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Google Store Visits Connect Online Marketing to Brick & Mortar

Google Store Visits Connect Online Marketing to Brick & Mortar

The disconnect between online marketing and real world sales is one that online marketers have attempted to solve since the advent of the channel. Sure, any self-respecting digital marketer will champion the channel as the most accountable, if only for the ability to track the effectiveness more so than a traditional form such as print, TV, radio, or billboard. In the grand scheme of things this claim is true, but that doesn’t make it 100% accurate, especially when it comes to gauging the effect online marketing has on brick and mortar sales.

Until recently, offline sales were gauged in a variety of ways, with varying levels of success. Coupons, discount codes, and similar methods of self-identifying were only as good as the people and systems involved. “Online-only” offers did away with a coupon or code, but were limited their use. In the end, these methods proved only as successful as tactics applied to traditional marketing channels and, as I’ve covered, online marketers like to think we’re better than that.

A million online marketers cried out for a solution…

On December 18, 2014, we got an early Christmas gift in the announced roll-out of a “Google Store Visits” metric as part of the Estimated Total Conversions (ETC) initiative. Yes, store visits is an estimate based on visits within the last 30 days of an ad click,  but the methodology used to make that estimation is really cool (and really Orwellian). In fact, it’s less Orwellian than it could be – Google Store Visits uses anonymized & aggregated data – but that’s a conversation for another blog.

Distilled to its simplest, Google uses the location history built into smartphones to view user proximity to the business listing on Google Maps. Once implemented, marketers can now see which campaigns generate the most foot traffic as well as create an ROI model that takes into account a metric that makes all previous ROI assessments inaccurate and understated. This assumes that ROI is the ultimate measure of success for your Adwords campaigns. If not, shame on you…but there has never been a better time to do it! I suggest you give THIS awesome article a read if you need to hear it voiced more forcefully.

As I write this blog on January 18th, the initial announcement is 30 days old. However, since the availability to Google Store Visits has been limited, a second look seemed appropriate. Time for a bulleted summary!

How Do I Get Access to Google Store Visits?

  • Work for PetSmart, Office Depot, Home Depot or similar Big Box with an endless sea of locations, but the chances are, if you’re eligible, Google already contacted you.
  • Contact your Google representative! According to Search Engine Land “The program will likely expand beyond the small set it’s launching with if retailers show interest. The program could also grow beyond retail to other chains such as hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and car dealerships.

How Do I Launch Google Store Visits?

Can Forthea Provide Any Tips For Using Google Store Visits?

  • Store Visit conversions are provided at the campaign level and by device. If deeper granularity (Adgroup, keyword, etc) is required, you will need to build or modify your campaigns accordingly.
  • Store visits are grouped with Estimated Total Conversions in one column in Adwords. You can view visits separately by selecting “Store Visits” in the Segment drop down or you can use custom columns to separate Store Visits from other metrics in their own column.

In the end, clients (internal and external) hate any phrase that includes “estimate.” Be prepared to demonstrate and defend the Store Visit metric as a service to your client (not your campaign) in providing a more accurate ROI.

Jon Bowers
Jon has seen it all. He is a digital team lead at Forthea and has been part of the online marketing community since its emergence in the 1990s, but don’t worry, he’s vowed to never use phrases like think outside the box, ninja, rock star, or visionary entrepreneur.


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