The 2017 Google shopping benchmarks report discovered that Google Shopping ads captured 53% of retail marketers’ AdWords budgets.
Another study for the first quarter of 2018, shows that almost 80% of all retail search ad spend is used on Google Shopping campaigns.
As of 2018, Google Shopping ads now drive 76.4% of all retail search ad spend and this search spend generates 85.3% of all clicks.
And a majority of the search ad spend is not on branded search terms.
Google Shopping is an intent powerhouse with a proven track record of blowing up e-commerce sales.
When your products show up for relevant search topics, you know that those who click to your site are moments away from buying.
Here’s all you need to know about Google Shopping and how to dominate AdWords with e-commerce today.
Running ads on platforms like Facebook can work. But 62% of businesses report that they don’t work. They simply aren’t generating sales.
Why? Aren’t custom audiences a goldmine? They definitely are, but that’s not the problem.
It likely has something to do with the fact that Facebook lacks any form of intent whatsoever.
Nobody is on Facebook to buy your products.
Sure, they might buy here and there, but they aren’t using Facebook to shop. They’re using it to communicate with friends and stay up-to-date on the news.
Customers don’t go on Facebook with the sole purpose of finding something to buy. They head to Google.
What is Google Shopping?
Driven by AdWords and the Google Merchant Center, Google Shopping allows online e-commerce stores to sell their products directly on Google in a more desirable format than standard search or display network ads.
For example, when searching for basketball shoes on Google, you will likely generate some ad-based results in the form of search network ads:
While these can help you sell products and drive intent-based traffic, they aren’t that great.
Why? Because they lack just about every micro-conversion element that drives ecommerce sales:
- In-depth reviews
- Product details and descriptions
You get the point.
When someone searches for a product, they want to see an image. They want to envision how they would use it.
With generic text ads, you can’t do that.
Enter Google Shopping:
Instead of just text and calls to action, users can see direct product images reflecting their searches, including reviews, brand name, and even pricing.
Clicking the right-hand scroll button will continuously pull up more products in that given category, providing a nearly endless catalog of products to choose from.
Knowing that typical ad extensions increase conversions, it only makes sense that these ads will perform better than a basic search network one.
Google Shopping works like a comparison site, allowing a user to browse products from more than one brand without clicking back and forth from the search results.
How does Google Shopping work?
Well, Google Shopping is an entirely different animal than the search or display networks.
Instead of bidding on specific keywords and creating ad groups with different ads and CTAs, Google picks when to show your content based on relevance.
While this might seem like a downside, it’s not.
In fact, it’s actually a plus.
It means that you only pay for clicks on the most relevant of traffic.
Google Shopping works by pulling data from the Google Merchant Center based on your online store.
Meaning you need a live, functioning ecommerce site.
Google will turn your products, SKUs, pricing, and images into beautiful, simple ads for given searches.
Speaking of pulling data from your online store, you’ll need to establish a product feed with the Merchant Center.
Here’s how to get started.
Getting started with Google Shopping
First of all you need to integrate your current online store with a product feed directly into the Merchant Center.
Product feeds will include everything from product titles, descriptions, SKUs, pricing, stock / inventory, and more.
Thankfully, you don’t have to custom-build these lists.
Just about every major ecommerce hosting platform has direct integrations and tools that can help save you potentially weeks of time in the startup phase.
And since you’ll be updating products quite regularly between pricing, stock, etc., it’s key to use a tool that can help you sync between your store and Google for easy updates and accurate listings.
If you currently host your ecommerce store on Shopify, you can use their own Google Shopping integration.
Their application will help you create a product feed and automatically update it on the Google Merchant Center.
With the Shopify integration, you can edit target market details to ensure that your ads only show up for the right users:
With linked accounts, your products, SKUs, descriptions, and pricing will automatically sync with Google Merchant Center:
For each product, you can further customize them for Google Shopping by selecting key identifiers and categories:
For example, you can select the age, gender, and product category to give Google more context.
If you’re using BigCommerce, use their recommended Google Shopping by Sales and Orders application.
Just like Shopify, this BigCommerce application will automatically generate a product feed for you, syncing directly into your Merchant account.
With BigCommerce’s app, you can easily add and remove products and address any with outstanding issues.
If you are currently using Magento, you’ll have to pay for a Google Shopping extension that gives similar functionality to the likes of BigCommerce and Shopify.
At just $50, it’s likely even still an amazing deal compared to manually building out a product feed.
The specific data needed for a custom product feed is enough to drive you crazy.
Everything from product IDs and titles to images, availability, expiration, price, measurements, product types, branding and more are needed for a complete feed.
Thankfully, just about every ecommerce platform has apps (paid and free) that will get the job done for you.
Once you’ve gotten your basic product feed down, it’s time to optimize it for success.
How to optimize your Product Feed
Google Shopping is proving to be an amazing platform to drive better sales in the PPC space.
With diverse settings and intent-based campaigns, it’s no wonder that businesses are finding big success.
Using Google Shopping, Sears has been able to boost their store visit rate by 12% while also increasing their CTR by 16%.
For every dollar that they invested in ads, they generated eight dollars back. That’s an 8x ROI overall.
Speakman used Google Shopping ads to increase conversions by 8% from standard search network ads.
Similarly, JanSport put tons of work into their product feed to ensure they would show up in the results for related searches.
Doing so netted them a 13% increase in conversions.
Tons of businesses are finding success with Google Shopping. And it all stems from having an optimized product feed.
You should mainly focus your optimization on the following sections:
- Product categories
Since you don’t directly bid on keywords with Google Shopping, you will want to signal relevance by implementing keywords and contextual information throughout these sections.
With your product titles, always include the top keywords you want products to show for.
While you don’t have much room to work with, it allows you to get more specific with products that are customizable.
Meaning you can show up for dozens of searches based on just a few product variations.
The title is one of the most (if not the most) important aspects of your feed and subsequent ads.
Think of it as your title tag in SEO.
You want to include as many descriptive factors as you can based on what searches you want to show up for.
Avoid using spammy or promotional headlines like “discount” and “free.” Google Shopping allows you to add “Special offer” tags to specific products based on your sales cycle.
For product categories, you have one option to pick out of a list of 6,000+.
This is critically important for your campaigns and product type.
Here’s a brief preview of what you can expect to see when choosing a category:
When using the full list, you can download and import the data into a spreadsheet, or you can simply use the search function.
Product categories range from broad: Apparel & Accessories…
…to complex and highly specific: Apparel & Accessories > Handbags, Wallets & Cases > Wallets & Money Clips
While narrowing down your category might limit your exposure due to the niche nature of each product, it’s likely to bring in better traffic.
Try utilizing a mix of both depending on each product.
Lastly, images are crucial. They make up the majority of ad real estate:
Try showcasing your product images in action like L.L. Bean does above.
But remember: your product itself should be the main focus of the image. Ensure that people can see your product if you decide to follow that route.
Be sure to avoid text, logos, and any other unnecessary aspects. Focus on getting awesome product shots.
Optimizing your feed isn’t easy, and it isn’t fun. But it’s critical if you want to dominate Google Shopping.
Ready for your first campaign? Let’s dive in.
Dominate your first Google Shopping campaign on AdWords
Creating your first Google Shopping campaign is a long process.
But thankfully, if you’ve made it this far, you are almost done.
Situating the product feed and integrating your store with the Merchant Center are the hardest parts, and they’ll need continual tweaking for success.
But thankfully, you can set up Google Shopping campaigns just like any other campaign type in AdWords.
In this section, we’ll show you the most common sub-types of campaigns and how you can use them to drive more sales.
To get started, just head to your Google AdWords account and create a new campaign from the “Campaigns” tab:
Next, select the Shopping campaign objective:
From here, you have four different campaign sub-types to choose from, and each will impact what type of ads will show up:
- Sales: The sales goal is exactly what it sounds like. Google will specifically place your product ads on higher-intent searches where customers are “ready to act.” If direct sales are your goal, this is the place to be.
Sales ads are the most common ad type for Google Shopping:
- Leads: The lead generation goal will display different settings than sales-driven goals. It’s broader in targeting, as you aren’t trying to reach people who are ready to buy immediately. Using lead ads, you can promote your store using Showcase Shopping Ads:
Showcase Shopping Ads are two-step ads that allow you to showcase multiple products for your brand.
In the search results, instead of showing pricing and reviews, users can click the ad to expand the showcase, revealing diverse brand content and products.
These ads are already proving to be a dominant force for online selling.
The latest data shows that these ad types led to 3x increases in brand searches for Overstock and 32% more clicks that turned into a purchase.
- Website Traffic: Using the website traffic sub-type, you will get settings focused on maximizing click-based bidding and driving as much cheap traffic to your site as possible. The only downside here is the lack of specificity, as your products will appear in searches that aren’t high in intent.
- No Goal: Lastly, you have the option to run a campaign without any specific goal, allowing you to customize more freely.
If you’re looking to maximize sales, choosing either the sales or lead-based campaign subtypes will be your best bet.
Lead ads can be a great way to drive more brand awareness with the added benefit of potential sales.
While they will often show for keyword searches that aren’t high in intent, they still give pricing and sales information.
They just come with the added bonus of more branding and more room to describe your product, brand, and multiple products.
Sales-based campaigns, on the other hand, will focus more directly on specific products in your feed.
For example, when someone searches for “blue mens flannel,” it’s always going to result in sales ads:
Why? Because of the specificity of the query.
Since the search was so specific, it’s clear to Google that the intent is high.
The searcher isn’t looking for any flannel. They want a blue one for men.
However, searching something broader like “jeans” will likely result in more lead-based showcase ads:
When you click on these ads, the products are generally focused on that broad category of clothing rather than directing someone to an immediate landing page for a specific style of jeans:
Pro tip: if you want to maximize your ecommerce efforts on AdWords, run both sales and lead sub-type ads with Google Shopping.
While sales ads are going to be more specific, lead ads will allow you to bring in more visits and hopefully generate more brand awareness.
Running PPC ads for ecommerce is tricky.
Generally speaking, it’s harder to get people in your funnel as an ecommerce business.
Content isn’t as prevalent as it would be in B2B sectors.
Meaning you can’t host a webinar about your basketball shoes and expect thousands of people to take notice.
It requires more direct forms of advertising that pack intent to buy. And that’s where Google Shopping wins the day.
If you want to dominate AdWords as an ecommerce business, go directly to the source and get your products in front of buyers who are eager to spend their cold, hard cash.