Google Shopping is taking off like a rocket ship.
Consumers love the visually based Product Listing Ads, especially on mobile. Retailers are also taking note, spent big on the channel in 2015.
That spending paid off: Research showed that Google Shopping Product Listing Ads (PLAs) drove 15% of retailers’ sitewide revenue during Holiday 2015, up from 9.6% in 2014.
It’s safe to say that competition in Google Shopping is sure to continue heating up — especially now that Google Shopping ads dominate the right-hand side of the desktop SERP (pictured):
So the time is now for Google Shopping users to ensure their budgets are well-spent by optimizing their product landing pages for this fast-growing channel. This post explains how.
Know Thy Audience
First, let’s take a step back. Before you can optimize landing pages for Google Shopping, you must first understand the audience that’s using the channel.
The shoppers who are coming to your site from Google Shopping PLAs are different from users who find you through text ads or display ads. These consumers are:
- All about price. Shoppers who land on your site after clicking on a PLA typically aren’t there because of a clever social media campaign you ran last month or your most recent email newsletter. They are there because you offered a product they wanted at a compelling price.
- Not loyalty shoppers. PLA shoppers aren’t especially loyal to your company or its mission. A strong brand can be a differentiator when a customer is deciding between multiple offers or products. But if they only had eyes for you, these shoppers would have just gone to your site directly from the outset.
- High(er) intent. Now for some good news: PLAs deliver a more qualified click. Visitors who arrive at your digital doorstep after clicking a PLA are almost always searching for a particular product. This indicates a higher level of purchase intent than other types of traffic (and makes optimizing for the channel even more pressing).
So, How Should You Optimize?
Now that we have our audience pinned down, we can start to optimize the path to purchase from PLAs. Keep in mind that certain elements of PLA landing pages are tightly regulated by Google — i.e., landing pages must include the product, image, and current price.
Once you’ve covered those bases, it’s time to have some fun. Here are five big things to keep in mind when optimizing your pages:
1. When it comes to PLAs, be smart about pop-ups and interstitials.
Pop-ups on landing pages can generate new contacts. But marketers should be extremely judicious about how they employ this tool when it comes to PLA traffic.
Remember, these shoppers came to your site for a product you advertised. Let them get to know you before asking them to do anything other than conclude their search journey with a checkout. If you absolutely MUST use pop-ups, stick to promotions and discounts (more on that in a second). However, don’t be afraid to offer shoppers options. That’s because …
2. You should always try to educate PLA shoppers.
Instead of distracting a PLA shopper with potentially annoying pop-ups, keep the focus on your catalog by prominently showcasing other items that would pair well with the product that brought him or her to your site. This can raise your AOV and increase your revenue.
Offer suggestions or other items that shoppers also looked at or loved. You’d be surprised at how many retailers let the interaction with a prospective customer stop the moment he or she lands on a product.
Camera retailer Ritz Camera does a great job with this. Its site’s product pages let shoppers easily add accessories to their cart with just a few clicks using the “Our Pros Also Recommend” column on the right-hand side:
3. Be sure to let shoppers know about relevant promotions right off the bat.
When a shopper lands on your page, immediately make her aware of any promotions, including free shipping, price reductions, and first-time customer offers. You can do this with a pop-up, but eye-catching sidebar ads and banner texts that keep the primary focus on the product are better.
Consumers clicking on PLAs are price-driven, so letting them know they can save a little money could be just the push you need to get them over the hurdle to purchase or motivate them to stick around.
Here’s an excellent example from Competitive Cyclist. This product page for a set of bicycle pedals keeps the focus on the item, while also touting free shipping, 100% guaranteed returns, and a 20% March discount:
4. Be awesome on mobile.
Sidecar found that within Google Shopping, revenue from mobile devices during the 2015 holiday season jumped 188% year-over-year, and orders on mobile devices grew 245% during this period. When it comes to Google Shopping ads, a passable mobile experience just won’t cut it.
Your mobile site needs to be killer and you need to keep it killer to meet evolving best practices for mobile UX.
Jeweler retailer David Yurman understands this, and lets shoppers select the color of gemstone they want in their iconic bracelets by simply tapping on a color when shopping on a smartphone:
Start by exploring Google’s Guide for Mobile Friendly Websites. And with any redesign, remember …
5. Shoppers shouldn’t need a map to navigate your site.
Tie all of the other optimization tactics we’ve discussed into a shopping experience that is at once coherent and cohesive. Shoppers who find your site via Google Shopping ads can be fickle and less tolerant than brand devotees, so make sure your site is immediately and intuitively navigable.
On that same note, maintain consistent branding. Shoppers who don’t know and trust your brand will be less comfortable buying from a site that looks cobbled together. And since clicking on your PLA might be a shopper’s first impression of your brand, put your best foot forward — even if the click doesn’t result in a sale, the shopper will recall you favorably next time.
Footwear and clothing retailer Steve Madden has mastered this discipline. Its product pages retain the clean look and branding of the site overall, and also present the shopper with various routes to explore.
These days, a static landing page that doesn’t scare shoppers away is just the table stakes for e-commerce success. The number of inbound traffic channels has ballooned, and consumers have different expectations for each one.
So e-commerce marketers must remember that Google Shopping is a unique channel, and treat it accordingly. E-commerce success is increasingly driven by personalization and capitalizing on “micro-moments” (to borrow a great term from Google) — like clicking on a Product Listing Ad.
And while optimizing every page for every referral source is, perhaps, a lofty goal, these tips should cover you for Google Shopping.
About the Author: Rob is the Content Marketing Manager at Sidecar and editor of the Sidecar E-commerce Marketing Blog. Rob enjoys travel, live music, and exploring Philadelphia and its surroundings with his bicycle or a pair of running shoes. Find him on Twitter @robertdepersia.