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Recent stay-at-home restrictions and reopening guidelines have affected businesses that rely on foot traffic, and there is still some doubt as to when we might see normal in-store purchase behavior return. This uncertainty makes our economy complicated to navigate if you are a local business that captures revenue through customers visiting your physical locations.

If you have a local business, local digital marketing initiatives might be the last thing on your mind. However, the volatility of the in-store purchase market makes in-store foot traffic attribution increasingly important. As small- and medium-size businesses look for ways to market their in-store products and services to the “needs” of their consumers, they will require an efficient way to drive and track in-store purchases.

Behold! The first-ever campaign type that is focused primarily on driving foot traffic: Google Local Campaigns.

What Are Google Local Campaigns?

Local campaigns help local businesses. Essentially, local campaigns are Google’s solution for small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) with physical store locations that are looking to advertise to users online.

Earlier in the days of digital marketing, local businesses with storefronts typically didn’t see a need for having a prominent online presence. Tying marketing spend to in-store visits was cumbersome and only possible for the largest of brick-and-mortar companies who had the resources. This meant that local SMB digital advertising efforts were often very limited.

Google’s Local Campaigns aim to remove these limitations for SMBs and drive more store visits from people who are actively looking for local products or services by using machine learning and automated delivery across Google properties. This low maintenance, store-centric, fully automated campaign type makes it the perfect tool to drive location-oriented conversions and complement other omni-channel marketing efforts that you may be running.

Despite how it sounds, Local Campaigns aren’t always about attracting users in the immediate area. They can be the perfect tool for many types of businesses who want to target an audience in a precise geographical location. If you’re a service company, you could limit your range to attract clients only in your service area. If you’re in the business of events or hospitality, you could target audiences in specific locations outside your locale. If you’re looking to open a new location, you can build brand awareness, reputation and trust in areas where people may be unfamiliar with your brand, products or services.

How do Google Local Campaigns Work?

By linking and filtering Google My Business locations to your Google Ads account, you can easily create an automated campaign that will promote your location across all Google channels.

Businesses simply set a budget, provide ad creative, and business location(s); Google does the rest and uses machine learning to bring together the best combination of local ad formats to reach consumers across Google’s properties.

Local campaigns use the Maximize Conversions Value bid strategy and Google’s machine learning to collect signals and optimize strategies across your campaign. These signals (shown below) help the Maximize Conversions Value bid strategy drive the greatest number of in-store visits for your budget by making that store visits the main KPI.

You might be concerned with privacy issues regarding how store visits are tracked. Don’t worry! Google reports store visits using only anonymized data collected from signed-in Google users who have opted to turn location history on. Google is then able to track in-store visit actions for users who are logged into Google if they visit the store within 30 days of clicking on their ad. Not everyone clicking on ads is logged into a Google account, so Google extrapolates their data based on the trends its algorithm sees from logged-in users. The data won’t be 100% accurate, but it’s a pretty close estimate.

Local Campaigns – Test Results

At this point, you might be asking how efficient Local Campaigns are. Well, we ran a Conversion Efficiency test for a client in the Retail industry and saw Local campaigns drive strong in-store volume at a cost/store visit that was 25% lower than that of brand search campaigns.

Figure 1: Results from a Retail and Manufacturing Client Test – Alpha Brand vs Local Campaigns

Even though CPC was higher in Local, the click-to-store visit rate showed how effective this campaign type was at getting users into the store.

Local Campaign Requirements

Okay, so what’s the catch? Before you can implement Local Campaign types in Google Ads, you’ll need to meet these requirements:

  1. Set up Google My Business
  2. Meet Google’s store visit conversion eligibility requirements:
    1. Have multiple locations.
    2. Be in an eligible country or region.
    3. Verify a minimum of 90% of your linked locations in Google Ads in Google My Business.
    4. Receive thousands of viewable impressions and ad clicks.
    5. Set location extensions to active in your Google Ads account.
    6. Create all store locations in your Google My Business account.
    7. Collect enough offline store data on the back end to associate to viewable impressions and clicks.
    8. Link Google My Business and Google Ads.

Calculate Your Store Visit Conversion Value

After you’ve met the requirements to build Local Campaigns, you’ll need to plan your campaign flight, determine its budget, and set performance goals based on your campaign’s online and offline impact to your ROI. To get the most complete picture of your ROI, you will need to calculate the value of the in-store visits to your location. This will also determine the Store Visit Conversion Value your campaign needs to optimize effectively.

To calculate the value of your store visits, you need to know your in-store conversion rate and average in-store order value:

In-store CVR x In-store AOV = Store Visit Conversion Value

After calculating, you can update this conversion value in your Google Ads Account:

  1. Sign into your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the tools icon in the upper right corner of your account.
  3. Under “Measurement,” click Conversions.
  4. Find the store visit conversion action that you’d like to edit from the list and click it. You’ll see the settings for the conversion action.
  5. Click Edit settings.
  6. Click on a setting, make your changes, and click Save. Repeat this step for all of the remaining settings that you need to edit.
  7. Click Conversions to use the “Conversion window” setting. Click View-through conversions to use the “View-through conversion window” setting.
  8. Click Done 

This wouldn’t be a proper instructional without a send-off that tells you how to set up your first Google Ads Local campaign! Here you go:

How To Create a Local Campaign

  1. Sign into your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Campaigns from the page menu on the left.
  3. Click the plus icon and select New campaign.
  4. In the “New campaign” window, select Local store visits and promotions.
  5. In the next panel, you can opt to use either Google My Business to select your store locations or affiliate locations to select stores in which your products are sold. Click the radio button next to the option you want to choose.
    1. For Google My Business, you can select all locations in the account for the Local Campaign by checking Use all locations in your linked Google My Business account. You can also uncheck the box to select a specific subset of your locations. Click Use location group to apply an existing group or Create new location group to manually assemble and name a set location. Your location set will then be applied to your campaign and saved as a reusable location group.
    2. If you choose “affiliate locations,” use the “Select a chain” window to click the country of your location and then the location’s chain. You can use all or a subset of your account chains.
    3. You should note that a Geographic radius targeting will populate based on the physical business locations that are specified for your campaign. If needed, you can exclude certain geographic locations from your campaign
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Enter a name for your campaign in the “Campaign name” field.
  8. Fill out the text assets for your ad.
  9. Enter information for the following settings:
    1. Languages: The eligible languages you are aiming to target with your ad
    2. Bidding: The default bidding strategy is to maximize conversion value, which will automatically maximize the number of store visits within your daily budget.
    3. Daily budget: How much you’re willing to spend per day on your ad campaign.
    4. Additional settings: An expandable section where you can input tracking or a specific mobile URL.
  10. Click Save and continue at the bottom.
  11. Your campaign will now be ready. On the next page, you can review your campaign’s settings. Click Ad assets to review the text and images that you set for your ad.

Before I send you off, remember…

  • Google Local Campaigns use algorithmic machine learning and will need time to run for ad optimization to work best. You should aim for a campaign flight time of at least 30 days to get the most out of the algorithm.
  • Make sure to provide the maximum number of copy and asset variations so you can get the best-performing ad combinations.
  • Routinely update and add Ad Groups for different types of creative assets.

If you are a business that is struggling in this shifting economic landscape, Google Local Campaigns may be just the tool you need to leverage your business as consumers begin to shop in our physical spaces again.

Good luck!