After you’ve optimized your shopping feed and configured your campaigns, it’s time to move on to bidding and strategy. This process can be easy or difficult, depending on the type of campaigns you’re running and the internal capabilities of your team. Remember that none of this is finite. If performance isn’t good or you’re struggling to utilize budget wisely, you can always pause everything and get help from an agency or try something that requires less management.
If you decide to try running a Smart Shopping campaign, you’re in luck! Almost every single facet of this campaign is automated by Google. There are only four areas where you have control:
- Daily budget
- Target ROAS
- Products in the feed
- Creative assets
It’s hard to advise on budget, because all merchants are unique and have different goals. Typically, I recommend allocating 30-40% of the overall paid search budget to Google Shopping as a starting point. Some merchants may spend up to 60% of their budget on shopping initiatives; it all depends on your goals and what works well during the testing phase.
Once you’ve set a budget, Google will automatically maximize your bids in order to spend the full amount. After running your campaigns for 3-4 weeks, assess your average ROAS. Let’s say that it’s hovering right around 3.6x after the fourth week. At this point, you should go back to your bid settings and configure a target ROAS goal. I typically set this slightly higher than my average return. For a 3.6x average ROAS, I would set my initial goal to 4x. After doing this, you might notice that Google no longer spends your full daily budget. If spending the entire daily budget is a priority, simply lower your target ROAS goal.
As previously mentioned in part II of this series, it is possible to run multiple Smart Shopping campaigns that contain different products, or a mix of Smart and Traditional campaigns. You don’t have to run this type of campaign for your entire product catalog. To figure out what works best, test as much as possible and be sure to document your results each week.
The final area where some control exists is with creative assets. Unlike Traditional Google Shopping, Smart Shopping shows your products in a variety of placements and allows a wider range of asset types (static images and logos, along with product images). Adding and testing different assets is always recommended.
If this type of campaign sounds a bit too basic, Traditional Google Shopping might be more your speed. The primary reason we see clients shy away from Smart Shopping is concern over ad placements. It is very possible that ads could show on off-brand websites, and since Google doesn’t provide good information about any of this, retailers would never know for sure. If brand integrity is a major concern, stick with Traditional Shopping.
Traditional shopping is far more complex and requires significantly more planning and management. Unless you have an in-house expert or plan to work with a very small budget, SD recommends hiring an agency to take on this initiative as it can be very time-consuming.
Managing bidding and strategy for Traditional Shopping could easily be its own three-part blog series, but here is a brief overview of the most important insights I’ve learned over the years:
- Organize campaigns by high, medium, and low priority settings. These campaigns should use different negative keyword lists and match with different types of queries:
- High – generic queries that don’t contain your brand name.
- Medium – queries that contain your brand name.
- Low – queries that contain specific product names or SKU searches.
- Utilize a mix of automated and rule-based bidding. After identifying products that don’t have a great return, SD recommends separating them and testing each automated strategy to figure out which works best – maximize clicks, enhanced CPC, and target ROAS.
- Adjust bids based on audience type and take advantage of lookalike groups. If a user is more likely to buy something, bid up and increase visibility in order to win their business.
- Test geo-targeted campaigns. If certain cities perform better for you, break them out into a separate campaign with a more aggressive bidding strategy.
- Test new features. For example, showcase ads contain multiple products and often have a higher CTR. Try running these to see if they work for your business.
- Take advantage of promotions, customer and store reviews, and competitive pricing/shipping. These features all increase CTR and drive customers to convert.
With Traditional Shopping, the best advice I can give you is to test everything, carefully document results, and slowly optimize. Success takes time and there will certainly be some pitfalls along the way. What works for another retailer may not work for you and you’ll never find out unless you try.
As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance or have questions. Good luck!