Once your data feed is up and running you might immediately look at performance numbers and want to cut some of your listings or, worse, your entire campaign. Before you do that, you need to understand why your listings aren't performing well. Run tests to see if the quality of your data is good enough to achieve desired results. Qualitative DFO involves evaluating the content of your listings and choosing the most optimal copy, fields and formatting. There are blanket strategies that apply to all of the shopping engines and other, engine specific strategies that need to be evaluated. If you aren't returning as high in the search results as some of your competitors, consider the search terms that you are using and analyze your competitors' listings to see how they differ. Competitive intel can go a long way. Listed below are some helpful tips to consider as you get started... and always remember:
Successful campaigns don't start or run themselves. They always require an investment. The shopping engines, like all online marketing channels, present a competitive landscape and you have to put in time and effort in order to succeed. If you do, you won't be disappointed.
UNIQUE PRODUCT IDENTIFIERS
One of the single most important levers you can pull is to include valid MPN and UPC for your products. This is the primary way that the CSE's validate the identity of your products. If you do not have valid MPN or UPC values, do not include made up values or other sku numbers... this could hurt your performance.
Uniqueness is key. Do not include duplicate titles, descriptions, images or product URLs. In the best case scenario, some shopping engines will down-rank your listings or give you a lower "quality score"... in the worst case scenario, they will remove your listings altogether. In most cases these duplicates are because you offer multiple sizes or types of one product. However, in these cases you still want to differentiate the title, description, image and URL. If you have a sweater that comes in red and black, use a different, appropriate image for each. If you have no choice in some cases (all items live on one landing page URL or you simply can't get multiple images) make SURE to include unique identifiers for each item (preferably UPC).
As a general rule of thumb, you want any keywords that a shopper would be searching on included in your titles and descriptions. Depending on the type / category of product, these could include the brand, the part number, the color, various other adjectives and always the basic "product type" (ie: cordless phone, shoe, table lamp, etc...). If you are running a search marketing campaign, there will typically be some overlap between your top performing keywords on that channel and what will perform well on the shopping engines. You can also use the Google Keyword Tool to gain insight into top phrases for your products. Poor quality titles and descriptions will typically result in poor ranking and low traffic volume from the shopping engines. Therefore, this is a very important component of your feed.
Additionally, keyword density plays a critical role. Wherever possible, trim unnecessary words that are unlikely to be found in a user's search phrase or which aren't completely necessary for readability purposes. For example:
Bad: "New Sony Home Theater A560 Blu-Ray Player Multi-Out - Cables included - SK562u"
Good: "Sony A560 Blu-Ray Player"
Do not include any promotional messaging ("Free shipping!"), marketing text, phone numbers, etc, in your titles. Additionally, leave out the ALL CAPS.
Choose product descriptions that are more keyword dense and not as focused on readability. The product descriptions that work on your website won't typically be the best for the shopping engines. On your site you may want something that is very descriptive and that engages the customer like:
"Share your excellent shots on the wall with the built-in projector of the Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj digital camera. This technical innovation offers a brand new way to enjoy your pictures. The Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj digital camera comes equipped with a 12.1 MP CCD sensor for amazingly detailed picture and a 5x wide-angle zoom-NIKKOR glass lens for close, expansive shooting with stunning color depth and clarity. The Nikon's proprietary Smart Portrait System allows you to take the optimal portrait in just a few steps, and 5-way VR Image Stabilization System helps you capture the clearest and sharpest pictures even when your hands aren’t steady or shooting fast-moving objects! Scene Auto Selector automatically recognizes the scene in your picture and adjusts camera setting. 16 scene shooting modes mean you get the best image possible in various settings. Go from moonlight on the beach to full sun and never miss an opportunity to capture a memory. The Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj is tiny enough to fit into your pocket and powerful enough to record those special moments."
However, on the shopping engines you want something shorter and more keyword dense... shoppers don't read much about the product on the CSEs and the CSEs may truncate or not display your description anyways (though their relevancy algorithm will consider it). Try something closer to your title like:
"This Nikon COOLPIX S1000pj has the latest technology with 12.1 megapixels, 5X Optical Zoom and a 28mm Wide Angle. Enjoy your digital pictures on the 2.7" LCD screen or via the built-in Projector Feature"
Include shipping information, if possible. Depending on how you determine shipping, utilize the appropriate fields so that the shopping engines can display shipping cost information for your products. For flat rate shipping, use the Shipping Cost field. For carrier-based shipping (by weight), use the shipping weight and zip code fields. For much more detailed information, review this FAQ:
Include a message in the Promotional Message field. The full list of acceptable attributes can be found in the Supported Fields section of our Product Import Overview:
Include a larger image. 300 x 300 pixels is around the ideal size.
Quantitative DFO should only be considered after the qualitative DFO strategies have been employed. Quantitative DFO involves evaluating performance metrics from your shopping engine campaigns and making changes to your engines/categories/products based on that information (typically adding/removing products from various engines and/or adjusting bids). There are many ways to look at your metrics. You as the merchant have to decide what the proper rules are for your unique situation. A big box retailer with brick and mortar stores will have different goals than a mom and pop shop that does M/yr in revenue. Here are a couple quantitative DFO approaches to consider:
1. Basket Approach - Profitability of the Channel
2. Engine Approach - Profitability by Engine
3. Category Approach - Profitability by Category
4. SKU Approach - Profitability by Product
General CSE Campaign Tips
1. Test logo up for one week, down for next, repeat... compare numbers
2. Remove logo (save 10 cent cpc) and apply that to bidding up. Better ROAS?
3. Include tax in CSE account center.
4. List where your competitors are listing
5. Don't SPAM your store info at each engine: no promotional text in your store name, for example.
6. Don't include promotional text or your phone number in your logo or product images.
Other Best Practices
1. Landing Page Load Time: Longer than several seconds& visitor likely to click back button& merchant gets charged for the clickthrough, but visitor doesn't get all the way to your site. See: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/04/16/time-is-money/
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