Free Shopping Feed Marketing for Online Stores

Free Shopping Feed Listings

**Updated 1/14/2011

There are many different shopping portals, comparison shopping sites and product listing sites you can submit your store catalog to for free or a fee. Certainly, the free places to submit your catalog feed for publishing are a no brainer… But what about PPC (Pay Per Click), Pay Per Lead, and Pay Per Impression listing opportunities?

To generalize the opportunity, these shopping listing sites will perform better than your average PPC Adwords or other campaign. This is also a no brainer…. The visitors to your shopping feed listings have generally already decided to shop, seen your product and price and have already decided they *may wish to buy the product by the time they click. By comparison a search marketing PPC campaign most of the same challenges as a normal search visitor, they may not have decided to shop, they may have found your on some obscure keyword not really what they wanted and they have little or no information about your product, much less an image when they visit.

So, for your average shop owner and *most product lines, shopping feeds are a more vertical and targeted opportunity to grab shoppers and sales for your store. This is especially true for normal high volume Internet product venues like electronics, pet supplies, clothing, gifts, footwear, toys and items for babies and children. The raw fact of this matter is simply that you must test your store on individual platforms to see what works for your store…. But before we do that, lets talk a bit about the platforms and how you are going to convert these shoppers.

The biggest struggle  in using these product listing opportunities for shop owners is integration. The shopping site will want you to update your feed frequently to keep it current and fresh… But clearly doing this by hand is a long and daunting process. Generally speaking they all use relative txt or xml formats, but with their own requirements and structure. So when you are looking at these opportunities, integration of the ability to generate these feeds is a definite consideration.

Shopping listing sites will by default have a better conversion rate than most other visit types and the clicks or leads will be generally cheaper than standard search engine PPC. They will click directly in to your product page and be ready to purchase… Right?

Yes, that is true, most times a click from a feed campaign is ready to purchase when they arrive at your store… But don’t worry you can still screw it up and send them packing! Here are some of the most common ways to screw up a sales lead.

  1. The price on the product page is higher than listed on your shopping site listing, keep your feed current.
  2. They cannot find the add to cart button, remember these leads already read most of what they will about the product.
  3. You have misrepresented the product on the feed description and now they find information *other than what they expected… This is just throwing money away for you.
  4. Your checkout process is too long, collects too much information, forces account creation…. Or on top of all shooting yourself in the foot, your checkout has a email verification or captcha on account creation. People shop on the Internet for convenience, not to jump through cyber hoops in order to give you money!
  5. Lastly, and believe it or not we still see this one more than you think… The lead clicked to visit your product and cannot load the page. Its too slow, you haven’t done your browser compatibility and it looks like garbage or maybe you just have some dumb Java Script that’s not AOL compliant for example. Believe it or not, there are still folks on dial up and even more on AOL or some other pain in the butt proprietary browser.

I have a small list of some product listing opportunities, both free and paid are included. I have not used all of these feeds, but will give insight in to the ones I can. If you have an experience with one of these platforms, please feel free to share your experience for others to benefit from.

Free Product Listing Shopping Sites

  1. Google Products – Base : Google’s shopping platform is free to use and you can upload your feed/products manually or by FTP.  Google displays product results for many different types of items including products, new and articles, services and more. Google displays relevant information regarding your products including images, descriptions, shipping, sales tax, payment options and more. Products are listed for maximum of 31 days and then expire and shoppers can find your products in an organic setting on Google search pages and directly from Google shopping. Google recently has offered some perks to help shop owners get on board with this by allowing the Google Checkout badge to be displayed on your products if you use Google Checkout.
  2. Discontinued Read InformationLive Products : Live Products is free to use and you can also manually upload or FTP your feed/products. Live displays some, but not as many products as Google in search results. The products are not displayed in the same manner, they are more generalized information allowing shoppers to choose shopping opportunities by more vertical searches within Live Products… Vertical choices likes, price, brand and categories are served up to the shopper which click through to Live Products using those filtered terms. Products are listed in the index with an image, price and store name… Unfortunatly, shoppers get little information at the index level and must click to your store or the “details” link to get any description or further information. Live also has the “Cashback Program” to offer shoppers. Basically you sign up to offer them cash back from MSN/Live for shopping in your store… Check it out.
  3. ShopWiki : ShopWiki is also free and quite easy to get going. There is no need to upload your products, just tell them where they are and ShopWiki will crawl and find them. However, this excludes category mapping and the ability to specifically exclude products. We have found this to be very convenient and effective for marketing your products in a categorized and search-able manner. Listings are offered with a product image, short description, price store name and direct click in to the product page.
  4. The Find : The Find is another really simple crawler based product listing site. Fill out a small form to submit your store and they will start crawling. Again, no opportunity for category mapping, nor product selection. The Find has what I consider to be very nicely organized results, nicely sized product image, product price, store name/logo, visit store link and much product description on mouse over. Nicely done for you and shoppers are there are numerous vertical search opportunities for shoppers, including the opportunity to quickly display only sales items.
  5. ShopMania : ShopMania accepts listings in a feed format and if you install their “ShopMania trusted store” validation code on your main page will offer you many options in a free status. Categorization and product mapping is available for free accounts. Listings are offered through search and normal vertical filtering opportunities. Listings contain product name, image, price, store name/logo and a short description.
  6. Vast: lists few categories, but is in fact free. You will have to create a feed for them to display product image, description and excellent geo product search. The majority of products are auto related, but they have a great pet category and also accept services too.
  7. Yahoo SearchMonkey: You can now submit your Google Base product feed to Yahoo for display in enhanced search results. Directions for submitting your Google feed to Yahoo.
  8. – Is an International shopping comparison site. Easy to setup and get it going. Support Google Base feed format & CSV/XML. Free with reciprocal banner on your homepage.
  9. Frogit – A new feeder on the web is a free feeder w/ PPC paid options. Feeds are accepted in Google Base, Bizrate or their own feed structure. Upload manually in their dashboard or have them pick it up weekly by supplying them a feeder url. Validation reciprocal link with Frogit seal required, but they have been very accommodating and are adding new functionality such as better shipping configurations and conversion tracking asap.

These shopping comparison and portal sites offer many different opportunities to market your online store. Many have wish lists, saved products and searches, reviews and more to assist shoppers in locating and hopefully purchasing your products. The performance of your products in these type of shopping venues is related as we spoke above to your ability to convert the click, the value or data submitted or on your pages, image quality and other basic organic ranking metrics. The fact is, your products will perform better on some than others… This is likely related to the shopping site’s customer reach and their general customer profile type. Do they attract women, men, techy types, older shoppers, younger shoppers and many other shopper profiles. This will have a great deal to do with how your products perform. Check them out, log and analyze your results and improve your performance.

Go Forth Shop Owner and Grow Your Sales!

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