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Comparison Shopping Engines: a Beginner’s Guide

Published: June 26, 2017

Author: Dianne Dickinson

Are you an etailer looking to boost brand exposure, expand your marketing mix, and increase sales? Sure, Google Shopping is a no-brainer, but if you want to go head-to-head with the competition elsewhere, Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) help you attract new customers and grab hold of the “low-hanging fruit”. (After all, by this point customers have done their research, have already made the decision to buy, and are simply looking for the best deal.)
CSEs are essential for maximizing online presence and can be a game-changer when it comes to the crucial and highly lucrative Q4 holiday shopping season. This guide will help explain which channels are worth your time, how to get started, and how to beat your competitors. Let’s jump in.

The CSE Landscape

One of the great features about comparison shopping engine marketing is that it does not limit you to one channel as a means of driving relevant traffic. Online retailers can choose from one platform or multiple, depending on budget allocation for this portion of the marketing mix. Connexity (formerly Shopzilla, Pricegrabber, Become.com), NexTag, and Ebay (Shopping.com) are all prominent CSEs used here at 3Q; they all attract different audiences with different purchase behaviors.

Data Feeds

Every CSE has its own specifications and guidelines. Each has different feed formats and pricing structure and can be challenging to take on. However, what is simple to take on is formatting your feed for success so ongoing maintenance is easy. If you’ve established a Google Feed, you can edit those attributes to match your CSEs; here are some quick references to other feeds’ specs:
Connexity Data Specifications
Ebay Data Specifications
NexTag Data Specifications
Similar to Google Shopping, once the feed is uploaded into the system and processed by the platform, your products are displayed and live for purchase!

Bid Management

After uploading your feed, managing your bids is an essential part of your CSE strategy that needs to be done regularly to seize the major profitability that can be reached in these channels. The CSEs highlighted today function on a CPC model, where a retailer will pay approx. $0.08 – $1.00/click. Based on the platform, bids can be managed on the Category, Group, or Product level. Thankfully, reporting is present on all levels, so based on performance you can test which bidding strategy works best towards your goal.
Here’s what bidding looks like in Connexity’s back end:


Now that your CSE campaigns are launched and bids are set, set your maintenance and optimization plan. CSEs require regular and manual updates to ensure listings are up-to-date. Because the competition is saturated on channels like this, it’s essential to maintain regularly scheduled optimizations to stay ahead of the pack. The main ones to address include:

  1. Use Targeted Product Titles – Keep headlines relevant. Use findings from Google Shopping campaigns to test search terms that garner higher click-through rates.
  2. Align Feed Categorization – Product data feeds need to be precisely aligned to each CSE’s feed specification. Retailers not taking advantage of precise categorization might lose out to competitors with better mapped product feeds.
  3. Get Detailed with Product Specifications – The more detailed (color, material, size, etc.) attributes that are highlighted in your feed, the higher the likelihood for listings to be displayed for intended keywords and consumers with a higher shopping intent.
  4. Update Marketing/Promotional Messaging – Showcasing promotions such as “Free Shipping” or “15% Off” can carry heavy influence for shoppers in a saturated search results page. Even better, implement strikeout pricing whenever you’re promoting a sale to grab more real estate for your listing:
  5. Pull Partner Performance – While not available in the user interface, this data can be exported on the back end via sales rep or channel support. From there, you can exclude low-performing partners to improve efficiency.
  6. Remove “Bleeder” Products – After establishing KPIs for each channel, remove low-performing products from the feed to further increase profitability.

Food for Thought

Certain sites will work better than others based on the products that are being sold. With that said, certain CSEs may have better ROIs than others, and the only way to know which yields the best return is to test. Like with any process, CSE management will become systematic and more efficient the more you do it. As you get more comfortable working with these engines, you will hone your skills on how to market your products at the right price.

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