multiple times. Some of the terminology has changed. Heck, even the name has changed (Google AdWords is now Google Ads).

However, the strategies and underlying system for my original book has not changed.

Likewise, with this book, I can promise with absolute certainty that in a year or less (maybe even by the time this book is published) some of Google Ads interface will have changed.

That is just the nature of Google AdWords (excuse me, I meant to say Google Ads).

However, what won’t change are the advanced strategies on how to segment your account and how to use the historical data to optimize your account to predict future success.

What Does This Book Contain?

This book has been divided into 5 main sections.

  • Laying The Groundwork – Here Google Shopping is explained including the history, what it has now become and what it looks like.
  • Optimizing Google Merchant Center – Properly optimizing Merchant Center with complete data is essential for success using Google Shopping campaigns. This section focuses on the importance of Merchant Center as well as best-practices and common techniques for creating a fully optimized Merchant Center account.
  • Basic Optimizations Inside Google Ads – This section convers in detail the strategies and best-practices for optimizing Shopping campaigns inside the Google Ads interface. Discover how to best optimize your campaigns using historical data to predict future success in relations to keywords, adjusting product bids, adjusting mobile bids, adjusting location bids and more.
  • Automating Google – The fourth section goes into detail on automated features of Google Shopping including the new Google Smart Shopping campaigns, different automated bid strategies and merchant participating in Google Shopping Actions.
  • Advanced Techniques – Written for those wishing to dive even deeper into Google Shopping, this section looks at advanced techniques such as using the Google Ads editor; using supplemental feeds and using positive keywords to control search terms.

How Should You Read This Book?

How to read this book is going to depend on you and what you want to take from the book. Reading the book in order, cover-to-cover will lead to some great insights in a perspective you have never thought about – even for the most experienced advertiser and provide a full look at advanced techniques and strategies.

For the advertiser just starting with Google Shopping, this book will lead them through a journey from inception to completion with a step-by-step guide to create and maintain successful Google Shopping campaigns.

If you are pressed for time, start reading the chapter that details where you currently need help in your account. However, make sure you return to read the full book!

Why Did I Write This Book?

My name is Andy Splichal and I have been managing Google Ads campaigns for almost twenty years!  Since 2001, I’ve managed hundreds of thousands of dollars for my clients.

Since 2014, I have managed Google Ads for private clients through True Online Presence, where I’m the founder and CEO.

True Online Presence is a partnered Google Ads agency that continually strives to provide profits through best-practices and cutting-edge proprietary strategies for our private clients using Search, Shopping and Display ads.

Since publishing my first book in 2015 – Make Each Click Count – T.O.P. Guide To Success Using Google Shopping, the opportunity for profitability has shifted to Google Shopping ad types.

And although the original book included a section on Google Shopping, there was not enough specific step-by-step detail for someone to create a successful Shopping campaign TODAY.

That is why I released this book, to demonstrate how we are optimizing Shopping accounts with great success for our private clients and invite those willing to put in the work to not only read this book, but to apply the techniques taught in order to enjoy the same level of success!

I hope you enjoy the book.

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.

Mobile Equality – It Almost Is Never Fair, Nor Should It Be So

There are many times that things need to be equal. When you are splitting a sandwich in half for your kids that should be equal or when you are balancing your finances all that should be equal.

However, how much you are bidding for your ads to appear on various devices between desktop, mobile and tablets using paid advertising that should almost NEVER be equal.

It is no secret that mobile has exploded and has come a long way in a short period of time. I distinctly remember attending the Internet Retailer Conference in 2011. The theme of the conference that year was to NOT concentrate your efforts on mobile, but instead concentrate your marketing efforts on social media especially Facebook and Twitter. 

Wow were they wrong! 

Although social marketing is catching up in terms of importance and should not be ignored, there was no doubt with me then or now that mobile is a much more important aspect of today’s online marketing.

A huge percentage of Google searches has shifted from desktop to mobile and the percentage of users using mobile devices continues to climb. In fact, Google now reports that over 50% of searches are now performed using mobile devices.

Statistics are helpful, but the real question becomes what is the appropriate bidding strategy for mobile devices for your company?

The answer depends on your specific company and can be determined in part based on your answers to the following questions:

  1. What percentage of your traffic comes from mobile?
  2. What is your conversion rate on mobile visitors?
  3. Is your site optimized for mobile (how does it look for mobile users)?
  4. How are your current campaigns working for mobile including your current ROI and ROAS (how profitable are they)?

These are fundamental questions that each marketer needs to know the answer in order to begin optimizing their paid advertising for mobile.

Fortunately, by having Google Analytics installed along with the historical data available from the Google Ads account the answers to these questions can be easily attained.

Answering The Questions

The first two questions of what percentage of your traffic is generated from mobile devices along with the conversion rates generated from mobile visitors can be answered at the same time.

In order to view an overview of your traffic, your will want to use Google Analytics. Later, when adjusting bids for individual campaigns you will review historical data and adjust the bidding within the Google Ads interface.

The first step is to open your Google Analytics account. Hopefully, you already have Google Analytics properly installed as it provides much useful data for measuring the health of your overall website other than the conversions segmented by device.

In the left menu, select ‘Audience’ then ‘Mobile’ then ‘Overview’. Here you will be able to view your conversion rates based on device – mobile, desktop or tablet.

The numbers typically will appear as the example below:

This is a very typical results for ecommerce retailers. It reveals that almost twice the traffic is coming from mobile devices (4,605 visits in mobile vs. 2,883 visits in desktop).

Looking at this report also reveals that the mobile conversion rate is only about 1/3 of that generated by desktop devices (0.64% – mobile vs 1.81% – desktop).

The report also shows statistics for tablets. Also, very typically for this retailer tablets have about 1/2 the traffic of desktop and the conversion rates are somewhere between mobile conversion rates and desktop conversion rates at 0.90%.

Now that we have answered the first two questions of what percentage of traffic is coming from mobile and what the conversion rates are for mobile devices, we can look at the question – is your site optimized for mobile?

There are many different ways to optimize your website for mobile. In fact, Google offers free tools such as testing the speed of your website available through Google’s developer tools – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ (which is very important).

However, I find that the most effective way to see if your website is optimized for mobile is to place test orders for your products using mobile devices. Put yourself through the user experience repeatedly and you will discover if there are issues that could be lowering your conversion rates.

Ask your employees or family or friends to also test and give you honest feedback of anything they see that may prevent them from ordering using their iPhone or Android. Today, almost everyone has experience online shopping and you will find this type of feedback provides valuable and actionable insight.

In fact, I recommend personally placing orders using different devices at least on a bi-weekly basis in order to deeply understand your website’s checkout experience.

Although, most mobile traffic comes from Apple iPhone’s make sure you do not ignore other devices. In order to view which devices are generating traffic again return to Google Analytics.

You are going to go to the left menu again and select ‘Audience’ then ‘Mobile’ however this time select ‘Devices’. This report will display the traffic and conversion rates based on the different type of device – Apple iPhone, Tablet type, Samsung Android type, etc.

Making Actionable Changes

By viewing historical data within Google Analytics, we are able to discover what our overall traffic and conversion rates are based on device. However, to make actionable changes on our bidding, we need to use the Google Ads interface to review our historical data.

Bid adjustment for devices is available at the account, campaign or ad group level within Google Ads account. If you have a large selection of products, you will discover that conversion rates based on device can vary greatly depending on your product offering. This is another reason that it is critical to subdivide your campaign. For information how to best segment your campaigns – review my article – How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability.

Creating A Device Adjustment Report

  1. From the All Campaigns view, click on ‘Devices’ in the left navigation menu.
  2. Adjust columns to display the following KPIs: Device, Level, Added to; Bid adj, Ad Group Bid Adj, Impr., Clicks, CTR, Costs, Conversions, Cost/Conv., Conv. Rate and Conv Value.
  3. Adjust the date to the desired date range (recommended last 30 days).
  4. Use the filter button to show only data that has spent more than $5.
  5. Download the report and save.

Using The Device Adjustment Report 

  1. Open the Device Adjustment Report.
  2. Create a new column for rate on ad spend (ROAS) – conversion value/costs.  With the ROAS include for the total (last row of file).
  3. Use the total column’s ROAS to create a variance of 50% higher; 25% higher; 25% lower and 50% lower.
    • Example, assume your average ROAS is 8.9
    • Multiply 8.9 by 1.5 = 13.35 (50% higher)
    • Multiple 8.9 by 1.25 = 11.13 (25% higher)
    • Multiple 8.9 by 0.75 = 6.67 (25% lower)
    • Multiple 8.9 by 0.50 = 4.45 (50% lower)
  4. Sort the file by ROAS from high to low.
  5. Sort by Bid Adj. column and where there is no current bid adjustments, replace the ‘- -‘ with a zero (0).
  6. Add a new column named variance. If it is in the 50% range, marked those rows 50%; if in the 25% range mark 25%; if in the 25% lower range mark -25%; if in the lower 50% range mark -50%. Do not add to field where ROAS is between 25% higher or 25% lower than average.
  7. For items with no conversions, if there is a spend over $20 – mark variance column with -50%. If spend between $5 – $20 mark variance column -25%.
  8. Sort by variance and delete rows where the variance is blank. These Ad Groups already have an optimal bid producing between a ROAS of between 25% below to 25% above the account average.
  9. Create a new bid adjustment column. This is where it gets a bit complicated, but entering the correct formulas is essential and will pay dividends when optimizing your account:

For items where the variance is positive and current bid adj is negative – use the following formula.
(1 * variance) + current bid adjust.
Excel formula = (1*Q127)+E127

For items where the variance is positive and current bid adj is positive – use the following formula.
(current bid adj * variance) + current bid adj
Excel formula = (E331*Q331)+E331

For items where the variance is negative or positive and current bid adj is negative – use the following formula.
(current bid adj * negative variance) + current bid adj
Excel formula = (E122*-Q122)+E122

For items where the variance is negative and current bid adj is positive – use the following formula.
current bid adj + (current bid adj * variance)
Excel formula = E272+(E272*Q272)

For items where there is no current bid adj and variance is positive or negative – use the following formula.
(1*variance)+ current bid adj
Excel formula =(1*Q324)+E324

10. Once you have all of the bid adjustments in place, highlight all negative bid adjustments in red and all positive bid adjustments in green.

11. Sort by campaign, then ad groups. Now you have an actionable file based on historical results!

Final Word

Remember, when you were daydreaming in math class and wondering when you would ever use advanced match formulas in real life?

Here it is!

We have seen how bidding the same for all devices is a fool’s game as all devices do not convert equally.

We also see how creating an actionable file takes work to create. However, I can guarantee that your competitors most likely are not spending the time to effectively and systematically adjust their bids based on device.

By doing the work, you are going to have a huge advantage over your competition and be able to precisely optimize your bids based on what device they are using when coming through paid ads. This process will effectively increase bids where conversions have historically occurred and decrease bids where they have not.

Also, remember to use these advanced techniques, you must first segment your campaigns. For a review on segmenting, review my article – How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability.

P.S. – We are currently in development creating an automated tool to calculate bid adjustments for individuals.

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.

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.

Positive Keywords – A Better Way To Control Unwanted Searches

Unwanted Searches

One of largest obstacles in achieving profitability for many advertisers using Google Shopping is the presence of unwanted keyword searches. Even profitable Shopping campaigns are not immune to wasted ad spend due to the nature of Google Shopping.

With Google Shopping the advertiser does not select their keywords as they do with their Search campaigns. Instead Google uses their proprietary algorithm to match a user’s Google search with an advertiser’s product ad. In order to match an advertiser’s product ad to serve inside Google Shopping results, Google uses a combination of keywords found in each product’s title and its product description. Then, Google uses a real-time auction based on an advertiser’s bid compared with other advertisers’ bids who have matching products to determine which order (ad rank) items appear in Google Shopping.

For the most part, this works well for advertisers as the keywords in the title and description determine when a product is eligible to appear, and the amount of an advertiser’s bid determines the order.

It also saves time for advertisers. Once a data feed is approved in Google Merchant Center, products can begin running inside the Google Shopping platform within minutes.

In fact, it is so easy to launch a new Google Shopping campaign that it can be quite dangerous in terms of budget for the novice Google marketer.

For those advertisers wanting to optimize their campaigns for profit, the most effective tool in being able to eliminate unwanted searches is the proper use of negative keywords – see my article ‘The Art of Adding Negative Keywords‘.

Negative keywords can be applied at the ad group, campaign or multi-campaign level with the use of a negative keyword list. However, properly optimizing with negative keywords by using the search terms report can be a never-ending task of find and remove with the constant discovery of new unwanted search phrases.

A Better Way

For accounts that have products that are highly brand oriented there is an easier way to eliminate approximately 80% of unwanted search terms without the constant adding of negative keywords.

Interested?

It is called Positive Keywords.

One of the most effective strategies that I use for many of my private clients who are brand centric, this strategy relies on a couple of things:

  1. The Proper Segmenting of Google Shopping Campaigns.
  2. The Use of Priority Settings.

Properly Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns

With best-practices, Google Shopping campaigns should be subdivided just like you do with Google Search Campaigns meaning into a subset of like products. Since Google Shopping products rely on your data feed being supplied to Google Merchant Center this is going to take some advanced planning and correctly implementing that plan when formatting your Merchant Center feed.

However, by properly segmenting your campaigns advertisers will be able to more easily control unwanted searches with negative keywords as well as be able to better optimize bids for product ads based on historical data.

For additional information on optimizing product bids plus a FREE download, see my article ‘Effectively Optimize Google Shopping Based on Your Past History, Nothing More’.

Properly Using Campaign Settings

When configuring a Google Shopping campaign, Google allows for the use of priority settings of high, medium and low. Priority settings like the name implies takes priority over bids in determining which product Google serves from an advertisers account.

The priority settings kick-in if either the same product is in 2 different campaigns or if 2 different products in 2 different campaigns have a title/keywords that matches a Google search query.

Here is a quick written illustration:

Campaign A has a Priority Level of Low and contains product XYZ with a bid of $0.50.

Campaign B has a Priority Level of Medium and also contains product XYZ with a bid of $0.05.

Google is going to always display the product XYZ from Campaign B with the bid of $0.05 instead of from Campaign A even though the bid for the same product is 10X higher in Campaign A because of the priority level setting.

For detailed information on formatting your Priority Settings, read my article ‘Knowing Your Priority Settings in Google Shopping’.

The Positive Keyword Strategy

Here is how the priority keyword strategy works.

I set a product group containing many related products typically products grouped by manufacturer brand to high priority at a very low bid, say $0.01 in an initial campaign – Call it Campaign A.

Then, I create another campaign containing the same products at either medium or low priority and use a significantly higher bid, say $1 – Call this Campaign B.

Within the high priority Campaign with bids set at $0.01 (Campaign A), I add negative keywords for the branded terms as well as other high converting search terms.

What this does is allow Campaign A to filter out keyword searches with the use of negative keywords at a bid of $0.01. The keyword searches that direct to Campaign A are typically keywords with a low chance of converting.

Thus, this strategy allows only high-converting, brand specific traffic to be eligible to serve product ads in Campaign B. This greatly increases the conversion rates, CTR and overall profitability of Campaign B allowing you to increase bids and increase your Search Impression Share.

Now Campaign A, with its bid of $0.01 will still get a small bit of traffic and some of that traffic may even convert. When a keyword term converts in Campaign A, you can view the ‘Search’ terms report located within the ‘Keywords’ link on the left menu to add this keyword as a negative keyword to Campaign A. When you add a keyword negative to Campaign A, it will allow future searches for that converting keyword to be passed through to Campaign B.

This strategy works well to significantly improve the conversion rates and the CTR, which also will increase the quality score of products ads in Campaign B. Increasing the quality score of products ads will work to benefit advertisers by helping lower their average cost-per-click regardless of bid.

A product ad with a high-quality score often may be shown in front of a competitor’s PLA ad in Google regardless of bid, thereby increasing overall profitability even further!

Google regardless of bid, thereby increasing overall profitability even further!

Non-Theoretical Example

One of my private clients sells t-shirts and hats and one of their biggest selling brands is John Deere. For there John Deere Shopping campaign, we have found that keyword search terms containing John Deere convert while there are hundreds of other search terms that do not or at least do not profitably.

Therefore, by using the Positive Keyword strategy we can filter out all keyword searches that do not contain John Deere from the John Deere Campaign.

Campaign A – We will name ‘Positive Strategy – John Deere’ and add all John Deere product ads to this campaign with a bid of $0.01 and set the priority level to high. We will then add the negative keywords as a phrase match “John Deere”.

Campaign B – We will name ‘John Deere – Standard’ and add all John Deere product ads to this campaign with a bid of $0.50 and set the priority level to medium.

Since both campaigns have the same products all Google searches where these products would be eligible to appear will be sent to the Positive Strategy – John Deere campaign unless those searches contain the keyword term “John Deere”.

Positive Strategy – John Deere campaign has a bid of $0.01 which allows us to filter out all the unwanted keyword searches that we were receiving non-specific keyword searches from John Deere – Standard at the cost of $0.01 per click!

With the positive keyword strategy in place, John Deere – Standard will now receive traffic from search terms ONLY with the term John Deere in them including terms such as ‘John Deere Hat’, ‘John Deere Shirt’, Etc.

See how it works!

Last Word

Using Positive Keywords is most effective when advertising brand centric products or with enough historical data for an advertiser to absolutely know which keyword search terms do and which do not convert.

By using Positive Keywords an advertiser needs to make sure they are not eliminating substantial traffic that has the potential to generate significant profitable sales.

In addition, advertisers need to make sure all steps are properly completed when setting their priority levels, bids and negative keywords. If there is an error in the way settings are configured, the Priority Keywords method will not have the desired results.

You also will want to monitor your Positive Keyword campaigns for conversions as you will want to add to negative keywords in the Positive Strategy campaign if the campaigns receives a conversion.

Finally, even after Priority Keyword method is running properly it will still be necessary to monitor the keywords driving traffic and most likely continue to add negative keywords to your main campaign, just not as many:>

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 ecommerce 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.

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.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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, 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 at his read his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.