The prevailing perception of analytics is that it is something which is useful only for tracking online visits and conversions. While it’s true that it is certainly easier to track clicks and website visits, Google does make it possible to get an idea of the real-world performance of your ad campaigns.
Understanding the Store Visits Metric
The Store Visits metric is an updated version of the Estimated Total Conversions metric. It was rolled out in December 2014, and it offers an extrapolated idea of how many conversions your ad campaign is getting once phone calls, cross-device conversions and in-store purchases are factored in. It bases its estimation on a sample of data from users who have their Location History turned on. This data is, of course, anonymous and aggregated to protect the privacy of individual users.
In-Store Conversions Are More Common Than You Think
It’s interesting to note that in-store conversions are far more common than you might think. In fact, incorporating in-store visit data when considering ad performance increases the conversion rate overall fourfold, and increases the mobile device conversion rate by ten times.
Now that the system has been available for a while, research by Seophora has found that mobile searches produce 18 per cent more in-store visits than desktop searches. To take advantage of this, the brand altered its bidding strategy and emphasized mobile users - increasing its ROI by 25 per cent over what it saw when it was focusing on e-commerce sales.
Several other brand owners have achieved similar results - Buffalo Wild Wings improved its conversion rate by 84 per cent thanks to the Store Visits metric. Many other brand owners have found that altering their bidding strategies to put more emphasis on local search and mobile users has produced good results - although there is still a place for e-commerce-focused pay-per-click marketing.
Currently, the Store Visits metric is available in only a limited number of countries, although they have plans for a fast rollout. Canada and Australia were given the metric in April, and it will be rolled out to eight more countries over the next few months. To help webmasters and brand owners to take full advantage of the metric, Google has released a new Best Practices guide which offers advice about how to interpret the data, and also how to optimise campaigns to target specific devices or locations.