3. How to Profit From Google Shopping
Aligning Your Goals with the Market
Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.
William Bernbach, 1949 founder of international advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach
What is success for you on Google Shopping? Chances are it is making enough (and a little more) revenue to cover ad spend and expenses associated with fulfilling the orders. That is the most common, first goal I hear from clients. It is a good goal and the easiest goal to measure and manage.
I encourage you to look beyond last-click attribution where a customer clicks on an ad then buys. Advertising success is more than that. Searches on Google vary in intent and customers have more lifetime value for your store than their first purchase. The existence of competitors in Google Search results indicates other stores have a degree of success. Let’s dig into each so you are set for advertising success.
How you define success will determine how you approach your account setup and management. Goals shape your ongoing activities such as setup, optimisation and what you report on.
First of all, you need to work out your overarching goal, such as a specific return on investment (ROI) or revenue you expect. You can then work out what other key performance indicators you need to to hit your goal. Before I manage any new ad account, we define a return on ad spend (ROAS) goal. This lets me adjust bids and make other optimizations to control the shopping ad spend so it hits our target return on investment.
If the price of your products are similar, define your cost-per-acquisition (CPA). This is how much you are willing to pay for a sale. CPA doesn’t work as well if you have product prices far apart. Work out how much of your average sale is profit, and from there, calculate how much profit you’re prepared to sacrifice to achieve the sale. The lower your return on ad spend, the more volume you can drive and the greater your chance of succeeding on Google Shopping. We’ll talk more about this when we look at optimisation and bidding.
In assessing your goal, also look long-term. Would you consider spending all profit on getting a sale if it could boost your returns over time? For low-cost products, you can afford to make no profit to gain a customer on the back-end of your marketing funnels. This strategy of spending more at the CPA-level or dropping your profit margins, not only acquires a customer—they can refer-a-friend, give a product review, or build another asset like video for social proof. I know it can be hard to willingly lose profit because profit is the purpose of most business.
The fastest growing stores I work with invest their profits back into the business, whether it is to increase stock levels so they stop running out of product or to scale advertising platforms. The customers you acquire can buy again via email marketing over the months and years. The secret benefit in today’s digital marketing of acquiring customers is building your Facebook Pixel data. Once you hit 5,000 purchase events in Facebook and sync these customer emails into Facebook, the social platform has an amazing ability from the large data set to get your ad in-front of highly interested people.
The good news with Google Shopping is you don’t have to lose money beyond the first month if that is your choice. You are able to make profit from the beginning. Please still consider the long-term benefits of creating regular, repeat, raving customers.
What does someone want when they search “Sony”? They may need product support for headphones, stock information, or the company’s history for a trivia night. I have no idea! Knowing the buying intent behind the searches people make on Google lets you reach more customers at the right time.
There are three levels of intent in search as they relate to someone’s willingness to buy:
The people at the top of your sales funnel are in the awareness phase. They are rarely ready to buy until they understand more about their problem. This usually leads to long-tail keyword searches with informational intent such as “why are my pores big” and “how can I reduce my pores?” The people conducting these searches are gathering information. They have no apparent knowledge or awareness of any pore-reduction cream.
The “consideration” search shows more intent to buy. It can indicate criteria, it can compare, and it can seek confirmation. Example searches include: “best skin products for pore reduction”, “(product a) versus (product b)”, and “(product a) reviews”.
Finally, the “Intention” search sits at the bottom of the conversion funnel. The searcher knows what product they are looking for or the brand they want to buy. For example, “pore minimising toner”, “(website name) reduce pores”, and “buy (product a)”.
Understanding the three levels helps you decide bid amounts. Most of the time you want your shopping ads to show for consideration and intention searches. Awareness searches can be as profitable as lower funnel searches if you pay less for their clicks. Awareness searches are also well-suited to lead people through a search ad to a blog post or piece of content that answers their question. If your campaigns have a lot of awareness and consideration searches, but few intention searches, your ROAS and volume is likely to be lower than otherwise.
Chances are, you have a number of competitors in mind who sell the same or similar products. However, this list of competitors could look different to the competitors on Google Shopping. Your competitors on Google Shopping have shopping ads appear on searches that could bring you sales.
Understanding what your competitors do on Google Shopping lets you gauge another force that affects the purchase-choice of prospective customers. Even if your campaigns and feed is set up with all the best practices, not every searcher will click on your ad. Clicks will still go to a competitor.
It’s important to monitor competitor prices, the appearance of their ads, and the keywords they show for. What exactly are your competitors doing? Is there something you could do more of in your campaigns? Are they doing anything opposite to best practice that hints your campaigns could perform better? Understanding the answers to these questions and applying the findings to your campaigns gives you a competitive advantage.
You may find a competitor neglecting one of their product ranges. They may not promote it as well as they could or be avoiding ads for it altogether. You may have found there are a lot of searches for this product thanks to the keyword planner, giving you the opportunity to tap into more search volume by optimising relevant products.
The second benefit of monitoring competitors is knowing where you stand in price wars. Stores frequently undercut competitors to stay equal or better in the eyes of customers. This is prevalent with competitors new to the market as they can value getting more seller ratings and testimonials than maximising profits, in the early stage of the business. Keep an eye on competitor’s pricing as you may be able undercut, level off your pricing with them, or at least know who is undercutting you.
With that said, let’s identify your competitors. There are some additional paid tools like SEM Rush not mentioned here, but at this stage of gauging competition for an existing store, a deep competitor dive is excessive.
The good ole Google search is the quickest way to get a snapshot of the market. Use this to identify your competitors, what they are doing, and how well their products and service compare to yours. Doing this prior to setting up Google Shopping can help you look at the images used, product titles, descriptions and most importantly, pricing. It’s also beneficial to look at the service provided by competitors. Can you provide something better such as next-day delivery, personalisation, or lower prices? These can be your unique selling propositions to stand out in the market.
Sometimes spotting your competition may not be as easy as searching your keywords in Google. If you already run ads, a Google search may bring up your products and inadvertently skew your ad data. Perhaps you want to eye-down competition in a different country, but you get served local ads. A competitor may focus on targeting only mobile devices such that sitting in your office on the laptop looking at search results causes you to miss them. To solve this, Google have a useful tool.
Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool
The Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool is within the Google Ads interface. It is version of the Google search engine results page. Type in your products or the keywords you may target. The tool does not skew your stats. The big advantage is you can set the location and device, which is great for discovering competitors and their prices in other countries.
Later we’ll cover ways to optimise your campaigns based-off competitor data. For now, use Google Search and the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool to gauge competition. The existence of competitors is not a bad thing. It can be helpful to have a number of companies marketing the same products you sell (as people may discover the products then later buy from you) as well as giving you a business model to benchmark yourself against.
Competitors are expected, especially when you can setup a business in one day using software like Shopify. If there is no competitor, this may be a red flag many have fallen before you short of profit.
Be mindful of the time you spend analysing competitors. Look at the market on a regular basis, but keep focused on serving your customers through your company’s vision. Your customers need to be the ones who ultimately shape your business; not competitors.
To apply goals, buyer intent, and competitor research to your Google Shopping campaigns, you first need a Google Ads and Merchant Center account. Let’s set up these tools you need for success. If you have a Google Ads and Merchant Center account already, you’ll discover other tools as part of the setup that will help grow your existing campaigns.
- 1. The Power of Google Shopping
- 2. How Does Google Shopping Work?
- 3. How to Profit From Google Shopping
- 4. How to Setup Key Google Products for Ad Growth
- 5. Your Google Shopping Feed in Shopify
- 6. Campaign Structure
- 7. Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaigns
- 8. Google Shopping Merchant Center Programs
- 9. Expanding Beyond Google Shopping