7 Optimization Tricks for Comparison Shopping Merchant Accounts and Shopping Feeds
This is a guest post by Andrew Davis, the Marketing Director for CPC Strategy, a full service shopping feed management agency. He is the co-author of the first-ever Merchant Comparison Shopping Handbook, a free ebook that helps merchants optimize shopping feeds and comparison shopping merchant accounts. The author’s views/comments are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Pitstop Media Inc.
1. Designate hot products in Become
If you have products on sale, high in stock, or that are converting favorably on Become.com, mark them as Hot in your Stock Status column. Become lets merchants mark up to 100 products with Hot in the Stock Status column and then favors these products in search results when it can.
2. Strikethrough price in Shopping.com
Increase conversions by using Shopping.com’s strike through price. Check out how much this listing stands out from the competition:
Getting the strike through price on your products is really easy.
All you need to do is add another column to your shopping feed titled Original Price. In this column insert your products’ MSRP. Note that consumers are smart- if the item’s price is $10.00 and you mark the original price as $1,000.00 (99% off!) they’ll think something’s up.
After you populate your column, upload your fresh shopping feed and log into your Merchant Account Center. To let Shopping.com process your new feed correctly, you need to direct its system to read the new column you inserted. To do that, go here:
After you click on Add or update products, confirm your submission data (feed file name, FTP information) and click continue. On the next screen you’ll tell Shopping.com which column is the original price and which is current price:
Click continue and your new listings will have a strike through price within 48 hours.
3. Product_type column in Google Product Search
We’ve seen traffic increases of over 100% with an optimized product_type column. Results like that aren’t typical, but the traffic increase that comes from optimizing this column is substantial.
If you’re new to the product_type category, it’s basically the category column for Google Product Search. If you have your own categories you can use them, but we only recommend this if you have detailed specific categories for each of your products.
If you see that the categories assigned to your products are not as detailed as they can be in product_type taxonomy here you should revisit and update the data with the most specific information possible.
Use top level and bottom level categories.
For example, Furniture > Office Furniture > Desks > Cherry Desks is better than just Cherry Desk.
4. Special offers in Shopzilla
Utilize Shopzilla’s Special Offers section to increase conversions.
The Special Offers section is used to create coupons or add marketing messages on Bizrate and is found in the Manage Listings section of Shopzilla’s merchant dashboard.
The coupon functionality is still being rolled out on Shopzilla.
Once you click on the link you’re able to review and edit current special offers and make new special offers.
From experience, the best coupons that work are straight % off coupons. Make them exclusive to Bizrate and Shopzilla by creating a custom coupon code, like ZILLA or BIZPON.
Where does the special offer show up?
When you scroll through the search results in Bizrate, each listing has an i that pops up between the picture and product listing details. If you click on that i, you receive information on the product, any coupons that are being offered, and more info.
It also shows up on Bizrate’s product comparison pages under the merchant name:
5. Stock description column in Shopping.com
This column is your space to display additional promotional text about your products, brand, or webstore. This section appears on-site under the Product Name in bold text. Use the space wisely, there’s a 100 character limit.
If you add this column, make sure you follow the instructions in trick #2 to let Shopping.com read your new column.
6. Fixed vs max bids in Nextag
Try testing Fixed vs. Max bids.
Nextag gives you the option of changing from a fixed CPC to a Max CPC in the Manage Bids By Product and Manage Bids By Category sections.
Fixed is a set CPC you’ll pay per click, while Max is the max you’ll pay for a click. Do some bid tests and see if you can optimize your ROI by changing the type of bid.
For example, a $0.50 Max bid could only result in a $0.32 cost per click (CPC) if the next highest bid is $0.31. The $0.50 Fixed bid will always be $0.50 CPC and would also increase Nextag’s margin on that click, enabling Nextag to increase the visibility of your product on search engines like Google and on cobrands.
7. Suppress products on paid shopping engines
What’s profitable for you on the CSEs? If you spend $100 in clicks, how much do you need back to break even or make a profit? $300? $500? $1000? Be realistic and don’t forget the supplemental value of CSE campaigns. The customers that purchase products on your webstore can be remarketed to and can come back direct. That’s value you should consider.
After you establish what’s profitable, you can look into what products don’t fit that criteria.
Here’s an example:
You need a 3 to 1 return from Pricegrabber to break even. Right now your ratio of spend is $100 and revenue is $250. To optimize that ROI, look at the top 10 – 20 products that are getting a lot of clicks, but no sales. They may have 30, 40, or even over 100 clicks and no sales. That’s a pretty clear indication that for some reason or another, those products don’t work on Pricegrabber and you need to remove them from your data feed. They’re wasting spend with lots of click costs, but they’re not doing anything sales wise.
This is an important point – you’re not doing anything wrong, but some of your products just won’t work on the shopping engines. Don’t spend time on fixing how those products match up against your competitors, this will create a huge scaling issue. Instead, remove them from the feed. Then when you make changes to your products, landing pages, or website in general, you can re-add the products to the data feed and let them have a another go.
Product level suppression is not possible without product level tracking. Make sure you have an analytics solution in place before you start your CSE campaigns. Throwing all of your products on the CSEs without product level tracking is a recipe for failure.
About the author
Andrew Davis is the Marketing Director for CPC Strategy, a full service shopping feed management agency. He is the co-author of the first-ever Merchant Comparison Shopping Handbook, a free ebook that helps merchants optimize shopping feeds and comparison shopping merchant accounts.
In addition Andrew is Chief Blogger for the CPC Strategy blog that aims to help merchants optimize shopping feeds.
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