Product Feed Management Series: Common Pitfalls

April 7, 2020

Digital Marketing Amelia Erskine By Izabela Catiru

Proper management of your product data and feeds is essential for e-commerce success, regardless of your business size, product category or technical background. We created this blog series to help you understand the current processes related to feed management, along with detailed and practical recommendations to help you improve them. (Read Part I.)

Our teams take the time to assess hundreds of feeds each month for brands and retailers not currently working with ChannelAdvisor. And through this process, we see many of the same issues. 

These pitfalls are common across verticals and, while some have to do with the resources and expertise available to these companies, others emerge from a siloed approach to data syndication.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through six of most prevalent mistakes that we see — mistakes that could create poor performance and low engagement for your products on some of the most prominent advertising channels.

1. “It exists,” rather than “it’s optimised” 

Regardless of the channel, visibility is typically correlated with three key aspects: enough budget allocated, proper bidding and optimised product data.

The fact that your products have all the required attributes and your feeds are approved doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the most out of your data if the work stops there.

We often see examples where a lot of work is needed to complete all the required attributes in the proper format and the full catalog (or majority of it) has been approved on the targeted channels. Sometimes, though, it’s just poor communication between the advertiser and owner of the feed, as the latter might not know how the advertising channels work.

Practical tip for testing product visibility on the channels you are targeting: Check the performance tab on that channel. If you’re allocating enough budget and bidding in line with the platform’s recommendations, see how many of your products have >1000  impressions in the last 30 days. If they aren’t showing up, that’s a good indicator that you have more work to do. 

The “it’s optimised” mindset is deeply ingrained with our teams, so your initial feed might see hundreds of iterations over time. We assess the feeds periodically and then optimise them, so you’re not missing out on any opportunities.

2. Creating your titles based on a structure and forgetting about it

If you are creating your titles using some sort of rules or tools to generate it, well done. But do not forget about that structure or use the same one for all your products. Your titles have to evolve and reflect performance.

It’s hard to get granular without the proper tools and resources, but a great place to start — when trying to work within a structure — is to go at least one level deeper and create a dedicated structure of your titles by category. If you feel adventurous, go another level deeper and structure them by sub-category or product type.

We recommend A/B testing the order of the attributes you are using to create the title and to periodically check your Search Terms and enhance your titles with the highest converting ones.

BONUS: Here are some examples of title structures that can get you started:

3. Using your Google Shopping feed for everything

While managing multiple destinations and connections can get quite complex, we don’t recommend using your Google Ads feed for other channels. This could lead to errors and low product visibility on these channels. Loading your titles and descriptions with keywords might be important for optimisation on some channels. But for others, like say, Instagram, good-looking lifestyle imagery might entice users to click through.  

You should find a suitable partner or platform to help you overcome these channel variations and make sure your feeds are optimised and compliant for each channel individually.

4. Not showcasing discounts or promotions

Showcasing discounts and promotions leads to higher engagement with the product ad. These additions to Shopping, display and social ads can translate into higher, more relevant traffic for your products. Having a good click-through rate (CTR) can lead to better costs-per-click (CPCs) because the channels perceive that the ad is relevant.

5. The team managing the feeds does not understand advertising and vice-versa

Lack of collaboration between your advertising team and the team handling the data syndication is costing you money. 

The silo approach — where all parties don’t understand both sides of the product feed coin — leads to delays, directing traffic to out of stock or 404 pages, data not being optimised to its full potential and, ultimately, poor performance.

Here are three potential solutions: 

  • Invest time to train both teams and improve the current processes and ways of working
  • Find a partner that is able to work as an extension of your team and works closely with your advertising team, or…
  • Find a partner that is able to manage both under the same roof with proprietary software

6. Not having an automated delivery strategy 

Automation of feed delivery contributes to the much-needed agility that is key in a competitive space such as digital advertising. Uploading your feeds manually and not having an automated delivery exposes you to wasting money in key moments, such as products going out of stock, products with low stock or only “odd” sizes left, and broken URLs.

You might think that automation doesn’t apply to you if your inventory doesn’t change very fast. While you might be a bit safer than those who have a higher inventory turnover, these unfortunate — and costly — moments could still happen.

Invest time and resources in building the proper integrations that enable you to automate your delivery strategy or find a partner that is able to help you do it.

Conclusions

Keep a close eye on how your teams are working, how agile your strategy is and how your data evolves. And last but not least, make sure your data not only “exists,” but that “it’s optimised.”

There are plenty more pitfalls that we haven’t mentioned here, but if you manage to overcome these common ones, you will most definitely see a positive impact on your performance.

Look out for Part III in our Product Feed Management Series, which will help you audit your product data and feed management processes — regardless of your technical background. 

If you require further support in assessing your current setup and processes around feed management, contact your ChannelAdvisor representative. If you’re not a ChannelAdvisor client, fill out this quick form and one of our e-commerce consultants will be in touch soon.