Shopping Feed Optimization
How does an online retailer optimize their shopping feed?
A shopping feed is basically the primary form of communication between your business, a major comparison shopping engine like PriceGrabber and potential customers. Your goal as the merchant, is to make this communication as eloquent and comprehensive as possible.
Studies have shown that the more complete the data is on shopping engines, the higher the conversions are. You’d be shocked to know how many merchants we have talked to that don’t even have quality product images for their products.
This is one of several essential pieces of data used by shoppers to complete a purchase.
Step #1: Get a great product image.
Here are a few tips on how to enhance your shopping feed quality:
Plain and simple, your data feeds need to include a lot of information. The more content the better. This is because online shoppers consistently purchase products that provide the most detail because it promotes a higher level of confidence in his/her purchase.
1. Include tax and shipping information for your individual products in your data feed.
2. Don’t leave any blank spots in your data feeds. Shopping engines frown upon incompleteness
and this may negatively affect your product rankings. If you accidentally leave a required (by the specific CSE) column blank, that product or possibly the entire feed may be rejected.
3. Ensure consistency between your website’s information and the information you provide to the CSE. This requires regular, if not daily, updates to your shopping feed, especially in the domain of pricing. If you update pricing and re-send the shopping feed, you may not see the updates on the shopping engine for 24-48 hours later.
4. Don’t list any out-of-stock items in your data feed. If a product does go out-of-stock, update your product feed immediately.
5. It’s also important to include the MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price) in your feed. Shopping.com and Shopzilla will both allow you to put the MSRP and actual price so that shoppers can see how much you’re discounting (or not) from the norm.
Even if you don’t have an MSRP, you can create one by applying an equation to your data feed that increases the price of your price column by 15-30%. Then you’ll be able to get the “strike-through” feature that these 2 price comparison websites offer, allowing the perception that your prices are being marked down. It’s not a tactic that should be used for every single listing, but your products will indeed stand out a little more.
Additionally, Nextag will allow the same feature if you pay for a marketing message, which also allows you to list promotions and coupons.
Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes in terms of what they would write if searching for a product like yours. Include all relevant and descriptive keywords in your feed.
Using the Google Keyword Research Tool will help tremendously. It will allow you to see the most common searches that customers type in when looking for your type of products. Online product research in general should help you in finding which keywords are relevant for your product searches.
1. If you are selling a product made by a popular brand, put it in the title.
2. If you are selling electronics or auto parts, it will be helpful to include the factory SKU in the product title for the junkies that know exactly what they want.
3. You can also do some keyword research in your Google Analytics account. For help with all things Google Analytics-related, I highly recommend checking out this eBook.
Make sure your products are categorized correctly. Remember to follow these CSE-specific data feed specifications. Incorrect categorization is the quickest and easiest way to hurt conversions. Steer clear of meaningless categories like “Gifts” or “New Items” because CSEs find this info to be useless. Instead, be as specific and descriptive as you can. Also, be sure to adhere to each CSEs own guidelines for categorizations because they do differ.
Once you’ve created, optimized, and sent out your data feeds to the comparison shopping engines, the fate of your e-commerce success with shopping feed marketing is not out of your hands just yet. The bottom line of a well-organized, formatted, and complete data feed is to be on the good graces of each shopping engine so that you can rank better when a shopper searches for your product.
However, CSEs take into account much more than your product keywords and data feeds. Your company’s relevancy, bid amounts, and longevity on a CSE are all significant factors when it comes to product placement.
To learn about how the bidding process works and how to rank higher than other merchants on CSEs, continue to Chapter 3.