From Clicks Into Bricks: Using Search To Drive Shop Visits and Sales | DMA

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From Clicks Into Bricks: Using Search To Drive Shop Visits and Sales


According to a Think With Google study published in September 2016, 70% of smartphone users who made an in store purchase first used their devices to find relevant information about it online. Google also found that retail search ads drive four times as many shop visits as conversions following paid clicks (Google Data, UK, June 2016). Whilst the majority of shopping still occurs in store, mobile searches are driving these visits and there’s an increasing need for a multi-channel approach when it comes to retail. A smooth and combined online to offline experience will ensure maximum sales, regardless of which channel ultimately claims the conversion. So, are you making the most of the tools at your disposal to help customers find you when they’re ready to head to the checkout?

Use Location Extensions To Help Customers Find You

Let’s start with the basics. This handy ad extension will display geographically relevant information with your ads to make it easier for customers to locate you. A click on the location extension opens up more business information on the location details page, showing opening hours, web address and a map. The diamond Get Directions button can then direct your customers to you on foot, by car or by public transport. In AdWords it’s then possible to see how many times this information was displayed, including how many people viewed the location details page and how many requested directions.

Information on how to set up location extensions can be found in AdWords Help.

Increase Your Prominence Online When Customers Are Nearby

Once your location extensions are up and running, you have the option to boost your visibility in the search results for users who are nearby. Within campaign location settings, bid adjustments can be applied to a radius around your stores. If someone is within half a mile of the nearest store, increase your bids so your search ad ranks above competitors to win their click and ultimately their visit.

To set this up, edit the locations your campaign is targeting and select Location groups. In the drop down menu, you’ll then see My Locations which will bring up the option for Google My Business locations. Try staggering bid adjustments for different radiuses, depending on what you know about how far your average customer is willing to travel. You can then monitor performance statistics for each radius within the Locations tab. For a large online retailer, we recently identified that clickthrough rate (CTR) was 128% higher for users within half a mile of their nearest store.

Talk To “On The Move” Searchers Differently

Don’t forget to consider how you address customers whom you suspect are likely to visit a store. Are they on their mobile and within half a mile of one of your stores? Switch up the call to action in your text ads to encourage them to step inside. Add your store locator page and contact information as sitelinks, and make sure your phone number is visible in case they want to reach out for more information.

Remember this approach for times of the year when you might previously have considered pausing your online activity. Are you unable to fulfil online orders over Christmas, for example? Is there an issue with your website? Direct people looking for you online to the nearest bricks and mortar store so you don’t miss out on their custom.

Show Them What’s In Stock At Their Nearest Store With Local Inventory Ads

If you’re an online retailer, you’ll be familiar with Shopping ads. However, if your customer wants to make their purchase in store, you can utilise Local Inventory Ads to make it that much easier for them. Like a normal Shopping ad, a product image will be displayed alongside price and other relevant information from your Google Merchant Center, but with the added layer of showing what’s in stock at their local store in near real-time. You’re now providing customers with the option to shop online or to see what’s available nearby.

More information on how to set this up is available in AdWords Help.

How Can I Tell If All This Is Working?

You can track shop visits within your AdWords account back to the very ads and campaigns that generated them. These are calculated by Google using estimates based on aggregated and anonymised data from mobile users who have their Location History turned on. The data visible in your account is carefully modelled using past and present data on users who interact with your ads and then later visit your shops. The quantity and quality of Google’s own map data allows for clear differentiation between an actual shop visit and someone in the nearby vicinity, and a verification panel of over 5 million global users double-checks the accuracy. The modelling takes into account factors such as the number of times that user is visiting the location (to exclude staff members, for example) and how long was spent inside the store (to exclude anyone who wasn’t there long enough to have made a purchase). Google can therefore ensure a 99% certainty in reported visits.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Have multiple physical shop locations in eligible countries
  • Link your Google My Business account with AdWords containing your shop locations
  • Enable location extensions on all campaigns you wish to track

Depending on the amount of time it takes for your average customer to convert, you can customise the conversion window. Bear in mind that your online to offline path may be longer than the typical single channel journey.

  • 1 week
  • 2 weeks
  • 3 weeks
  • 4 weeks
  • 30 days

Then the real magic happens. Assuming you know your average in store conversion rate and average order value, it is then possible to calculate the in store return from your online ads.

Set up your reporting to include shop visits and use the findings to fine tune your online campaigns. A better understanding of how your online activity is influencing offline sales will allow you to adapt your multi-channel strategy to ensure the highest possible total revenue, regardless of how or where a user ultimately decides to make their purchase. You’re then in a strong position to monitor consumer changes over time, the impact of changes in online marketing investment and the success of different campaign strategies in driving both online and offline sales.

To read this blog written by Jocelyn Le Conte on the Periscopix website, please click here.

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