Online retail is becoming ever more sophisticated, but despite all the innovation in tools, platforms and channels, for businesses large and small the fundamentals remain the same. Retailers want to acquire customers, retain customers, and if possible, boost the value of those customers by encouraging them to spend more, more often.
In each of these phases, Google has products that can help you simplify the essential tasks and achieve the best possible return on your marketing budget.
Starting out right
To make the most of this guide, retailers should have active AdWords, Merchant Centre and Google Analytics accounts.
Building campaigns and writing compelling ad copy used to be one of the most time consuming elements of launching a searching marketing campaign on AdWords, but since the advent of Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), things have become much simpler. DSA analyses the content of your site, selects relevant keywords to bid against, and then creates tailored ads for each of your products or services. All you have to do is choose your budget and monitor performance.
Finding new customers is about identifying the right people and serving them the right message. AdWords Detailed Demographics is a new feature that allows retailers to take what they know about their customer base, and use that knowledge to market to people with similar characteristics and interests. By selecting a similar demographic profile, businesses can ensure that they are marketing only to the most relevant audience segments.
Beyond search, Google also offers several other channels through which businesses can reach new customers. Display advertising across the Google Display Network allows for a huge number of visual formats, Shopping ads enable retailers to upload their inventory and drive traffic to both web and physical store locations, while Video ads on YouTube provide exciting opportunities for branding and creative messaging.
Each of Google’s ad platforms features a wealth of options, with new features being added all the time. For example, Showcase Shopping Ads allow advertisers to present a selection of their products to people who are searching using generic search terms. This helps upper funnel shoppers to hone in on a specific item, improving the experience for both customers and advertisers. For advertisers running in-stream video ads, Trueview for Shopping can also raise awareness of individual products by overlaying shopping cards that either link directly to the products featured in the video ad, or to a representative sample of the advertiser’s inventory.
Retaining customers is all about reminding them of who you are and what you have to offer. With Price Extensions and Promotion Extensions, retailers can augment their existing ads with price information, and indicate that they are running sales and promotions to entice shoppers. Likewise, Ad Customizers allow advertisers to include real-time information, such as stock availability, pricing and countdowns for limited-time offers. In both cases, a simple feed of this additional contextual information is uploaded to AdWords by the advertiser and the system does the rest.
People who have viewed products on your site, but who haven’t yet bought anything, are often a highly valuable audience. With Dynamic Remarketing, retailers can show ads to previous site visitors featuring the specific products they’ve looked at, as well as recommendations of similar products. Advertisers upload a feed of their products to AdWords, and then add a small script to their site which allows visitors to be associated with the products they’ve viewed. Once this is done, responsive ads across both desktop and mobile can be tailored to show exactly the products customers are looking for.
Google Analytics has a rich set of ecommerce reports, providing extensive data that retailers can use to identify their most valuable customers. Transactions and related information from Google Analytics can then be used to build Remarketing Audiences. These customer lists allow retailers to send targeted upsell and repeat business messaging to past purchasers across the Google network, fostering loyalty through exclusive offers and invitations.
Finally, using the latest technology, Universal Shopping Campaigns are set to take much of the stress out of retail marketing. The advertiser simply uploads their product feeds and ad creatives, sets up tracking and remarketing on their site, and then smart machine learning automatically optimises their media mix for sales and return-on-ad-spend. With performance and reach being managed by powerful algorithms, retailers will have more time to focus on long-term strategy and customer service.