Structuring Shopping for Business Objectives


Shopping is a vital channel for any retailer. With results often showing at the absolute top of page, it offers prime real estate for search engine marketers. Shopping activity typically spans the lower part of the funnel – where consumers are conducting specific research around products that they are looking to buy, or when they are just about to make a purchase. For this reason, it is not unreasonable for us to expect a strong return on investment. After all, a large percentage of your shopping activity is likely to match to branded search terms – an area that has always been relatively synonymous with high intent and high cost efficiency.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking traditional search and shopping activity are one and the same! Shopping must be viewed as a unique channel in its own right, completely separate from our search campaigns. It’s for this reason that many brands now have a completely separate shopping team.

So what’s the difference? At a top level, whilst search is keyword centric, shopping activity is feed based. Delving into this further, it means that shopping is perhaps much more rich in primary data that allows us to optimise proactively towards particular products (compared to much of our keyword data that tends to inform our optimisations in hindsight). This is what makes shopping a personal favourite of mine – and a particularly effective channel to use! ❤

The primary segmentation of our shopping campaigns should therefore be made up of core groups of products that behave differently when striving towards certain goals – this enables us to prioritise the products that more readily allow us to achieve them. We can still separate out different product types as we would with search, but this is often best kept at a lower level such as ad group or product group.

After all, what does it matter if the product itself is a TV or a handbag, as long as it is helping to generate the best overall business performance?

So in order to decide how to structure our campaigns, it seems vital that we must consider what the wider business is looking to achieve.

Firstly your business may be completely sales focused. In this case, a sale versus full price split is preferable. It goes without saying that conversion rates are much stronger when focusing on sale products, particularly across shopping when price is displayed so prominently to users on the SERP. The most competitive brand often wins.

On the other hand, you may be more focused on revenue. In this case, I would perhaps suggest looking at a bestseller split. Bestselling products have already proven to be highly popular amongst your consumer base, and are therefore likely to generate conversions. However, the price point of bestselling products is often much higher than sale products, and therefore this better leads itself to revenue generation.

Next, what if the most important thing to your business is profitability? In this case, margin is the one. This doesn’t have to be down to a monetary level – labels that simply indicate low, medium and high should suffice, as it prevents our product groups from becoming too granular and uneven in size.

Some marketing teams choose to work closely with their merchandising team. If this is the case, then perhaps stock volume could be the one for you. Like margin, this could simply be indicated by a low, medium and high level. This allows us to push those product areas where stock is plentiful, whilst holding back on those we can see as low, and ultimately aim to reduce the amount of leftover stock at the end of the season.

Okay, so what if your ultimate goals aren’t bottom funnel focused, and instead you want to strive towards higher aims such as brand growth, awareness and new customer acquisition. No problem, shopping can do this for you too!

For a new customer focus, I recommend you look to gather an understanding of ‘entry level’ products, popular with users who have not previously made a purchase. If these could be sufficiently labelled in your feed, you’ve got yourself an effective way of prioritising products you would expect to resonate with new audiences.

For branding, we should be focusing on our on trend products and newest lines that encapsulate our brand identity and portray us in the best possible light. Given that these are usually full price products, it means it’s also a fantastic way at boosting our AOV, and ensuring that the brand doesn’t appear too promo led.

And it goes without saying, these levels of segmentation don’t have to work in isolation. Combining them to achieve multiple KPIs simultaneously helps to create the most relevant and tailored structures for our businesses, designed to achieve our desired results.

So, if you think it’s time your shopping campaigns had a bit of a refresh, first plan out your ultimate business aims for 2019. Your shopping structure should naturally evolve from here. 😎

About the author

Sarah Barker
Sarah Barker

I've worked within digital marketing agencies for 4+ years, across a variety of different verticals. But without a doubt, I'm particularly passionate about retail.

My current role as Head of Biddable Media Strategy not only means that I stay on top of the latest news, but also ensures I'm continually developing new best practice and biddable media plans.

So it seemed incredibly fitting for me to start my own retail marketing blog. Not just to cover industry updates, but to include thoughts from my own experience to help get others thinking and talking about all things retail!

Sarah Barker By Sarah Barker