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Back-to-School: 5 Fixes to Give Your Google Shopping Campaigns a Boost

Dave Nossavage

August is just around the corner. And that means the second biggest retail season is upon us: back-to-school.

The NRF projects that shoppers in the U.S. will spend $83.6 billion stocking up on new gear for classrooms and dorm rooms in 2017. And since 46% of consumers plan to shop online for back-to-school, millions of seasonal items will be found on Google Shopping.

The time is now to give your Google Shopping campaigns a mid-term checkup to make sure you’ve got everything set up for success for the season. Sharpen your pencils and answer a few quick questions — straight from the pages of our e-book, 10 Moves to Master Seasonality in Google Shopping.

1. Are you changing bids only when it’s necessary to do so?

Remember: No KPI change means no bid change. This is true in every season, not just back-to-school. So if you’ve been frantically making bid changes to prepare for the season, take a deep breath and consult the data.

If you’re not seeing any changes in your KPIs that determine your Google Shopping goals, sit tight. You still have the right, performance-based bid.

The NRF projects that shoppers in the U.S. will spend $83.6 billion stocking up on new gear for classrooms and dorm rooms this year.

That said, don’t be afraid to be exploratory. If traffic is rising and KPIs are holding strong, bumping up bids can help you attract even more traffic at the same KPIs. If you don’t see the traffic boost though, and KPIs start to decline, just bring the bids back down.

2. Are you using dayparting to better target consumers?

Check out your daily conversions, and see if you can identify any trends in the times of day when conversions occur. If you’re seeing conversions spike around lunch time, for instance, you could try increasing bids during that time frame to take advantage of the rush.

Just be aware that dayparting adjustments are relative to the time zone you selected when you created your AdWords account. For example, if your AdWords account is set to the Eastern Time Zone, and you apply a day-parting adjustment from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., that adjustment is in effect from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Time, and so on.

3. How about geotargeting?

Geotargeting is another optimization tactic you should have in your toolbelt. This helpful graphic from Google shows this phenomenon in action. See how Google searches for “backpack” peak at different times in different parts of the year?

If you’re seeing demand for your products vary across regions, set up geo-targeting to bid more granularly in different areas.

Not sure how to get started? Take a look at last year’s AdWords data to see where your sales are coming from and during what times of the season. Next, you can set bid adjustments ranging from -90% to +900% to reach shoppers in areas that perform best for your catalog during back-to-school.

4. Do you know exactly which parts of your catalog are in demand for back-to-school?

Maybe you assume that you don’t need to change anything about your campaigns for back-to-school. Just let the traffic come, right? Or maybe you’re tempted to increase bids across the board right now at the outset of the season.

But the reality is, if your entire catalog doesn’t experience greater demand this time of year, you’re wasting spend by increasing bids on products that aren’t seeing heightened traffic.

Some food for thought: The NRF projects that shoppers will spend 64% of their back-to-school budgets on apparel and electronics in 2017. Shoes and school supplies are also popular categories.

That said, every business is different. It’s best to review your own historical campaign performance to see which parts of your catalog are most in-demand for this season before diving into any bid adjustments.

The NRF projects that shoppers will spend 64% of their back-to-school budgets on apparel and electronics in 2017.

Be certain about what products are in season during back-to-school. That way you can adjust your bids in Google Shopping to avoid over-spending on low-demand items and under-spending on high-demand items.

5. Have you revisited your mobile bidding strategy this season?

When your Google Shopping ads don’t surface on mobile, where shoppers research and discover products, your products miss out on impressions that lead to conversions.

If your mobile bids are set conservatively, you might want to increase the amount you’re willing to pay for mobile clicks during this busy season. Some retailers find that impulse items are usually good bets for bidding up on mobile (i.e., wall posters, t-shirts, etc.).

Create a separate campaign just for mobile traffic, so you can adjust bids at the product group level.

If you want to try bidding up some products, don’t use Google’s mobile bid adjustment tool. The adjustment has to apply to an entire campaign or ad group, which probably contains a mix of products that perform well and poorly on mobile.

Instead, create a separate campaign just for mobile traffic, so you can adjust bids at the product group level. You could, for example, create a group containing your best mobile converters, and another group containing your second best mobile converters. Then you could assign a bid to each grouping. This will help you get much more granular.

This E-Commerce Marketing Minutes video shows you how set up a mobile campaign.

So how did you do? If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well-done.

If you answered “no” to most, don’t worry! Back-to-school shopping season is just heating up, and you can prepare by reviewing the tips above and making changes where needed.

And don’t forget to grab the complete 10 Moves to Master Seasonality in Google Shopping e-book. It will cover you for back-to-school, plus the year-end holidays and any other period where you experience seasonal shifts in demand.

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