Linus Gregoriadis, an Analyst with E-Consultancy in the UK, recently authored a report looking at the shopping comparison engines based across the pond. You can view a sample or download the entire report for a fee.
While the report provides a number of great insights into what to think about when working with the shopping comparison engines, I thought the most valuable section was on optimisation (no, that’s not a typo, this is a UK report). Here are some tidbits (my additional comments are italicized):
-Merchants need to make sure that they are looking at their return on investment from comparison sites both at an overall and a granular level (i.e. on a category-by-category and product-by-product basis) to see what is working and what is not working.
Tracking can be a pain in the ass, but if you don’t look at results on SKU level, you’re potentially throwing money out the door. A merchant could easily be losing money selling products through the shopping comparison engines but not even know it because the overall economics look encouraging. I recently took my data feed down for one merchant and cut the number of SKUs by aprx. 60%. While the channel as a whole was profitable, the high price floors negated the possibility of profitability for particular SKUs. Cleaning up or optimising the data feed should increase ROI considerably. Unfortunately, this process of weeding through the data feed is bad for the shopping comparison engines and bad for consumers because the database of products shrinks as more merchants become smart about using this marketing channel.
-Another common pitfall for merchants is a failure to deep-link into the most appropriate part of their websites to make it as easy as possible for the consumer to buy the product or service.
One suggestion that didn’t work for me, but has worked for other merchants is to take the customer directly to a pre-populated shopping cart. If a customer has taken the time to shop through a comparison engine, that customer is pretty sure of what he wants. There should be little reason to send this person to another general product page (and NEVER send this person to the homepage). This strategy worked particularly well for an online shoe merchant. It might not work for you, but it’s worth a test.
-Another pitfall to avoid is abandoning or de-prioritising this channel before it has been given a chance to succeed.
Thank you, Linus, for writing this. Almost all the merchants reading this post use Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. When was the last time you went 24 hours without optimizing (yes, we’re back in the US now) those pay per click (PPC) accounts? Hopefully the answer is a long, long time. Almost all the merchants reading this post think twice before letting a designer change the content and layout of a page. When was the last time you allowed changes to your website without thinking about the search engine optimization (SEO) consequences. Hopefully the answer is a long, long time.
Just as PPC management and SEO have become real businesses, I’m confident that we’ll be hearing more and more about Data Feed Optimization over the next couple years. You can’t just sign up with a shopping comparison engine and expect incredible results. It’s not like picking up Jaromir Jagr and knowing that your team will clinch a playoff berth.
Comparison Shopping – Strategies for Merchants – Tip #2 – November 25, 2005
Comparison Shopping – Strategies for Merchants – Tip #8 – November 27, 2005
Strategies for Merchants – Smarter.com Data Feed Optimization Tips – December 9, 2005
Strategies for Merchants – ChannelAdvisor Data Feed Optimization Tips – December 12, 2005