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The best way to structure your Google Shopping campaigns

13 May 2019

By Ethan Morgan

Ethan is in the marketing team at Volo, and specialises in writing about retail trends and news for our blog, white papers and reports.

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Google Shopping has become central to ecommerce success. As the first port of call for most consumers, if your products aren’t surfacing on Google Shopping, you’re falling at the first hurdle. However, it’s not just about being present. Brands and retailers need to be smarter about using this platform in the best possible way to drive sales.

To succeed using Google Shopping, you need the right structure for your campaigns. Making sure that you rank (and rank for the right keywords!) is key to turning your efforts into sales.

A good campaign structure enables you to tailor spend between groups of products and helps you to optimise the way you bid and the keywords you’re bidding on. It can sometimes be overlooked as retailers plumb a feed straight into Google Shopping without strategically thinking about segmenting their products to focus spend where it will make the most return.

Here, you’ll learn how to avoid this failure and make the most out of your Google Shopping campaigns. There are three key components of this, so let’s get started...

Segment your products into groups

The first step that you need to take when structuring your Google Shopping campaign is segmenting your products into groups. Whereas in a conventional search campaign you would create your structure based on keywords and ad groups, when it comes to Google Shopping, you are going to find product groups and ad groups. This does not mean that keywords and product groups are the same thing.

A product group will enable you to carve your feed into smaller segments, which enables more granular optimisation. Typically if you do not add any keywords to a search campaign, you wouldn’t be targeting anything, right? The difference with Google Shopping is that if you do not add any product groups, you are going to be targeting everything! This is why product groups are critical. They enable you to build a logical structure separating different groups of products, making it much easier for you to manage. Now you can include and optimise for specific products with ease.

While you are able to set bids at both ad and product group level, there are a number of scenarios whereby you might need to utilise ad groups. This includes negative keywords, promotional text and mobile bid adjustment. Because of this, it is recommended to separate your product ranges into different ad groups so that you can adapt these tactics to suit each product range.

Prioritise bid management

The next part of your Google Shopping structure should be bid management. The 80/20 rule is a useful starting point here. This means that 80% of your budget goes to the most effective 20% of your product group. Therefore, if you organise your product groups in terms of margin, the highest-margin products are going to get the greatest part of the budget that has been allocated for the campaign.

Of course, getting your spending levels right in the first place is also important. This is something that will be personal to each business, depending on your overall advertising budget and your objectives.

You also need to consider your keyword optimisation process. After all, this represents a large part of the spend when you consider you are placing bids on keywords and controlling when the ad is featured. This enables you to control your budget against the true expenditure.

Fashion retail guide to online success

With Google Shopping, you cannot adjust bids for individual keywords. If you want to appear for a high traffic keyword, you’ll need a high bid. This high bid might be wasted if your ad could also appear for lower-traffic terms. This can happen frequently. Let’s take an example product – White Adidas trainers - where specific low-traffic terms like “Adidas white size 9 samba” will be relevant, but so will “white trainers”, a much higher traffic but generic term.

To appear for white trainers, the bid will need to be high – it’s a more competitive keyword with more potential results and more traffic. But the same bid will be spent on the low traffic, specific keyword, where it’s totally overkill. This is where negative keywords come in.

By creating multiple ad groups, you can use different negative keywords in each to exclude either the generic or the specific search terms, then adjust your bid accordingly, so in our example in ad group one you would add “white trainers” as an exact match negative keyword. This ad group would only need a low bid because it will not be going up into the high traffic, generic keywords. Ad group two would have specific keywords e.g. “white Adidas samba size 9” added as negative keywords – this would need a higher bid as it is designed to target the generic high traffic terms.

Invest in data management

Data management is the key to effectively segmenting products and it is vital to conversions. After all, if you don’t use data, how are you going to measure the effectiveness of your campaign so that you can continue to make improvements and move forward?

Plus, you need to manage your product data effectively because it’s the raw material from which Google creates your ads. If you don’t manage your data properly, your Shopping ad quality will suffer. Your Merchant Centre is important here. This is where your product data is going to be sent and stored.

You will also find reporting and diagnostic features, which can help you to fuel your campaigns. The diagnostics enable you to determine any issues with your feed, for example, data that has been submitted and does not meet Google requirements or is invalid, or missing data. You can also use this feature for a better insight regarding the quality of your data.

You can also improve your data quality by submitting extra data that is not required, for example, size, gender and other custom labels. Managing all of this effectively is key to success. Using an external data platform allows retailers and brands to harness next-generation technologies like machine learning to automate large parts of the data optimisation process, leaving much more time to focus on the campaign management and optimisation.

Structure your Google Shopping campaign and deliver improved outcomes

Data quality is the foundation of a good structure. You’ll need good data to create useful segments and targeted bids. Then you need the expertise to know how to invest and spend wisely. Once you have this, it is all about the automation of insights and recommendations, which allows new product launches and strategic tasks to take precedence over maintenance and manual work.

This is the perfect recipe when it comes to structuring your Google shopping campaign for success and delivering improved outcomes, allowing you to maintain an edge over the competition.

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