Nienke Zijsling 19.08.2021 20 min read

Google Local Campaigns: Boost Sales in your Physical Location

Creating local campaigns in Google Ads has been possible for a while. Still, the impact of COVID-19 has ensured that Google is rapidly working to connect the digital and physical world even better. That is why it is time to dive deeper into these local campaigns and provide you with an update on the latest possibilities.

What are Google Local Ad Campaigns?

Google local ad campaigns are a solution for promoting your physical store to potential customers within a defined geographical area. They help your brick-and-mortar business to attract locals through ads on Google Maps, the search and display network, and YouTube. These campaigns come with powerful targeting and tracking features so you can target people within your areas of operation. Such features make these campaigns a budget-effective way to get leads and drive in-store purchases. Different campaign type offers various targeting options and makes it possible to assign store visits to your online advertising campaigns.

local campaigns on google mapslocal campaigns on google search resultslocal campaigns youtube

Why Should you use GLA Campaigns?

With 91% of shoppers searching online before purchase, it becomes vital to establish online visibility in your area of operation. Research also shows that 46% of all Google searches are locally oriented. Research also shows that when people search locally, the conversion rate is higher, especially for mobile users. Also, the use of a geo-modifier in searches such as "Nearby" has increased by more than 200% in the last two years. So it's more important than ever to make sure your business is visible when potential customers are looking for your products or services.

Local campaigns make it easy for businesses to be top of mind at these times. Also, they offer a range of options that respond to the changing purchasing behavior as a result of COVID-19, more on that later. Local campaigns are therefore an essential part of your local marketing strategy.

Who Can use Local Ad Campaigns?

Most businesses can benefit from running a google local ad campaign but, unfortunately, local campaigns are not for everyone. Besides the fact that you must have a physical store that can be visited by customers, Google has set several criteria for the conversions from store visits:

  • You must have more than 10 physical locations in countries where store visit measurements are available;
  • You must have a minimum of 1000 ad clicks and viewable impressions;
  • Your Google My Business account must be linked to your Google Ads account;
  • At least 90% of your store locations must be verified in GMB;
  • Location extensions or location extensions for partners must be activated in your account;
  • You have enough store visitors to meet privacy requirements. It is difficult to determine exactly what is sufficient because Google says this differs per advertiser.

If you meet all these conditions, you will see the option “Local store visits and promotions” when you want to create a new campaign, and you can get started with your first local campaign.

How do Google Ads Local Campaigns Work?

Google local campaign ads work by combining targeting, tracking, and location optimization to show ads to relevant potential clients. Relevant in the sense that your business is within the customer's location and has what they are looking for.

To ensure that the campaign reaches a suitable audience, local ad campaigns utilize geofencing systems that local business owners can update within the campaign settings as needed.

The geofencing feature acts like a virtual fence. It allows you to set the geographical boundary over which your campaign will run— only the users inside your virtual wall will see your ads. Geofencing, therefore, ensures that you spend your ad budget on the people most likely to convert.

After setting up the local ad in its own ad group, Google does the rest by optimizing bids, ad asset combination, and placement. Local ad campaign ads are shown in:

  • Youtube ads
  • Google display networks, including its affiliates
  • Google maps - Where the ad matches the search location or as an alternative. For instance, if a customer's preferred eatery is closed, they are shown an advertisement for an open alternative restaurant.
  • Google search network

Creating a Local Google Ad Campaign

You can access local campaign ads from the Google Ads dashboard under campaigns > new campaign > local store visits and promotions.

  • To start, you need to link your GMB (Google My Business) account to your Google ads account
  • Create multiple ad groups to target each geo-area you want to target.
  • Input your ad creatives (remember to include multiple versions)
  • Select your ad language, bidding strategy, and daily budget
  • Create a store asset value to measure return on investment
  • Preview to make sure the campaign is free from error
  • Your campaign is now ready to go drive traffic to your store


For a detailed step-by-step process of creating local campaigns, check out this video from Google.

GLA Best Practices

Like any other advertising campaign, your local campaign should be optimized and relevant to users for you to get an attractive ROI. Here are the things to look out for when setting up your Google local ad campaigns.

Create a Google My Business Account (GMB)

A GMB account is one of the requirements for creating a local campaign. With a GMB account, it becomes easy to link your locations during ad setup. And if you have an existing GMB account, make sure to update it with the latest contact information.

Understand the Campaign Objectives

Not having an objective when running a local campaign is sure to cost you money. It's always good to know what you are trying to achieve with that particular campaign. Ensure you have a defined location and customer target before setup.

Use Ad Copy Relevant to the Locality

To resonate with users, you need to use the language they speak. Make sure to write your ad copy in a language that local consumers can identify with. If it's a promotional campaign, include quantifiable offers, such as '20% discount for your first purchase.' Additionally, as Google recommends, submit multiple ad assets for easier optimization.

Add Essential Location Extensions

The campaign should provide an easy way for customers to reach you. Your phone contacts, location, and email address should be easy for customers to find. If the client doesn't have access, they will most likely find an alternative.

More options to boost your local marketing

As mentioned earlier, Google is responding rapidly to the changing landscape as a result of COVID-19. New features that were launched this month show that they are fully committed to a hybrid model that combines traditional retail with e-commerce.

Attributes for Local Campaigns

attributes local campaigns google adsSeveral local business attributes, which Google calls "attributes,” are available in Google My Business. Think of "Women-led", "Black-owned", "Curbside pickup," or "Outdoor seating". Most of these service features depend on the category of your business. Restaurants, for example, have other options than hospitals. Some of these attributes are now visible in local campaigns.

These ad features, such as curbside pickup and in-store shopping, can help consumers who are trying to make a purchase decision. An additional advantage is that the local campaign ads become visually more prominent, which should improve effectiveness.

BOPIS

According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Data Index, “Buy Online, Pick-up In Store” (BOPIS) grew 250% in the last 12 months. No less than 30% of online shoppers indicated that BOPIS is preferable to home delivery. This behavior can be explained by the fact that many people have started shopping online to avoid contamination during store visits. Also, they are looking for the advantages of buying locally, such as taking the product directly home or being able to return it in the store.

Google Shopping local campaigns

In mid-September 2020, Google announced new and improved functionalities for Google Shopping that respond to this trend, such as a “Nearby” filter to see which products are locally available and “Local Stores Card” with local stock information and other relevant information about the store in question. A week later, the “Pickup later” functionality was added to the local store inventory ads. This allows you to promote products that may not be available in-store right now but can be picked up in a few days.

There are definitely a few great additions that make the local stock even more visible in the search results and convince people to come to your physical store.

Smart Bidding for Retail Sales

Smart bidding for store visits has been around since September 2019. It optimizes bids for physical store visits. Your campaigns can respond instantly to changes in consumer behavior and fluctuations in-store visits, and adjust your bids for each ad auction. This form of smart bidding mainly targets large retailers and large restaurant chains.

Google is now extending this functionality with store sales measurements to optimize not only for visitors but also for sales. This option will probably only be available to large retailers with multiple locations and sufficient volume. Still, for them, it is undoubtedly an exciting option to generate additional sales in your stores.

Local Services Ads

local services ads google

In addition to local ads for products, it is also possible to use local services ads from September 30. These ads help consumers find local, reliable professionals such as plumbers, housekeeping, and electricians. Potential customers who see the ad can contact the provider directly from the ad by phone or email.

In America, it is also possible to book appointments online. This functionality is not (yet) available in Europe. You determine your budget in advance and only pay if contact is made (pay-per-lead). Not when the ad is clicked.

Google Guarantee Badge

google guarantee badgeTo ease the search for a reliable service provider, the local services ads are supported by the Google Guarantee badge. This badge gives customers the benefit of getting a refund from Google if they are dissatisfied with the work's quality.

An attractive badge for advertisers to obtain because it will undoubtedly benefit the CTR. To be eligible for Google Guarantee, Google verifies that your business meets local licensing and insurance requirements.

How do you Know if Google Ads Local Campaigns are Driving Store Visits?

To determine in-store visits, Google tracks the location history of a user's phone. Through the GPS feature on most phones, Google can determine if users visited the store within 30 days of engaging with your local campaign. For users who have opted out of location history tracking, Google extrapolates their conversion from logged-in users.

Grow your local sales

Although the world is still looking different from the beginning of 2020, connecting offline and online has never been more critical than it is now and it will only increase in the coming years. Local campaigns and local marketing can play an essential role in your organization’s (local) success. In any case, Google offers you handy online-to-offline tools to bind customers to your physical locations.

Want to know more about local campaigns? Check out Google's Deep Dive or take a look at Think with Google.

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Note: This article was originally posted in October 2020 and has been updated to include additional information and tips.