Why your Google Shopping strategy is failing and how to fix it

It’s no secret that the UK’s online sales are booming, continuing to increase year-on-year as a percentage of overall sales – but many retailers are failing to capitalise on one of online retailer’s most effective channels, Google Shopping.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), almost one in five (18%) of sales today takes place online. Retailers across all sectors are investing big bucks in their e-commerce infrastructure, either as high street players or digital specialists, and siphoning ever more of their ad budgets into specialist shopping campaigns.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rise in spend of Google Shopping, which is fast-becoming the most important part of a retailers’ online armoury. A recent study from Adthena found Shopping ads are driving 82% of retail search ad spend in the UK and are responsible for 87.9% of clicks.

Shopping takes place everywhere, any time and across devices and increasingly retailers must rely on goods being showcased whenever and wherever this is happening.

Google Shopping ads allow retailers to get closer to their customers at the point of purchase- the ones looking for what you offer, whether they’re at home, on the go or even in store. They show users an image of your product, plus title, price, store name and much, much more.  Frustrating, then, that so many retailers and their agencies are failing to capitalise on the stellar promise of this performance marketing channel.

If retailers are to make the most of their advertising budget, they need to take Google Shopping seriously rather than simply diverting budget from text ads to Shopping ads. Just a few tweaks can have a dramatic effect on performance.

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Let’s be clear: Google Shopping really should be the cornerstone of a retailer’s entire search ecosystem, and that requires special skills and a dedicated team to deliver its potential.   So here are three killer questions you need to ask of your marketing teams and the agency partners you work with:

Do they have the specialist knowledge required?

Taking a traditional Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) approach to something that requires specialist skills will only take you part of the way. It’s why many marketers today aren’t seeing enough returns from their Google Shopping investment.

You’re either wasting budgets on the wrong products appearing for the wrong keywords or are unable to scale activity successfully because you don’t deeply know how the system works.  Shopping should be at the heart of your search strategy, rather than an afterthought.

Do they understand the shopping feed?

Google Shopping is powered by two separate platforms, Google Merchant Center and Google Ads (Formally AdWords). Merchant Center acts as a hub for your shopping feeds, where all the details of a retailer’s products are stored. It’s likely that when you first got started with Google Shopping you relied on your e-commerce platform to automatically generate what will be a very basic feed. Yet this lack of sophistication leads to significant drops in return on investment.

It needn’t cost even much, especially as most ecommerce platforms will offer a good enough solution on which to build, but you do need to invest serious time to get things right.

Are they ‘prioritising’ Shopping campaigns?

Google Ads is home to Shopping campaigns, it’s where budgeting, bids and optimisation take place. The ‘priority’ element of Google Shopping campaigns is often underused, and many retailers will stick with the default.

But by manipulating the priority settings (high, medium and low) in Google Ads, a retailer can gain better control of their Shopping activity, setting bids according to the value of a search term and ultimately increasing conversion rates and revenue.

Such a structure gives you lots of control and is ideal if you don’t want to commit to an advanced tech solution. Again, it needn’t break the bank.

Even implementing these three basic steps will have a huge impact on your customer acquisition and conversion online.

Not convinced? Consider that more than two-thirds of shoppers seeking inspiration start with Google, according to IPG Mediabrands’ recent Retail Buying Study, whether buying online or off. Would you rather they found you or your search-savvier competitor?

Chris Rowett is the performance director at Journey Further

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