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Creating a Local Paid Search Strategy to Drive Customers to Stores

Hi, I'm Laura Stiles. I'm a senior analyst here at Merkle, and today I want to talk about how to create a paid search strategy to drive customers into stores.

Now, more than ever, we're seeing that customers are blurring the lines between online and offline. So they're researching new brands and products on their phones before going in to stores to make a purchase. For paid search, we want to create a strategy that follows a similar line of thought.

So, the first thing that we want to think about is how we're going to measure our in-store campaigns. We need a way to capture the user's store visits or their in-store transactions. Google offers several tools to help measure both of these things. This part is really important because it's going to help us to discover parts of our current program that are really effective at driving customers into stores.

The next step is going to be creating local campaigns. We want to target keywords that capture the user's intent as they go into stores. Think of keywords like, "shoes near me," or, "rain boots in Charlottesville, Virginia," as examples of the queries they might use. 

Next we want to geo-target these campaigns so that we're only serving ads to users that fall within a reasonable distance of the store. That way, we're not wasting ad spend on users that couldn't reasonably drive to your physical store. We want to have ad copy that reinforces the user search. We also want to make sure that we're focused on in-store value propositions as opposed to online value props. As an example, where you would normally focus on free shipping, maybe instead you want to focus on something instead like door busters.

Next we need to figure out what landing page to send the users to. Typically the store locator page is going to be your best bet. Ideally, have the store locator already targeted towards your user's immediate area.

Finally, let's talk about the bidding piece. We want to be more aggressive on mobile devices. In this case, we want to capture users that are on the go, so mobile is going to be a great place for you to aggressively bid. We want to set different goals for our offline campaigns compared to our online campaigns. We want to make sure that we're judging these campaigns by their ability to drive users into stores as opposed to drive online conversions.

From all of this, there's a lot that can be gained. We're going to be able to drive users in to the store more effectively than we ever were before. Overall, that's how we can capture users searching online before making purchases in stores.