In 2017, it was estimated that  around 90% of global sales took place in a physical store.   Worlwide Ecommerce sales are growing at 23.2%, but even by 2021, in-store  retail sales will account  for 84% of total retail sales. Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to dominate since there are several issues with online buying such as being unable to touch and feel the product, try out clothes and shipment time. A recent growing trend is that consumers prefer to research online, but shop offline in local stores. They arm themselves with brand comparisons, reviews and best deals and then shop in a local store.

The year 2017 saw a flurry of new features being introduced in Ads, and some are especially helpful to drive customers to visit your local store or business.

Tip #1  Use Call-only Ads
Call-only ads initiate calls directly to your business and don’t send customers to your website landing page. The advantage is that you do not have to create a landing page, where form has to be filled, and you may lose a prospect.

Call only Ad displays your business name, phone number, two lines of description text, a display URL (optional).  In September 2017, ad extensions with call-only ads were introduced, including location extensions, structured snippet extensions, and callout extensions,which  may also show with your ad.  Callout extension promote special offers and benefits, such as 24-hour customer support.
When user clicks on the ad, it initiates a call to the listed phone number, and user is not sent to your website.  This form of ad has certain advantages. You do not have to create a landing page, where the customer has to fill a form and browse and then call. Chances of losing the prospect are thus reduced.


Tip # 2 : Display Location extensions

Location extensions drive footfalls to your local business. When people near your store search on mobile for one of your keywords (“best veg restaurant nearby” or “veg restaurants”), your location extension can show and may give user:
•    the distance to her location, and its city (on mobile)
•    Street address (computer)
•    a clickable “Call” button
•    A clickable access to a details with information such as hours, phone number, photos, customer ratings, and directions.
You can use YouTube’s location extensions for TrueView in-stream and bumper ads to drive more foot traffic and in-store purchases. People watching your videos will see your address, directions and business hours within the ad.

Tip #3  Promotion Extensions

Including a promotion in a Text Ad uses up the available limited characters. Promotions by their very nature run for a limited duration. Marketers had to duplicate and edit multiple ads to manage promotions.

To alleviate this issue, in November 2017, Google introduced Promotion Extensions worldwide in the new AdWords interface.    By setting up Promotion extensions, advertisers can promote specific offers in their text ads without having to create new ads. Promotion displays up to 2 lines of text that includes details of your promotion;  it can include a percentage off, a promotion code and offer period. The offer stands out from the main ad text  and can be easily spotted.

Tip #4  Geotargeting  :
Nation-wide campaigns do not perform the same across all regions. You may be spending less money on well performing regions and wasting money on poorly performing one. With Adwords Geotargeting, you can target a campaign to specific regions and boost performance of your PPC campaign.
Geotargeting identifies customer’s location based on their IP, WiFi or GPS data.  Location target options are: countries, areas within a country, or radius.  Radius targeting allows you to show your ads to customers within a certain distance from your business or specific address.
This feature is valuable for a local business to drive foot traffic to the store. After you have applied  location targeting settings, you can track performance by location reports and distance reports.  The first set of reports show your ad performance at the most specific level available for targeting. The second type of report  gives performance data organized by the distance between the location that triggered your ad and your closest business location.


Tip #5 Google Local Services Ads

These are a new type of ad launched by Google in 2017. Most large metropolitan areas in the United States  and UK have Local Service Ads (LSA). Google plans to expand internationally later this year.
In United States following services are eligible :  Locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, carpet cleaners, house cleaners, and garage door services.   In United Kingdom Locksmiths and plumbers are eligible for this program. LSA has its own mobile app to manage leads and to communicate with your customers.
The qualifications process for advertisers may include license, insurance, and background checks of business owners and technicians.
When a searcher enters a query like “HVAC repairs near me”, she may see several professionals in the area above the traditional paid search ads; these local service  ads show a business number, hours, ratings, and reviews. Reviews include reviews from Google My Business as well as reviews collected directly through LSA.  She can click or tap on your ad to either call you or send you a message request through a Google provided phone number, which forwards the call to the advertiser.
Instead of the bidding auction as in other ads, leads are priced by Google for each job type in each area. Businesses can see the price of a lead when they sign up in the app. Google Guarantees services booked through Local Service Ads with a lifetime for coverage of $2,000 or UKP 2000.


Tip #6     Local inventory ads

Google Local  Inventory ads are a compelling way to drive traffic to your physical store.  When a customer  searches for a product on Google,  shoppers can easily identify products available in stores near them through the local inventory ads.

When shopper clicks on the ad, she’s brought to a Google-hosted web page of the store (known as the local storefront) which not only shows the products available in stock, but also the distance to the brick-and-mortar location and the store hours. The local ads are displayed to searchers who are in a reasonable driving location; this is not the same as radius setting in geo-targeting.

To be eligible to run local inventory ads, merchant must meet the below requirements :
•    Own a brick-and-mortar store that is open to the public (without appointment)
•    Sell physical goods that shoppers can buy without an additional purchase such as a membership
•    Have a store physically located in the country that you are targeting your ads to
•    Protect customers’ personally identifiable information

Here is a quick overview of implementation of the local inventory ads. To start, you would need 3 separate accounts to run local inventory ads: Merchant Center, Google My Business (GMB) Locations, and Google Ads.  You will subsequently enable the local inventory ads program. Next, you create, register and submit  local products feed and a local product inventory feed. You would need to request Google for  inventory verification. Process of verification is through an onsite visit by Google rep, phone interview or an email survey.   Finally, you need enable local inventory ads in your shopping campaign.

As of right now, inventory ads are only available for retailers who have brick-and-mortar stores in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK, and US.

Conclusion :
Around 35 percent of all search traffic has local intent, and 14% of local search happen when a user wants to visit the place immediately.  It follows that businesses that leverage Local SEO and Local Search Marketing stand to win over competitors who do not.

Many PPC advertisers fail to use ad extensions and other innovations in Google Ads, and lose out in local search.  Using Ad Extensions like location, promotion, call-outs gives customers relevant information right in the ad, improve click-through rate and overall campaign performance and Ad Rank, boosting the potential for your Ads to rank on top.
Local Service Ads provides Google guarantee and makes your service feature prominently in SERP, being placed right above the text ads.

Local Inventory Ads is very effective in driving footfalls since it shows availability of stock, distance to nearest store location, reviews  and price.

Business owners may find they lack the expertise to run Local Inventory Ads or even Google Ads for local search marketing. Outsourcing their Google Ad campaigns to a PPC Advertising Agency would be the right strategy.

Anand Rao is a digital marketing consultant. His agency Ananya SEO Services has been helping non-profits and small businesses with SEO, Social Media Marketing and PPC Services since 2009. Ananya SEO offers SEO and website development to non-profits, charities, NGOs at 50 to 75% discount on standard packages.

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