Getting the most from comparison shopping engines


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Getting the most from comparison shopping engines

  1. 1. Tactics > affiliate marketingCompare and conquer Four steps to get the most from comparison-shopping enginesC omparison-shopping engines results for women’s boots” partway down (CSEs) come in a wide range of the page—that’s Google Base results. shapes and sizes. All have been For the comparison-shopping built to attract people shopping engines that aren’t free, you need to for certain products, choose carefully, your choice of CSE will and assist them in contribute to how successful you are. Somemaking the right choice. In return, operate via traditional affiliate networksthe owner of the CSE normally earns (Affiliate Future, Webgains, Linkshare,revenue based on a commission or cost et al); others you can deal with direct;per click. some you can work with via either. To Should you be using CSEs? Probably. work with any of them you need toCSEs enable you to get your products provide them with information aboutin front of more people and allow your products. This is normally in theyou to tap into niches and other form of a product feed, but occasionallypeople’s traffic flow. They can be a very there’s a manual form to fill in. As apowerful way to increase volume. minimum, a feed will be a CSV file incorporatingBroadly the key types are: • product name • product informationPure—their only activity is as a • link to product imageCSE, and they cover many product • link to product on your websiteareas; a bit like a department store. • price.See or Almost all will send the customerNiche—CSEs that focus on to your site to purchase, but ina specific product or category. some cases they will operate theSee and basket and then send you order to fulfil.Hybrid—these CSEs broadly Optimising step 1:fall into two categories: A CSE Select your CSEsthat operates its own basket Key things to consider are:or acts as a shop itself; a shop • Does the CSE sell otherthat runs a CSE alongside its products in your sector?own products. See, • Which CSEs do, eBay, competitors sell on?and the Amazon Marketplace. • Which CSEs attract your type of customer?Shop on the side—non- • What traffic levels are theecommerce sites that have a shop CSEs likely to send you—is“on the side” to profit from their it worth the set-up cost andtraffic. See effort?and • Cost—commission or per click? Per click involvesFree—CSEs that don’t charge. See more risk.Google Base, also known as Google • Cost—don’t forget the costProduct Search. of building the feed and any integration required.Every ecommerce site should have its Some will cost more thanproducts on Google Base because, for others. If they are operatingone, there are no ongoing costs so it’s their own basket then youfree traffic; second, it can be a quick way also need to integrate yourto get high up the search engine results, order processing it’s good for SEO. Search on Google You almost certainly want to trialfor women’s boots and you’ll see “Shopping more than one.10 Catalogue e-business ©2010 Catalogue Development Centre Ltd. This article has been reproduced with the express permission of Catalogue e-business and no material may be used without our prior consent. 151 High Street, Ilfracombe, Devon EX34 9EZ • Tel: 01271 866221 • •
  2. 2. News Tactics ViewsStep 2: Build the due in soon. It’s critical to keep the feed up tofoundations date; I’d recommend updating it every 24 hours.Once you’ve chosen your CSEs, optimising theperformance is very similar to optimising pay-per-click activity. It’s all about how much you If you’re going to do so, find out when the CSE picks up the feed and synchronise with it. There’s nothing worse than posting your feed at 2am on Choosepay, the words or information you provide, andwhat you keep active. In order to optimise the a Monday and the CSE not picking it up until 1am on Tuesday—you’re permanently a day out. carefully, yourperformance of your CSEs therefore, you need tomake sure you’ve got the tools in place to allowyou to analyse the performance. Step 4: Collecting data Once your comparison-shopping engines are up choice of First, check out the tools that come with theCSE; several have their own analytics packages and running you’ll start to see which categories and products are driving the sales, and which are comparison- shoppingso you can see where the traffic and sales are costing you all the money—rather like PPC. Thiscoming from. Some of them require you to add means you can start getting into the nitty gritty oftheir tracking code to your website to enable all feed optimisation. If, say, on Engine A half yourthe reporting functionality. Next, check what information you’re getting spend is on the earrings category, but you’re not getting a sale from it then stop providing earrings engine will contribute tofrom your site’s own analytics data. Can you products to the CSE.identify the traffic that’s coming in from each Some CSEs will let you “bid” more by category;CSE? Can you see what part of your feed drove so, if on Engine 2 half your sales are comingthat traffic? You may well be able to add trackinginformation to the URLs in your product feed from necklaces, but only 10 percent of your spend is on necklaces, a bid increase should how successful you areto enable that to work better (if you’re using bring you more traffic and sales. If your trackingGoogle Analytics, for instance). is detailed enough you can break this down to a product-by-product basis.Step 3: The information in It’s worth noting at this point that constantlyyour product feed amending your feed can build up hefty bills fromThere’s a lot you can do with your product feed your web company. So it may be worth investingbefore you even start submitting it to CSEs that in a feed aggregation company—it will takewill improve performance. Look carefully at one feed from you and amend it for everyonethe fields the CSE requests—the more of this you want to send to. You can do this stage ofinformation you can provide, the higher quality optimisation within its tool for no extra cost.traffic it will be able to provide you with. Forexample, EAN and ISBN numbers can really Step 5: Pick up the phonebenefit you if you’re selling CDs and books. and optimise Make sure you’re providing accurate It’s worth getting in contact with the CSEs, theyinformation, such as the correct postage charges, want to keep you on board. They’re usually prettyand as much product information as possible, good at helping you work out what is workingsuch as technical specifications. And make sure and what isn’t, and often have plenty of optionsyour products will be in the right place on the for getting a better—so check the categories. Finally, always take a look at how your Some comparison engines like you to flag products look on the comparison-shoppingbestsellers for special areas of the site, this can engine. There’s a strong chance that it has areally help increase traffic levels for you. profile page for you, so make sure you’ve filled Each CSE is in part a search engine, so it with accurate and compelling information.think about your keywords. If you sell only Some CSEs give you a rating; it’s oftenpetite clothing, your site’s product descriptions pretty easy to improve your ranking—atprobably don’t include the word petite, but on the most basic level, even simplya search engine (or CSE) you want traffic that uploading your logo helps.specifically seeks petite. So build your feed to addany qualifying keywords into the product names. Chloë Thomas is managing Send the right products; if something’s out director at e-marketingof stock there’s no point in including it in yourfeed especially if you’re paying for each click! consultancy IndiumYou may also want to exclude products that are Web Management.©2010 Catalogue Development Centre Ltd.This article has been reproduced with the express permission of Catalogue e-business and no material may be used without our prior consent.151 High Street, Ilfracombe, Devon EX34 9EZ • Tel: 01271 866221 • •