Acquire New Customers with Smart Shopping Campaigns (SSC) | Articles

2020 has been a special one so far. Some businesses have been impacted negatively, others have grown thanks to Covid’s impact. Despite the economic uncertainties, most e-commerces have grown strongly. Latest numbers of BeCommerce show a 33% increase for Belgian e-commerce market. It’s therefore more important than ever to have a solid strategy in place across channels. In this article we’ll focus on how Shopping campaigns can help your business acquire new customers. 

Already 2 years ago (in 2018) Google launched its Smart Shopping Campaigns (SSC). This format has already helped many advertisers to boost online sales of new and existing customers. More information on Smart Shopping Campaigns in this great article of my colleague Morgane. The Smart Shopping Campaign format has recently been improved with a new beta called “New Customer Acquisition” (NCA). This beta allows advertisers using Smart Shopping Campaigns to not only optimize towards online sales of new and existing customers, but to also optimize towards the acquisition of new customers. 

How do I set-up New Customer Acquisition?

1. Identification of new and existing customers

Before starting, you need to make sure to have conversion action in place with a “purchase” category. 

Google Ads Purchase Conversion Action

If that’s in place, you need to help Google identify if a customer is a new or an existing customer of your business. There are 3 ways to do this: 

1. Auto detection based on Google’s signals. This is automatically activated when you tick the box “new customer acquisition” in your campaign conversion goals.

 Smart Shopping conversion goals settings2. Site tagging (optional). An extra tag can be implemented to help the system identify if a customer is new or not. This can be set-up using gtag, GTM, Shopify or Firebase. More technical information on this implementation in this article.

3. 1st Party Data (optional). You can upload a Customer List into Google Ads. After uploading the Customer List, you should inform Google Ads which Customer List contains the list of Existing Customers. This should be done under Tools > Measurement > Conversions > Settings. Simply add the right Customer List under “Existing Customers”. Up to 5 lists can be uploaded. 

Google Ads Conversion settings

Now you’re ready to continue the set-up of your Smart Shopping campaign. 

2. Set-up your Smart Shopping campaign to optimize for new customers

If you already have Smart Shopping campaigns in place, you can either choose to set the campaign up in your existing campaigns or you can choose to have a separate campaign. You could decide to have a specific campaign if you have a specific budget, objective or specific products on which you want to focus your customer acquisition.

Set-up of the campaign is almost exactly the same as the set-up of a Smart Shopping Campaign (more info in this article of my colleague Morgane). The only difference here is the “New Customer Acquisition” element you have to select in your Conversion Goals. On top of ticking the box, you need to define the Customer Value you’d like your campaign to optimize for. 

As you may know - Smart Shopping Campaigns have by default a “Maximise Conversion Value” bid strategy. Google’s algorithm will therefore use the Purchase Value (ex. €72) and the Customer Value (ex. €50) to determine the bids of your ads (ex. €122). A higher Customer Value will therefore result in more new customers. 

Smart Shopping conversion goals settings

To start your campaign, we recommend starting with the default New Customer Value.  This value can be adapted later on, depending if you want to bid more aggressively on the acquisition of new customers or not. 


Reporting of New Customers

When launching your campaign, you will of course be interested in the performances of your campaign and more specifically in the “New Customers” you’ve acquired with your campaign. There are 2 ways to get a view on this: 

1. Add an extra column (at ad group or campaign level) with the “New Customers” metric:

New Customers Column Reporting

2. Segment > Conversions > New vs. Returning Customers: The “Unknown” part are customers on which Google can’t report on due to Policies around legally or culturally sensitive categories. 

New vs. Returning Customers Reporting

After launching your campaign, it will be important to optimize your campaign in order to find the right balance between performances (ex. ROAS - depending on your main KPI)  and the ratio of new customers. As mentioned above, the higher your Customer Value, the higher the algorithm will bid to acquire New Customers. 



That summarizes the implementation of your Smart Shopping Campaign focusing on acquiring New Customers. In our next article, we’ll focus on a concrete client case. Stay tuned!

publication auteur Justine Cremer
Justine Cremer

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