Tony is the Chief Marketing Officer here at Sales & Orders, along with heading up the inbound and customer marketing teams, Tony also oversees partnerships and branding for our award-winning company and platform.
Click Through Rate is a mighty metric in Shopping campaigns. It defines how often people click on your ads after they’ve seen them.
It is a very telling metric as well – a lower than average (below 2%) or even a bottomed-out CTR indicates that your ad is not as compelling to the shopper than what your next competitor has.
Low or even dreadfully CTR can generally always be tracked back to a few key elements:
- Lack of price competitiveness
- Poor product imagery
- Lacking special offers
- Lacking competitive fulfillment (Shipping & Tax)
Additionally, and something that is rarely realized, is that your campaign structure itself could also be contributing to trends in poor CTR. If you are following an overly-grouped, non-granular structure to your Shopping campaigns then you are very likely to run into the Impression Eaters conundrum.
In the end, a poor CTR can easily lead to lost opportunities for more sales.
So, how do you work to improve your Shopping campaign CTR? Here’s our team’s go-to, two-prong approach we use.
Impression Eater Strategy
Do note that without a granular campaign structure it is virtually impossible to implement this strategy. So, your first task (if need be) would be to check in on your campaigns and consider further subdividing structured groups down to the product level.
Our Impression Eater approach is a unique bidding strategy we designed to tackle specific subsets of products with high impressions but a low CTR.
The key implementation here is to cut back on the wasteful spending on these products that are likely holding back other, potentially more valuable products from being seen and thus not being clicked on as much or at all. These products could also be showing up for more broad or irrelevant terms which, in-turn, eats into your overall impression share.
If you have that granular campaign structure, its simply a matter of filtering for these products. Start by logging into your ads account and get into the product group level. Build a filter that includes Impressions, CTR, and Conversions. Here’s an example out of Google Ads you can use as a sample filter:
Now that you have the products to focus on, do a broad bid decrease across the board. Consider reducing bids down as much as 50% on your first go at these.
Once implemented, spend the next 3-7 days carefully analyzing the results. Look to see if your CTR has improved and if products that were not getting those much-needed impressions start to see an uptick.
Over time you can continue to implement this strategy as needed. You should be checking every week to every two weeks for Impression Eaters.
Product Ad Quality Strategy
The second part of our two-prong approach is actually a collection of key optimizations that every retailer, no matter what, should be striving to implement and upkeep.
These implementations all fall under the same classification: enhancing the appearance of your product ads.
Let’s take a look at some actual Shopping ads themselves, just for a little perspective:
Take note of the variety of ad presentations just for this one query “cuisinart food processor”. Which one are you most likely to click on? What element of each ad draws you in the most?
These are the types of questions you need to be asking yourself because it will help you get into the mindset of your shoppers.
Shoppers, first and foremost, are looking at price. In conjunction with price, they will also look at other cost saving elements such as Free Shipping and No Tax.
Then comes to draw factors of other ad elements such as product reviews and specialty programs like Merchant Promotions (Special offer).
All the while, quality product images are constantly grabbing the shoppers’ eyes. In the example above, looking at the first and fifth ads (left to right) you can see how Williams-Sonoma sets their product images in a realistic setting.
This is a powerful approach to product imagery optimization because it will illicit an emotional response in the shopper to then connect the product with their actual household.
Let’s recap those low CTR contributors once more and here we’ll define the strategies for each:
- Lack of price competitiveness: If you are consistently higher-priced than your competitor neighbors then the chances of your ads being clicked on are likely far less. Consider reviewing your margins and see if there are any opportunities to reduce your pricing to be inline with what others are selling at. You can use powerful technologies like our Competitive Pricing Tool to enhance your capabilities and even perform full price overhauls across your entire catalog.
- Poor product imagery: This would probably be the most time-consuming aspect of improving your ad quality. You can take the approach of setting products on an all-white or neutral background – just remember to not include any distracting items and never include common product disapproval elements such as watermarks or overlay logos. If you have the budget available, nothing beats hiring a professional photographer or leveraging a product photo enhancement service.
- Lack of special offers: In Google Shopping specifically (Bing is still in closed beta), there is a program called Merchant Promotions. Retailers must first submit request for approval to be greenlighted for them and after approval, one can set up promotions in Merchant Center with coupon codes. These “Special offers” are then added to the display of Shopping ads and are interactive. Shoppers can click on the offer to expose the coupon code and offer.
- Lack of competitive fulfillment: By fulfillment, we simply mean: “do you offer competitive shipping and tax options?” Simplified even further “do you offer free shipping?” Now, we’re not saying everybody can be Amazon or be one of the big brand names that dominate product search, but we also cannot stress enough the importance of being able to offer such low to no cost fulfillment options. I mean, who wants to pay for shipping when it could be free?