Saturday, October 12, 2013

Google Trusted Stores: the good, the bad, the inevitable

Setting your brand apart from the rest is practically the definition of marketing. Given the strict parameters of advertising on Google, the gatekeeper of the vast digital market, it can be a struggle.
It’s no wonder, then, that on my last Econsultancy post discussing niche site strategy, a commenter wanted to know how to get that attractive, Google-branded check mark that distinguishes one PLA (Product Listing Ad) from the lineup. 
Google Trusted Stores checkmark
For those of you who don’t know, this check graphic designates a Google Trusted Store. It’s an ecommerce certification.
Google grants this badge to sites that prove that they’re fast and reliable shippers with a record of positive customer feedback.
Google will even reimburse a dissatisfied customer up to $1,000 if an ecommerce site violates this Google-bestowed trust.
In exchange for the endorsement, businesses give Google access to a significant amount of their data: items sold, shipping times, customer emails, feedback, and so on.
Google uses this stream of info to tabulate and broadcast info like shipping times and customer feedback to site visitors, continually verifying that the store meets its standards of good quality and service.
In his October 2011 post about the launch, Chris Lake wondered, would the badge improve service and satisfaction? And more ominously, would sharing data and metrics with Google become compulsory?
In the two years that have passed, Google has accrued an increasingly comprehensive view of the inner workings of many online businesses through its Trusted Stores channels.
On the marketing end, we have accumulated real experiences and data about the costs and benefits of the badges, which this post will break down.
As you can see in the PLAs above, there is still a sizable holdout of stores that have not added the badge. Given that PLAs have had a 600% increase in global traffic in the last year, you may want to get on the bandwagon.
If you still aren’t convinced, I’d argue that joining is probably inevitable, so doing so sooner rather than later gives you an edge. 

Benefit: cashing in on Google’s name

If you’re a recognizable brand like Macy’s or Amazon, the Trusted Store badge will be less impactful. The biggest advantage the certification offers is credibility for first-time customers of smaller brands. SmartSign fits this profile.
We have thirty-some niche sites, none of which are household names.  After adding the Trusted Store badges over a year ago, we didn’t see any immediate bump in revenue (unlike the ecommerce sites featured in the Trusted Stores marketing video for merchants, which attribute big gains to the badge).
Our revenue has grown since the implementation, but it’s impossible to attribute that to any one particular thing.
Still, we’ve seen many positive customer mentions of the added feeling of security that comes with the badges, and common sense tells us the value of a trusted third party’s endorsement.


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