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T&C 2020: eCommerce Sales Explosion: The proven method to using Smart Shopping in Google Ads

by Christina Hooper.
Last Updated on May 8, 2022

This article is part of a series breaking down the top takeaways from the key speakers at T&C 2020.

What Was This Session All About?

If you’re looking to take your Smart Shopping game to the next level, Kasim Aslam is here to help you out. 

Kasim dives into information his boss, John, has discovered, and he has implemented. He takes you on a ride from going over what Smart Shopping is to debunking everything Google has lied to you about. 

By reading this article you will learn trade secrets that can change your entire business and help you ultimately be more successful.

Who is Kasim Aslam?

  • Founder and CEO of Solutions 8, one of the world’s top-ranked Google Ads agencies
  • Named in the Top 50 Digital Marketing Thought Leaders in the U.S. by the University of Missouri
  • Recently hand-selected by Digital Marketer to be an Elite Coach
  • Published a book called The Seven Critical Principles of Effective Digital Marketing
  • His book was ranked one of the best Digital Marketing books of all time by Book Authority
  • Named one of the “Top 50 Digital Marketing Thought Leaders in the United States.”
  • Named Interactive Person of the Year by ZIMA
  • You can subscribe to his YouTube Channel for a new video on Google Ads every day.

What We Learned

What Smart Shopping Is

Smart Shopping begins by tracking the users of existing purchases. 

Smart Shopping was created by Google and works to identify common denominators (demographic, timing, behavior, etc.) and proactively identify additional prospects who fit into the newly defined avatar. 

Smart Shopping measures your products’ performance (and every applicable product in its stable) and matches those interested in prospects with the product that’s most likely to perform. 

We are no longer waiting for people to find us, but instead, we are using the most powerful machine in the history of existence. 

Smart Shopping

  • Combines Standard Shopping and Display Marketing
  • Uses automated bidding and ad placement
  • Existing product feed & Google’s machine learning
  • Show a variety of ads across networks.
  • Utilizes Google’s Dynamic  Prospecting to acquire new users

Dynamic Prospecting

  •  Shows your best product at the right time to the users who would be the most interested. 
  • Machine learning determines interest and intent. 
  • Combines intent and demographic information
  • Evaluates your feed based on performance, relevance, and other factors

How It Works

Google Knows You

Google is trafficking 70 million demographic and psychographic profiling factors on every person in its ecosystem. Google is basically the internet. It knows everything about you. 

Google doesn’t just search; it’s also:

  • Search: what you ask, what you need, what you want
  • YouTube: what you do, how you learn, how you play
  • Gmail: who you speak to, how you speak, what you do
  • Google Apps: what you keep, what you make, what you look like
  • Google Analytics: what sites you visit, what you do on those sites
  • Google Maps: where you go, how fast you drive, where you live
  • Android: who you communicate with, how you communicate

Who’s It For

These tools aren’t for everyone’s business campaigns. Here are some of the things you should have and shouldn’t have going for you.

Must-Haves

  • Reasonable monthly spend ($2k minimum)
  • eCommerce enabled website with a product feed
  • Physical products (does not work with digital products)
  • Enough margins to support a traffic campaign
  • Unique selling proposition (Google’s looking for the best stuff)
  • Lines of products (customizable is ok, no one-offs)

Nice-to-Haves

  • Multiple SKUs
  • Substantial lifetime value (LTV): High margins, Repeat business (consumables), Ascension opportunities (CVJ)
  • Lifestyle imagery: You need imagery that shows people using your products.
  • Existing purchase traffic

Case Studies

Case Study #1 

The client had an 1150% Return On Ads Spent (ROAS). They spent $17,585 in a period of four months and made $202,300. They had 500,000+ impressions. The Brand Campaign increased by $11,527. 

Case Study #2: Sporting Equipment Store

The client had a 652% ROAS over 12 months.

Case Study #3: Online Shoe Retailer

The client had 745% ROAS over 12 months.

These are three of countless clients who had higher and higher ROAS over periods of just a few months to a year. It’s important to remember that most of these businesses will see repeat purchases, and consumable products have significant long-term upside. 

How to Use It

There is a problem

The problem is that Google is a liar. They are a great company, but they tend to focus on their product instead of everyone else’s. 

What Google Says You Need

  • At least 20 conversions over the last 45 days in Standard Shopping
  • Site tag and remarketing list with at least 100 users
  • Do not use Smart Shopping and Standard Shopping campaigns together
  • Do not run remarketing alongside Smart Shopping
  • Use one Smart Shopping campaign for all your products
  • Give Your Smart Shopping at least 45 days to see proper results
  • Keep your product feed up-to-date

What Kasim Has Found to Be True

  • Do not use Smart Shopping and Standard Shopping campaigns together.
  • Give Your Smart Shopping at least 45 days to see proper results
  • Keep your product feed up-to-date

About half of what Google is telling you to do you shouldn’t be doing. 

The Other Problem is You

If you’re an Ad Manager and want to control, you will not get it. For instance, Google is like a pack of sled dogs, and you’re the one driving the sled. Your job is to guide them where to go. Many people want to take the sled dog, strap it to their back, and climb up the mountain like that. And it doesn’t work because Google is always going to know more than you are. 

Don’t get romantic about the way you make your money. Get behind it. 

How to Use Smart Shopping (According to Kasim)

The number one problem people have is that they don’t properly track their conversions. 

Conversion Tracking

  • Conversion tracking with conversion value enabled
  • Don’t rely solely on Analytics conversion data
  • Shopify users beware: Shopify automatically tracks all conversion actions as conversion value (add to cart, checkout, purchase)
  • We have Google’s Tag Implementation Team build the transaction data (Free for everyone)
  • Their team will build the trigger and the tag in GTM
  • We install the conversion ID and conversion label

Don’t Make Assumptions.

What is currently selling is selling because you’re selling it. 

  • Don’t make assumptions. Google is going to sell what it wants to sell. 
  • Include your entire product in the catalog. 
  • Don’t prioritize anything to start with. (Exception: Low margin products.)
  • Smart shopping helps identify what people want. 

Product Feed

  • Robust product information (Descriptive titles, Robust product descriptions, Relevant product details.)
  • Keep your feed up-to-date.
  • Optimize your feed reactively (Products that will sell well, Products that aren’t moving.)
  • Kasim uses DataFeedWatch.com

GTIN

  • The Global Trade Item Number is an identifier for trade items developed by GS1. Such identifiers get used to look up product information in a database that may belong to a retailer, manufacturer, collector, researcher, or other entity. 
  • GTIN is required for all products in order for this to be viable.
  • GTIN is the same as a UPC — they are interchangeable

Breakup Products by Margin

  • Run separate Smart Shopping campaigns grouping products by margin. 
  • Higher margin products should have a lower ROAS requirement. 

Incorporate Lead Generation

  • Run separate Smart Shopping campaigns grouping products by price. 
  • Give Lead Generation conversion actions a monetary value.
  • Allocate ad spend by volume of leads generated. 

Traffic Agnostic

  • Smart Shopping can capture buying signals from almost all traffic, regardless of source.
  • Facebook campaigns dramatically improve Smart Shopping Campaigns
    • ROAS retains while volume increases
    • Especially true after a campaign has plateaued. 
    • These conversions generally track well on Facebook.
  • Run Smart Shopping alone and then phase in additional traffic channels once you’ve established a baseline ROAS. 

Always…

  • Run a brand campaign 
  • Run a Dynamic Product Remarketing Campaign (In spite of what Google says)
    • You’re not going to get to control Google’s narrative on your traffic. 
    • You’ll get close to 0 impressions, but it will help you market to your users. 
  • Use First Click as a Conversion Attribution model for all conversions.
    • Smart Shopping is a user acquisition system. 
  • Always include lifestyle images in the Smart Shopping ads. 

Never…

  • Increase budgets until day 30 (minimum) 
    • You have to let Smart Shopping learn
    • Your first 30 days is the machine learning
  • Scale a rate faster than a 10% daily ad spend (unless the campaign is over-performing)
    • Increase every week
    • In spite of what Google says
  • Start with ROAS goal
    • Instead, add the ROAS goal 45 days after you start
  • Pause your campaigns (Google’s Day 2 Rule)

Risks

You have to break all your old habits and all your old rules. 

  • Very limited control (bids, placements, ads)
  • Very limited visibility
  • Can’t break network placements out for reporting
  • You can’t decide to exclude a particular network
  • No negative keywords
  • You can’t choose which devices to show your ads
  • Bid adjustments are not an option
  • You won’t be able to analyze data from ads on Display, Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail to see where your sales are coming from. 

Let’s Get More Advanced

Add Video to Your Smart Shopping Campaigns

These are “trade secrets from the underworld.”

  • Adding a 30-second video to your Smart Shopping campaign dramatically increases your reach and remarketing on the display network. 
  • Try to keep videos brand-specific and not product-specific since you can only show one video for all Smart Shopping. 
  • The video doesn’t need to be highly produced. People actually enjoy low-budget videos. 

Run a Competitor Display Campaign

  • Custom audience: visitors to a competitive site
  • Responsive Display Ads targeting competitive products 
  • Campaign #1 :
    • Display and YouTube
    • 30 seconds or less
  • Campaign #2: 
    • YouTube
    • 30+ seconds 
  • Display campaign will spend 100x faster. Split into two campaigns, so YouTube gets some play. 
  • When you set up the campaign, it asks you to select “People who searched for any of these terms on Google.” And instead of entering a term below, you are going to enter a URL. Google will target people who enter this URL. 

Lookalike Display Campaign

  • Custom audience: People who visit websites like these
  • Responsive Display Ads targeting competitive products
  • Campaign #1
    • Display and YouTube
    • 30 seconds or less
  • Campaign #2
    • YouTube
    • 30+ seconds
  • Select “people who browse websites similar to” and choose a specific URL (nothing general like Amazon).

Proactive Display Campaign

  • Custom audience: People with purchase intent (Select)
  • Target product or product types by keyword
  • Campaign #1
    • Display and YouTube
    • 30 seconds or less
  • Campaign #2
    • YouTube
    • 30+ seconds

General Search Campaigns

  • Every website visitor automatically gets remarketed to within Smart Shopping.
  • Use long-tail keywords that clearly articulate purchase intent
    • Best, top, now fast, etc
  • Separate ad groups by-products (one ad group for each major product category)

Dynamic Remarketing with Videos

  • Create audiences using Google Analytics
    • Visitors to a Product Page
    • “Add to cart” event
  • Create product-specific videos for each product
  • Campaign #1
    • Display and YouTube
    • 30 seconds or less
  • Campaign #2
    • YouTube (Run sales campaign, not shopping)
    • 30+ seconds

What Do You Think?

If you watched his presentation at T&C, read his book or have any other experience with his work, I want to know what you think. 

Leave a comment below and share your story of using his techniques to grow your business.

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