Google Adwords Forwarding Numbers in Switzerland

For many business the Google ads are generating a lot of conversions. It would be good to be able to track these conversions, in order to know the return on ad spend.

The solution is Google Forwarding Numbers, which are currently pushed by Google. For each ad, that meet certain criteria in terms of clicks etc, Google provides a dynamic phone number (which is monitored, so you can get all the details) and the call is forwarded to your normal business phone number. For some cities, a local phone number is given by Google, i.e. starting with 044 for Zürich.

The problem with this solution is that you will confuse your customers. Some customers will save the number on their phone, and when calling back some time later, they might end up calling a different company. Or, if you might get calls from customers from other companies. Knowing how much work confused customers generate, I can only recommend not to use “Adwords Forwarding Number”. You can still opt-out if you contact Google.

You can still opt out from the Google forwarding number.

It is in the interest of Google showing a conversion value that is as high a possible, in order to convince to increase your spend on Google Adwords. Hence, the ability to remove conversions in Adwords, which in the end did not end up in a sale in reality, is not available.

If you sell mostly with invoice, you might have up to 10% of your customers not meeting your credit check criteria, and mostly these orders are cancelled in the end. Also orders, that were returned by customers (in many business well above 10%), would be great to be able to remove from the Adwords conversions.

So, if Google is really trying to provide a correct conversion tracking, “remove conversions that did not end up in a sale” would be great project to work on.

– Thomas Toernell

10 actions to be successful with Google Adwords

We have been working with Google Adwords since 2002. Over the years we condensed this list of actions in order to be successful with Google Adwords if you run an online shop.

More or less all of the Google Search Result page is paid Adwords ads if you look for a product.
  1. Make sure that the conversion tracking (e-commerce) including value really works. Preferably with Google Analytics. Make a couple of test orders in order to make sure that the tracking works, and the currency is correctly set. Without the conversion tracking you run blind. In the end you would like to focus on “return on ad spend” – ROAS. Many agencies use the Google language of “break even” when ROAS is 100%. This ignores your cost of goods sold and other costs. If you think that a sales cost of 20% of the turnover is acceptable, you must reach a ROAS of 500% (1/0.2 = 5).
  2. Work on your product detail pages. Make sure the product information is up to date and correct – in all your languages. You reach the best results with linking your ads directly to the product detail page – on these pages the customers have the least clicks to complete the order. Work on the direct product ads first, when these run well, you can create broader ads. For these very specific ads, start with high bids – try to be on position 1. You can always reduce later if the results do not come.
  3. Split up all your ads by language, and limit strictly by language. Make sure the ad is linked directly to the right language. This is a lot of work, but worth every minute.
  4. Strictly limit the ads to where you can deliver your products with profit. If you are located in Switzerland, limit the ads to “Switzerland” – at least to start off with. Google sometimes make changes to the location option in order to widen it. Make sure it is set as “in the user location”.
  5. Be very careful with display ads, video ads, etc. Many times the results – in terms of conversions – are bad. There is a trend to make the advertiser pay for clicks that occur inside the Google products. Here you can reach great click-thru-rates “CTR”, even if the customer is not even visiting your site.
  6. Use Google Shopping: but check the result of every product ad carefully. If your competition is cheaper, pause your ad, or put in very low bid. Otherwise customers will go to you for information and to your competitor for purchasing.
  7. Only run ads where products are available. If the product is not in stock, make sure that the ad or the Google shopping item is paused.
  8. Only use exact match keywords or broad match “+” keywords (combine at least 2 keywords here like “+Philips +lamp”. Avoid phrase matches and Googles proposed broad matches, since the latter include a lot of stuff that is not relevant to you.
  9. Work on your negative keyword list. These lists are available in the “shared library”, and you can save a lot of time by using one list for several campaigns.
  10. If a keyword, an ad, an adgroup, or a campaign perform well – let us say above 600% ROAS – just run with it. At least double the bids and see what happens. To compensate.

Check the quality of your data in the Google Merchant Center

Google Shopping is a good way to market your products on Google Adwords. However, you should check you data regularly in order not to be banned from Google Shopping. Once blocked by Google, it might take several days to get online again, which will impact sales.

In order to use Google Shopping, you have to set up the Google Merchant Center.

The easiest way to regularly check your status is to set up an email to be sent from the Google Merchant Center when your file is updated every day. Especially when your file is new, or when you add new products, there will be things to correct. But also if you have not done any changes, the Google check might find stuff to complain about, and these are split up in:

  • Errors and warnings
  • Notifications
Make it a habit to check for errors and notifications in the merchant center on a daily basis.

The Errors and Warnings you should take care of immediately. Normally it is a product violating some Google rule. This will happen, even if you read the guidelines and policies in detail. The best is then to remove the product from Google Shopping directly.

With the notifications, you can enhance your product data quality. Here missing data etc are listed. If you have a multi language site, this is very useful for checking that your translations are complete. However, if you have a rule saying that you fill “language 2” with data from “language 1” if the translation is missing it does not work. So do not use any of these rules, rather make sure that the translations are done. It gives quite a motivation to push for translations, when your customers see a page without text. Also avoid having “auto-detect” language functions on the page, since this in multi-lingual countries like Switzerland in many cases leads the customer wrong – just because your browser is installed in English, it does not mean that you would like to see the product page in that language.

Other things that are checked for are missing and product title length. It might be tempting to use different titles for different purposes (website, Google shopping, price comparison sites etc), but do not underestimate the workload to keep all the versions up to date if you have many products and / or multiple languages to maintain.

When you have a new feed, you need to daily check the challenges, and improve step-by-step. Be aware that it takes up to 72 hours before the changes are reflected in your Adwords account.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 22.55.50
In the first days, it normally looks like this. The increasing share of “green” items is very positive.

– Thomas Toernell


GTIN Codes for Online Shops

More and more online platforms require the GTIN or EAN codes for showing products. Most online shops have to use platforms like Google Shopping, Ebay and Amazon to sell their products successfully. What can you do if your supplier is not providing GTIN numbers or their GTIN numbers are rejected?

Not all products have working EAN / GTIN codes on the packaging.

A few months ago, some of our products in the xml-file to Google Shopping were rejected because the GTIN code was missing. We then had to check more in detail what a GTIN number is. GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number, and is a unique identifier for products that should work globally. Normally the GTIN code is printed on products as a barcode on the packaging.

Most online shop systems have the GTIN field available. If you have not filled it, do so. Either get the list for the supplier or type if off the product packaging.

This exercise we went thru a couple of years back, and it is very useful to have a report showing products without GTIN numbers or GTIN duplicates.

The next thing that happened, was that some GTIN numbers were rejected by Google. In 90% of these cases the suppliers assure that their numbers are correct, but that does not really help to fix the problem.

The organisation GS1 is maintaining the GTIN numbers. On their website you can check if a GTIN number is correct.

In order to be able to market the products, we then looked for temporary GTIN numbers – ie number that we can use until the suppliers communicate the correct numbers.

A good address for cheap “temporary” GTIN numbers is

These barcodes work well with Google and Amazon, unless you have big brands like Samsung or Apple, where check are built in. But from the big brands you normally get working GTIN numbers.

– Thomas Toernell