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Supercharge Your Google Shopping Campaigns With Merchant Promotions

Google Merchant Promotions can help you stand out in Google Shopping. More e-commerce marketers are realizing the power of Google Shopping, and pouring additional budget into the channel. Competition for limited shopper attention is heating up.

By now, you’ve hopefully got the Google Shopping basics in place. This means your product feed is optimized to the way shoppers search, and your campaign is properly structured to drive effective results.

One additional tactic to improve Google Shopping performance is adding Google Merchant Promotions to your ads. Read on for a primer on Google Merchant Promotions and a step-by-step guide to adding them to your campaign.

The Power of the Promo

Google Merchant Promotions are the magic behind the “Special offer” prompts that occasionally appear under Google Shopping ads. When clicked, these offers reveal various discounts or incentives from the corresponding sellers.

Google Merchant Promotions

Merchant Promotions can deliver a serious boost to your Google Shopping campaigns. To start, ads with special offers are visually different from neighboring Shopping ads, which attracts busy shoppers.

These second glances typically yield big performance gains. We analyzed a sample Sidecar client who tested Merchant Promotions in their Shopping campaigns and found that conversions jumped by 30%, CTR rose by 7%, and Cost/Sale fell by 10% when the promotion was live. 

Sound good? It’s easy to add Merchant Promotions to your campaigns.

Setting Up Google Merchant Promotions

Enabling Merchant Promotions is simple. All you need is a product feed, a Google Merchant Center account, and an active Google Shopping campaign. Have all that? You’re ready to roll.

1. First, fill out the Google Merchant Promotions interest form. Google will approve your submission within 1-2 business days. Once you’re approved, you’ll notice that your Merchant Center now includes a Promotions tab. Hooray!

2. In Merchant Center, click on your new Promotions tab and select List.

3. Click the bright blue + button to create a new promotion.

4. In the New Promotion window, fill out the following required fields:

  • Promo ID: This will not be visible in your ad. It’s just a name to track your promotion internally.
  • Target Country: Where you want your ad to appear. Merchant Promotions are only available in select countries.
  • Title: This will be public. Offering free shipping? A 20% discount? Tell shoppers about your promotion in 60 characters or less.
  • Redemption Code: If you want customers to submit a code to redeem your special offer, include it here. This code will only display when a shopper clicks your ad. This field is optional so if there’s no promo code associated with the promotion, leave it blank!
  • Product Availability: Choose whether you want to apply your promo across your entire catalog or restrict it to a smaller subset of items. Note: If you choose “Specific Products,” you’ll need to update your product feed with the corresponding Promo ID in the “promotion_id” column.
  • Effective Date Range: Choose the dates and time zone when you’d like to run the promotion.

Refer to Google’s Merchant Promotions Program Policies and Editorial requirements for specific guidelines and examples of what you can and cannot include in these fields.

5. Once you’ve filled out all the fields in the New Promotion window, click CREATE to save your work.

6. Back at the Promotions dashboard, confirm your Merchant Promotion has been approved and is visible to shoppers searching for your items on Google. The Promotions dashboard will also display other relevant details about your promotion.

Merchant Center Promotions Dashboard

7. If you’re planning to submit multiple (10+) promotions simultaneously, it may be easier to use a Promotions feed. To go this route, simply select the Feeds option in your Promotions tab and follow Google’s prompts to create and upload a .txt, .xml. or Google Spreadsheet with all of the relevant details (see step 4).

Make sure to meet Google’s Merchant Promotions feed specifications while constructing your feed. Also be careful to select the appropriate feed type.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind …

The basics of adding one or more Merchant Promotions to a Google Shopping campaign are very straightforward. However, remember a couple best practices to guarantee strong results from yours.

1. Establish Your Reason for the Promo. Although submitting a Google Merchant Promotion takes only a few minutes, don’t rush in if they aren’t right for your business. Some e-commerce retailers avoid Merchant Promotions, fearful that they could diminish their catalog’s value or get consumers hooked on an endless cycle of discounts.

If you’re hesitant, but still want to enhance your ads’ appearance, consider including customer reviews.

2. Make Your Promo Code Descriptive and Memorable. No need to go all “James Bond” and bust out advanced cryptography in the promo code. Instead, tell shoppers a little bit about the offer you’re extending. Your promo code should also be easy for shoppers to remember.

In the example above, we used “FREESHIP50” for a free shipping over $50 promo. If you were doing a 20% discount on winter coats, you might use WINTER20. The possibilities are endless.

3. Double-check your approvals. Before your Merchant Promotions go live, Google must confirm that they conform to their policy guidelines and that any included SKUs are valid and in stock. This generally takes 12-24 hours.

As long as you’re on top of your feed and product approvals, there should be no issue. But it’s good practice to keep a close eye on approval status, especially for limited-time offers. If your promotion is not approved, you have the opportunity to revise and resubmit.

4. Have Fun! Merchant Promotions offer e-commerce marketers a chance to add a little extra personality and flair to Shopping ads. Because Google Shopping is a feed-based channel, such opportunities are rare. Make the most of it by being creative with your offers and promo codes.

One Final Thought

Once you’re up and running, you can monitor the performance of your promotions in AdWords. Simply segment your campaigns by click type. This will display stats for your standard Shopping ads and those with promos (denoted by “Coupon”). One caveat: Because the “special offer” text may entice more shoppers to click your ad — without actually clicking the coupon — you could also see an uptick in overall clicks to your Standard ad once your promo goes live.

Merchant Promotions Performance

As you know, Google Shopping is a pay-per-click channel. However, you won’t be charged if a shopper clicks the “Special Offer” text in one of your ads to view the details of your Merchant Promotion but does NOT click through to your site.

In fact, those inquisitive clicks on your special offers help qualify shoppers — and set you apart from the crowd.

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