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Why and How to use CSEs when Marketing Your Products Online

 by zack on 22 Mar 2013 |
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Have you ever felt like your online store is missing something? Like there’s just some special ingredient to your business plan? If these sound like thoughts you’ve been entertaining, then chances are you haven’t looked into CSE marketing just yet. CSE stands for Comparison Shopping Engines, and they are proven effectual at driving targeted traffic to ecommerce sites. However, despite their well documented efficacy, they are often an overlooked marketing medium. Today our goal will be to discuss the process behind comparison shopping engines and how to best put them to use in your business.
What is a CSE?

First off, let’s be very clear about what a CSE actually is. Comparison shopping engines can be defined as websites that exist for shoppers to quickly and easily find the best deals on the things they're shopping for. They do this by compiling searchable products so as to allow shoppers to compare product price.They work just like search engines, but with a more specified purpose. They will only bring up product results with matching titles and descriptions to the keywords entered into the comparison engine's search query. So just like you optimize your website to attract search engine traffic, you need to keyword optimize all of your products to attract CSE traffic.

This CSE optimization is a separate process that’s not as well-known as many SEO techniques. For that reason, price comparison shopping is often referred to as a forgotten marketing channel. There simply aren’t that many experts in the field.

Still that shouldn’t put you off in your CSE marketing efforts. Just the opposite, you should work to exploit this relatively obscure avenue. If you do so, it’s quite likely you’ll have the upper hand on your competition at least in this one respect.

How do CSEs work?

There are many different popular CSEs with their own individual requirements and qualifications. In general though, most shopper comparison sites work by uploading your product descriptions and data from your product feeds. They take these product feeds and convert them into advertising banners. Each time a customer clicks on your ad, you pay a small fee, usually between 10 cents and a dollar. This kind of pay per click advertising is the most common way shopper comparison engines work, but occasionally you’ll run into a service that requires you to pay for the ad up front.

How do I use a CSE?

Signing up for a comparison shopping engine is usually pretty easy. Most of the big sites have easily digestible step-by-step instructions that detail the process in depth, and many have support teams to call upon if you get stuck at one point or another.  However, maintaining, managing, and optimizing a product feed is considerably more complex. It requires a significant investment of time and practical proficiency.

After signing up for a particular CSE you have to send the site your product feed, which will need to be customized specifically to that CSE’s specifications. Every shopping engine is unique in its requirements so you’ll have to spend a good deal of time setting up each product feed so that it will be effective on that site.

To really utilize a CSE to have the greatest effect on your ecommerce venture, you’ll need a few different resources at your disposal.

First you’ll need the time it takes to manage a product feed. This is a substantial investment and many marketing departments assign the task as a full-time job. Another requirement is the technical know-how that’s required to properly execute the setup and maintenance of a product feed. You’ll also need to have your product data, descriptions, and pictures to be high quality and pre-optimized before you ever list them on a feed. Finally, you’ll want to assign someone to go through the product feed at least once weekly to prune the ads that are attracting clicks sans conversions, while increasing the exposure of ads that have high clickthrough and conversion rates.

These processes are called suppression and bidding, respectively. Bidding works by increasing the amount that you pay per click, which also increases the total number of advertisements. Suppression can be as simple as removing products that aren’t performing from the feed entirely. You can also underbid these ads; (spend less than the minimum per click) which will greatly decrease their frequency, therefore keeping your advertising overhead low, and your ROI as high as possible.

Beyond these basic techniques there are some pro-tips that need to be adhered to if you really want your inventory to fly off the shelves.

CSE sales are highly influenced by price, shipping, return shipping, number of sales, and brand recognition. That’s because shopper comparisons invite users to skim text to cover more ground quickly. While skimming, they’ll be on the lookout for these important data bits, and are more likely to clickthrough the ads that meet their exact criteria. So it’s important that your products are clearly labeled, described vividly, and alluringly promoted. That means keyword optimized titles and highly specified product descriptions, as well as well-timed and attractive special offers on certain products.

Whenever a comparison shopper’s search query matches up with one of your keywords, that keyword will be bolded in your product title. So your optimized titles are bound to be more eye catching for one, and more attractive as a recognizably exact match to a query as well. Meanwhile, the greater detail in your product description, the more highly targeted your advertisement becomes.
People want to know a lot about the products they’re buying before they ever receive said product in hand. So it’s incumbent upon the seller to provide them with as much detail as possible.

You should also try to use your product descriptions as an opportunity to cross- or upsell. Utilizing proper phrasing like: “can be used with,” or “works well with,” you can use the space to advertise your other products. And you should, of course, use vibrant imagery to complement your product listings. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s never truer than when applied to online sales.

Popular CSEs
There are a lot of different comparison shopping engines to work with so here’s a brief list with a few attributes provided:
  • Google Shopping-currently the biggest kid on the playground, any ads listed here will also be incorporated into Google’s ppc platform, adwords.
  • Bing Shopping-like Google shopping, Bing offers free product feed upload, and though less than the tech giant mentioned above, Bing still drives a significant amount of traffic.
  • Nextag-more of a multifaceted CSE, that allows you to list real estate and travel bookings as well as retail items.
  • Shopzilla-over 100 million different products listed and a monthly average visitation of over 40 million visitors. Shopzilla is a popular and affluent player in the CSE world.
  • Become-this CSE offers a user review function that’s pretty handy, along with all of the other standard functionality you would expect.
Thus concludes our review of CSE marketing and the various engines with which to conduct those efforts. Check back soon for more ecommerce advice.


Ganesh Bagde - Comment
Ganesh Bagde23 Sep 2013Reply
Hi, Article is nice, please excepting with examples, eg, how to used, with step by step instruction.

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