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Top 3 Google Shopping Seasonality Myths … Busted

Dave Nossavage

If you’re like me, this time of year is one of your favorites. Summer is in full swing, and I can finally work on my tan. (Just kidding. Pass the SPF 50, please!)

The height of summer means back-to-school promotions are on deck, and holiday plans are solidifying. The start of a busy season can be hectic. Many retailers experience surges — followed by declines — around holidays all throughout the year.

While seasonal ebbs and flows are a given for retailers, how to ride these waves in Google Shopping is less certain. Many marketers are still trying to grasp its nuances. Here are a few myths you should put to bed to capitalize on seasonal trends in Google Shopping.

Myth 1: Optimizing Google Shopping for seasons and events must be reactive.

Much seasonal strategy involves external factors, including weather, the calendar and holiday timing, and broader economic trends. With this being the case, who can fault marketers for taking a reactive approach when managing seasonality in Google Shopping? In reality, just reacting in Google Shopping means you’re always one step behind.

The bid for each product is the basic lever marketers can pull to control the channel. For a more proactive stance on seasonality, plan for the future by accommodating historical trends in your bids.

While seasonal ebbs and flows are a given for retailers, how to ride these waves in Google Shopping is less certain.

For example, you might look back at a week of strong performance, and wish you had increased the bid for a product from $.50 to $.75. After making this analysis, it’s tempting to immediately increase that bid to $.75 — but this move would be entirely reactionary.

Historical indicators might suggest the upward trend will continue at an even faster rate, or, conversely, decline. Combine last year’s site data and year-over-year Google Shopping metrics with recent data to set a smarter, proactive bid — that you won’t regret after another seven days.

Once you have a handle on historical trends, consider creating a custom label in your product feed for your seasonal top sellers. As the seasons change, and there’s greater opportunity to sell seasonal products (sandals in the summer, coats in the winter), you’ll be able to quickly spot these items and make adjustments at the right times.

Myth 2: Traffic is the most important indicator of Google Shopping seasonality.

Many retailers define seasonality by traffic. This makes sense: The days, weeks, or months before a holiday usually mean bursts in visitors. When exploring historical data, some marketers look only for these increases to spot when a seasonal buying cycle begins or ends.

However, marketers should not ignore conversion rates when charting seasonality. While traffic can indicate higher interest in your products, if it isn’t converting there isn’t much to leverage.

Next time you look at historical data to track seasonal trends, keep an eye out for lifts in conversion rate in the weeks before traffic jumps.

For heavily seasonal operations, such as bicycle retailers, conversion rates for many items will often rise well before the usual seasonal traffic surge. This is because diehard shoppers want to be ready for the season before it begins. Moreover, such consumers are often supplementing existing gear, rather than buying a whole new set-up.

Next time you look at historical data to track seasonal trends, keep an eye out for lifts in conversion rate in the weeks before traffic jumps. Consider increasing product bids during these times to enhance your catalog’s visibility before the coming traffic wave.

In addition to capturing the early bird market, bidding up earlier will put you in a great position when overall traffic does pick up. Your ads will be more likely to appear to newer shoppers who are still in the research phase.

Myth 3: Strong seasons or holidays are times of frenzied Google Shopping adjustments.

Perhaps the biggest myth about seasonality (and certainly the most damaging to e-commerce pros’ sanity) is the idea that historically busy periods mean non-stop bid adjustments.

Sure, marketers will always want to be on high alert during these times to capitalize on increased opportunity. But heightened awareness does not need to translate into action if there are no changes to Google Shopping KPIs.

Dispelling these myths should help e-commerce pros know what to look for when drawing up their strategies — and inform how they put these strategies into action.

Remember: Performance (namely, AOV and conversion rate) and a retailer’s return goals matter (a lot!) more than site taxonomies like brand and category when setting a product’s bid. If you’ve set the right, performance-based bid for a product, it should still apply whether that product’s receiving 100 or 1,000 clicks a day.

If AOV and conversion rate for a product group aren’t changing — and the current bid is efficiently hitting the retailer’s return goal — then it doesn’t matter how much traffic it’s getting. When AOV and conversion rates are static, the return on ad spend ratio will not change.

So if meaningful changes in a product group’s KPIs (AOV and conversion rate) don’t accompany a surge in traffic, resist the urge to change its bid. One exception would be if your impression share goes down and you want lots of impressions for branding purposes.

Dispelling these myths should help e-commerce pros know what to look for when drawing up their strategies — and inform how they put these strategies into action.

And since seasonality never goes out of, well, season, we’ve got lots more tips to help readers make the most of it. Check out our guide, 10 Moves to Master Seasonality in Google Shopping, to help you map out strategies to manage your busiest times.

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