So you’ve got your Merchant Feed set up and working reasonably well however, the Google Shopping campaigns are not performing as well as you’d like them to. Here are some quick ways to diagnose common issues.

1. If the click-through rate (CTR) is low, the issue is probably the product price

Google assigns a product level quality score for each of your products. From what we’ve observed, the CTR is the most important factor. If your product is even slightly higher priced than the products right next to it the clicks will be dramatically lower. Lower CTR leads to a lower quality score, which in turn leads to higher costs per click. You’ll end up showing less often and paying more than if you had high CTR.

The hard question you’ll have to ask yourself if you want to stay competitive in Google Shopping, “Would I rather give money to Google or to the customer?” In some cases dropping your price leads to better overall ROI.

Other reasons for low CTR:

  • Poor product images – if the price is equal, people often click on the more attractive image.
  • Irrelevant titles – The product title should be front-loaded with the terms most relevant to the customer. Titles with irrelevant words can broaden the algorithmic reach to less relevant searches.
  • GTIN errors – Google uses the retail code for relevancy. If you have the wrong GTIN assigned the algorithm will show you for the wrong searches.

2. If the Conversion Rate (CR) is low, it’s probably the inventory

Google Shopping isn’t always great for variants. Most people click on the image of the shoe they want without reading that it happens to be a size 13. If size 13 is the only variant of that shoe you have in stock the majority of the people clicking that are other sizes will bounce.

Most people don’t notice sizes until they get to your site.

Other sources for low CR:

  • Misrepresentation in the image – Say you have a grill accessory listed for $50, but the image is of that accessory on the grill. How many people will understand that you’re not selling the grill for $50 before they get to your site?
  • User experience issues on the site – poor landing page, mobile, site search, and checkout experiences can dramatically lower CR.
  • Tracking issues – There are all sorts of ways this can go wrong.

3. Use Remarketing Lists for Search Advertising (RLSA) to improve profitability

One of the ways to improve performance overall is to take up more real estate in the search result. The more boxes you have the more likely a user will click on your ads. RLSA can help you bid up audiences that other channels lead to your site, making your listings more prominent. If your Google Shopping goal is discovery, then you can bid down users that have already been to your site. If your goal is profit, bidding down users that haven’t been to your site can hurt discovery, but greatly improve profitability.

The best way to build retargeting audiences is often within Google Analytics. With GA audiences you can exclude purchasers from the mix. The most profitable audiences are always the most recent.

4. Review your locations report

Should you be bidding the same across all sections of the country? If you sell surfboards, should you bid the same in North Dakota as Southern California? There are almost always major efficiencies to be found in the locations report.

Think about what kind of segmentation makes sense for your customers. Is zipcode too granular? Try city and work your way up to clusters that make sense. Use bid modifiers to eliminate waste and to scale where you have good traction.

5. Use some advanced Google Shopping tactics

Once you’ve covered the basics you’re ready to start optimizing for each product.

  • Custom labels – Use these to subdivide your products into groups that make sense for your business.
  • Showcase Shopping – an important way to broaden brand discovery for mobile.
  • Google Shopping Actions – This is a lot like making Google your affiliate. It can earn you a few more slots in the search result.
  • Inventory or Margin based bidding – Only bid what’s profitable.
  • Keyword query filtering – Invest in your brand terms or dominate category terms so your brand is the main choice for that search.
  • Google Manufacturer Center – If your company had control over its own GTINs Manufacturer Center will allow you to add additional info to the results but it doesn’t come without some negative impact.

Not a rule, but good advice: Smart Shopping isn’t smart for everyone

Smart shopping is a combination of Google Remarketing and Google Shopping. It can get a good return, but it’s impossible to optimize.

Most companies prefer to treat discovery mediums like Google Shopping and lower funnel mediums like retargeting differently. It often makes a lot of sense to have a low return on ad spend in a discovery channel, and a high return on adspend in a remarketing channel. You can’t do that with Smart Shopping. Your data performance data will be very limited so you won’t be able to bid differently on different products.

Ultimately, Google makes Smart Shopping Campaigns take a higher priority than standard campaigns so you can’t run both to see which does better, and you can’t run any advanced techniques.

We’ve seen Google Sales reps push automation harder over the last few years, including Smart Shopping. Some reps have admitted that getting customers to accept automation gets them their bonus. That’s great for the rep, but not always great for the customer. Buyer beware!

If you’d like some help with Google Shopping or a free confidential Google Shopping audit please reach out to sales@ironpulley.com