Comparison shopping engines include 8 to 10 major websites who offer CPC (cost per click) marketing services for manufacturers and retailers online. They also include an additional 100+ smaller, second- and third-tier comparison shopping engines that offer similar services but push much less traffic to the merchants who list their products there.
The top 10 comparison shopping engines send over 95 percent of all comparison shopping engine traffic and sales volume online.
Why Are Comparison Shopping Engines Important?
It’s important for manufacturers to have a presence on comparison shopping engines because these websites can make up anywhere between 10 and 50 percent of a manufacturer’s total sitewide revenue.
Why? Because these engines are the first shopping entry point for millions of consumers. Creating a campaign on any of the 10 sites listed above could be a gold mine for your business–if you manage it correctly.
The biggest downside to comparison shopping engines is that they’re complicated to understand and hard to integrate with if you’re not familiar with data feed manipulation and optimization.
Top Ten Comparison Shopping Engines
- Google Shopping
- Amazon Product Ads (tied)
- Shopzilla (tied)
- Bing Shopping
Source: CPC Strategy’s Top Ten Comparison Shopping Engine Rankings Study.
If you’re on all 10 comparison shopping engines above, that’s 10 data feeds to optimize and manage. You can see how the addition of a comparison shopping campaign can be difficult for a large number of retailers and manufacturers. It’s the reason why we’re in business.
Google Shopping Changes
Google Shopping, currently and historically the best comparison shopping engine in terms of conversions and revenue, has recently changed from a completely free marketing channel to a paid CPC and CPA (cost per action/sale) hybrid shopping channel.
This is much to the dismay of manufacturers and retailers already listing on the free model. Regardless, Google Shopping presents a huge opportunity for merchants who chose to stay and play. There’s no debating it.
If you’re interested, check out our Google Shopping Guide for a comprehensive look at the channel and how you can leverage it effectively.
Five Quick Tips to Succeed on Comparison Shopping Engines
1. Have great product data
While what you bid on comparison shopping engines has a major effect on where your products will show up in search results, product data plays just as big a role. These comparison shopping engines are trying to increase their customer bases desperately, and to do that, they need to present them with quality search results.
If your product titles and descriptions have high-quality content, you’ll get more quality traffic and more sales than the retailer who doesn’t care about their product data.
2. Send a fresh data feed daily
Data feed freshness plays a role in determining whether or not to show your results for a consumer query. If you haven’t sent a new data feed in one week, the comparison shopping engine will see your product information as stale and will favor retailers with fresher product information.
Even if no data has changed in your data feed, sending a fresh feed daily ensures the comparison shopping engines know your data is as up to date as possible.
3. Optimize your CPC bids at least once a week
It’s simple: Increase bids of products that get lots of sales to expose them to even more shoppers.
Decrease the bids of products that get lots of clicks but no sales. They’re wasting you money. And sometimes you can’t decrease the bid anymore, you’re at the minimum, but a product is still getting clicks and wasting you money. You need to remove that product from your data feed completely and re-upload a fresh feed without that product so it doesn’t get any more clicks.
Don’t use projections to determine bids; 9 times out of 10 the most effective way to manage a comparison shopping campaign is to let the engines help show you what products are successful and to optimize using that data.
4. Familiarize yourself with each comparison shopping engine’s tricks and tips
Nextag lets you add coupons or warranties to your lists. Google Shopping and PriceGrabber have no minimum CPC. Shopping.com and Shopzilla released value-based pricing models this year. What does it all mean? Each could mean the difference between profit or plummet.
I don’t have time to explain the entire industry in this blog post, but understanding each data feed’s nuances, and each merchant bidding tool’s nuances, is extremely important to being successful on comparison shopping engines. It took me over a year to learn all of them, and that was being totally immersed in the industry and training for 8+ hours daily.
5. Outsource CSE management to save time & money
This is a self plug. Why so open with the self praise?
Because we see countless retailers and manufacturers try to handle comparison shopping engines in-house and fail horribly.
After spending hours creating data feeds and trying to optimize bids, they give us a call to help get their campaigns on their feet.
Each merchant and manufacturer has their own preference. I can tell you if this is your first stab at comparison shopping engines, you’re going to be in for a bumpy road. Don’t say I never told you so.
But good luck, whatever the case! Comparison shopping engines hold valuable potential revenue that you can tap into today, if you know how.
I’ll be answering questions in the comments. You can also check out CPC Strategy at www.cpcstrategy.com.
Andrew Davis is CPC Strategy’s Director of Marketing and an expert in e-commerce marketing strategy, product marketing, and all things comparison shopping related. In September 2010, Andrew finished writing the first-ever Merchant Comparison Shopping Handbook, which teaches online retailers the most effective way to start and manage their comparison shopping campaigns.
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