By Emma Evans

Simple steps to use Merchant Center Promotions to achieve a fairy tale ending.

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If you’re only used to running search campaigns on AdWords then running Shopping campaigns could make you feel uneasy. As a digital marketer you have so much control over a text ad.

  • You write the ad copy.
  • You choose what keywords your ad shows for.
  • You find out what position your ad is appearing for and adjust your bids accordingly.

Google Shopping totally changed the game. Letting go of the reins on the appearance of your ads is daunting unless you also have control over the product feed. If not, then what can you do to make your product listing ads stand out? How do you stop your ads looking exactly like every other Tom, Dick and Harry?

3 words…

Merchant. Center. Promotions.

Take a look at these Harrys:

Google Shopping Harry mask

The one that probably piqued your interest is the one on the left promising a special offer. Clicking on that link reveals the following:

Merchant Center promotion

Not a proposal from a prince but a 50% discount code to buy at the online store. All your dreams come true! But hurry, the spell will end at midnight *ahem or in 7 hours. Luring in customers with an offer, coupled with a sense of urgency generally leads to a happily ever after ending.

How can you set up this perfect fairy tale for your customers?

Here are 5 simple steps

  1. If you don’t have a promotions tab in your Merchant Center, you’ll need to sign up to be part of the program. You can find the guide to getting started here.
  2. If your promotion only applies to some of the products in your feed, then create a new column called promotion_id and put in a promotion code. If it applies to all products then you can skip this step.
  3. Log in to the Merchant Center, click the promotions tab and then press add promotion.
Add a Merchant Center promotion
  1. If your promotion only applies to some of the products in your feed, then enter the promotion code that you’ve put in the promotion_id column into the first field for Promo ID. If it applies to all of your products then use any name you like. Fill in the rest of the attributes and click create.
New promotion details
  1. There is a rather lengthy review process involved as shown by this beautifully organised chart.
Merchant Center review process flow chart

Promotions therefore take a couple of days to be reviewed and approved so make sure to check back later and see whether it has been successful.

If the thought of reading through hundreds of pages of policy to set these up fills you with dread then I have some top tips to bear in mind.

Here are the questions you might be wondering:

  1. What kind of promotion can I use this for?

    It has to be a promotion that is available to all users, and is discounted beyond the on-site price of that product. In the words of Google:

    “Discounts and promotions must not already be reflected in the SKU price on the Google Shopping product page or your product landing page, but be applied at checkout or point of sale.”

    So if you’re using Merchant Center Promotions to advertise a sale, make sure that on site the product prices don’t reflect that discount already without some kind of “was / now” indication. More terms of applicability can be found here.
  2. What should I name my Promo ID?

    The Promo ID that you put into the feed and the Merchant Center won’t show up in ads so you call it anything you like - almost. It’s used as a token to indicate to Google which products in your feed belong in the promotion you’ve entered. The ID can’t have spaces or symbols so SALE123 is fine but SALE 12% OFF won’t work. More info on this here.
  3. Do I need to have a discount code?

    No. You can run a merchant promotion without a specific discount code that customers need to use on site. If you want to use a discount code then tick this box:
Google Shopping redemption code

And it will show up here:

Shopping discount code promotion
  1. What should my effective date range be?

    Once you create an MCP you can never edit it again, so you need to be sure what the end date will be from the outset. If you’re not sure, when it comes to the end of the initial sale and you want to extend the promotion then you’ll have to add another promotion. You can’t reuse promotion IDs so this new promotion would require changing all of the IDs in the feed. It will also take a couple of days to be reviewed and approved so you’ll lose a couple of days in the meantime. To get around this, you could set the end date as a couple of days after you expect the sale to end just in case. However, the ad will tell users when the promotion ends, therefore this could mislead people into thinking the sale will last longer than it will.

    Ultimately you should be sure of your sale dates and stick to them. If there is a chance the sale could be extended, create a second promotion ahead of time that you can turn off if necessary.

Good luck!

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