by Mark Baartse, Consulting Director – FIRST

In the classic 4 P’s of marketing, “Place” (or distribution) is often over looked in e-commerce. The site is the place, right? Yes, but not the only place. Product feeds give an opportunity to expand the ability to reach to new customers.

Any ecommerce platform can create product feeds pretty easily, although it seems everyone wants a slightly different format. Technically, this is pretty easy to achieve. The challenge comes from making the most use of those feeds.

Using feeds with an enterprise SEM management system, such as Marin Software, allows you to create highly targeted long tail ads reaching deep into your product catalogue, and kept up to date on latest prices, stock levels, etc. For example, pausing ads for a particular product once inventory gets below 2 in stock. This is in practice impossible to do manually if you have more than a few hundred products.

The classic use for product feeds is shopping comparison sites. In Australia this primarily means GetPrice, and While companies tend to watch every dollar on SEM, I’ve seen companies spending comparable amounts on price comparison with no attempt at optimisation at all. We engaged a client spending well into 5 digits a month on comparison sites who was treating it almost like a tax. After optimising the feed, improving tracking and optimising the setup with the sites, we were able to save significant amounts and increase sales. Treating product feeds as a purely technical job with no role for marketing is an expensive mistake – all marketing spend should be subsequent to equal scrutiny.

There’s also some clever things that can be done with other channels such as dynamic retargeting, customising Facebook ads, eBay, Google and so on.

There’s a real opportunity to reach new customers – go and get them!