May 21, 2021 by Jason Pittock | 9 min reading time

E-commerce sales were trending upward even before COVID-19 rocked the world. Since the onset of the pandemic, consumers are doing less mall shopping and they’re engaging in significantly more online shopping

Still in doubt that this is your momentum as an e-commerce owner and that you should take advantage of a proper pre-launch Google Shopping Ads guide? The proof is in the numbers. E-commerce spending accounted for 21.3% of total retail sales in 2020 as compared with 15.8% the previous year. 

Quarantines and lockdowns have forced consumers to stay home more. That hasn’t stopped them from spending. It has just changed the way they shop for things. Online shopping has become the “go-to” platform for searching for products, comparing them, and chatting with agents to get the skinny on all the answers to their questions. 

If your brand isn’t visible online, the sales you projected will likely go to your competitors. One of the most effective ways to gain online visibility is by marketing with Google Shopping Ads, also known as Google  Product Listing Ads, or simply, Google PLA ads. The news gets even better. Google has released new tools, ad formats, and more to help you drive traffic and increase conversions. 

We’ve put it all together in this handy Google Shopping Ads guide to effective ad campaigns. 

Why Use Google Shopping Ads?

Before we jump into our Google Shopping Ads guide, let's first tackle an even more basic question: “Why use Google Shopping Ads?”

The answer is this: it’s been proven to be one of the most effective and lucrative marketing strategies for e-commerce businesses. With a clever Google Shopping Ads guide to help you on your way, you can really reap all the benefits of putting your products in front of the right audience, at the right time.

What are Google Shopping Ads? Simply put, they’re product-based ads that display for searches on the Google and Google Shopping platforms that have clickable images for product details, pricing, retailer information, and reviews.

Google Shopping Ads display “above the fold”, which just means they appear first, before organic search results, Search Ads, and Text Ads on Google. 

Google Shopping Campaigns have been around for a while, and Google just keeps making them better. Over time, Google has added powerful capabilities like these to name a few:

  • Showcase Shopping
  • Local Inventory Ads
  • Smart Shopping Campaigns
  • New bidding strategies 

These features will allow you to target every stage of the buyer’s journey. 

Here are the results that you can expect when you implement Google Shopping Ads:

  • The broadest possible reach. With 91% of the search market, Google is practically unrivaled, if you don’t count Amazon.
  • The highest quality leads. Google PLA ads attract shoppers that know what they want and are ready to buy on the spot. 
  • An increase in ROI. Because shoppers that click on the Google Shopping link are in the market to make a purchase, you’ll have more conversions and an increase in ROI. 
  • Ability to leverage emerging technologies. Shopping Actions allows companies to display ads on Google Assistant to reach shoppers on Google Home devices, as well as work with other emerging technologies to target more shoppers and increase sales. 

With Google Shopping Ads, your ads display across several Google properties like Search, Images, and YouTube which means shoppers can find you wherever they’re searching online. 

Check out all the great information you can put in your Product Listing Ads:

  • Product image
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Reviews 
  • Shipping information
  • Promotions

As a marketer, you’ll like the control that you get with Google Shopping campaigns.

Check out these capabilities for Google PLA ads:

  • Create campaigns
  • Manage campaigns
  • Set a custom budget
  • Optimize your campaigns

Even better, Surfaces Across Google and Free Product Listings are free and they work in conjunction with your Google Shopping campaigns to grow your business and increase ROI even more. 

This is all valuable stuff, so let’s move on to pre-launch Google Shopping Ads guide to help you get the most bang for your budget. 

The Basic Google Shopping Ads Guide All Marketers Should Keep in Mind

If you’re going to put in the time and effort to set up Shopping Ads, you want to get it right so the ads bring in results and following a clear Google Shopping Ads guide is key in doing this. Regardless of how small or large your e-commerce business might be, you want to make sure your Google Ads money goes in all the right places.

We suggest starting with a few strategic goals to keep things manageable. The following three goals should move you in the right direction:

  1. Aim for more customers. Think beyond the initial purchase. The more customers you attract, it will enhance your branding, increase Lifetime Value (LTV), and encourage brand loyalty. 
  2. Increase revenue. You accomplish this by increasing the number of sales. 
  3. Monitor your return on ad spend (ROAS) to ensure profitability. Calculate the overall costs of your advertising efforts and add that to the costs of acquiring or manufacturing goods. Compare that to the revenue that you receive from your Google Shopping campaigns. 

Because all good things come in 3’s, we’re giving you the top 3 areas to focus on to get the best results from your ad campaigns:

  1. Campaign structure
  2. Product feed optimization
  3. Targeting and bidding strategy

Now, for some tips on setting up your Google Shopping Ads campaigns, take a look at the following 5 valuable ad strategies:

  1. Structure your ad campaigns granularly. By breaking down each part of your campaigns, you’re fine-tuning them to allow you to get better data on how your campaigns are performing at the product level. You can organize your products by brands or categories, and you can position brands within categories. By dividing campaigns and leveraging product groups, you get control over your listings and bids which will help you target various parts of the customer journey. 
  1. Pay attention to product titles. These are one of the most important attributes in your product feed, and it’s important to optimize them. This will increase your chances of your Google Shopping ads appearing in the top spots for search results based on specific keywords that your target audience uses during a search. 
  1. Leverage negative keywords. Negative keywords allow you to exclude certain words and terms from your campaigns. The benefit of this is that it places a greater focus on the keywords that are apt to be the most effective. 

Search engine marketers will be able to point you in the direction of good negative keywords. You can find them yourself if you want to invest a bit of your time to mine data in Google Ads. Just use the search terms report and the filters in Google Ads to identify any keywords that searchers are using that don’t lead to conversions, and put them on the exclusion list. You’ll also want to get familiar with keyword match types for Google Ads and start using them. They include broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, and exact match. 

  1. Set percentages for device optimization. To improve the overall performance of your ad campaigns, you can (and we recommend it) set bid adjustments for various devices. You get to control how often or how little you spend on ads for certain devices such as tablets and mobile phones by adjusting the default bid or product-level bid for those devices. It’s a good way to get quality traffic from specific sources and it will have a positive impact on your ad budget. 
  1. Tap into the power of remarketing. Just as it sounds, remarketing lets you retarget repeat visitors to your website and resend them ads after they leave it. Google Shopping Ads gives you the ability to add specific audiences to your campaigns for the purpose of remarketing to them. This is a good way to retarget buyers that put a product in your online shopping cart and then abandon it without completing the deal. The next time they’re online, they’re likely to see your ad again and hit the purchase button. 

Remarketing is a popular ad campaign strategy because it usually delivers a high ROI and ROAS compared to those first-time buyers. If buyers like what they see, and they see it again, they’re motivated to make the final decision to buy. Besides, it costs less to attract a buyer that’s interested than one that’s not looking for your products. One more thing, you can set your bid adjustment for devices with remarketing too. 

That’s a wrap on our Google Ads Shopping guide. Hopefully, you picked up some awesome tips that will light a fire under your e-commerce business. This information gives you a good start to planning your Google Shopping Ads. That said, we want to be completely transparent and tell you that you still need to monitor your customers’ onsite experience and you also have to be prepared to deliver excellent customer service after the fact. 

Keep in mind that planning your Google Shopping ads is important -- but that doesn’t mean that once they’re live, you shouldn’t perform intent optimization on them. Doing this will help you fine-tune your ad settings, copy, and graphics (where this is the case) to maximize your ads’ effectiveness (and thus, your ROAS as well). 

There’s no question that Google Shopping Ads can take your e-commerce business to the next level, especially if you make wise decisions about setting up your ads and you’re willing to put in the time to make them effective. As a final word, for the best results, optimize everything and test everything!

Jason is the CMO @ ClickGUARD. He is passionate about all things PPC, SEO and has extensive customer acquisition experience. When not writing about SEM he can be found surfing the wildest ocean waves of the South American coast.