Product Listing Ads

Once upon a time there was a feature for Google users called Google Base which allowed companies to list their products through product feeds in Google Shopping for free. Users could browse products in Google Shopping and land directly on the product page if they were interested in buying the product. Google re-branded Google Base into Google Merchants Center and then began to charge companies for listing products through their paid advertising platform, Google AdWords, calling it Product Listing Ads.

Product Listing Ads (PLA) show in the Google Search results with an image and price. It provides great click through rates and is a great way to pre-qualify customers that won’t be surprised by the price when they land on your website.

PLA

Product Listing Ads

In October 2013, Google stopped providing Organic keywords as a courtesy to their users and a concern for privacy. You may’ve heard this as “not-provided” since they no longer are providing keywords and that is the text that is shown instead of what was once keyword information. It was a gradual process that we all should’ve seen coming, but I digress…

You need to create a feed of products from your website complying to the product feed specifications, including a title, description, and more. What I like to use for the title and the description is meta data (meta title and meta description from your website). Since meta data is often optimized already for search, it will provide rich relevant keywords.

You need to link your Google Merchants account and Google Merchants Center account together. Upload the feed into the Data feeds section and set it to run daily. In Google AdWords you need to create a campaign (or multiple campaigns if you have a few differentiating products you would want to track budgets separately for). There is a new campaign option to create a Shopping Campaign, that will allow you to easily interpret your feed within the AdWords interface. It is much easier for advertisers who don’t want to read through code to find product identifiers in the feed to link to their ad.

This is where it gets interesting. I’d suggest creating an ad group for every product that you want to advertise for. Or at least every product category. There is an option to see actual search terms within the keywords tab under Details > Search Terms > All. This will allow you to see what actual keywords your users typed in and click data including impressions and clicks. Since you are using meta-data as your inputs it gives you some insight into what keywords your organic traffic could be triggering.

Granted, it’s not free and Product Listing Ads is not perfect (there still is trouble knowing your rank with bidding), but it is another way to find potential organic keywords and see how users are finding your website. This doesn’t account for a lot of other input to the Google Algorithm, but it’s a good trick for e-commerce companies looking for keyword data.

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The Drummer

Last night I went to see New Politics. They put on a great show that was energetic and fun. I knew going into it that I was going to enjoy it because the lead singer is known for break-dancing, but I left feeling more inspired by the drummer. The drummer played so hard and so well that it made me want to listen to all the songs over again and play along.

Some of my close friends know that I have been looking for a house for a long time. I have a few reasons but one major factor is that I want to be reunited with my drum set. A house doesn’t feel like a home without it. I’ve taken up dancing as a substitute for drumming but most of my dance move resort to pounding my hands on my body as if it was a drum or air drumming!

Tonight, I made my own drum set with chairs and my cat’s scratching post; playing with wooden spoons.

There have been a lot of phases in my life, but one thing is for sure. I am a drummer.dscf5182

WordPress.com

As I mentioned in my previous post, my New Years Resolution is to write more in this blog. I’ve started taking an Intermediate HTML/CSS class with Girl Develop It. To put these skills to use, I am in the process of transferring my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. I’ve asked my sister, a web designer for her own company Advokate, to help me with this process.

Unaware when I built this blog, is that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are completely different. Basically, WordPress.com is an easy way to create a website if you have no intention to modify it. WordPress.org however, you are able to modify the code and install plugins. The benefit for .com is that it is a cheap and easy way to put up a website or blog, for someone who doesn’t know how to make a website. One of the biggest drawbacks I’ve experienced is that you are unable to install Google Analytics code (which in my opinion is one of the best parts of having a website!) For a full description of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org see here.

Expect some changes within the next couple of weeks!

New Year. New Blog.

I have a few New Years Resolutions this year, and one of them is to blog more often. In order to do that, I am changing things up and widening the scope a bit. After working all day in digital marketing, it’s difficult to be motivated to write about it when I come home (I never was a fan of homework). I will try to relate it somehow back to online marketing, since that’s the lens I look at the world through, but I am going to write more about my life and put myself out there.

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My Tribute Brands

Every company strives to have “sticky” customers, that continue to buy year over year but what is more valuable than a retained customer? An advocate. A customer who goes out of their way to promote your brand.

I would like to write a blog post as a tribute to a few of my favorite (local) brands. These small companies produce some of my favorite products that I use everyday and constantly recommend. I get excited to interact with these companies, whether it is responding to Facebook posts, attending events, walking in the store or buying something new. I have a strong connection to each of these brands, that I wanted to write a blog post just to talk about them!

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YouTube and Google+ Integration

My company was recently interested in integrating our Google+ page to our YouTube account so that we could do a Google+ Hangout On Air. While trying to integrate the two, we ended up disabling the YouTube account and a few other issues occurred. Now that it is resolved, I was able to figure out what had happened and I wanted to share my experience with anyone who might have the same problem.

Note: I recreated the steps with screenshots from my personal Google+ and YouTube accounts.

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Increasing Your Social Following

Learn more about tips and tricks to increase your social following on my guest blog: How to Increase Your Social Followers – Guaranteed! I will continue to write as a guest blogger for Advokate on digital marketing.

For local digital marketing enthusiasts in the BTV area, join me at the ThoughtFaucet headquarters on Wednesday, December 12th for Web Analytics Wednesday where @tylermachado will be presenting on MailChimp. This is not exclusively for a data crowd, but for anyone who wants to talk about marketing challenges with a network of smart people. These meetups are where I get a lot of my inspiration from. I hope to see you there!

Black Friday: E-commerce or Retail

When it comes to shopping for the holidays, I usually wait until the last minute. But this year I got a jump on things by browsing online for items on my shopping list so that I could purchase them in person on the Black Friday weekend.

I took my list to the mall on Saturday (to avoid the Friday crowd) and in the first store I went to I wasn’t able to find any of the items on my list. Where is the search bar in this store that tells me where to find these items?! A clerk told me that they did not have the inventory in the store which I had found online. In another store, I had found what I was looking for but I was surprised to see that the deal which was active online (Buy One Get One 50% Off) wasn’t anywhere to be found in the store.

I went home empty handed and did what I should’ve done in the first place: bought online. I don’t understand how Black Friday could possibly still be as big of an event as it has been with the convenience of e-commerce.

Update: After I published this post, I had called one of the stores I had purchased online with since I missed their promotional offer when I placed the order and forgot that I had a $10 discount. They didn’t ask for the discount code (so I could use it again) and my total order ended up being half, still eligible for free shipping from only a 5 minute call.

This isn’t a slam on all retail business, as I had an entirely different experience shopping with small local businesses  at the Shirt Factory Open House in Glens Falls, and in Burlington on Small Business Saturday. All the local vendors made the experience personable by greeting me, helping me find what I was looking for, and even letting me sample the products! I had posted on the Facebook page of one of the businesses asking for their store hours and received a prompt reply. Later, when I went to the store, they recognized my name, thanked me for liking their Facebook page, and even gave me a 15% discount!

In the future, I will only be shopping online for the convenience and local for the experience.

Consignment Shop Rant

This post doesn’t fit in with the general theme of my blog but it’s been a while since I’ve written anything and I need to rant. My boyfriend is moving in and to make room I decided to go through my closet and clean out clothes that I never wear or no longer fit me. All of these clothes are well known brands: Express, Theory, Ann Taylor, Talbots, Old Navy, and more!

I stuffed all of the clothes in a trash bag because my first instinct was to throw it away so I didn’t have to deal with it. Instead wanted to recycle and give to others in need.

My first stop at a consignment shop which was fairly painless, it was a trendy place only looking for very specific things so they told me within seconds that they would give me $3 for a shirt. Without hesitation I said yes because I want to get rid of these clothes. I only wished that they would’ve taken more.

My second stop consignment shop which was more invasive. It was a humiliating experience to watch her size up my clothes and put them into different piles: Yes, No, Maybe. I watched her put every bit of my clothing in the No or Maybe pile. My feelings were hurt, these are the clothes that I wore, they are almost a part of me in a way and she tore me apart by driving a hard bargain. She rejected a few clothes because they had some cat hair. I understand the argument that the owner wants to be able to sell it without having to do the work of cleaning it, but honestly these clothes would’ve been in the trash and I am helping your business out by donating clothes to you at a fraction of their actual cost, JUST TAKE IT. She suggested I clean one of the jackets and bring it back tomorrow. After I received $7 for 5 items of good quality clothes, that might’ve covered the gas of driving there, I was not planning to come back tomorrow or ever.

After 2 hours and 20 miles I received a combined total of $11 for 6 items of like new name brand clothing. I drove to Goodwill to donate the rest which I guessed about a $65 contribution that I could deduct on my taxes. Definitely a better deal.

I’m not writing this rant to tear down local businesses, recommending that people do not recycle or use consignment shops. This was a limited experience I had, but I will never sell to a consignment shop again. Don’t let greed run your business, because YOU will lose in the long run (because some weirdo will blog about it).