After the coronavirus outbreak, the share of online purchases skyrocketed due to restrictions on physical retailing. Although the world still looks different from the early 2020s, connecting offline and online has never been more crucial than now, and this will only increase in the coming years. In this blog, we already described this trend in consumer behavior: the customer journey increasingly starts online but ends offline. For instance, this report by Sagapixel shows that 78% of mobile searches for local businesses result in offline purchases.
So, local visibility and local marketing play an essential role in the success of your business. And the impact of COVID-19 on businesses did not go unnoticed at Google either, which has caused them to quickly develop tools to connect the digital and physical worlds even better. Google offers a variety of ways to measure the impact that your online ads have on growing your physical store sales. How Google does this and which 4 tools to bind customers to your physical locations as a business, read below.
Connect with local customers and drive offline sales with online ads
Google thus provides useful online-to-offline tools to engage customers in physical locations, such as shops, restaurants, or other local businesses. These can be both organic and paid activities:
- Local search engine optimisation (organic)
- Google Company Profile (organic)
- Performance Max (paid)
- Shopping & Local Inventory ads (paid)
- Local campaigns (paid)
1. Local Search Engine Optimization
As everyone knows, Google tries to make search results as relevant and information-rich as possible for every user. So Google has adjusted search results by user location. In fact, 46% of all searches are local searches (Sagapixel report). See an example below for the keyword “furniture”, where one user searched from Amsterdam and another from Haarlem.
This section in the search results example above is also called the “Google Local Map Pack”: a top-ranking list based on your physical location or search location of local businesses. If you, as a business, want to appear in this local listing, it’s essential that you have your data in Google My Business in place. This is because the data of the search results in the local 3-pack comes from the data in Google Business Profile.
2. Google Business Profile
A logical combination between online marketing & offline buying is Google Business Profile. When someone searches for your business or uses a keyword related to your business, Google Business Profile shows a professional and clear summary of the most important information about your business in Google Search or Google Maps. This includes the website, address, the ability to view directions to the business, opening times & reviews. By having data in Google Business Profile in its entirety, consumers can easily see where your shop is located, thus capitalize on organic findability in the Google Local Map Pack section and normal search results. How to set this up for free, read here.
3. Performance Max: Shopping & Local Inventory Ads
Besides the free options above, there are also paid tools that allow you to influence consumer decision-making processes that lead to physical store visits. Google Shopping has long played an important role in the (online) marketing of companies, but at the beginning of this year, this channel was renamed Performance Max to include Local Inventory Ads. These are ads that become visible when a consumer is near one of your physical shops. The (potential) customer is then shown whether the product they might be interested in and also whether it is still in stock in that shop by the label “in-store” or “pick up today”. So this paid channel has sales purely as a goal: either the customer buys the product directly online through the Shopping ad or the customer goes to the nearby shop to purchase the in-stock product there.
4. Performance Max: Local Campaigns
Finally, Performance Max as Google Ads’ newest channel, also offers the ability to drive purely foot traffic to shops. This type of campaign, Google Local Campaigns, helps you as a business provide information to your potential customers that they need to decide when and how to visit your shop. It’s basically the paid version of the data you enter in the Company Profile, showing ads from local places across all Google channels:
- Google Maps;
- Google’s search network;
- Google Display Network;
- Company profile;
Google Store Visit Conversions
To track the success of these local Google campaigns, Store Visits can be used. With this, retailers with physical shops can now also gain insight into the impact of online campaigns on offline sales. For example, for 1 of our clients in the furniture industry, we saw a 15% increase in Store Visits in Performance Max & Search campaigns, and 5.5% sales increase in shops. This is where previously online shops actually had a big advantage by being able to measure exactly how many visitors have been in the online store, what people have viewed, what conversion rates are, how many conversions there are, and what the sales are.
But how exactly do these Google Store Visit conversions work? This can be explained by the following steps:
- The customer is logged into his or her Google account and signs up for location history based on GPS location signals.
- The customer sees an ad from your shop and interacts with it.
- The customer visits your physical shop.
- Google links the customer’s visit to the shop to interact with your ad. For shop visits, Google uses anonymous, aggregated statistics.
- Google Ads models statistics by using current and older data on the number of customers who interacted with your ad and later visited your shop.
Google states that the accuracy of this measurement is 99 percent certain and the person actually visited the shop. But actively using and understanding this type of conversion to generate more offline sales is not available and/or feasible for every business. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a Google Company Profile linked to your Google Ads account?
- And do you have multiple physical business locations?
- Do you have a high volume of clicks and shop visit conversions per month?
- Are location extensions activated?
- Are offline sales and the number of customers tracked in shops? Only then will you gain insight into the number of incremental shop visits that may have been generated from online activities.
If you meet all these points, Store Visit conversions are yet another step in increasing sales in your shop.
Increasing local findability both paid and organically?
So we can conclude that Google has responded to the change in consumer behavior by corona with its tools. The different tools are perfect tools for businesses to provide consumers with local information about physical shops in their area. With both paid and organic tools, businesses make sure they are as visible as possible across the entire Google network, thereby driving more foot traffic to their shops. Lastly, tools, such as Google Store Visits, give you the ability to actually see the impact of the tools. Do you also have physical shops and want to increase both your online and offline sales with this omnichannel strategy? We will help you set up all the tools. Get in touch or fill in our contact form below.