Selling via Google and Instagram Shopping

Google and Instagram's online shop window is particularly interesting for a webshop selling products. Your customer sees the product and is on the right page in your webshop with a mouse click. Go for convenience and save your customer the search for a product with Google and Instagram Shopping.

Google and Instagram Shopping are both ways to boost your sales. Make life easier for Instagram and Google users by integrating direct links to your online shop. Google Shopping is basically a paid ad. Instagram Shopping, on the other hand, is an additional feature that you can add to your account for free.

Impulse buying and buyer intent

Selling products on Instagram Shopping is especially effective when encouraging impulse buying among existing customers. “People do not use social media to go looking for the perfect vacuum cleaner. Quick buys that do not require a lot of research, however, are much more common”, according to Mrs Ecommerce’s Stefanie van Pelt. Wieske Volker, owner of WiezeWasjes, agrees. She mainly uses Instagram Shopping to sell products to existing customers who are already familiar with her brand.

Since the start of Instagram Shopping, Volker used it to sell products. “Social media advertising, including Instagram Shopping, helped us grow to our current size. We started the company 4.5 years ago, but at first I did not have a clue about advertising. A temporary promotion convinced us to start selling products via Instagram Shopping. I could start advertising for only a few tenners. The ads helped me land my first customers and I invested my earnings into more ads. We started using Google Shopping in 2020. I think advertising through socia media is a profession in its own right and so I hired someone to do it for me.”

Although Google Shopping takes more time and costs more than Instagram Shopping, it is more likely to get results. With Google Shopping, you know that customers are looking for a specific product, like a vacuum or sunglasses. The buyer has the intent to buy and is more likely to actually make a purchase. You can showcase your entire product range. In other words, you can create separate ads for different colours or sizes.

How to set up Google Shopping

There are two types of ads: text and product ads (in Dutch). A search engine determines what type of ad it shows based on the query. For product-related queries like ‘Green Sunglasses’, Google will automatically show images of products. Otherwise, it will show a text ad. Product ads are Google Shopping ads.

Peter Veenvliet, Head of Search at digital agency Dept Agency in Rotterdam, has more than 7 years of experience in search engine advertising. He shares his tips and roadmap.

Setting up a Google Shopping campaign

This is how you set up a Google Shopping campaign:

  1. Create a Google Ads account.
  2. Create a Google Shopping feed with information about your products, such as product ID, product name, price, and URL.
  3. Upload your product feed in your Merchant Centre via Google Ads. Link your product feed to the campaigns you want to set up.
  4. You can now start setting up your first shopping campaign. Decide on a daily budget. You can change your budget at any time, so make adjustments when you see a particular ad underperforming or performing really well.
  5. Google auctions off ad space, which you can bid for, just like with text ads. The more you are willing to pay, the more often the search engine will show your ad. Depending on your objective, there are 2 bidding strategies to choose from:
    1. Bid per click (also called cost per click or cpc for short). You pay a fee for each time a visitor clicks through to your website from the search engine.
    2. Bid per purchase on your website (also called cost per acquisition or cpa for short). Unlike text ads, Google Shopping does not allow you to buy keywords. The search engine displays the most relevant ad based on the product title and description in the product feed (see step 2).
  6. Monitor results and optimise your ads accordingly. If you want to reach more people, research frequently used keywords and update your product title. You can find frequently used keywords in your Google Ads environment or by doing keyword research. If you want the search engine to show your ad more often, make sure it is relevant. If you have a red football boot with laces in EU size 48 in stock and someone enters those exact keywords, Google will show your ad first. In this case, ‘red football boot size 48’ would be a better product title than the more general title ‘laceless football boot’. Regularly check that the information in your ads, like price and stock levels, is still correct.
  7. Figure out what makes you stand out. You can stand out in Google Shopping with great pricing, appealing product photos, product descriptions, and extra perks such as free shipping. Customers mainly look at prices and product photos. The more appealing they are, the higher the odds that they will visit your website. Make sure that your website is up to scratch by offering good delivery times and showing customer reviews, for instance.
  8. Make sure that the transition from search query to ad to website feels smooth and logical. If everything fits together seamlessly, customers are more likely to find what they are looking for and buy something.

Volker has been advertising on Google Shopping for a few months: “I closely track margins, because it is very important to me that we break even every month. It is key that we do not spend more than we bring in for months on end. Fortunately, the earnings often outweigh the costs, although I also break even once in a while. I also believe that the numbers do not tell the whole story: A customer who makes a purchase in my brick & mortar shop may have seen the product online first.”

Pros

Google Shopping has several advantages:

  • Google’s search engine makes your products more visible
  • Your ads achieve greater reach
  • It is easy to install and manage

Cons

Google Shopping also has some drawbacks:

  • You cannot set negative keywords
  • You cannot schedule your ads
  • You cannot view audience data

The cost of Google Shopping

Creating a Google Merchant account is free. To display products from Google Merchant on Google Shopping, however, you will have to set up an advertising campaign. As per Google’s advertising policy, these campaigns cost money. You pay for every click on one of your Google Shopping ads. As with regular Google ads, you can start advertising with a minimum budget of €10 per week.

Selling products on Instagram Shopping

Instagram Shopping lets you boost sales and lead customers to your shop. You do this by adding tags to the products you show on Instagram.

The shopping features of Instagram and Facebook are linked, so you need Facebook Shopping to be able to sell through Instagram Shopping. You can already post links to your products on Facebook, but this is not as easy on Instagram.

How do you install Instagram Shopping?

To get started with Instagram Shopping, you need an online shop and you need to sell products. “If you offer services or personalised products, Instagram will probably reject your request to get started with Instagram Shopping”, Van Pelt explains. Here is how to get started:

  1. Create a Facebook page for your business.
  2. Do you use software for your online shop like Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce? If so, link your shop to your Facebook product catalogue. The advantage is that new products are added to your Facebook product catalogue right away. If not, open a Facebook shop and add at least nine products.
  3. Link your Facebook catalogue to your Facebook business manager.
  4. Link your Instagram profile to the Facebook catalogue.
  5. Submit your request. Once your request has been approved, you can start using Instagram Shopping. “Professionalism is an important factor”, Van Pelt explains. “After all, it has to be a business account. Sharing personal photos without any products on it or not making your company logo your profile photo are likely to get you rejected.”
  6. Add links to the products in your Instagram posts. You can do the same in your ads and Instagram stories.

For Volker, the pros of Instagram Shopping will always outweigh the cons. “The easier it is to click on something, the easier it is for customers to make a purchase. It is just another way to make money.”

Pros

Instagram Shopping has the following benefits:

  • It is easy to set up and use
  • Your content gets greater reach
  • It is easy to install and manage

Cons

Instagram Shopping also has some drawbacks:

  • You need a Facebook catalogue to get started
  • You need a Facebook business account

What is the cost of Instagram Shopping?

Setting up an Instagram Shopping channel is free. All you have to do is create your own Instagram channel. You pay the same way as for the standard Facebook ad system. So you can start selling products on Instagram from €10 per week.

Do you need help setting up Instagram Shopping? Instagram and Facebook also give instructions on their websites. Additionally, Mrs Ecommerce has posted a comprehensive roadmap with screenshots on her website (in Dutch) to help you start selling products with Instagram Shopping. She also explains why Instagram rejects some requests and gives tips for having your request accepted.

Online marketing

Google Shopping is a form of search engine marketing while Instagram Shopping is a type of social media marketing. There are also other online marketing channels you can use. Check out how to create an (online) marketing plan to find out which marketing channel suits your business and ambition.

Laws and regulations

Do you sell products to consumers on a shopping site, sales platform or social media? There are rules for online sales, covering everything from reviews and discounts to ‘free’ online services and comparison sites.