Google Shopping is one of the more underutilized PPC strategies for B2B companies, especially those that have an e-commerce component to their online marketing strategy. Why? Because many B2B marketers fail to realize that Google Shopping is now integrated with AdWords, putting this area of prime real estate in search results in optimal paid advertising position.
Because the Google Shopping results utilize photos, they tend to draw more attention than the other text ads on the page. Google Shopping results also send searchers directly to product listings, arguably making the path to conversion easier.
Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Shopping Campaigns
While shopping campaigns are integrated with Google AdWords, they do have some unique challenges (and benefits) that are different from most traditional text PPC campaigns. Product Listing Ads (PLAs), for example, highlight specific products and require the advertiser to connect a Google Merchant and AdWords account in order to create a new campaign.
There are many aspects of PLAs that advertisers can (and should) optimize. According to a 2013 post on Search Engine Land, advertisers should be actively managing their shopping campaigns, which includes creating the most unique product photo (to differentiate it from competitors’), making sure they are competitively priced, and providing unique calls-to-action (i.e., free shipping) whenever possible. Standing out from the competition (especially because it’s a visual format) makes all the difference.
Something as simple as angling the product differently for the photograph or showcasing a unique color (when others are simply showing the black version) can help get more visibility for a product listing when compared to other retailers who are offering the same. While competitive pricing is probably the most important aspect of a PLAs campaign, additional offers are also important. For instance, if a company’s product is $5 more than what the lowest competitor is offering, but the company offers free shipping that’s worth more than $5, savvy shoppers will choose that company over the competition.
Google announced Shopping Campaigns in October 2013 as a new campaign type of PLAs. Shopping Campaigns allow you to utilize advanced grouping and reporting methods and they offer the ability to choose products directly from your data feed and associate campaigns with them.
Unlike regular Product Listing Ad campaigns, Shopping Campaigns use product groups—not product targets—to select which products you want to bid on for a given campaign. In the “Product groups” tab, you can subdivide your inventory into customized product groups using any product attributes (e.g., category, product type, brand, condition, item ID, custom labels) you choose—and at any level of granularity. The products within the product groups you don’t subdivide remain in an “Everything else” product group, which allows you to set bids for each product group depending upon your campaign goals.
Shopping Campaigns also offer more in-depth reporting tabs and options. The Shopping Campaigns mainly surround a company’s online store as a whole, instead of a concentration on specific products, like the PLAs.
The Difference Between Traditional PPC and Google Shopping Campaigns
Even though the target outcome is the same (more sales), Google Shopping is different from traditional text-based PPC ad campaigns in a few ways. For example, the ads themselves are more visual and, while are easier to set up, they require more maintenance in order to stay competitive with pricing. It’s also important for the e-commerce store’s data feeds to have up-to-date product information.
Main Differences Include:
- Keywords: Advertisers don’t directly choose keywords. Instead, retailers upload their data feeds from their e-commerce site and assign products to specific categories.
- Submitted Information: All product information is submitted via a spreadsheet, which has fields for price, shipping cost, site URLs, and product image.
- Ad Copy: Because information can only be submitted via a spreadsheet, the ad only includes product information, with no creative copy flourishes.
- Visibility Is Not Guaranteed: Google Shopping ads tend to favor consumer products over B2B supplier products, and Google just launched its Verified Suppliers program last year, which is still in beta.
- Retail-Centric Campaign Management: Advertisers can browse their product inventory directly in AdWords and create product groups for the items they want to bid on. This means they can browse the inventory in their data feed while in AdWords, which is full integration.
- Advanced Reporting: Advertisers can view clicks by specific product, by brand of product, etc.
- Competitive Data and Advanced Optimization: Benchmarking data allows advertisers to get insights into the competitive landscape. For example, they can see how other advertisers’ ads for similar products perform and adjust their bid to remain competitive (this data is aggregated and averaged, so all performance data is anonymous).
Google Shopping Challenges for B2B E-Commerce Vendors
While Google Shopping ads overall are a positive way to increase visibility, sales, and brand loyalty, there are a few potential negatives. These include some of the differences outlined above, like the ad creative and competitive pricing.
However, these challenges shouldn’t necessarily prevent B2B e-commerce vendors from integrating their products into Google Shopping. Because the certification process is free and can increase store exposure and trust through reviews, badges, and the $1,000 protection guarantee, business owners should consider Google Shopping a viable and profitable PPC campaign medium.
Yet, as with any online marketing initiative, proper competitive analysis and establishment of performance benchmarks will lead to a more effective experience in the long run.
Becoming a Google Trusted Store
The Google Trusted Store program is a free certification that offers the customer purchase protection of up to $1,000, guaranteed by Google. This means that Google agrees to reimburse shoppers (up to $1,000) who order from Trusted Stores. According to Google, this certification can increase customer trust, visibility, and sales. Online retailer Wayfair.com reported seeing a 1.3% increase in conversions and a 0.9% increase in sales since becoming a trusted store through the program.
For B2B e-commerce vendors, adding the Google Trusted Store logo to their shopping experience can be a significant factor in establishing trust from evaluating buyers.
The certification program involves the following:
Once all the steps are complete (including signing the merchant agreement), Google will process everything and then start displaying store results in Google Shopping, depending on store options and entered data.
A few best practices and considerations:
- To ensure your feed isn’t suspended, be sure to carefully review the policies.
- Be sure to follow editorial guidelines for feeds, such as no excessive use of capitalization, repetition or non-English characters.
- Merchants can have one account per domain, or can also aggregate multiple domains (that are operating under the same business) into one account.
Google Trusted Store Benefits
In addition to garnering higher visibility and sales, the program is integrated with Google Adwords for sponsored campaigns and also displays seller ratings, which is a star-system that rates the retailer on Shopping search results (instead of the product the user is searching for). The seller rating also appears on AdWords text ads, making the benefits go beyond Shopping campaigns.
Another beneficial visual aspect that increases credibility is the Trusted Store icon, shown left, and the available badge that can be placed on the company’s e-commerce site. This badge states the retailer is a Google Trusted Store.
Trusted Store listings also display high-level generic statistics to consumers, including average shipping time, percentage of orders that are “hassle-free,” and percentage of orders that are received during the expected timeframe.
Additionally, placement of product pages in Google Shopping can potentially increase the performance of other metrics, including average order size, customer retention, and more.
It’s only a matter of time before most or all of the Google Shopping listings are dominated with “Trusted Stores”—and it will be a factor in ranking customer experience, as well as potentially determining Google ad placement. Google is giving more advertisers the tools to put together better campaigns; however, they need to do a much better job at showing shoppers and searchers which data points are more valid, and how they may impact experience.