#Analytics and Conversion

How to Measure the Impact of Digital Marketing on In-store Sales

Consumers spend a lot of time shopping online. However, having said that, 90% complete their shopping purchases in good old fashioned brick and mortar stores, according to Emarketer. The role of digital marketing has always been clear; it’s to create a favorable attitude towards the brand and generate online sales. Some marketing specialists are beginning to wonder, in their performance analysis, how does one demonstrate the direct impact of digital marketing on consumer behavior and in-store purchase?

This article covers such a question that has only been growing more and more in importance, especially for retailers. We will also explain how to measure the impact of paid search campaigns in particular, on in-store sales using a combination of online and offline data.

The ‘Store Visits’ metric in Google Adwords

In previous years, revenue coming from in-store purchases (even if the consumer has been exposed to online ads) has been solely attributed to direct in-store sales channels. Recently though, Google introduced a new feature allowing advertisers to better estimate revenue generated from their paid search campaigns on AdWords, even if the final purchase was made offline.

This new feature operates quite simply: Google maps out the stores listed in the advertiser’s Google My Business account. It then cross references the data with consumers that have location history activated on their mobile phones. When a user clicks on a search ad and visits the store 30 days after interacting with that ad, a “Store Visit” conversion is generated. This process is of course done confidentially.

Therefore, it is now possible to measure store sales from search ads. All that remains is for the advertiser to attribute the store conversion rate and the average conversion value in order to accurately estimate the generated sales and return on investment (ROI).

Before implementing the Store Visits metric, offline information was not always accessible. It was rather difficult to fully optimise online marketing campaigns based on predetermined performance metrics.

Case study with a brick & mortar retailer

Now that we are able to measure the impact of online to offline, iProspect took advantage of this new feature and set up a drive-to-store campaign for one of its clients. The goals of the campaign were to increase the number of store visits, the revenue generated in-store and finally the ROI of their offline retail.

The results obtained were significant! In fact, by December of 2015, it was measured that 2 in 5 people who clicked on search ads from their mobile device actually visited the store after. With this ratio, along with the average in-store conversion rate and the average in-store cart value, it was possible to conclude that for every dollar spent on paid search campaigns, $46 of in-store revenue was generated, which is 3 times more than online.

Concepts to keep in mind

Can all companies use Google Adwords' Store Visits feature?

To use the Store Visits metric, the advertiser must have Google My Business linked to a Google AdWords account, as well as have location extensions enabled. The AdWords account must also generate a sufficient number of clicks and store visits. Finally, the advertiser must make sure that there are multiple stores in a country where the Store Visits metric is eligible.

How are the results calculated? 

It’s important to note that conversion is calculated based on an algorithm that draws data from a completely anonymous database consisting of those who have Location History enabled on their smartphones. Therefore the data is never 100% accurate, but the algorithm will generate a Store Visit conversion only if it is 95% statistically confident the data, leaving very little room for error. Hence, with confidence, one can say ads that converted did indeed generate in-store visits.

The results shown in the case study, clearly demonstrate the importance of using this new feature that is designed with retailers in mind. Even if the measurement is not 100% accurate, it is still a giant step forward when it comes to measuring online efforts and its effect on offline behavior. iProspect will most definitely continue experimenting with this feature in the upcoming months. Until then, we want to know: have you experimented with this Google feature? If so, did you get any interesting results?

Axelle Branchaud, Paid Media specialist at iProspect, also contributed to this article.