|making PPC shopping malls work for you|
bizrate, shopzilla, nextag, yahoo shopping
i have been trying to raise my bottom line with submitting data feeds of my products to "PPC shopping malls", so as to expose the products i sell, and of course make more sales. So, in programming my ecommerce store, i have created data feeds for 6 shopping malls - froogle, shopping.com, bizrate/shopzilla, nextag.com, and pricegrabber.com. At first i was excited, as over 2000 of our products (fine crafts, gifts, home decor niche like widgets) were sent and the traffic came in instantly.
A month later thousands of dollars were drained as very few sales came from the shopping malls. So, i worked hard for the next year researching and testing ways to focus and filter my feeds to get better conversion. For instance - I only sent my top 200 products, then only proucts with little competition, products in the right pricerange, and niche with different dewscriptions, and only products that have lead to previous sales from the shopping mall. etc. etc... And each time, i get the same result - plenty of traffic and little sales. So i looked further and analyzed log files, refereral pages, and click/sales reports. I found that on average i get 2 clicks per visitor (sometimes 1 click, sometimes 4 or 5 clicks), thus averaging .50 cents per visitor as my bids are always at the lowest. It takes 125 visitors to convert 1 sale, thus costing $50 - $75 dollars per 1 sale) we only profit an average of 25.00 a sale, so you can see where this is heading.
Also most of the referral pages show that the shopping mall has an adword for my product - so the shopping mall is within google and yahoos search network, so adwords are shared, which results in the visitor searching for "widget a" on google, then going to a shopping malls adword, and then to me, when all the visitor wanted was information. (not very prequalified if you ask me). Further, the display rules trick the visitor into clicking by hotlinking everything. the visitor wants a bigger picture - BOOM .25 cents, and an instint back button push. And then, the next line down is a similiar product - BOOM same visitor - .50 sents, and another quick exit.
as I exhausted all product filtering options, it still is a mystery as to why the conversion is so low. I thought the leads were "targeted and prequalified", not to mention all the shopping mall reps telling me that i should be converting at 2-5 percent given my products categorization. Some say (and i know some of you are thinking) It was on my end and my site, so to clarify, figure this --- Froogle, (which is free) converts at 5-6% and our site and fulfillment process does not lack functionality, trustwirthiness, and is well commended on all fronts. So why can't i make the PPC shopping malls work since sending a product feed seems sooo logical. i figure it is one of two things
1) it is a rip off and very few profit, but many dont know how much they are losing, and only continue for the rating system, SEO and exposure, or the HOPE of making more money
2) It does work well if you know how to send the right products at the right time, or how to filter out products that have high curisoty and bad conversion
who does profit from PPC shopping malls?
I have had limited experience but found the same result - I still need to do more testing but I think you are right that it is a waste of money. The only good converter is Google (besides direct traffic from past customers). I wish there was an alternative. Don't get me wrong - Google is good for the net - but we all need a way to even out our revenue streams. PPC engines are not the answer yet.
I was actually going to begin investigating in this area fairly soon. I figured I was going to start with Shopping.Yahoo.. Any one with specific info on Shopping.Yahoo?
I have been reasearching this topic quite a bit and have a couple of clients in the same boat as you. It worked great at first but then just took a dive, charging the clients thousands in clicks that simply never converted.
It is my understanding that one must optimize each of the feeds to each of the different shopping portals in order to be effective. But it sounds like you have gone to great lengths to do this (have you not?). So I am having a hard time figuring out why people have this bad experience. Because it must be working well for many people since there are so many businesses advertising there. And the shopping portals just get bigger and make more money every year.
The only thing that I can think of that is going wrong is that you have not properly optimized, or tagged your products, with good keywords. I would love to hear anyone to solve this mystery if at all possible.
The PPC shopping malls are among the most profitable in terms of ROI for us. Last time I looked, they converted at a little over 2x what we get from Adwords.
However, the amount of traffic that they drive is small compared to Adwords. Optimizing the traffic for our upcoming busy season (mid-Nov through mid-May) is one of the items on my never-ending task list.
We manufacture and sell our own branded products, so we're not competing solely price with a thousand other web merchants selling the exact same products.
|smells so good|
I was never able to justify the cost of a PPC Shopping Mall. I've tried a couple of them, and I also tried niche directories. My experience has been about the same that I've read in this thread - lots of traffic, few sales, too much expense. The only external source that has worked for me to date is Amazon (I know, it isn't PPC), and that took a couple of years to pan out. Customer ratings are a big plus in that arena. For my money I would suggest to keep fine tuning your own pages to improve your search results.
An interesting aside, when I looked through the malls to see what my competition was like, I realized that none of my 'real' competition was listed. The sites in the malls were simply unable to get listed anywhere near the Top 100 SERP's. So, to them, I imagine they saw this as a good opportunity to be listed 'somewhere'.
Ditto CernyM - Shopper/Mall sites convert at 3Xs our normal PPC but with far less traffic. We have had products with limited or no success and they are ALWAYS items that you can easily find elsewhere. Lesson learned: These sites are great for unique items, impulse buys and high dollar products. But, if you dont fit at least two of those, fuhhgettaboutit.
Havent gotten into Froogle much...thats on next weeks todo list
PPC Shopping Malls do not work for me. Good traffic - no sale. Froogle is the same story. I remember 1 order from Froogle in 12 months period. Adwords conversion is low, but at least something. The majority of orders come from the Search Engines results, when people are looking for a particular product ( this is more likely to convert to sale)- not the generic key word phrase (this is window shopping).
Shopping malls, more commonly referred to as shopping engines or comparison shopping sites, work well for the long time participants, mediocre for others, and not all all for others. Being a long-time insider I can share the following tips:
Tip #1: Make sure your products are in the right category. If you are being charged the gift rate at $0.50 CPC then you may want to change this to being categorized in Home and Garden - Furnsihsings where your CPC will be between $0.15 and $.25.
Tip #2: Understand your competition. If there is no competition on the shopping engine for your products, then you will get the majority of the traffic, whether it is qualified or not. Adding competition (others who are selling a similar product) will drop the number of leads and improve their quality.
Tip #3: Watch out for the hidden fees. Do you need to pay extra for Logo's, Promotional Text, Phone numbers, etc? They can drive up your COS. Remeber the more you pay to a shopping engine the more they can pay on SEM and drive more traffic to you, good or bad.
It is hard to ascertain what may be the cause without more information.
|...my bids are always at the lowest. |
Perhaps this is part of the problem. If your bids are always the lowest then you're only going to get a conversion if your price is the cheapest. Bidding higher will get you more clicks from people who simply click on the first result and then buy.
Also, do you participate in the shopper satisfaction surveys? A good rating from someone like Shopzilla should get you better conversions from their site.