Abhi is the Director of Marketing Intelligence at Vovia. When not working on cool analytics and data science projects, you can find him photographing and travelling to adventurous locations or simply listening to post-rock music.

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3 Things You Need to Know about Google Store Visit Conversions

In a recent blog, we talked a little bit about how we can leverage paid digital campaigns to drive in-store traffic. There’s no doubt that online activity affects offline behaviours, and these connections are becoming more intricate. But what are those connections? That’s where multi-touch attribution comes in: the science of quantifying the credit to give to each touchpoint with consumers (paid or not) for the actions they take with your business. This mystery is the next big question that even the most advanced marketers are trying to figure out.

Couple shopping at a store

Of course, Google is one of the first companies to offer some insight to uncover those connections for your omnichannel strategy and understanding the value of all channels in the mix. Let’s take a look at how Store Visits in Google Analytics can help you understand the customer journey from online to in-store, and how that can change your marketing strategy. Given the increased need for retailers to drive both online and in-store traffic, this is a seriously valuable new tool.

1. How does Google Estimate Store Visits?

Just about everyone and their dog has a tracking device of some sort – a phone, watch, car, bracelet, dog collar, you name it. If the device has a WiFi connection, GPS function, and is signed into a Google account, the data can be used to map the literal purchase journey of that user.

For anyone wary of platforms like Google tracking your every move, know that you would never be personally identified in any company’s data and you have the option to opt-out at any time. The reality though, is that many people have all of these features turned on because it is required to make use of super handy functions like automatic location detection in your weather app of choice.

Using the location and device data points collected by users devices allows Google to make the connection that if “clientID123” clicked on a Google Ad and later that same “clientID123” was detected at a physical store identified by the same advertiser, it would be safe to assume that the ad had some influence on that store visit. All of these data points are aggregated and extrapolated to the results you can see in Google Analytics. While it’s not a perfect science, Google has communicated that measuring store visits is a very complex but also best-in-class measurement solution.

FUN Fact: If a store is in close proximity to other stores (strip mall, for example), which could make data less accurate, Google uses its satellite and street-view maps to understand how large of a radius each store covers, and can identify whether the person’s location is in the store or not. Google will also send surveys to customers after it identifies that they have been at the store to verify the visit.

2. How do I get Store Visits working in Google Analytics?

There are a few key requirements you have to meet to enable Store Visits:

  • Availability & Volume – Store Visits is only available in certain regions (Canada is one of those), and your store has to have enough foot traffic to properly extrapolate the data
  • Google My Business verified locations – your locations have to be verified Google My Business listings so they show up correctly on Google Maps, and stores with multiple physical locations must have 90% of their locations verified in Google My Business
  • Use Location Extensions in your Google Ads – You must leverage location extensions in your Google Ads as this is the only way they will know if an ad is associated with a store visit
  • Activate Google Signals in your Google Analytics
  • Have your Analytics account linked to your Google Ads account(s) that contain location extensions from Google My Business.

3. My account qualifies! Now what?

Once enough data has been collected, you will start to see it in Google Analytics in the Conversions section under “Store Visits”.

Here is where the fun begins! The data will show which channels are driving store traffic, such as Organic Search or your Paid advertising campaigns. You can also drill down to the locations that are seeing the most traffic from online sources.

Depending on your goals, there are many ways you can analyze the data to draw insights and make changes to your online strategy. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Are your campaigns driving store traffic? This would be an interesting measure if you were running a specific promotion in a market. Did that promotion bleed into offline traffic and sales too? Aspects such as targeting, messaging, creative, and products promoted can all influence whether a campaign is more likely to drive store visits or not. For example, products that people like to physically see in store, such as furniture, may see more foot traffic than online conversions. If this is the case, you may want to cater your online CTA to “Find a location” rather than “buy online”, which may ultimately drive more sales.
  • Do geographic locations perform differently? It could be that a more urban city/community may see more store visits, whereas suburban communities prefer to shop online. This can help isolate messaging by geo.
  • Calculating total ROAS – The store visit data combined with your store sales data, allows you to see if your online campaigns are lifting in-store and you can estimate a total ROAS (return on ad spend) with this information.

Final Thoughts

Store Visits is one of the first steps to understanding the connections between your omnichannel marketing strategy and your business results. However, remember to take this data with a grain of salt. Google is extrapolating the results i.e. making an educated guess on what is probably happening based on the limited data that has been collected.

Before jumping into the deep end making any big decisions or changes based on this data, take baby steps. Isolate your changes to a small part of your campaign and see if the changes are making a positive impact on results. The more iterative you can be with your testing, the better insights you can draw while minimizing your investment risk.

Have you tested Google Store Visits for your business? Let us know what you’re seeing!