SCE Optimization: Back to Basics

By Daanish Chishti, Paid Search Coordinator, Advertising Solutions

For those of you who manage shopping feeds on shopping comparison engines (SCEs), you know that optimizing them are very different compared to your usual Tier I engines. When I optimize SCE feeds, I boil it down to three main focus points:

1) Do your product feeds have as much detail as possible?
2) Do you update your product feeds as frequently as possible?
3) Do you remove products that have performed poorly in terms of conversion efficiency?

Product Depth
Shopping comparison engines are for consumers that are on the lower end of the purchasing funnel. Most know they are ready to buy; now they want to figure out which product is best suited for them. Think about when you go shopping. Although price is usually one of the most significant factors (if not THE most significant factor) in purchasing a product, specifications are also very important. Consumers want to know colors, sizes, conditions, etc. All of these factors are involved in the purchasing process, so it’s important that you include as much detail as possible.

More engines are moving toward a system where if a consumer searches for a certain specification and you don’t have that in your feed, then your product won’t show at all. For example, say your product list contained a number of Brand XYZ microwaves but not the color of the microwave. If a consumer did a search for “black Brand XYZ microwave”, your product would not display on the results page.

You should also include product specs that influence the actual purchase of the product, such as shipping costs, estimated shipping dates, and sale/promotional prices. These details also significantly affect feed performance. Engines such as have mentioned that they will make shipping costs a required field for feeds in the near future.
Lastly, make sure you allow the product to be found in as many ways as possible by including fields such as model product numbers and SKU’s. Many consumers already know exactly which product they want to buy and thus use MPN’s and SKU’s to locate them.

Frequency of Updating
When selling a number of products online, an advertiser often runs out of stock or prices constantly change. Updating product feeds as frequently as possible is essential to maintaining a relevant feed. It’s easiest when an advertiser has a system where you can retrieve updated data feeds regularly; however, if not, try to work out a way to get the data you need in a timely fashion. Use both internal and external resources, such as software development teams and the advertiser itself to build what you need to obtain the most up-to-date data on a regular basis.

You don’t want to create a negative user experience by having the consumer view certain products specs on the SCE then see alternate information when they click through to the product landing page. Always remember to update and update often.

Product Elimination Based on Performance
Once you have had products running long enough to obtain significant search volume data, you can begin to weed out products that accumulate clicks but don’t obtain online orders and revenue. Certain products don’t sell well on shopping comparison engines so it’s prudent to remove these from your feed and enhance efficiency.

One important aspect of product removal to keep in mind is seasonality. Certain products might convert well at certain times of the year and not so well at other times. For example, air conditioner purchases will usually increase during the summer and snow sleds during the winter.

In conclusion, in order to have SCE feeds perform efficiently, you have to include detail and constantly update and tweak your feed. Use whatever technology and resources at your disposal to get the data you need in a timely and efficient fashion. Don’t forget that on SCEs, consumers are ready to buy so you have influence them with more than the image of a product and the product’s price.


dgould said...

Great post. What are the types or characteristics of products that you've seen not perform well on the SCE's?

Unknown said...

Products that I have seen not perform well are larger ticket items both in price and size. Many consumers use SCEs with the intent of having products shipped to them; coincidentally, I have seen average sale amounts to be less on SCE's compared to tier 1 engines.

Also, I've found very small ticket items don't perform well on SCE's as well. For example, a pack of nails or a roll of tape.

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