Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, September 26, 2014

Et Tu, Google: September Stumbles

As of Wednesday morning, I needed to make $210 by today to cover my scheduled Mastercard payment and avoid paying another finance charge. It would be a nail-biter, but doable. Then Google dropped this gem into my morning email:

"Dear Google Shopping Merchant,

"It has come to our attention that your Merchant Center account does not comply with our Google Shopping Policies available at (URL).

"Your Merchant Center account has been suspended and your product listings no longer appear on Google Shopping.

Lovely. WTF did I do? I've been uploading the same product feed for years with only minor changes from month to month. My sin wasn't immediately apparent among the pages and pages of general policy bullshit at that URL. I appealed. On Wednesday night, I was still waiting. Wednesday's sales? Zero.

Google Shopping used to be called Google Base and it used to be free. Some time ago Google decided to charge merchants to use it. Google Shopping is where I advertise all of the products that I don't advertise directly through AdWords. Google somehow automatically builds and displays ads...somewhere. I think "Google Shopping" is its own thing, a destination for people who actually like to shop. 

I spend $175 a month to buy 755 clicks there -- 1/3 of my monthly ad buy. Losing it is like having one hand tied behind my back, if I had three hands. How it works and who goes there are all very mysterious to me, but back when I was getting conversion data I was sure it was worthwhile. While researching this post I discovered that Google is showing 0 conversions in all of my campaigns for the past 30 days.

On Thursday morning they said 

I have good news, after further review of your account, you have been approved to participate in Google Shopping! It looks like there was a technical issue discovered and fixed.

Oh, joy. There were actually "issues" both on their end and on mine, thanks to my template change. Sales resumed normally on Thursday, but as of this afternoon I'm still $97 short of covering that charge bill. 

Now, what about those conversion reports?

Turns out that one must insert a code snippet into one's order confirmation page. I did that for my old template so many years ago that I'd completely forgotten about it and it got lost in my last upgrade (that's what I get for hiring Turnkey instead of my own developer). Trying to fix it, I first added the code to the wrong files and broke checkout entirely. I think I got it figured out, but I won't know if it's really tracking conversions until somebody actually clicks an ad and buys something.  

None of this would be noteworthy if I weren't racing the calendar to cover that damned credit card bill. Google's little "technical issue" might have screwed me. 

Oh well, on to the numbers! This was my first red month since April, and it's a doozy.


Total income: -28.1%
Total COGS: -27.9%
Payroll: -17.2%

Marketing: -54.0%
Net Income (Profit): +82% (+$612)

Year to Date

Total income: +9.5%
Total COGS: +38.2%
Payroll: -32%

Marketing: +1.4%
Net Income (Profit): +49.9% (+$5,006)

Holding down COGS and especially marketing offset the big drop in total income enough to actually improve the bottom line a little. I lost $135 this month, compared to $746 last September. Even though the year is $5,000 in the red, I was losing $10,000 at this time LY.

Is my site makeover to blame for this change in fortune, or is the timing a coincidence? I don't know. We'll see if October recovers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Google Search