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Confirming this is a recent Google report that seemed to suggest that an upward of 95% of all the retail sales happen offline, in a physical store as opposed to online shopping. People use online platforms to research on the products and services they wish to buy, and after deciding on the brand and model to go with, they’ll hit a local store near them to make a purchase.
But has anyone ever taken the time to understand how online ads impact offline sales? How are you even able to optimize the ads and ramp up the number of sales you make offline?
Simple, trust Google to show you the way.
Not long ago, Google stepped up their game and introduced one of the most advanced metric systems under their name – and that is the In-store visits metrics. Although the consumer purchase journey has proven to be a super-complex one, Google managed to find a way to keep track of in-store foot traffic. That’s a detailed record of the amount of traffic that businesses drive to their physical stores after running PPC ads.
The project has been a huge success so far, and as time goes, we can only hope for it to get even better.
Google Ads Store Visits – what are they?
Store visits are a special conversion type of Google Ads. It’s basically designed to update you on the number of clicks people made on a paid search you’re running and then proceeded to your physical store to complete a transaction.
Targeted for retailers and event locations that want to connect user behaviour to their PPC ad program, the AdWords will essentially be collecting data on the number of people that clicked through your ads and thereafter made an effort to come to your online store to make a purchase.
Through the metric, you can tell which ad campaigns, devices, and keywords managed to direct the highest number of customers to your store. That way, you can know what to adjust and direct the bulk of your marketing effort to in a bid to increase your Return on Investments.
The metric can’t tell if the shop visitor went through with the purchase, only that they visited it after clicking on your PPC ad.
Google’s main goal is to supply you with the data so you can find out if the ad you ran is really working. In addition, more data will be provided focusing on the nature of that particular click so you can optimize the ad for even better results in the future.
As it stands, Google has been able to record more than 7 billion physical store visits from almost every imaginable corner of the earth.
For privacy reasons, the data thrives on anonymity, by aggregating both current and past data from the people who’ve turned their location history on. Meaning, the conversion doesn’t zone into an individual but on their navigation history alone.
How Accurate is the Metric
The system has advanced to an extent that it can tell what actually qualifies as a real visit. Google had to take into account some of the issues that might turn out as an obstacle along the way.
Imagine a scenario where a prospect passes near a store. You’ll be expecting the system to be ineffective enough to count it as a real visit, but it isn’t. The system can tell the difference between a 20-minutes visit and a 1-minute visit to understand that the customer didn’t have enough time to go through with a purchase.
There’s even the issue of potential customers spending too much time at a store. So just in case, the system records a person to have spent more than the required amount of time at a local store, then it won’t be counting it as the store’s visitor.
How Google Measures the In-store Visits
Google Maps stores near-accurate coordinates of millions of businesses from all around the world. So basically, AdWords work alongside Google maps to match the location of these businesses to the millions of users that have their locations history turned on.
In order to enable this, Google has adopted a hybrid approach, which boasts loads of signals that will be taking accurate measurements of the visits. These signals include:
- Google map and Google earth
- Coordinates mapping and the borders of millions of physical store from all around the world.
- GPS location signals
- Visitors’ behaviour
- The Wi-Fi strength in the store
- An upward of 1 million opted-in users that provide their on-ground navigation history, thus validating data accuracy together with informing the modelling.
To make sure the data they supply is accurate, Google has so far managed to survey over 5 million people in a bid to find out if they actually visited the store as the system indicates. With the information they get, they have managed to update their algorithms to an extent that it’s now reported to be 99% accurate.
The Store Visit Conversions
The store visit conversions aren’t exactly some sort of crispy analytics, but pure estimates. That’s because Google isn’t yet able to collect data on the number of visitors that actually got to make a purchase from the stores they visited.
In other words, Google can only examine when an ad gets clicked and if the users make any attempt to visit the store afterward.
The metric also records the device from which the ad was clicked – phone, tablet or desktop. The information you get regarding this is meant to help you make necessary adjustments to your campaign for an improved ROI.
The metric is also designed to display the number of clicks that ended up with the underlying user visiting the store.
It can also tell how far a particular click is away from the store – that’s through the proximity data provided.
You’ll also be supplied with processable data regarding which device, keyword, or campaign drove the highest number of visitors to your physical store or shop. You can thereafter use the information to optimize your campaign for an even better ROI.
Google has gone an extra mile to ensure users information stay private and protected. Which is to say, the in-store conversion data will never contain any personal information or a data point that might be tied down to an individual.
The metric can only track users whose location history has been turned on. It’s to be however noted that the location history isn’t just about setting yourself up to be tracked by the metric system. You’re likely to realize a series of other benefit cutting across Google products and services including recommendations based on some of the places you’ve visited, personalized maps, real-time traffic, help to find your phone, useful ads, and so much more.
Meaning users have more reasons than they need to turn on the feature.
For what’s worth, location history is simply a Google-level account setting that’s focused on keeping track of all the places you go with your mobile device. But for the feature to work, you have to make sure that:
- You’re signed into a Google account
- You’ve turned on location history in the device you’re using
- You’ve turned on location reporting on the device you’re using
Worth mentioning is that the location history is always turned off when you sign in to your Google account and that it can only be turned on when you choose to opt-in.
You’re also allowed to turn it off any time by going through your account’s Activity Controls. It’s even possible to pause it all up or control what gets to be saved in the location history. For instance, you can view all the places you’ve visited in the Google Maps Timeline, and even edit and delete some of the information on the timeline if you find it fit.
Also worth noting is that when other settings such as the Web and App Activity is turned on and you decide to turn it off, pause or delete the data in your location history, your location data may still be available with the other Google accounts. Which is to say, your location data may still be saved as part of the search and maps activities every time you’ve turned on your Web & App Activity setting on your mobile device.
What’s New with the Feature?
During the latest Performance Summit, Google was quick to announce that they’ve made in-store visits available to manufacturers, particularly the auto manufacturer that wish to track the number of visitors that make it to their dealerships.
They also walked their audience through one of their case studies involving the UK Nisan and how they’ve been using the AdWords feature to track their in-store visits and conversion based on keywords and the type of campaigns people have been using to drive potential customers to their dealerships.
By making necessary adjustments based on the conversion data being supplied through the metric, the company was able to increase their return on investment up to 25 times. They were also able to use the data to map the journey of their buyers.
Through this, they were able to find out that about 6 percent of all the ad clicks they were able to receive on phone resulted in a visit to one of their dealerships. They considered this a huge success on their part, considering one out of every two visits they received in the dealership resulted in a sale.
Could Google be Using Beacon to Improve the Feature?
Not long ago, Google mentioned that they will be experimenting with the Beacon Technology to make necessary adjustments to their algorithm and improve it for the better. They were to explore how to incorporate Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons for their in-store visits and analytics.
As a matter of fact – at the time of making the announcement, they were already underway in a BLE beacon project that was focusing on helping business people operating at smaller locations ensure they were providing and getting the most accurate and precise location data with the least amount of strain on their part.
How to Gain Access to Store Visit Conversions
As it stands, Store visits conversion is now available to an upward of 1, 000 advertisers from 11 different countries, with Google hinting of making it available to even more advertisers in the near future. All you have to do to start tracking your store visits as of now is to contact your account manager.
It’s to be however noted that NOT every business out there qualifies to track their store visits. A few requirements do apply, and that includes:
- Your business must be having multiple physical locations in one of the countries qualified by Google.
- You ads must be receiving thousands of click and an impressive count of store visits every month for you to qualify for the metric.
- You must have linked your Google Ads account to your Google My Business account.
- You must have enabled location extensions.
Where to Find the Conversions
You can find the Store Visit conversions feature at the ‘All Conversions’ column of your Google AdWords campaign report. If you can’t find it in the column section, then it’s upon you to add it to the report.
The store visits can also be found at the ad group, the campaign, and the keyword level, with an option to segment it based on devices.
Let’s wrap it up
From the post, it’s pretty clear that Store Visit Conversion offers one of the most valuable metrics for local businesses. The metric is also based on a highly accurate, anonymized data that will be working to blur the line between your digital activities and your in-person experiences.
For more information regarding Google Store Visits Conversions or general help in managing your Google Ads Campaign, you’re advised to consider contacting MediaOne today with your query and they’ll be glad to accord you with the necessary help.