More than ever, customers are using a variety of ways to interact with your business offline or online. 

This multichannel connectivity means it’s difficult to measure the impact of one particular marketing effort on a conversion, particularly if that conversion happens offline. 

Just because someone sees an online ad, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll click through immediately to your ecommerce site.

They might just make a phone call to your helpline later in the day, or walk into your high street shop the following week.

The outcome is the same, you’ve driven traffic to your business with a campaign, however it’s difficult to accurately measure its effectiveness.

Although we tend not to cover every last update to a particular product, the latest update to Google AdWords, which purports to allow you to measure store visits from online ads, is an interesting one to look at.

According to eMarketer roughly 95% of retail sales still take place in physical stores, but according to Google’s own data, 32% of consumers say that location-based search ads have led them to visit a store or make a purchase.

Here are a few more stats I’ll throw at you while we’re here: 

  • More than 70% of consumers who have used ad features such as directions or the call button say it's important to have location information in ads.
  • 74% of shoppers want to see how much inventory there is for a product at a nearby store.

It’s clear that businesses need to understand the impact that paid search ads have in driving visits to physical locations, and to get better insight into how complex purchase paths can help optimise marketing campaigns and most importantly design better experiences for customers.

Store visit measurement

The new metric will help you:

  • See which campaigns and devices drive the most store visits to your business.
  • Understand your return on investment (ROI) and make more informed decisions about your ad creatives, spend, bid strategies, and other elements of your campaigns.

In order to be eligible to measure store visit conversions you need to have a Google My Business account linked to your AdWords account. Currently the measurement is only available to businesses with multiple physical store locations in the US, so UK users will have to wait for their turn.

There is no set-up required. If you're eligible, conversions from store visits will be added to the Estimated Total Conversion columns in your campaign reports.

You'll also see a new conversion action called 'Store Visits' added to your conversion reports. There is lots more practical information on how to access the feature here: about store conversions

Google has insisted that it never provide anyone’s actual location to advertisers.

Instead, store visits are estimates based on aggregated, anonymous data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History.

This data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population. 

Examples 

Google has provided a couple of case studies from businesses using the insight.

Office Depot uses insights from store visits data to understand which products, such as laptops, printers or backpacks, are driving people to visit one of its 2,000 retail locations.

These insights help it decide which products to include in its local inventory ads. These ads show whether or not a product is available in a nearby store and where the nearest store is located.

This makes it simple for customers to discover what products are in stock as they’re shopping and researching online.

PetSmart uses store visits data to improve its customer shopping experience.

Based on the insight that 10-18% of clicks on search ads lead to a store visit, PetSmart is now investing more in ads that reach customers across screens.

For example, PetSmart has increased use of location extensions in its ads to show maps and directions to help people find nearby stores when they are searching for related products.

Further reading...

For lots more information on the blog about search marketing, check out:

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 23 December, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (5)

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Daniel James, Digital Strategist at The Organic Agency

Interesting feature, however:

"Google has insisted that it never provide anyone’s actual location to advertisers.

Instead, store visits are estimates based on aggregated, anonymous data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History.

This data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population. "

I would be concerned about conversion metrics based on the above, as store visit conversion stats would surely vary by location & by business offering?

about 3 years ago

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Daniel James, Digital Strategist at The Organic Agency

....to add to my previous comment - I am slightly dubious about how Google will use sampled data and extrapolate to represent the broader population, in the sense of businesses using this data to justify ROI from paid budgets.

Another Google ploy to over inflate conversions and drive the CPC up?

about 3 years ago

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Geoffrey Barraclough, Principal at Barraclough & Co

This will be cause fun in many retailers. The e-commerce teams will love it. The store teams - many of whom don't yet use conversion of footfall to sales as a KPI - may show signs of bewilderment.

about 3 years ago

Jordan McClements

Jordan McClements, Owner at PPCNI.com

It does sound a little bit like guess work on Google's behalf. But having said that any idea when it is coming to the UK?

about 3 years ago

Carly Hunt

Carly Hunt, Account Manager at 7thingsmedia

It's a step definitely a step in the right direction!

Naturally business owners need to account for all marketing spend to ensure success and profitability of a campaign. Unlike offline marketing avenues, digital marketing can provide accurate return on investment.

Paid search allows us to gather rich insight into customer demographics, behaviour on site and journey paths. We are also able to direct customers to a stores’ physical location as well call a store directly which until recently has been limited in tracking actual conversions.

Obviously the next step to quantifying paid advertising is to look at the offline “halo” effect. Not only will this give a full picture into the complete buying cycle, it will allow us to bid more intelligently based on a more accurate ROI.

Google have begun to incorporate this into conversion data within Adwords in the US with no set-up required. If you're eligible, conversions from store visits will be added to the Estimated Total Conversion. However, with no setup required this initial product is based on "aggregated, anonymous data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History". As these are currently estimations and not bespoke to the client, it will be great insight to have but not accurate enough to make quantifiable bidding decisions. While this is a long way off, it is a step in the right direction to join up online and offline marketing activity.

about 3 years ago

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