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If you work in marketing, you likely started thinking about your holiday shopping campaigns months ago, even as early as July. However, even if you’re just getting started, there are still a few things you can do to ensure your Google Shopping campaigns have a solid foundation to maximize traffic when Black Friday and Cyber Monday searches really pick up. In this post, I’ll cover four initiatives that’ll help keep your Shopping revenue stream steady.

Check on Your Feed Status

First, check the status of your feed in Merchant Center. To do this, log in to Merchant Center, choose the Products tab, and then choose Diagnostics. This page will show you a graph of item, feed, and account issues, as well as a graph to visualize the percentage of products that are live.

When looking in this tab, it’s likely that you’re seeing at least a few errors or warnings. If you are, start with identifying what the errors and warnings are, and prioritize fixing errors over warnings. For many of the errors that can appear in Merchant Center, there are rules you can implement as workarounds. For example, we recently ran into missing GTINs/MPNs for a client, which was affecting over 75% of their Shopping products. By implementing a rule to bypass this issue, we were able to show 99% of products in the feed.

For more information on the diagnostics section of Merchant Center, see here. If you need help setting up rules to bypass these errors, request support from Google by phone, chat or email.

Onboard a Feed Management System

Second, implement a feed management system. If the feed you’re working with is like many of the feeds I’ve seen, it’s not perfect. Whether you’re missing certain attributes required by Google, or you just need to revamp your titles, a feed management system such as ProductsUp is an incredibly helpful tool. These tools allow you to import your feed, make changes, and then export to Merchant Center, Facebook, etc. The benefit to these feed management systems is that they allow you to make changes to your feed without affecting the website or having to go back and forth with the client.

As you are likely aware if you’ve run Shopping campaigns before, Google requires certain attributes in your feed for products to show. To ensure you have these attributes across all your products, you can apply bulk rules to set certain values, or create rules to change the values based on the product.

Once you have all the attributes aligned and cleaned up, you can also start testing titles. Try including your brand name, the product color or size, etc., and see what works. Many of these feed management platforms also allow you to create two feeds so you can A/B test these changes to fully measure the impact.

Implement Smart Bidding

Third, implement smart bidding in your shopping campaigns. No matter what your goal, there is an option for smart bidding. Let your campaigns go through the learning period and give them a few weeks after the learning period is over before making any major changes. Do this now, since no one knows entirely what to expect from smart bidding when the holiday traffic picks up. Once your campaigns are performing well according to your goals, you can back into what your average CPCs are and, if performance warrants it, switch back to manual bidding to help control performance during the holidays.

Set Automated Rules for the Holidays

Fourth, take advantage of all the tools you can use in AdWords to make your life easier. Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday searches will likely blow your average numbers out of the water, set up rules to make sure your budgets aren’t being capped.

To do this, you can set up an automated rule in AdWords and apply it to whichever campaigns you’d like to keep uncapped. If you’re looking to be aware of the issue, rather than have AdWords change anything for you, select “Send Email”. If you’d like AdWords to simply increase campaign budget, choose “Change Budgets”. You can set this to run daily so you’ll get notifications when the budget is capped.

If you’d like hourly alerts, I’d recommend looking into implementing a script similar to the one linked here (credit Daniel Pinero). This type of script will send you an alert each time a campaign is becoming constrained by budget, which can be much more powerful than checking once-daily email alerts.

 

By themselves, these four steps won’t help you set any Shopping records – but they will help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks when the stakes are highest. Put them in play now so you smooth out any wrinkles before the holiday rush.