Using Paid Search to Drive Retail Customers In-Store – Part 1

Dan Beca  |  Director of Marketing Technology

February 7, 2017

In the retail industry, paid search is one of the best ways to acquire new customers and keep current customers coming back — even if your main goal is to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.

There is an abundance of search data to help marketers measure and optimize their campaigns. But how do you know which metrics to focus on? How do you drive online shoppers to the physical store? Can paid search really do that?

The answer is yes. In each of the three parts of this blog, we’ll discuss key strategies that you can implement to make sure that your search program is delivering traffic and in-store sales:

  1. Go beyond the top of the funnel and focus on metrics that matter — How will you measure the success of your strategy?
  2. Realize that not all conversions (and sales) are equal — Are your campaigns focused on different segments? Are your offers aligned with your segments to drive the best value?
  3. Stay ahead of the pack by testing — When you’re first beginning your program, you’re looking for continued growth. After your program is mature, you’re looking to avoid decline. Testing will help determine whether your program is effective and delivering against your strategy.

Search metrics that matter

At Catalyst, we focus on metrics that deliver a true return on investment, not just directional metrics like cost per click. Your metrics should tie back to specific business goals — such as driving more foot traffic and sales to your physical stores.

Below is an example of how we measure ROI for retail clients that use paid search marketing. For the retail industry, assume that “online conversion” refers to one of these actions:

  • Downloading a coupon
  • Locating a store
  • Calling the store
  • Signing up for a marketing offer
  • Adding products to an online shopping cart

We decided that, although return on ad spend for online conversions could be directionally helpful, it didn’t tell us whether we were delivering positive ROI unless we measured against actual in-store sales. Also, looking at exactly who those customers were would tell us whether we were actually driving incremental sales – or merely subsidizing existing customers. (For more information about measuring incremental sales, see our white paper, “Incrementality: The Right Way to Measure ROI.”)

We recommend that you use actual sales to drive the best optimization. Your goal is in-store sales, not website actions.


Next week, Part 2: Realize That All Conversions (And Sales) Are Not Equal. Stay tuned.

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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