Every year during this time it is an industry given that comparison shopping engines (CSE’s) will increase their click rates. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. More people are going to be searching their sites during the holiday season looking for discounts and deals. This is the best time for these sites to maximize their profits. But don’t get all freaked out, you can still properly manage these sites and get the best out of them. Here are a few tips to not force you to sell the farm due to the rate increases.
Do you homework, math homework that is
Not every CSE is going to charge the same increased rates. These rates can vary from 10-25% so do your math. Do some quick calculations to figure out how much more money you will be spending spending according to past numbers. Most CSE’s will allow you to purchase an upfront holiday fee. For instance, if you are due to receive a 25% increase, you may offer to pay 20% of your 3rd quarter rates up front and not have to face the 25% during the actual season. This is usually done on a category basis. If your products fall into a category that the increase doesn’t affect as much, the CSE will be more open to this payment method
Eliminate Under Performers
Even though you should be doing this throughout the whole year and not just during the holiday season, but eliminate products that are not performing up to par. Use your normal metrics to make this decision. You can base this off of it’s conversion rate, cost per order, or the margin of profit from the product. For instance, if you’re making a $0.50 profit on an item, it may not make sense to pay $0.40 per click for that item. Trimming down your product feed will help you cut the costs during this time.
Feed the Beast
What I mean by beast is your best performing CSE. Let’s use an example here. You have a target cost per order(CPO) of $10. With Pricegrabber you are achieving a $20 CPO and Shopzilla is returning a $5 CPO. Pricegrabber in this situation is bringing more volume, but less sales and vice-versa for Shopzilla. During the holiday times, it may not be the best idea to dig deep into your feed to figure out why the CPO is so high because buying behaviors are completely different. Instead, shift the money around and feed the beast. In this case, your beast is Shopzilla. Take some of the CPC spending in Pricegrabber and put it into Shopzilla and increase the volume over there.
Find a Cost per Acquisition(CPA) Engine
There are several CSE’s that work on a CPA basis. Become.com and The Find are just two examples. These type of sites can help you save money because you are only paying when a purchase occurs, not just for clicks. You may receive a lot more unqualified clicks during this time of the year so paying for them just doesn’t make much sense.