Whilst pure-play online businesses are growing at an unprecedented rate, brick and mortar and local businesses need to up their game to compete and ensure they aren’t losing out to these pure-play retailers who often have larger digital marketing budgets because they often don’t have to spread their marketing budget as thinly. This blog post will provide some practical ideas on how businesses with a physical presence can enhance their paid search presence on AdWords.
Ad Customisers for Location
Ad customisers can allow you to adjust your ad copy depending on the location of the searcher, without having to create duplicate campaigns! For example, your ad could promote offers that are specific to some locations only, or alternatively, you can simply mention the location in the ad text to increase its relevance. That boost in relevance will work wonders on your clicks through rate, and therefore your Quality Score and Ad Rank, so ultimately you pay the least possible for your clicks and get more for your budget. Learn how to set them up using this guide.
Weather Bidding Strategies
Most businesses with a physical location will find their performance is impacted by the weather to some extent. Depending on your budgets, there are a couple of approaches you can take to optimising for the weather:
Option A: use software such as TVTY to adjust bids and potentially activate specific campaigns or ad copy based on the weather.
Option B: use a script such as this one.
Location Bid Adjustment Overlays
Assuming you target the whole of the UK but have physical stores in select locations around the UK, you might find that the locations which are closest to your stores have the best conversion rates because searchers in those locations are familiar with your brand already or may be inclined to use services such as order online and collect in store.
Overlay a 5-mile radius around all your store postcodes and analyse performance in those locations, before deciding whether to set bid adjustments for them
The same can be done for competitor store locations, so you can capitalise on consumers within competitor stores who may be ‘showrooming’ by viewing products in a competitor store whilst Googling where they can find them cheaper online or nearby.
Double Click for Search (DS) has a feature called Adaptive Location Targets which automatically creates location overlays for high performing locations within your overall target location (e.g if you target the whole of the UK DS Adaptive Location targets may identify London as a high performing location and create it as a location target overlay. You can then choose to allow DS to also set bid adjustments for these locations if you want to.
Location Keyword Bidding
Although the number of searches containing locations is arguably declining as people become used to Google automatically serving them relevant results for their location, there is still a significant number of searches which contain locations, for example, ‘hairdresser in Fulham’ or ‘toy shop Southampton’.
These keywords also tend to have lower competition because pure-plays such as Amazon rarely bid on these terms as they represent an intent to visit a physical location (which they don’t have).
These keywords are also beneficial to target UK wide rather than with specific geo-targeting, because when you use geo-targeting Google heavily rely on the users IP address to determine their location. Often, users IP addresses are not accurate (particularly from mobile devices) so by including these location-specific keywords targeting the whole of the UK, you’re able to reach users who are relevant (shown through the keyword containing the location) but who may not have an IP address which sits them geographically within your other geotargeted campaigns for specific geographical locations.
A combination of location keywords targeting the whole of the UK (or whatever country you’re advertising in) and non-location keywords targeted with geo-targeting (whether that’s via location overlays (see the previous paragraph) or via specific geographical locations being targeted) is usually a sound approach.
‘Near Me’ Keyword Bidding
Searching using ‘near me’ in the keyword is a big intent signal and something that no longer just suggests someone looking for where to go, but also more recently where to buy things. Google tell us that “near me” mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown over 500% over the last two years.
Capitalise on this by ensuring your account includes keywords for your business type or products plus ‘near me’. Combine this with ad customisers for location and you’ll be able to show super relevant ad copy for the user, which naturally increases click-through rate.
This type of search is pure gold when it comes to driving footfall into physical stores, so if you can measure footfall using AdWords store visit tracking (more information coming up) then evaluate the performance of these terms against footfall rather than just online revenue, as footfall is the metric where they’ll really shine.
Advanced Location Targeting Settings
I estimate that 90% of ad accounts that cross my path haven’t used the advanced location settings properly, which results in your ads showing in irrelevant locations such as countries you don’t even deliver to.
Unless people from other countries might be buying / booking your service from another country but to be used in your target country (e.g hotels where people abroad may search for hotels to stay within the UK and would be relevant), you should choose the option for ‘people in my target location’ and not the default setting which is ‘Reach people in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location’.
One of the essentials for accounts with physical stores is location extensions. They allow users to click directly on the location of your store and view directions. Be aware that they automatically show the extension related to the users nearest location, so they may have searched for a particular location, for example ‘Hairdressers Southampton’ but if they’re physically based nearer your Portsmouth location (according to their IP address) then they will see the location extension for Portsmouth. To avoid this happening you need to apply your location extensions at ad group level and only apply the relevant location extension to the ad group with that locations keywords in (e.g the Southampton keywords ad group would only contain the Southampton location extension).
Mobile traffic is often much stronger at driving store footfall, so you should review your mobile performance and consider increasing bids for this device if it performs well. If you use an automated bidding strategy this may well take care of that for you.
Bespoke Location Landing Pages
Nothing kills a potential conversion faster than when you search with a specific location in mind, click an ad which seems super relevant and mentions that location, but then lands on a page with no mention of the location! Reinforce the relevance of your site to the users search and expectation by creating location specific bespoke landing pages for each location you have a store in. A dull store finder page won’t cut it, so try and create a version of your ideal landing page but that also happens to have page titles and content bespoke to the location that the person searched for. If you employ personalisation software on your site this can be done dynamically at scale, but if not you can make a good start by using Unbounce’s landing page dynamic text replacement as long as the location is within your keyword.
Call Only Campaigns for RLSA Audiences
If your business is the sort of business that gets a high volume of phone calls (e.g a hairdressers or restaurant) then you would benefit from testing a call only campaign, which is only triggered if the person searching has previously visited your website.
The call only campaign does not allow users to click through to your website and instead allows them to click directly from your ad to call you and book an appointment or ask a question for example. By combining this ad format with the RLSA audience for previous site visitors, you ensure that anyone who is new to your brand and may not know your business yet could still visit your site via your normal search ads. Once people are on your engaged RLSA list (maybe those who viewed more pages than average or had a higher time on site or frequent number of visits) they could see the click to call ads from their mobile which encourages them to take the next step and get in touch.
If you allow customers to communicate via text (e.g local plumbing companies) then Text Message extensions for your ads could be a great way to drive conversions directly from your ads. You can automatically populate the text message with a template for the user, so they hardly need to do anything to get in touch and the process is made as simple as possible!
If you’re a local business with a large volume of phone call enquiries, third party call tracking software such as Infinity could really help you evaluate your AdWords performance and learn where the best opportunities for ad spend really are. Infinity even allow you to listen back to the calls so you can review their level of quality and whether they resulted in a positive conversion and therefore identify which keywords are driving the best quality calls to your business.
If your budgets are slightly more modest AdWords have a less advanced call tracking option which can be used by adding a snippet of code to the number on your site, which then lets you track calls.
Local Inventory Ads
Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) are a version of Google Shopping ads which promote your products based on local inventory availability in your physical stores. When the user clicks the ad they are able to get directions, view stock, opening times and more. This format is another fantastic footfall driver.
AdWords Store Visit Tracking
AdWords Store Visit Tracking allows you to track the number of store visits that your AdWords search ads, Gmail ads and YouTube ads drove.
This feature is only available to advertisers with multiple store locations who receive thousands of ad clicks and viewable impressions.
From this data you can estimate the instore revenue you drive by multiplying the number of store visits by the average transaction value of your stores. It’s wise to assume that some of these store visits may have happened anyway even if the user hadn’t seen your ad, so you may want to reduce the percentage of store visits you count in this calculation in order to account for incrementality.
If you’re lucky enough to have AdWords Store Visit Tracking, you can now use this metric as your chosen conversion to optimise for within some Double Click for Search bidding strategies too.
Offline Conversion Tracking
If you track conversions such as submissions of a contact form, you can link this back to whether than contact form submission resulted in an offline conversion (like the sale of a car for example) in store. This can also be done with phone calls. You can learn more about it here.
Whilst the impact of pure-plays is not something to be ignored, clicks and mortar stores are far from doomed! Your physical store locations actually provide you with a real strength and appeal for many consumers. This was very clear in the last Christmas sales performance, with Retail Week saying
“online continues to drive retail growth, with UK online sales growing at 9.4% year on year in December, while overall retail grew 4.4% year on year. However, 80% of the online sales growth came from the e-commerce operations of retailers with stores and only 20% from pureplay retailers. – Retail Week.
We’re even seeing pureplay retailers such as Amazon acquiring (Whole Foods) and opening physical stores because they too know there is real value for the consumer within your physical store presence.
Take the tactics from this post and apply them within a well-rounded strategy that focuses on the consumer rather than the individual channels (such as the physical store, mobile, desktop, etc) and you’ll be on track for continued success.