This ecommerce strategy article is an excerpt from our new book, The Ultimate Ecommerce Email & SMS Playbook. We’re diving into our ecommerce strategy chapter focused on the 7 Reasons Why Ecommerce Customers Leave Your Brand.
Option 2: Invest in Paid Search
Let’s dive into option two. Maybe it’s time to focus on Google search, Google Shopping ads, or Google My Business (GMB). Sounds like a great idea.
A Google strategy is mandatory for every e-commerce store. Tons of e-commerce brands run ads, they’re attracting shoppers in hunt mode, and they convert really well. If you have a great content plan and a well-designed website, you’ll experience fantastic organic reach in search, yielding profitable sales.
On top of that, GMB helps local stores compete in search through maps, reviews, and store hours. So, let’s go line item by line item to determine if a customer loyalty strategy should be heavily reliant on paid or organic search.
✓ Google has great scale, especially for brick and mortar. You can do a lot, including keywords, questions, phrases, videos, and more. Search “find leopard gecko tanks near me,” discover reviews, and even find pictures of products in use.
Gmail and YouTube are ubiquitous in users’ lives, and Google certainly has great scale and reach.
❌ Google is getting dinged on product search, though. Remember, Amazon owns 78% of product search, so Google’s left with the remainder. In addition, depending on your industry, Amazon may be outbidding you on paid search and outmaneuvering you on organic search. Hard to check that box (especially if you have a limited budget).
✓ Between Gmail, YouTube, Google Workspace, Google Forms, Google Drive and more, Google has some great omni-channel experiences. Amp for Gmail can create dynamic emails for customer service and surveys. Google Docs is replacing Microsoft Word in everyday use at home, work, and school. And, well, who doesn’t use Gmail? Google definitely plays a role in helping you go omni-channel.
✓ Google and Youtube does help you create value adds and solve pain points, especially if you’re using every tool in Google’s arsenal. As mentioned above, you can power customer surveys and in-email dialogues. You can create Podcasts, start Hangout chats, build community groups, and more. Google Analytics alone is table stakes for e-commerce reporting and analytics. And let’s not forget all the value from YouTube, which is owned by Google. DIY videos, custom playlists, and live broadcasts all help create a nice amount of added YouTube value for your brand. That could definitely hit that checkbox.
❌Google is still the middleman. Essentially, you’re banking everything you’re doing on Google, and you have to pay for that investment. Trading in one middleman, like Meta, for another isn’t going to help long term. One of the biggest challenges for Google and Meta: customer privacy. If legislation hits and affects their business model, you run the risk of being dragged down with big tech.
❌ Like Meta, Google has little incentive to share the immense amounts of data that they receive from search, videos, and Gmail. Google parses out limited amounts of data to help you run a better business – Google Analytics, to name one – but overall, truly predictive customer data isn’t exportable and usually reserved for those spending money on ads. So, you’re not being very customer-centric or data-driven by banking your competitive strategy on Google’s limited data.
❌ Once again, Google is available to everyone. Brands can outspend you on ads, run better videos, and engage in better SEO tactics, and they will. The playing field isn’t very leveled if you can be outspent.
Let’s recap. Going all-in on a paid search strategy fails four out of seven checkpoints; customers can still be lost in these gaps.
✓ Paid search has scale, especially for brick & mortar
❌ Paid search is losing the product search capabilities
✓ Paid search creates an entry-level multi-channel experience
✓ Paid search & Google value-stacks their suite of tools
❌ Google remains the middleman between you and customers
❌ Google shares limited actionable customer data
❌ Brands can outspend you on Google and other search engines
Maybe paid search passes that litmus test, though, right? Maybe a stronger Google investment is a good enough strategy to roll out and see how it goes. Let’s check:
- Google does not help you level the playing field. The top brands are doing the same thing you’re doing. And it’s like major league vs. single-A ball.
- You lose ownership of data and destiny. If everyone relies on Google Analytics, you simply don’t have the power to make your own decisions. You’re pretty much looking backward at what occurred rather than looking forward to predict business outcomes. From a customer point of view, Google’s certainly not going to give you enough data to fuel your decisions, except if you’re running ads on their platform.
- You are investing your dollars smarter. Same as social media, if you have a great paid search team and a generous budget, you can see ROI here. But bear in mind – see the graph below – Amazon is outbidding you as the largest advertiser in the world, so either you lose the ad spot or pay a lot more.
- Google doesn’t keep customers loyal. They’re primarily an acquisition channel, not retention. The job of Google is to bring you customers, not keep them. In addition, last I checked, your website’s search engine is either 1) powered by Google or 2) pales in comparison to Google, so your best customers are using Google to search for products more than using your site search.
- Google can help you make a profit. You can definitely be profitable by using Google ads. After piecing together the offer, free shopping, free returns, and advertising, you may not net much, but the potential for profit is certainly there. Until an algorithm change or bidding increase forces your prices up!
So, investing further into a Google strategy doesn’t hit every checkbox nor pass our litmus test.
❌ Level the playing field.
❌ Maintain ownership of data & destiny
✓ Invest your dollars smarter
❌ Keep customers loyal
✓ Generate profitable revenue
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