August 27, 2019
Google Shopping Campaign Structure
Google Shopping campaigns can be extremely flexible in how you set them up, but the trade-off is that they’ll take more time to manage the more complex your campaign structure.
Many bid management and promotional options can be managed at any level down to the individual SKU, the overall campaign structure is built around ad groups. An ad group is simply a collection of one or more product listings.
You can set up a campaign with all products in a single ad group, if you prefer. For some businesses, especially small businesses, this is all they have time to do. (For growing businesses, adjusting this is one of the reasons to hire outside experts to manage their feed.)
Obviously, if all of your products are in the same ad group, you won’t be able to take advantage of any Google Shopping option using settings that affect your campaign at the ad group level. However, if your time is limited, it can be the only option available to you.
A single ad group will collect click data much faster, as all of the spending from your budget is being used in the same ad group. You also don’t need to worry about making sure the budget isn’t entirely gone before it reaches some groups.
However, having your campaign broken down into smaller ad groups allows for a lot of advantages, especially if your product catalogue includes several hundred or even thousands of products.
Notably, you’ll find it much easier to identify and deal with poorly performing products when you only have to navigate through a compact ad group. Ad groups with thousands of products also risk some of the products in the group never receiving exposure, and never getting the data you need to start optimising them.
But for all the arguments in favour of multiple ad groups, the next question is obvious:
How should you break down your product range into ad groups?
There are a lot of different strategies. It’s down to you to decide which is best for you – and which you have time to set up and maintain. Your campaign can’t help you if you don’t get it live, after all.
Campaigns can be set at one of three priority levels; High, Medium, or Low.
These priorities tell the Google Shopping systems which of your campaigns are most important to you. If a search could trigger ads from an entry in a High priority campaign and one in a Medium priority campaign, Google Shopping will check the High priority searches, find one there, and use that. It only moves down to Medium if either there’s no appropriate High priority entry or if the High campaign has used all of its budget.
However, products in Low priority campaigns still have a chance to feature if no High or Medium campaign has an appropriate bid. This is where Negative Keywords come in.
Let’s look at an example. Consider an electronics company looking to improve its TV sales through a Google Shopping campaign.
The company has a number of options here. Because High is checked before Medium and Medium before Low, you can assign Negative Keywords to the higher priorities and use them for lower-bid, more generic competition. The Negative Keywords prevent these ads for bidding on branded higher-intent searches. Those higher intent searches can be set for higher bids, controlling the priority market.
They might also want to include screen sizes as ‘brands’ in the same way, screening out queries for larger screens with Negative Keywords to drive targeted queries toward higher bids more likely to convert.
(And remember, search terms that absolutely won’t convert can be set as Negative Keywords for every campaign. Don’t spend on terms you can’t get a return on.)
Whatever characteristic drives the majority of your business’ sales can be marked out for stronger support using this method. This is the one we most recommend, assuming you have the free time to devote to setting it up and maintaining it.
Alternatively, our hypothetical TV retailer could group televisions that perform better (high margin, best-selling, or both) together and set their ads as higher priority than the rest of its stock. This means they’re much more likely to be promoting high-return products. They’d expect a higher ROAS than if they were dedicating equal weight to every product.
Bear in mind that just having a better margin on a given TV doesn’t automatically make it the right choice for your advertising budget. Users may still shop around and go for a different product if it’s cheaper, on sale, or otherwise grabs their attention. A higher conversion rate is usually going to be more effective.
That electronics company would have similar campaign models running for DVD players, printers, digital cameras, etc. Each of these product types might have a different approach, depending on what works well for that ad group.
Because there are three levels, you can even combine these strategies. If you set your high-intend branded searches to Low and keep your general searches to Medium, you have room to create short-term Promotional campaigns at High priority, where you can push more of your advertising budget at sale products – as the special offers make these more likely to be discounted. But take care when you do this – make sure your maximum bids on sale items aren’t high enough to turn a profitable sale into a loss!
Bid management is its own complex subject, which we’ll cover in the next instalment of this guide.
Before you get any further into bid management, it’s vital you understand the concept of ‘max CPC’.
This is defined as the most you can pay for each click, based on the profit you make per unit and the product’s conversion rate – the proportion of visitors to that product page who buy one.
Calculating Max CPC
A product’s max CPC can be calculated by multiply its net profit by conversion rate.
If you’re selling something where you make £5 of net profit each sale, but you only sell to one in every twenty visitors (a 5% conversion rate), your max CPC would be:
£5 x 0.05 = £0.25
You’ll break even on sales so long as your bid is no higher than 25p. If your bid is lower, you’ll make at least some profit per sale.
Bidding at max CPC can be a positive in the long run, as some proportion of your customers will become return customers. But is that the best strategy? Almost certainly not.
Understanding Bid Management
You’ll probably want to start with bids somewhere between half and three-quarters of your Max CPC. Keep in mind, this is just a starting point.
Individual products will have greater success at different bids; early on, experimentation is important. Even once you’ve settled on a strategy for a given product, shifting markets mean that adjustments will still be needed.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to someone with Google Shopping experience (or even a dedicated team), initial bid optimisation will be completed much faster and you’ll start seeing better ad performance earlier.
However, bid management isn’t a one-and-done process; you’ll want to monitor your campaigns regularly. Dozens of different factors can affect how effective your bids are. A few of the biggest factors include:
- A new competitor joining the field/an established competitor going bust
- A major celebrity endorsement for a specific product
- Seasonal shifts in interest (for example, the gourmet chocolate market sees major bumps in December and early February)
- New fashion trends
Almost all of these represent opportunities to capture a wider market at the cost of increased ad spend. Quite often, that increased spend should be accompanied by a higher maximum bid, to ensure you feature in more generic searches.
Smaller factors aren’t necessarily opportunities on the same scale, but they can still mean that what had been a great bid price isn’t so helpful anymore.
As well as a maximum bid per click, you can also set a daily budget for your marketing. Usually, the starting daily budget will be quite low relative to your company’s cashflow; as the campaign becomes more successful, though, your daily ad spend is likely to increase to drive more customers.
Don’t be too worried if you don’t spend your entire daily budget early on. Remember, you’re only charged when someone actually clicks through from one of your adverts, and early on, Google won’t feature your adverts as often – but as time goes by and their conversion rate is established, they’ll be seen more often.
To keep the example simple, let’s imagine all of your ad bids when you launch the campaign are exactly 50p and your starting daily budget is £10. Google Shopping therefore knows that you can afford 20 clicks during the day and then your budget is gone.
Google Shopping will take that 20 click per day rate and, based on what it knows about the rate people search for related keywords, the number of those keywords, the number of competitors, and those competitors’ click per day rate, Google Shopping will attempt to give you 20 clicks spread out evenly across a full 24-hour period.
Check Early, Check Often
At the moment you launch your campaign, you should be planning your next check on bids. If you’re under-bidding, your campaign is probably under-performing – and beginning to nudge the cost of your bids up, a very little at a time, is essential to get the ball rolling.
On the other hand, you might also be paying over the odds. You don’t want to be spending more than you should be for long.
Two or three weekdays is enough to get a sense of whether your adjustment has begun to work. Don’t trust weekends at first – they usually have different buying patterns to weekdays anyway. After you’ve been running your campaigns long enough, you should get a sense of how weekends affect the data. Before then, using weekend data can cause trouble for later.
Once you’re satisfied that your feed is performing well, you can check less often, though we still recommend a weekly check-in. Hopefully, you’ll find that you’re only having to adjust a few bids at a time.
Obviously, what counts as a low bid and a high bid varies by product and market. A new fridge probably costs more per click than a cool sleeve for soft drink cans, and you could easily find that the cost difference between two similar products you carry is wide enough to pay attention to.
But with that said, there are reasons you might go for low or high bids on a given product.
Why Use High Bids?
High bids have a greater chance of being shown against broader keywords – ‘trainers’ rather than ‘Reebok Club C Vintage’ – which makes them useful when you want to catch potential customers early in their decision-making process. You’ll also see the benefit of high bids if you’re launching a new product which won’t receive many detailed searches and needs the exposure.
Both of these options reduce ROAS (return on ad spend) in order to gather a broader market share instead.
You might also find that your product is one where a high-competition keyword has a stronger conversion rate. If that’s true, it could be worth pushing a higher bid to beat out the competition.
The Strengths of Low Bids
The most obvious advantage to low bids is that you’ll be able to buy more clicks for the same budget, which means more traffic and (usually) more conversions.
However, the other advantage of low bids is that they tend to show up for long-tail keyword searches, which are lower competition – but which often have a higher conversion rate.
If you’re currently satisfied with the amount of market share you already have, focusing on low bids can be a powerful high-return strategy.
How Do You Decide Which is Better?
Whether a high-bid or low-bid strategy is better genuinely can vary even between two products in the same range. It can also change over time as the market adjusts.
Your first priority is to start getting clicks. From that point on, you’ll get more data to work with.
If your product is getting sales from clicks, it’s worth trialling a slightly higher bid. If sales go up significantly, you’re visible on better performing keywords and can sell more.
If you’re getting clicks but not sales, there are two possibilities. Either something is stopping buyers from biting or you’re showing up for high-cost, low-conversion keywords. Check your feed – are you optimised for the right searches?
Check your competition, too, especially if performance has dropped without changing your price. Maybe competition has increased. Maybe a short-term promotion is going to own the market until it ends.
Spend some time moving incrementally toward your highest return. If lowering the price doesn’t improve performance, raise it, then wait and see. Eventually you’ll home in on a high-performance bid.
From there you can decide whether to move toward a low bid or high bid strategy.
The two most notable ad extensions currently available are Promotions and Reviews. These are inserted into the relevant ads when displayed, provided that you’ve taken the time to set them up.
To be able to list promotions on your Google Shopping ads, you’ll need to start by submitting Google’s Product Ratings Interest Form.
Once you’ve done that, Google will contact you to go over their requirements. Shortly after that, you’ll be able to start setting up promotions as appropriate.
Promotions are split into two main types:
- Promotional Text
- Promotional Feeds/Special Offers
Promotional Text is applied across an entire ad group rather than on a product by product basis. It’s also not displayed immediately. Instead, it appears as a text box when the cursor hovers over an applicable advert.
You can add this content at the ad group level, and have 45 characters to use for your promotion. One of the most common uses is to promote free shipping, though Google requires that a promo code or similar ‘promotional’ element is used to advertise free shipping – if it comes as standard, it’s not a promotion.
Traditional marketing has often seen companies promote themselves by saying ‘we don’t do deals, our prices are always fantastic’. But there’s no place to put that information in a Google Shopping ad – these ads talk up the product more than the company.
Promotional Feeds require another form – the Merchant Promotions Interest Form. You can also contact a Google Ads rep directly, asking to be whitelisted for promotions.
Once you’re whitelisted, there are two ways to set up a promotional feed.
To add a few at a time, it’s usually quickest to use Promotions in Google Merchant Center. A large number, on the other hand, should be built in a spreadsheet and imported with the Data Feed tool.
There are three ways to add reviews to your Shopping Feed.
- Upload your own reviews feed
- Set up Google Customer Reviews
- Use a Reviews Aggregator
Reviews Feed Upload
You will need a minimum of 50 total reviews across your products. Uploading your feed is made simple via your Merchant Center account.
Google Customer Reviews
Participating in the Google Customer Reviews service is free and simple. You just need to add a line of code to enable customers to review you, which they do from your checkout page.
Google can integrate with a number of the major thirty party reviews tools and ratings aggregators. You can set it up to display your ratings in the traditional 5-star system with a total review count.
Reviews will not be displayed unless there are at least three reviews for the product.
Remarketing is one of the major advances that digital marketing has over traditional marketing. At the heart of remarketing is a simple concept: Some user groups are more likely to convert than others.
We’ve already looked at how different search terms indicate how far a user is along the customer journey. As part of that, we considered how long-tail search terms are much more likely to convert than a typical short-tail keyword.
Those ideas look at individual users and individual searches, and how likely each one is to result in a sale. Remarketing instead looks at groups of users.
Given a choice between a new shop and one they’ve used before, all other things being equal, most shoppers will go back to the familiar shop (unless its service was astonishingly bad). Many businesses, online and off, owe their survival and success to fostering return customers.
Remarketing allows you to specifically target people who’ve already shopped with you when they search for a product you offer. This way you can even draw in return customers who didn’t know you also offer this new product. With two successful shopping experiences, they become even more likely to return again.
You can also target visitors who nearly became customers. It’s common to see online shoppers add products to their basket, then not finalise the sale.
You can probably think of half a dozen or so reasons they might do this. Maybe they got distracted or called away. Maybe they checked their finances and decided to wait until payday. Maybe they were waiting to hear from a friend before placing a joint order. (And maybe your site’s checkout process is frustrating or complicated. If your cart abandonment rate is high, look into this.)
Abandoned shopping carts represent money left on the table. Remarketing campaigns can focus on this group of potential customers, too.
Another common remarketing tactic involves targeting visitors who viewed a specific product’s page but didn’t go further. Some of these visitors will have decided not to buy – others may have hesitated. A well-placed advert can get conversions from both those who hesitated and those who originally decided against. After all, advertising is designed to change people’s minds!
There are plenty of firms out there offering remarketing services. Facebook are famous for it. We recommend balancing your remarketing budget across multiple services. And one of those, if you can, should be Google Shopping.
To be enrolled in the system, you’ll need to contact a Google Ads rep.
If you’re on Google Analytics, you can enable remarketing through there (though your Analytics code on your website may need to be updated.)
From that point on, you’ll be able to build lists – these are basically user groups we’ve mentioned.
You can set up a lot of different potential lists. In the same way that a well-segmented mailing list makes for higher conversion rates and less friction with customers, your remarketing lists can be customised to allow you to target groups of customers very accurately. These lists are known as Remarketing List Search Ads, or RLSAs.
There’s also a special list type now available from Google – Similar Audiences. This can be applied to any of your existing lists to produce a new group of people whose search behaviour resembles them.
While they don’t necessarily feel the same strong connection as your own lists, the behavioural similarities mark them out as a group that’s more likely to convert than the average. Bidding higher for them is a strategy that’s likely to pay off.
However, you should remember that the theory behind Remarketing bidding is the same as all other Google Shopping ads. There will be an optimal bid value for your products for these lists. Testing will show you whether higher bids or lower work better for you.
Making Google Shopping Work for You
As we hope we’ve shown, Google Shopping has a lot of moving parts to manage, but if you can keep up with it, your effort will really pay off. The basic principles are simple, but they take practice before you can really start making the most of them.
They also take a long time – much more than you might expect. We recognise that there’s a lot of work to be done here, and all of it is work going on alongside the running of your business.
This is where we invite you to consider Cloud Commerce Pro. Our system is designed to connect seamlessly with your own existing platforms, providing a central records and administration system. We also automate many of the essential processes in running an e-commerce company.
Cloud Commerce Pro was designed as a multi-channel order management service, so your online storefront, an Amazon Seller page, and more can all be handled from within the same interface, with stock automatically updating across channels.
Because we’re cloud-operated, you can access and interact with this system from anywhere in the world. And because we listen to our customers, the system is highly flexible. Your Cloud Commerce Pro account can be customised to do exactly what you need it to.
Get in touch today and ask us how we can improve and streamline your systems to make Amazon work for you.