Preparing for the Q4 Shopping Spree

Google Shopping Best Practices, Tips and Tricks

Q4 is fast approaching, so it’s time to review those best practices for Google Shopping! We have some tips and best practices that we hope will help you kick start optimising your shopping campaigns to achieve the best performance, when it really matters!

Separate best sellers or high value products in different campaigns with different priorities depending on your goals.

Ensure the products that perform the best (or are likely to, for example because they’re going to be featured in an offer) are given the best chance to sell. Creating campaigns to separate and prioritise these products from the main feed will help you focus on their performance, set different CPA or ROAS targets and increase your click share when you need it most.

Common ways to separate your shopping campaigns:

  • Brands
  • Product Category
  • Sale Items
  • Product Price
  • Best Sellers

Make the most of Showcase Ads

Showcase ads help you reach higher level, more generic searches and entice customers to discover your brand. This can be particularly useful during periods prior to Black Friday and in the lead up to Christmas whilst users are doing their product research. Capturing these users early by targeting the upper funnel search terms gives you the power and data to then retarget these users later on when their intent changes and they are using more specific product related searches that you would be targeting using regular shopping campaigns.

the works christmas showcase

 Create specific seasonal shopping campaigns to prioritise products at particular times of year.

We’ve seen great results with clients when we’ve used custom labels to highlight products that do well in certain seasons. For example, a woolly hat would have the ‘winter’ custom label added, ensuring it features in the winter campaign, knowing it will perform better during Q4 and other winter seasons than in Summer or Spring.

Separating campaigns ensures they get the relevant focus at the critical time of year, for example increasing budget, priority or altering the CPA or ROAS targets if using smart bidding.

Optimise the Product Feed

See our blog on What is Shopping Feed Optimisation

Implement Smart Shopping Campaigns

This will allow you to use your time more efficiently to build a strategy for Q4. It takes your business goals and campaigns based on your objectives to choose the most appropriate bidding strategy for you and then uses machine learning to automate optimisations across intent channels. 

You can have one Smart Shopping Campaign for all of your inventory, or separate these into multiple Smart Shopping Campaigns based on product groups or categories. You can then set different goals and targets for each of these groups based on the time of year or priorities for the business.

Differentiate your ads from other retailers

You can attract consumers by highlighting your unique value proposition. Do this by:

  • Adding Merchant Promotions through Google Merchant Centre; these can be discounts, free gifts or shipping. For example “Spend £30, Enjoy Free Shipping”
  • Adding Merchant Ratings which will drive online shoppers to your store and earn more qualified leads to increase your ad performance. This can be done through a review feed, a reviews aggregator, or to participate in Google Customer Reviews.

Don’t forget to have a ‘catch all’ campaign

Creating an ‘all products’ campaign set at a low priority will ensure that the products and categories that you’re not prioritising using the above techniques continue to be eligible to show as shopping ads. You can monitor and act on the performance of these products to understand any changes in trends and prioritise them later if necessary.

Some housekeeping tips

Ensure the budgets aren’t being limited

Ensure that your shopping campaign budgets are sufficient enough to deal with any peaks and expected or unexpected surges in demand. There are several ways you can do this.

Firstly, review last year’s performance to predict future trends and get ahead of the curve. Events like Black Friday/Cyber Monday are prime examples. Alternatively, you can set rules that can change the budgets of campaigns if they see good performance.

Managing seasonality

Budget control can help you manage the eb and flow of demand as seasonality takes hold of the market. Something worth considering for this time of year is that Black Friday is a little later in the month than previous years. We would expect demand not to drop as drastically this time around with it being closer to Christmas. Something to consider when planning the daily budgets of your campaigns.

Review search query reports regularly.

Just because shopping campaigns don’t specifically have keywords, doesn’t mean you don’t have some control on what searches your campaigns show for. If you’re using regular Shopping campaigns you should be using search query reports almost twice as much as the search campaigns to ensure you’re adding the negatives and irrelevant searches. You can save a lot of money on wasted clicks by ensuring your negative lists are regularly updated.

 Continue to check Merchant Centre

Depending on the amount of products that the client has, checking Merchant Centre for product improvements is useful as product alterations can help get a product more visibility and appear on more accurate search terms.

Merchant Centre will also flag any disapproved items, and items not appearing in the feed due to things like missing or mismatched pricing. Reducing errors will ensure that your whole shopping inventory remains available for your campaigns.

Keep an eye on Auction Insights…

If you’re appearing alongside unrelated businesses, then that may be an indication that you’re matching to the wrong type of searches and that you should review the search term report.

The auction insights report can also illustrate where you may be missing opportunities and may need to increase priority or relax CPA/ROAS targets to ensure impression share improves.

Don’t forget those remarketing audiences

Whether you opt to use formats like Showcase or not, it is important to use the remarketing data you have at your disposal so that when the time is right you are prioritising the best users. Ahead of time, set up as many audiences as you can think of (as long as there is enough volume). Some ideas for audiences:

  • Basket abandoners
  • Viewed product pages – grouped by type of product
  • Visitors within 24 hours / 3 days / 5 days – this particularly around the end of promotions and Black Friday.

Opting in to Smart Shopping will take care of remarketing. Something to consider.

Now you’re prepared to use Google Shopping to its full potential; good luck this season and Happy Shopping!

How Small Businesses Can Stand Out This Christmas

Online reviews are one of the best ways of getting to new customers, and the holiday season is no different. For small businesses to contend with the big boys at this time of year, there are still a few ways to do this without breaking the bank. One of these is Google’s newly launched social post styles from “Small Thanks“, a hub of free marketing tools for small businesses, including posters, social posts and more.

We recently posted an article about the new PPC opportunities at Christmas, which showed that 61% of consumers are willing to try a new retailer this Christmas. To get your business noticed, why not shout about your rave reviews. Take quotes from happy customers and turn them into slick seasonal posts. You can use your business’ real Google reviews and then share on your social media platforms.


Google Small Thanks Social Media Cards

Want to see what they look like? Of course you do! They look and feel professional and honest. And by using your real reviews, people will trust your brand.


What Google Says

“It’s important to grab the attention of shoppers online, even if you’re a local business. Last holiday season, 78% of shoppers who visited a store turned to online search first. Show those potential customers that you meet their needs by sharing a social post from Small Thanks that highlights your business’s unique attributes—such as gift wrapping services or a kid-friendly environment. That way, you’ll be on their radar when they’re ready to shop.”

Holiday Shoppers Are Begging for Your Help This Christmas

‘Help me find you — wherever I am, whenever I want’

That’s what holiday shoppers are asking of retailers at this time of year. Shoppers are inundated with messaging and are looking for brands to cut through the noise and answer the questions they’re asking. Questions such as “brands like” and “stores like” give retailers the opportunity to cut in when people are searching for larger, better known or more expensive brands. Indeed, mobile searches for those queries increased 60% in the past two years.

61% of shoppers are open to buying from new retailers during the holiday season, and in the 2017 season, 46% of them actually did.

There is a huge opportunity to get your brand in front of new customers and remind existing customers of your presence (no pun intended!) during this huge shopping frenzy.

Continuing to provide assistance via mobile is critical. Shoppers are turning to their smartphones for shopping help with even greater frequency. In fact, in the past two years, searches for “shopping app” have jumped 90%, while searches for “online shopping” has grown 180% in that same period.”  Think With Google.


New Channels This Christmas

It’s not too late to consider new channels to attract new customers this holiday season… If you have video content to hand, you can make a killing using YouTube – both organically and through ads. Just make sure that your strategy aims to help customers with the information that they are looking for. Answer their questions, introduce your brand and your great reputation so that they feel comfortable with trying you instead of your competitors.

Christmas PPC Opportunities


Latest Shopping Type This Christmas

One of the latest trends for Christmas gift shoppers is ‘thoughtful gifts’. Many shoppers have no clue what to buy friends and family. Ensuring you can answer their question about what to buy a certain demographic will entice them to your store. Google said of this:

“In our discussions with shoppers, we repeatedly came across people going above and beyond to find just the right present. In short, they want to be the best gift-giver of the season. It doesn’t come easy. “I want to buy a gift that’s so fitting for the person that I try so hard. That’s stressful,” one person said. Or as another person put it, “I like giving gifts, but I’m not sure I like buying them. I stress myself out about it.”

But they feel elation when they find it. “I had my nephew’s birthday the other week and I literally searched ‘I don’t know what to buy a kid,’ and ‘what to buy a kid,’” another person told us. “And on there was a scooter I liked and I guess he liked it too. When his mom saw it she was like OMG you got him THE scooter. … I was like ‘Yes!’” “ Think With Google

Christmas PPC Opportunities

Google says they’re seeing some very specific searches cropping up. Searchers are being very specific about what they are searching for. Mobile searches for “gifts for ___ lover(s)” have grown by over 130% in the last two years (for example, “baby gifts for music lovers,” “gifts for hawaii lovers,” and “great gifts for makeup lovers”). They’re also looking for the best gift based not only on the recipient but the giver as well. Think “gifts for dad from big brother,” “gifts for grandparents from grandchildren,” or “christmas gifts from kids to mom.” Mobile searches for “gifts for ___ from ____” have grown by over 140% in the past two years.

Christmas PPC Opportunities 2

But who’s the most difficult person to buy for, and the one that you could be taking advantage of searches for…? The person who has everything or wants nothing!

Mobile searches for “gifts for” + “has everything” or ”wants nothing” have grown by over 230% over the past two years. Examples include “gift for 3 year old boy who has everything,” “christmas gift ideas for husband who has everything,” and “gifts for the woman who wants nothing.”


So, there are many new opportunities to cut through the Christmas white noise and get to new customers. Make sure you help those shoppers who are desperate for help this Christmas.

Call back form