Notes from Australia

I should have used Google Shopping ads sooner

If you’re a nationwide retailer — or even statewide — you may advertise on Google Shopping, if not Google Ads, or both.

As a small online-only retailer, I wish I had joined Google Shopping much earlier to increase my site’s visibility and sales.

I’ve experienced little success with Google Ads (formerly AdWords) in the 18 years I’ve been running online businesses. Admittedly, I didn’t know what I was doing with AdWords and have wasted hundreds of dollars. Nonetheless, it cooled my enthusiasm with all pay-per-click advertising for a long time.

Images Are Key

Google Ads are text-based and appear in search results that, for me, might be met just as effectively with serious and concerted search engine optimization efforts. But Google Shopping’s strength is its imagery.

Consumers who search for a particular product are in buying mode. They’ve done their research and know what they’re looking for. They recognize the item — or something very similar — when they see it.

A picture really will tell a thousand words.

My best-selling products on Google Shopping (event and wedding décor) showcase the items in a lifestyle setting. Competitors who sell the same item but who use the identical manufacturer’s photo tend to compete on price, availability, and location.

If shoppers want what you have to sell, they’ll wait to receive it — especially if they cannot easily find it anywhere else.

25 percent of revenue

I started with Google Shopping ads on June 11, 2018, opting to invest just $AUD300 per month.

It took until August 13, 2018, until I made my first sale.

Perhaps I was nervous or didn’t know what to expect, but in my first six weeks with Google Shopping, I began with just one product category, which was not enough to make sales traction. Two weeks after I rolled out all products for purchase, I made my first sale.

August’s sales alone have paid for my Google Shopping fees up to January 2019.

I am kicking myself I didn’t try Google Shopping earlier, especially as I am one of the few high-end event décor suppliers who sell via this channel.

In the 10 weeks since mid-August, Google Shopping has been responsible for 25.1 percent of my revenue.

High converters

My top three revenue channels since mid-August have been (a) organic Google search results, (b) direct traffic, and (c) Google Shopping ads. Collectively those channels have generated 89.2 percent of my sales and 90.4 percent of my visitors.

There are notable differences in buying behavior with these three channels. Those who purchased via organic Google search results stay the longest on my website (1 minute 41 seconds), visit the most pages (2.33 pages), have the lowest conversion rate (0.25 percent), and provide the largest slice of revenue (37.2 percent).

Visitors from Google Shopping are quick to decide if they’ll make a purchase. Those visitors comprise 18.8 percent of the total, have the highest bounce rate (77.0 percent), visit the fewest pages (1.86 pages), and spend the least amount of time (57 seconds).

Despite this, visitors from Google Shopping are more than twice as likely to convert as those from organic search. The conversion rate of visitors from Google Shopping is 0.66 percent in the last 10 weeks. That’s slightly below that of direct visitors who type or click a direct link or bookmark to my website (0.67 percent) and far higher than those who arrive via organic search results (0.25 percent).

Next month I will fine-tune my Google Shopping efforts to increase traffic, reduce bounce rates, choose products according to their prices and profit levels, and generate more sales.

The Shopify app provider Shopping Feeder has apparently improved Google Shopping campaign performance for other retailers by an average of 44 percent. With Shopping Feeder’s help, I plan to add in 2019 certain items from my rental range, which should help increase visits and conversions.

Watch this space.

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