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Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping with Andy Splichal

Kyle:  Hello, and welcome to the Google Ads Strategy Show. I’m your host, Kyle Sulerud. And today I’m going to be talking with Andy Splichal. 

Andy is the founder of True Online Presence. And he’s also the founder of a training platform called the Academy of Internet Marketing. And I have Andy on today this week, because he’s about to be releasing a new book called Make Each Click Count using Google Shopping. So we’re going to be talking about that. And specifically, we’ll be talking about Google Shopping. So Andy,  welcome. 

Andy: Hey, thanks for having me.

Kyle:  And did I leave anything out of that intro that people should know?

Andy: You know, I guess one that your listeners might be interested in is that, when I first release this book coming up here in about a week, is that I’ll be running a special on it and you’ll be able to download the Kindle version of the book for 99 cents. And that’s special will last probably a week to 10 days, and then after that, it’ll go to the normal retail price of $24.95.

Kyle:  Okay, and you plan to release that on Memorial Day week?

Andy:  Yes, you know, it should definitely be out by Memorial Day. I’m hoping for the Friday before. But it definitely should be out by Memorial Day and then that special will run until the first week of June.

Kyle:  Okay, there you go. So anyone who is subscribed to this podcast, who listens right when the episodes are released, you’re going to be rewarded with a very discounted price of Andy’s book. If you’re listening to this in the future, of course, that book will still be available. 

So, how did you get into all this, Andy? How did you get into marketing? And more specifically, how did you become an expert on Google Shopping?

Andy:   You know, I came out of college in the late 90’s and still wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. My first job out of college I took a job at a company who sold informational products regarding stock trading. And I was managing the bookstore for the company online. And after the internet bubble burst, I believe in 2002, the president of that company moved to a full ecommerce site and then kind of took me with him to run the online marketing. 

Of course I, at that time, had no idea really what online marketing was, and so I was really kind of self-taught out of preservation, to keep that position. And you know, over the next few years, we ended up spending, at the time we were spending a couple hundred thousand dollars a month on Google Ads. So I really had an opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t. And then in the early 2010’s, I started leaving on my own and managing private clients using the first decade of knowledge that I had learned managing Google Ads.

Kyle:   So are all your clients then in the ecommerce space?

Andy:   Yeah. I only actually take ecommerce clients. So when I first started an agency, like many agency owners, which is a mistake, I would take anybody willing to pay me. And I found that my specialty and my interest was working with ecommerce companies, and working with ecommerce clients is really the specialty of my agency.

Kyle:   And are you just doing a Google Search or Google Shopping for these clients? Are you also providing other services?

Andy:  Yeah, I’m just doing Google Search, Google Shopping, Google Display, as well as Microsoft (same thing) search, shopping, display. 

I will go in, and it’s not part of my service. I mean, I work with clients and I have a lot of knowledge as far as conversion. And I’ll end up working with them on how to get their websites converting better, just out of past experience. but the charged programs are for the online advertising in Google and Bing.

Kyle:   So let’s get into strategy a little bit. This is the Google Ads Strategy show, after all. If someone is running an ecommerce site, and maybe they’re already trying some Google Ads on their own, or they’re thinking about getting into it, what are some of the main things they should consider? What should they be doing in order to have the best chance for success with their Google Ads?

Andy:   Well, if they’re an ecommerce company, the first thing they should do is buy my book that’s coming out. Because I mean, I really lay it all out there. And for ecommerce companies, what I found is that your Google Shopping ads are going to be a lot more profitable than your Google search ads, typically. And it’s really just the kind of the nature of the ads, where Google Shopping, you got the image, you got the price, you got the title, they click on it, and they go right to the product page. 

Google search, on the other hand, where you got your description, you got your site links, you got different extensions. And even the best crafted search ad could leave confusion with the shopper, because you know, no two people think alike. And what you’re writing might not be what they’re reading per se. So I would, if I’m giving one recommendation to an ecommerce company, it would be to start using Google Shopping.

Kyle:  Okay, and you’re saying that that’s because you’re showing a picture of the item, and there’s not really any room for interpretation there.

Andy:  Right. There’s no room for interpretation there. I mean, the issue is that Google Shopping is a lot more complicated to run than your Google Search Ads. From setting up your Merchant Center to link in your feeds over into your Google Ads interface, and then you get into actually optimizing the bids. It’s a steep learning curve, and that’s, when you’re talking strategy, I mean, I go through all that in the book as well as some great strategies once you get going.

Kyle:  Okay, let’s say someone just wanted to try this out on their own, and they think they can figure it out without reading your book, and they would just want to spend $5 or $10 a day, what should they be looking for to really know whether it’s working or not? What should they be considering if they are taking that approach?

Andy: Well, I mean, number one, you’re gonna want to make sure that you’re tracking properly. Right? I recently had a client that came to me that said, I tracked by my gut. If orders are going out, it’s working. And that’s not what you want to do with Google Shopping or Google search, or any paid advertising. You need to be able to track. And once you have tracking in place, then you need to make sure that it is set up properly. And yeah, those would be the number one and number two. And then you can go into, optimizing it to have greater success.

Kyle:   Are there certain types of products or certain price points that work better with Google Shopping? Or worse?

Andy:  I wouldn’t say so. I mean, I have private clients that are all over the board, from a T-shirt company that sell shirts starting at 10 bucks, to one of my private clients that sells pond water fountains, you know, the kind you see in golf courses that the average sale for him is $6,000-$7,000. And all of them are having really good success, being very profitable with their rate on ad spend using Google Shopping.

Kyle:  So a $10 t-shirt, are customers buying multiple shirts in that case? Or what’s the average order value for a site like that?

Andy:  Yeah, I mean, those are just the lowest products. But I mean, his average order values about 30 bucks. I mean, the average product price, I think is $17 or $18. So, your average order is for one and a half shirts.

Kyle:   Okay. And do you know offhand (I’m just trying to get a sense for how profitable a campaign like that could be), like, what the average cost per click is, and like, how many of those clicks are actually turning into customers for a low-price product like that?

Andy: It’s really seasonal, depending on how it’s performing. During the holidays, the average order goes up. I mean, the cost per acquisition is going to go down because your conversion rate is going up. 

So during the holidays, he’s typically running an ROAS of around six or six and a half. The rest of the year kind of varies, it’ll go between two and a half and three and a half, depending on if he has anything new or anything like that. 

And you got to think, too. I mean, he’s running these Google campaigns being profitable, right? Even if it’s a two and a half return on adspend. But those are now customers, right? So you got to think of the AOL to the average lifetime value of the customer. Because typically, once he gets a customer, I mean, customers are going to place 2 to 4 orders over their lifetime.

Kyle:  Got it. So you mentioned Google Display, Google Search. Would you also utilize Google Search and Google Display for a T-shirt company and a water fountain company?

Andy:  No, no, no, you know, I don’t do any Google Search at all for the T-shirt company. The price just can’t sustain that profitability. So he sells, let’s say like, John Deere t-shirts, right? But for John Deere t-shirt, for the search campaign, you’re looking at an average cost per click of around $1, maybe a little bit more, where you can get those clicks on Google Shopping for average CPC is closer to $40. Plus, you have better conversion rates. And so, I do run display in the form of retargeting for the T shirt company, because I mean the average CPC (cost per click) on those are like seven cents. 

Now, conversely, the more expensive company, the company that sells pawn fountains, we’re about half and half as far as conversions compared to Google Search and Google Shopping. And I mean, while the ROAS is a little bit better on shopping, where it’s about seven, the ROAS on search is still typically about five and a half.

Kyle:   Right. (And of course, ROAS means return on ad spend, for anyone unfamiliar.) So even though you’re specializing in ecommerce companies, it sounds like there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach. You’re looking at the specific products that are being sold and doing what you can, but if one particular channel isn’t working, you’re not trying to force it to work. You’re just focusing on what’s working best, right?

Andy:  Right. I mean, it’s all about optimizing based on your historical data, right? Because I mean, you can make some changes. And you know, it might be a thing where you don’t give up on search. But if you are not converting, if you don’t have the conversion on your website to be able to afford what the average cost per click is and how much it’s going to cost you to obtain a customer, then I mean, you really need to think of a new channel to gain your traffic.

Kyle:  Okay, so you mentioned tracking as being a big thing, and obviously something a lot of beginners aren’t going to even set up, they’re not going to take that step to even know if their ads are performing. What are some other mistakes that your average ecommerce store owner would use or would make if they were just getting started with Google Ads on their own? What are some of the biggest mistakes people make?

Andy:  There’s a number of them. I would say one of the biggest mistakes that customers can make is not knowing the importance of their Google Merchant Center account, and how adding custom labels and adding the ability to segment their data is going to affect being able to optimize your account down the road. And number two, is just to kind of think, “I’ll put it in there, and I will go live with a Google Smart Shopping campaign, and Google will deliver me all the results. And it’s easy done, all done out of here. Never have to look at it again”.

Kyle:  Yeah. Do you ever utilize smart shopping campaigns? Or is that pretty much always a no-no for you?

Andy:  I tested them when they came out. And like anything, I want to be testing, right? And so I tested those. I actually ran a test as well on the Google Shopping. But I ran an experiment with the Google Search campaigns on using one of the automated bid strategies for search, the maximized conversion value and compared that, it’s really cool. I don’t know if you’ve used experiments before, but you can split your traffic 50-50 and run it for a certain amount of time.

And so ran that against the search campaign that was already been optimized over a couple of years, and gave it 30 days. I mean, it gets a good amount of traffic. Each campaign spent about 2 grand each. And the manual campaign outperformed it by quite a bit. I think it was the ROAS in the manual was like five and a half compared to like, just over three or four for the Google Campaign. 

So, I mean, there’s a ton of Google automated things that are available. I’ve tested quite a bit. They just don’t seem to perform at the level of somebody who is able to optimize it. 

Now, if you don’t have time to optimize it, and it can be profitable, it’s going to be better than nothing, right? For somebody just getting started. But just know that if you’re profitable, and you’re using Google Smart or any of the other Google automated campaign strategies, you’re probably leaving money on the table.

Kyle:  So without  fully using a smart campaign, are you using automated bidding at all? Or are you only still using manual bidding at this point? Or what’s your approach like with that?

Andy:  I use typically manual bidding. And what I do is pretty cool. And I actually have a section in the book on it. And what I do is I create every 10 days to two weeks, depending on the volume, I create a manual profitability report. And I use that to look at each individual item. I mean, once you have it set up, it’s pretty simple. But it uses a formula and if the ROAS is over 7, then you’re going to increase the bids on that product by 30% or X amount. It’s going to depend on your ROAS goals. But by running this report, I can just naturally increase bids on products that are having high profitability, while decreasing bids that have low profitability.

Kyle:   Okay, so typically when someone’s using Google Shopping, it’s pretty complicated to just increase or decrease bids on a specific product, right, that requires more of a special setup.

Andy: What it’s gonna require (and this is what I suggest in the beginning) is using your custom labels, right? Because once you use your custom labels, and you subdivide your campaigns, I mean, that’s another big mistake that somebody new that will do, is they will just put all their products inside one shopping campaign and leave it at “all products”. And so they’re whether it’s 10 cents or $1, but they’re bidding the exact same amount for all products, for all devices, same time of day, to all parts of the country, and just hoping for profitability. 

Google Shopping is a great example of the 80-20 rule, where typically 20% of your products are going to generate 80% of your profit, and 80% of your sales. And if you’re not optimizing for the ones that are doing that, you’re going to lose ground here competitors.

Kyle:  Right. Okay, so you’re really segmenting your campaigns as much as possible. And then just manually looking at what’s working, what’s not working, and making those adjustments. And that’s what works for you, at least at this moment in time, right?

Andy:  Well, yeah, I mean, manually, I’m not going line by line and looking at the actual inside the interface. I’m running different reports that I’ve created, like proprietary formulas that will help me adjust those 20% that are leading to the 80% in sales. And it’ll help me reduce the 80% that are contributing to the 20% of sales and make it profitable. And not only am I doing that by item. I’m also doing it by device on the campaign level. And I’m doing that a little bit less frequently. I’m doing that about once a month. And I’m also doing it based on location. And so with those 3, run on a semi-automated and regular basis, it’s been able to substantially outperform automated Google strategies.

Kyle:  Yeah. So your reports are basically drawing your attention into what’s most important, and allowing you to make changes across the board, rather than having to look line by line at every little detail.

Andy:  Right. Yeah. I mean, it’s really pinpointing the ones that are doing well, and allowing me to focus on those, what the bids should be in, and increasing them as gaining more and more search impression share, the more profitable. Those items are in advertising on shopping.

Kyle:  Is there anything else I should have asked you about Google Shopping that I didn’t that you think we should cover?

Andy:  You know, I guess another key factor, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, for somebody who is just starting out, is going to be your negative keywords

Forget what we’ve been talking about, which are  going to increase your profitability and it’s going to help you get more sales. But if you’re just starting out, even more important is to keep an eye on your negative keywords. Because with shopping of course, you don’t dictate which words your products appear for. It’s going to depend, based on your title and your description and Google trying to match it using their algorithm to match a user’s search query. 

And you’re going to find that there’s going to be a lot of junk. And you can find that by keeping an eye on your search terms report, and then adding those as negative keywords.

Kyle:  Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned that, because that’s definitely a big thing. So I haven’t actually run a shopping campaign for a while. I’ve been focused on YouTube Ads and lead generation ads.  I remember right, you can’t actually add negative keywords to certain types of shopping campaigns. Is that true? Is that still the case?

Andy: No. You can add negative keywords. You can add broad phrase or exact. The only keyword type you can’t add is the broad match modifier, which you could add to search campaigns, but you can’t use as negative anyway. But you can add all the three major types to to shopping campaigns

Kyle:  Even like a smart shopping campaign, do those allow negative keywords?

Andy:  The smart shopping campaign no.

Kyle: Okay, that’s what I was thinking.

Andy: On smart shopping campaigns, you’re flying completely blind. Not only can you not add negative keywords, but you don’t even know what keywords your ads are appearing for, or what device. The only thing that you can dictate with a smart shopping campaign is “what products” and the “budget” 

Kyle:  Yeah. Okay, so, obviously yet another reason to avoid those smart shopping campaigns. I think that’ll be really valuable for the listeners, even if they don’t go pick up your book, which at 99 cents sounds like a no-brainer. If you go look for Andy’s book now, he does have an older book from 2015 called Make Each Click Count Using Google AdWords. But his newer book is Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping. So make sure you’re getting the right one. Or of course, if you want to look at his 2015 book, that is still there also. 

Right? Is that still available for purchase, Andy?

Andy:  Yeah, that is available on Amazon. It’s $24.95 on Amazon. It’s also available at makeeachclickcount.com at a reduced price, and there you can just download the PDF. But it’s for five bucks. So yeah, definitely that goes through everything where the new book is just covering Google Shopping.

Kyle:  Okay, perfect. And aside from the book, where should people go if they want to get in touch with you?

Andy:  They can reach me at a couple different places. The main website is trueonlinepresence.com. And the other place, if they want to learn how to run a lot of these ads themselves, along with exclusive access to me, and they don’t have the budget to be a private client, a place that they can get all that information is The Academy of Internet Marketing. And that has everything, including a new course that I just released, Google Shopping simplified, which kind of goes hand in hand with the book. Because what I just explained with the optimizing, the profitability report can sound a bit complicated. So it’s great where you can see me actually do it, and all those other reports are there as well where it shows me how to actually create those reports inside your campaigns.

Kyle:  Okay, perfect. Well, thanks for sharing today. And thanks for coming on the show.

Andy: Cool. Yeah, that was fun!

Kyle:   And this has been the Google Ads Strategy Show. Again, my name is Kyle Sulerud, and I will talk to you later.