A version of this post appeared on Multichannel Merchant.
Amazon is tough to beat.
The ecommerce behemoth’s vast product range, easy shipping options, convenience, and speed mean that it has a stronghold on the ecommerce market. But it’s no longer the only game in town.
While you should still be selling on Amazon, you can compete in your own way by offering a better customer experience across multiple channels. To do this, you need an omnichannel marketing strategy that can help you take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
That’s where Google Shopping comes in. Google is working hard to compete with Amazon, and now offers a new channel to reach your buyers. You’ve likely seen shopping results before. Similar to pay-per-click advertising with Google AdWords, Google Shopping shows visual product listings in search results instead of text. You place bids for certain terms and manage your paid ads through Google AdWords and the Google Merchant Center.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of selling on Google Shopping, how it compares to Amazon, and how to optimize your products to ensure you get the best return on investment for your marketing campaigns.
Why sell on Google Shopping?
You need to be where your customers are, regardless of the channel, device, time of day, or location. This requires an omnichannel strategy that takes advantage of every channel your buyers may decide to shop on. This includes Google.
If you’re wondering why you should invest in Google Shopping specifically as a channel consider this: Google is the leader in search. You don’t “Bing” something when you don’t know the answer, you “Google” it. With Google Shopping, not only do your ads appear in the Shopping tab, but if you optimize your product listings, they can also appear on the main Google SERP.
This is a huge opportunity to reach new customers who may not have even heard of your brand, but have started their shopping journey by using Google to find out more about specific products. Take my search for sunscreen. When I typed “best sunscreen for face” into Google, the first results to come up were product listings on Google Shopping. This is key real estate on the Google SERP.
When I click the Shopping tab, I can sort by price and review score, and then also filter by brand, use, and features, as well as add products to a list to save for later. This filtering beats Amazon’s search and sort features hands down, and it makes it much easier for potential customers to discover products on your site. If you’ve optimized your product correctly, it should show up in the search results and on the Shopping tab for your chosen bids.
In terms of ROI per channel, the numbers for Google Shopping also look promising. Take the parts company that averaged $12 to $14 in sales for every $1 spent with Google Shopping ads. Another company in the outdoor space generated $19,000 in sales from 165 transactions with a total campaign spend of $67 through Google Shopping. Like all channels, Google Shopping has its limitations, but it’s certainly worth investigating for your brand.
Control the customer experience and build loyalty
Another advantage of Google Shopping is the control it gives your brand over how your product and message is presented. When someone clicks on your product in the Google search results, they go directly to your website to complete their purchase. Unlike Amazon, your buyers don’t end up on an Amazon-controlled product page that is designed to keep buyers coming back to buy from Amazon again and again.
Instead, you retain control of how your product appears and the experience they have with your brand. Because it’s your website, you have designed and optimized it to engage buyers exactly the way that works best for your audience. You can make sure they can read authentic reviews, have a smooth checkout process, and sign up for your email newsletter. Then, you’re in control of the conversation and can continue to market to your buyer and — hopefully — drive a repeat purchase and long-term customer loyalty.
This is all about building your brand and creating a trusted relationship with your buyer. Amazon doesn’t care about your brand at all. Their priority is the Amazon brand. Google Shopping allows you to prioritize your brand and build up your personal, one-to-one relationship with buyers.
How to optimize your products for Google Shopping
Now that you’ve realized Google Shopping can be a great channel for new customer acquisition AND customer loyalty, you need to optimize your products to make sure that they appear in search listings correctly. You have to optimize your website to rank highly in Google’s main search and also write compelling Google Adwords copy.
As Google determines when your product listing ads show up and for which queries, you should take a similar approach to your SEO strategy for optimizing your website to appear high in the search results for your chosen keywords. The factors Google considers when deciding where to place your ads include your Google Shopping data feed (the actual text of your product listing) and your AdWords bids. Combined, these two factors determine what search queries trigger your ads.
To increase your chances of appearing top in the search results there are some key areas you need to optimize. Follow these steps:
- Make sure all the product images on your website are high quality. Check out Google’s guidelines on what it considers low-quality images if you’re unsure what to do.
- Ensure you include all the relevant information in your Google Shopping listing. This includes the ID, Title, Description, Google product category, Product type, Link, Mobile link, Image link, Additional image link, Condition, Availability, Availability date, Price, and Sale price. You also need to ensure you organize and order the keywords in the title and description.
- Keep your listing up to date with all the relevant information. Make sure you remove listings for products you no longer sell or Google will rank you lower.
- Include your products’ Global Trade Item Number to help Google put your products in the relevant category.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on your analytics so you can bid higher for products that convert well over time.
If you fully embrace Google Shopping as a key channel in your omnichannel strategy, you can reach new buyers and new markets. Even better, you can build an effective strategy to compete with Amazon on your own terms, control your buyer experience, and build a loyal fanbase.