The Complete Guide to Google Ads Local Campaigns: Using Online Ads to Drive Offline Sales with Geofencing Marketing

October 3, 2019

Using Online Ads to Drive Offline Sales

With the holidays around the corner, local small businesses and massive e-commerce retailers alike are feeling the pressure to implement a marketing strategy that will maximize traffic, sales and revenue. But many local brick-and-mortar businesses assume digital marketing options like Google Ads’ suite of products are reserved for savvy e-marketers with websites that can track every customer click – and that online advertising isn’t a viable solution for those only interested in reaching people outside their storefront.

If you’re a local business owner with a brick-and-mortar store, online advertising is more relevant than you might think. If you’re still not sure if local advertising is right for your business, or you just need a little help navigating the local ad landscape, we have good news: You’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

1. Why you should be leveraging local ads to reach your customers
2. What geofencing marketing is and how it works
3. Where you should focus your time & budget in today’s never-ending list of digital ad options (specifically, which local ad campaign type you should integrate into your marketing strategy today), and
4. How to set up your first location-based advertising campaign

We wrap up with some helpful, step-by-step instructions, so you walk away with everything you need to launch your first local ad campaign. Ready? Let’s get started!

The Local Advertising Landscape

In today’s over-saturated digital space, you might be surprised to hear that people still want to purchase in-store. But the data proves it: 90 percent of overall shopping spends still happen in physical stores.

But while the conversion process might end offline, the purchase journey starts online: 91 percent of shoppers research a product online before buying, and Google searches for “near me” have increased 500 percent in the past two years.

With unprecedented access, choice and buying power, today’s consumers may turn to their devices for product information, but the point-of-purchase is still happening in a physical location. In order to keep up with this increasingly complex, non-linear consumer decision journey, local business owners can no longer afford to choose between offline and online. Because while your ads are online, your sales may not be.

Bridging the gap between offline and online is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. That’s why Google decided to launch a product to help you connect the dots between the two: Local campaigns.

Local campaigns use a combination of geofencing and device tracking to influence customers to buy from nearby businesses where their product-of-interest is being sold. Those visits are then recorded so advertisers can measure the effectiveness of their online campaigns at bringing in new foot traffic.

Local campaigns give you control over your advertising budget and customer reach by using geofencing. You may have heard of geofencing but don’t know how it works. Well, we’re here to help.

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing refers to the boundary you set around your physical location. When customers enter your “fenced-off” area, you can send them specific, targeted messages. If you know the maximum distance that customers are willing to travel to your location, geofencing gives you control over your advertising budget by not wasting dollars on areas that wouldn’t be profitable.

Local campaigns give you the flexibility to target as large, or small, an area as you like – from county, to city, to zip code, to a circle with a radius as small as one mile.

Geofencing marketing works by using GPS or RFID technology to trigger a response when a device enters a geographic area.

Now that you understand the core themes that power location-based advertising, let’s talk specifics: Which ad platform should you get started with?

We’re excited to show you why Google Ads Local campaigns are especially valuable for local business owners who aren’t interested in reaching anyone outside of a small, specific area.

What are Google Ads Local campaigns?

Local campaigns are Google’s solution for small-to-medium sized businesses and brick-and-mortar stores looking to advertise online. Since these types of businesses typically don’t see the necessity for having a strong online presence (because most of the sales are made in-store), Google offers them a way to drive more store visits from people who are actively looking for local needs.

How do Google Ads Local campaigns work?

The way Local campaigns work is actually quite simple. First, the advertiser sets up Location Extensions and some creative assets in Google Ads. Google then automatically places the ads based on the proximity of the person searching to the advertiser’s storefront. These ads can appear on Search, websites, YouTube, Google Maps and apps.

How do I know if Google Ads Local campaigns are driving store visits?

Google gives you visibility into how much foot traffic your Local campaigns are driving in, what’s known as “Store Visit Conversions.”

To determine Store Visit Conversions, Google uses the searcher’s phone location history (through GPS) to determine if they visited a store location after seeing an ad. That visit is recorded as a conversion in the Google Ads campaign.

Here’s a quick video that explains how Google Ads Store Visits Conversions work:



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