Google Shopping: The Lowdown For Shopify Merchants

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Remember when Google was just a search engine? We all know that it’s grown up dramatically and is now the go-to for any question we have. Google, how do batteries work? Google, where is the nearest place I can buy pet food? Google, can I get a flight to Auckland for less than two hundred dollars next month? Google, what’s a good gift to get my 14-year old niece?

The Google Shopping feature searches the internet for items consumers can buy - and is a great opportunity for eCommerce merchants to show up to make new sales.

Sales channel? Advertising channel? What is Google Shopping?

The Google Shopping channel is a Product Listing Ad channel - a place where you tell Google what you have to sell, and it puts a photo and link to your product in front of people who are looking for relevant keywords. Around 54.5% of all search engine marketing happens through Google. As a paid ad service managed through Google AdWords, you pay for this listing through a bidding system, setting a budget based on how much you are willing to pay per audience click.

Google Product Ads are for products not services, nor any bundle of products-and-services.

Why would I want to list my products as a Google Shopping ad?

Higher returns per click than text ads

The results that many companies are seeing for product listing ads, as opposed to other forms of text-only ads, are that PLAs are really really effective. That’s mainly because people who click on product listing ads have high purchase intent. They likely clicked on it because they are looking for something to buy, rather than just trying to find an answer to a question. The fact that it’s visual helps too.

Straight to the top

Google Shopping product ads are displayed directly at the top of the page, or at the top right. This means they are the first thing someone sees when they get their search results.

Get them in the door

Google Shopping has been found to help drive traffic to online stores, because clicking on the product ad takes a shopper to your website. They have also been found to help get people to physical stores at higher rates. That’s likely because most people do some combination of online-offline research when they are looking for something to buy. Either they will check out a few options online first before deciding what store to go to, or they will see something they like in a store and check online to see what prices and availability are elsewhere. Someone who sees a product ad for something online might decide to go get it in store instead.

Take a look, for example, when I searched for a kitchen gadget. The first result is Bed Bath and Beyond, a department store for all things related to homeware. I might think it’s a good idea for me to stock up on towels and a new coffee maker, too, so I’ll just head to the store and browse around after seeing they have the initial item I want.

How do I make it happen?

Get started by creating a Google Merchant account and Google AdWords account.

Then, install the Shopify App that goes along with Google Shopping. This lets you sync your inventory and skip the approval process.

Feed me

Google Shopping works through a product feed that you create and optimise. List your product data including product type, titles, descriptions with keywords, sizes, colours, price and a pic.

Unlike with text ads, in which you choose what keywords will be advertised, Google does that for you based on everything else you’ve told it. Read more about writing killer product descriptions and meta details.

Running your bidness

The next piece is setting up bids. To figure out how high you should set you bid, you should take into account the cost of your product, the average conversion rate in your industry, and your profit margin.

Here’s an example:

$20 (price of product) - $10 (cost of product) = $10 (available profit)
$10 (available profit) x 2% (conversion rate) = $0.20 (maximum cost per click)
Take the maximum cost per click, and multiply it by anywhere between .4 and .75. This is your bidding range, which means you’re likely looking to bid about 4-15 cents per bid for this unit.

If you sell something really specific, you usually need lower bids. Think about it - if you are in a very competitive/saturated market, you will need to pay more to get any amount of exposure. That’s why it can be a good thing to get very granular with your keywords.

If you are focusing on exposure and getting some skin in the game, you probably want to push for the higher bids that may have lower immediate profit margins, but could do better at getting your product in front of larger numbers of new shoppers.

To learn more about setting up a competitive bidding structure read, check out this guide, and this one too.

Always Be Checking

Unlike some advertising channels where you set it up and let it roll, bidding requires you to be a little bit of a monitoring junkie. You can adjust your bidding bit by bit depending on how well your products are performing. For example, if the product is selling well, increase the bid slightly to get in front of a larger audience. If it’s not selling well, lower the bid and go niche with long-tail keywords. If it’s not converting, time to focus on other things like page optimisation.

Want to cheat on this part? Try AdWords Smartbidding which does the brunt of it for you.

Landing page requirements

When you set up Google Shopping, you have to make sure your product pages that are linked to your posts are compliant.

  • No pop-ups allowed
  • List a privacy policy,
  • List a physical address
  • List a phone number

Your product listing also has to be accurate - you cannot advertise a product as $20, and then when someone clicks through to your page have it listed as $28.

Are you looking for your next sale or your next BFF?

You can list everything you have with Google Shopping. But if you need to narrow it down and only select a few things for budget reasons, think about what goal you are trying to reach. You can either be looking to generate sales of your most popular or big ticket items, or you can hope to make a new lifetime customer. Of course, you want both. But one tactic to use when trying to get a new customer is to get as many people in the door as possible - sell your cheapest and flashiest item, then once they are in your sales funnel, turn them into a long-term friend.

Want to read more? Try Shopify’s Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping. Elkfox wants to help you sell more. Talk to us about using sales and advertising channels to reach new customers with your Shopify store.