The question that every marketer wants to answer for their client is, “Are we helping you meet or exceed your goals?” Or, more specifically, “Can we directly credit our marketing efforts with an increase in your sales and revenue?”
The answer to this elusive question has been hard to answer with definitive numbers over the years because it was always difficult to directly attribute a sale or customer lead to a specific advertising strategy. Other than direct mail or coupons that customers brought to the store with them, there was no way to connect them to an advertising campaign. We hoped that just keeping your brand top of mind was enough to bring customers into your store(s). That is, until we could track store visits as a conversion in our Google Ads campaigns.
We are often asked, “What is a store visit conversion, and what does it mean?” Store visits are actual customer visits to your brick and mortar locations, a door swing, if you will. Store visit conversions are customers who viewed, clicked or otherwise engaged with your ads, and then walked into your store. Google tracks this by following users on their mobile devices and tracking them to your physical locations.
This exciting conversion metric allows us to directly attribute customers who walk through your doors to the ads that we build and serve to targeted audiences. With this data available, we can begin to answer the question, “Is my advertising effective?” And since many of our retailers report to us close rates between 60-70% of customers that visit a retail location, we can confidently say that we are helping to increase sales and contributing to the success of our retailers.
One caveat: the store visit conversion is not available to all accounts. For privacy reasons, Google limits this metric to accounts with multiple physical locations and a minimum number of ad clicks from campaigns. The sampling of customers must be large enough to protect the identity of each customer that visits your store. However, I expect that Google, Facebook and other ad platforms will make store visit conversion data available to more advertisers over time.
At Site on Time, we have spent the last 12 months analyzing this metric closely and creating strategies around increasing the number of store visit conversions from our campaigns.
Later this year, Google expects to release a campaign goal for store visits to directly target those consumers who are more likely to visit a retail location. Until we have this tool available to us and can test the results, though, we have created many strategies that target consumers who exhibit behaviors that are more likely to result in a store visit. In addition, we serve ads to these consumers with a call to action that relates to a store visit.
This is exciting data for both retailers and marketers, but does it really work? Are we really able to attribute an increase in customers from our digital marketing efforts? I am thrilled to report that the answer is YES!
We have documented many case studies over the last year with regards to store visits. Our members are reporting more customers walking into their showrooms.
For example, Tom Jessup with Jessup’s Appliance Centers in Sarasota, Florida, reported to us, “When SOT implemented their in-store visit strategy, we noticed a near–15% increase in footsteps when the campaigns started.”
And Beth Gosset with Bedzzz Express in Nashville, Tennessee, noted: “When Site on Time began our Google Ads, we immediately noticed a 20% increase in store visits across all locations. Sales have been great.”
These are just two of many examples where our strategies are resulting in an increase in customers to our members’ retail locations.
If you have questioned whether digital marketing can really bring customers to your stores, I can confidently tell you that it does. And I am excited to see what the future holds for this exciting metric as Google and other platforms continue to improve our ability to reach more customers with the right messaging.
Want to learn more about digital marketing opportunities for your store? Talk with your MSM or visit www.siteontime.com.
Jen Danko is the Vice President of technology for Site on Time, a Nationwide Marketing Group company