The Best Practice Is to Test “Best Practices”

Dan Beca  |  Director of Marketing Technology

September 12, 2018

Okay—so what does that even mean? I’ll give you an example.

Google often touts its “best practices” for paid search advertising using the Google Ads platform (for example, run at least three ads in an ad group, use all the extensions offered through the platform, etc.). Sometimes marketers are better off not following those best practices (after all, Google does have all the data with which to make those recommendations…and some smaller organizations might benefit from keeping it simple), but sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and test those best practices.

We recently tested one of those Google best practices for driving in-store visits: location extensions. Location extensions seem like a no-brainer for driving potential customers to stores. They have four main components:

  • Addresses of nearby stores shown in the ad
  • Phone numbers to click-to-call the nearby stores
  • Links to get driving directions to the nearby stores
  • Links to show other nearby locations on Google Maps

All of these seem like really great options. Who wouldn’t want to provide customers with driving directions to the nearest store, or the ability to call the store to find out about store hours, or whether they offer a particular product or service?

The answer depends on how you measure the results of your paid search program (Maximizing paid search clicks? Efficiently driving traffic to local stores? Online conversions?) and how much these additional paid clicks will drive incremental traffic to your business locations.

Through our testing, we were able to effectively turn off the location extensions, which reduced our overall paid search click volume and cost, but we continued to see the same traffic being driven in to stores, saving a considerable number of marketing dollars (we’re talking more than 20%), while keeping store traffic at the same levels.

We discovered that customers were able to find the information they needed by using additional sitelinks that we made available; these sitelinks continued to send traffic to our landing pages, which contained trackable coupons (as opposed to Google’s pages, which offered no tracking). Some customers found the information they needed through organic results. The result was a better performing ROI on the marketing dollars being spent.

The moral of the story: always test your best practices, regardless of the source; you might end up saving yourself valuable marketing dollars that can be put to good use elsewhere.

Dan Beca |  Director of Marketing Technology
Dan develops digital and web strategies. His areas of expertise include business analysis, requirements gathering, business process development, web development, application development, database design, data analysis, digital marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing/optimization, and mobile marketing.

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