OK. We’re past Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. I told you what to expect during the holidays with PPC accounts, and now we’re talking shopping channels. These are where some people go when they know exactly what they want and they’re looking for one thing, and one thing only: Bargains. There are dozens of shopping engines out there ranging from Shopzilla, Nextag, Become, ShopWiki, and Shopping.com to name a few. Just as in regular PPC, there are best practices to ensure an optimum return–or a minimum loss.
Shopping channels are similar to typical PPC because it’s an auction-based system. It’s different in the fact that you bid and compete on categories instead of keywords. The bids are often in $0.10 increments and positioning is often based purely on bids. If you’re familiar with paid search on a moderate level, and you are aware of the differences mentioned, then you’ll be on fairly similar turf. So here are some best practices to make the best of your shopping feed experiences.
Make Sure Feeds Are Updated: There is no faster way to turn someone off of your site via shopping channels than have one price show up on the search results, and then a separate price show up on the product page. Update your feeds as often as you update your pricing.
Watch Bids Daily: Bidding on shopping channels is almost a pure position play. If you’re not careful you’ll quickly find your item at the very top of results, or completely off the first page.
Pick Your Battles: Many competitors will offer stripped down and refurbished models in order to show a lower price. Compare your product offering to your competitors. If there is a difference in the package, and you can’t explain it in the description, and you can’t compete with a similar price, don’t bid on the item! Beyond the description you will not have the opportunity to explain the difference in features and benefits on why your offering is superior, so don’t even try.
Watch Out For Popular Items: If one of your items gets a high click-through rate, pull it. Surprised? Don’t be. Shopping sites have a very large network of affiliates and sub-sites, that will all be more than happy to take your successful product and showcase it on your site. This may sound good at first, but these network sites have no interest in sending you quality traffic, and are promoting your popular product only to get a paid click at your expense.
If after considering these tips you feel you’re ready to dive in to shopping channels, go for it! But keep an eye on your budgets, and don’t be afraid to pull out of a category if it’s not profitable.