We’re used to thinking about Google as a search engine. And of course, we also think of Google for products such as Google Apps for Work, and the AdWords advertising platform.
But when was the last time you thought of Google as a source of shopper insights and behaviors? And as a resource to help you sell more?
These insights from Google are the subject of an interview I conducted recently with Sebastien Missoffe, Director of SMB Sales at Google.
He says there’s a wealth of information you can learn from Google tools (free ones, at that).
Beyond the tools, there are some key trends about how shopping behavior has changed in recent years. Understanding and leveraging these trends is one key to more successful selling in a small business.
According to Missoffe, it’s important to think about the Web as a place where shopping never sleeps.
Missoffe, who’s been with Google nine years and was with L’Oreal before that, says that shoppers are savvier and more informed today. They are also more connected online than ever before. “Shopping just doesn’t stop once the shops are closed,” Missoffe said.
“One thing we are seeing is that one third of all the searches related to shopping happen between 10 pm and 4 am,” said Missoffe.
And night owls are not just window shopping. People are buying in the middle of the night, too. “Roughly one in seven orders happens between 10 pm and 4 am,” he added.
People are also shopping well past Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The image above (from a Google Holiday Shopper Research study) shows which days were peak shopping days last year. The days in red saw the most shopping online. The days in green saw the most shopping in store premises.
Use Google Trends to Identify What Shoppers Want
Google Trends is a free service and “hidden gem” for small business sellers, says Missoffe. “Whenever we bring it to the attention of small business sellers, the first question is ‘are you sure it’s free?’,” he added.
What you can do with Google Trends is, first, search for your brand name and product names to see when and where people are searching.
Even if your brand is not yet well-known enough to show up in Google Trends, Missoffe suggests looking for the search terms relevant to your business. You can see which terms, including related terms, shoppers are searching for, what country or region they are from, what days they search, and other insights. Learning that can tell you what kinds of search terms to use in your website copy, in your AdWords ads, in email messages, and other selling activities.
Get Shoppers “One Click Closer” to Buying, With Ad Extensions
If you’re not familiar with “ad extensions,” these are references to popular sections of your site that shoppers do searches for. They appear right in Google AdWords. See the example for Peloton Cycle immediately above, with four ad extensions within an AdWords ad, circled in red.
There are several advantages to ad extensions. They take up more real estate on the page, giving more visibility to your business. Beyond that, they let shoppers click directly to what they might be interested in.
Peloton Cycle, which sells stationery bicycles and streams live cycling classes into customers’ homes, also uses a technique called “broad match modifier keywords.” These allow an ad to show up in searches that include a keyword and certain variations such as “+buy” and “+holiday” when shopping for fitness solutions this holiday.
AdWords Recent Improvements
“One thing that small businesses may not realize is how much AdWords has improved on the back end,” said Missoffe.
“We sometimes hear from small businesses that ‘we love AdWords but it takes a long time,’ and I’d just like them to know that we have solutions.”
Missoffe added that new technology has been built into the back end of AdWords meaning that you no longer have to do certain tasks. The technology within AdWords can do it for you.
“The amount of technology within AdWords has reduced significantly the time investment that small businesses now need to make,” Missoffe said.
For example, he noted, “You don’t have to decide by yourself what bid to make at what time of day — you can let AdWords handle that on your behalf.”