• Shaumik Saha

How to use Google Ads to drive retail footfall? Digital to physical

how to use google ads to drive retail footfall

Retail is not dead, and there are several smart ways in which you can use digital advertising and online traffic to drive footfall at your local retail outlets. Read on to find out more.

This article is specifically aimed at business owners in sectors such as retail, food and beverage, salons, and the like. Anyone that sells products or services at a physical location.

Let us first clear some fundamental concepts.

What is the future of retail?

I commonly hear several criticisms when I discuss the topic of using digital advertising to drive retail footfall, with clients or at acquaintances.

Questions such as “why should businesses focus on retail at all?”, and “isn’t retail dead in 2020?” are often thrown at me before I can even make my point.

The short answer is a resounding no. Retail is not dead. It has it’s place in our consumer preferences and serves a specific purpose.

Although a lot of businesses have shifted to eCommerce channels to connect with customers, several sectors such as high-end retail, niche product categories, food and beverage, FMCG, groceries, salons, and more continue to rely heavily on retail footfall for customers.

The one aspect that has changed, though, is the method for outreach and marketing.

While in the pre-Internet era billboards, signages, hawking, vending, and cold approaches may have been very effective most of those approaches are seen as dated, ineffective and often harrassive in today’s day and age.

Customers do not prefer to be hawked at and spend most of their spare time browsing the internet. And therein lies your key to retail success- using digital channels to attract retail footfall.

You don’t necessarily have to take your entire business operations or product online. Simply moving your outreach channels online is a great first step to building a thriving business in the digital age.

The rise of ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline):

research online purchase offline ropo

Here’s an insightful piece of information; although a lot of customer research may have shifted online, the bulk of purchasing decisions are still made at physical locations.

This is a trend known as ROPO- research online, purchase offline.

As the name suggests, ROPO implies that customers who may spend hours researching a product online ultimately might end up making the purchase at a physical store. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why eCommerce cart abandonments are so high.

While eCommerce portals may be a great way for customers to compare products, conduct research and analyze reviews, there may be several reasons why customers still prefer to make the purchase at a physical location. The following are a few likely reasons why they might consider doing so;

  • they can’t physically examine products online

  • they cannot negotiate prices with an online retailer

  • shipping costs can sometimes be impractical

  • having to wait for delivery

  • having to share a personal address and payment details online

  • issues around refunds and returns

  • the lack of authenticity of doing business with someone you cannot see or speak with

So, there you have it.

If anything, the physical retail sector is in good health (provided of course that your core product or service is resourceful and appealing.; no amount of effort can sell a bad product).

In fact, as per data released by the National Retail Federation, for every company that closed retail stores, 2.7 companies opened new ones.

As a retail store owner your primary responsibility then is to figure out a way to attract attention your location.

This is where we step in to consult clients on effective digital advertising and marketing channels that may be used to do so.

In this article I shall share a brief overview of how you can use Google Ads to drive physical traffic to your store location.

If of course, you would like to have a more detailed conversation specifically pertaining to your business, do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our contact details mentioned below this article.

A related article you might like: How to create profitable Facebook and Instagram ads for your business?

Tip #1 Adding location ad extensions to your Google Ad

adding location ad extensions to your google ad

Simply targeting Google ads to a certain local demographic isn’t enough. Adding location extensions to your ad helps audiences see specifically how close you are to them and how long it may take them to reach you- both important factors customers consider when deciding if they should visit a physical store.

Having location ad extensions in your ad is also a brilliant way to demonstrate credibility.

Even in the digitized world of today a physical storefront is a sign of legitimacy. It gives customers a sense of buying from a place that feels “real”.

Here are a few examples of Google ads with a location extensions;

Google ad with location extension on mobile
An example of a Google Ad with location extension on mobile
Google ad with location extension desktop
An example of a Google ad with location extension on desktop

How to set up location extensions for Google Ads?

Step 1: Set up a Google My Business listing. If you already have one, you may skip this step. If not, visit the Google My Business homepage and click 'Start Now'.

how to create a google my business account

Step 2: Search for your business listing on Google and claim ownership of it.

how to find and verify business listing in google my business

What to do if you cannot see your business listed on Google? If you cannot see your business listed on Google, make sure you verify your business listing with Google first.

Please not that you will not be able to proceed with any further changes or updates to your listing until you have verified it.

Why does Google need to verify my business listing? Google may provide you with several verification options to confirm the location and ownership of your business. Some of their common options include:

  • verify a business by mail

  • verify a business by phone

  • verify a business by e-mail

  • instant verification for certain types of business

  • bulk verification for businesses with 10+ store locations

Step 3: Go to your Google Ads account and link your Google My Business listing to it.

3.1: Open Google Ads, click "ads and extensions" and select "extensions".

how to add location extensions in Google ads step 1

3.2: Then select "create ad extension".

how to add location extension to google ads step 2

3.3: Select the "location extension" option from the menu you are presented with.

how to add location extension to google ads step 3

3.4: You will then be able to select one of the several Google My Business listings you have verified.

how to add location extension to google ad step 4

Can you add multiple location extensions to a Google ad.

Yes. Note that you can add multiple location extensions to a Google ad.

3.4: Select "continue" and you're done.

Note that location extensions are not only available for search ads but also YouTube ads and display ads on the Google Ads network.

Tip #2 Optimizing your ads to run during key business hours (Ad Sheduling):

optimize your google ads to run during business hours only

A brilliant option that Google makes available to all advertisers is the ability to schedule ads to run on certain chosen days and within certain chosen time frames.

This means that you can specifically schedule your ads to run during business hours, have dedicated ads that run during peak business hours, have dedicated ad sets that run during slow business hours, etc. There is a lot of potential here.

If you don't schedule your ads to run during specific hours you could end up having a live ad at 2:30 AM with your store closed and not one soul up and about to answer your phone lines.

This could look deceptive and even bother some potential customers that may percieve the ad as a sign of your business being open.

Here's how you can use ad scheduling in Google ads to set up ads to show only at a specified date and time.

How to use ad scheduling in Google Ads?

Step 1: Set up a campaign that you can apply the ad scheduling to.

The following is a video containing instructions to set up a Google Ads campaign, in case you are unaware of how you can do so.

If you prefer to read instead, here is a resource from Google on setting up your first Google Ads campaign.

Step 2: Select your campaign and click on "ad schedule" from the menu on the left hand side.

how to use ad scheduling in google ads step 2

Step 3: Click on "edit ad schedule"

how to set up ad scheduling in google ads step 3

Step 4: Select an ad schedule by selecting certain days and hours via the ad scheduling interface on Google Ads.

how to set up ad scheduling in google ads step 4

Expert tip (Advanced bid adjustment): To take the effectiveness of ad scheduling a step further you can actually customize your bid settings to bid more or less during certain time frames.

Advanced bid adjustments are a very effective way to stand out during peak hours and not overspend during slow hours.

We highly recommend that you consult an expert to help set this up for you. If of course you would like to have that conversation with us, you know where to find us.

Tip #3: Use Google Ads geo-targeting to target customers at their specific current location:

use google ads geo-targeting to target customers at their specific location

Geo-targeting opens up numerous opportunities to improve the performance of your Google Ads.

Geo-targeting helps you target ideal customers within a specific location based on their IP address, location and GPS data. In terms with Google's privacy policies, no actual personal information of the whereabouts of this audience is shared with you. Your ads however, will be shown to them.

This is particularly effective for mobile ads that users may see whilst they are out and about.

If you run a salon for example, you can target all users within a 2 mile radius of your location. You can encourage them to visit you, with location, offer and product ad extensions that tell them everything they need to know about your store via a quick glimpse of the ad. Do get in touch with us for more information on setting up such ads for your business.

an example of an ad with product extensions
An example of an ad with product extensions

How to set up geo-targeting in Google Ads?

Step 1: Open Google Ads and select your desired campaign.

how to set up geo targeting in google ads step 1

Step 2: Head to "settings" from the left-hand side menu.

how to set up geo-targeting in google ads step 2

Step 3: Select the "locations" drop down menu

how to set up geo-targeting in google ads step 3

Step 4: Click on "advanced search"

how to set up geo-targeting in google ads step 4

Step 5: Select a specific location or a radius around your location to target


Step 6: Once you are done, click "save" and you're good to go.

Tip #4: Make it easy for searchers to contact you via your Google ad:

make it easy for searchers to contact you via your google ad

Getting searchers to see the right information via your Google ad preview is only part of process. Your acquisition journey does not end there.

Chances are they would want to know more information about your business before paying a visit- this is completely normal and part of their research process.

Your responsibility then, is to make it as convenient as possible for them to get in touch with you. There are a few key channels and extension types that you must keep in mind:

  • An intuitive contact process on your website: If a user were to click through your Google ad, how easy is it for them to find the right information and contact you? How intuitive is your contact process? Do you have an easy-to-use contact form? Do you have your contact details mentioned on your website? These are key questions that you must answer and make amends to your ads accordingly.

  • Google Ads message extension: You can set up a message extension for your Google ad that enables users to drop you an inquiry message within a click or two. Not only does this make it extremely convenient for users to submit inquiries but also enables you to respond quickly. A very effective tool to collect inquiries and provide spontaneous assistance.

  • Google Ads call extension: Not very different from the message ad extension, the Google Ads call extension enables users to call your business directly via the extension. Again, this is a very effective way to receive inquiries and respond to them instantaneously.

an example of a google ad with message extension
An example of a google ad with message extension

How to set up Google Ads call and message extensions?

Step 1: Open up Google Ads and follow steps 1 through 3.3 from tip #1 to get to the Google Ads "extensions" settings.

how to set up google ads call and message extension step 1

Step 2: Select either "call extension" or "message extension" and proceed to enter the required details for set up.

how to set up google ads call and message extensions step 2

Step 3: Remember to save your changes and you're good to go.


Research tells us that 54% of online shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

What’s more intriguing is that 39% of in-store shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

The trend of ROPO (research online, purchase offline) is here to stay.

Having learnt these facts, a handful of amends to your Google Ads campaigns such as adding your physical store address and easy contact options can help greatly improve its performance.

Bridge the transition from online shopping and browsing to in-store retail purchases to empower your customers with options. Let them feel in control of their shopping experience.

Contact Strideplus Consulting for more insights on improving the performance and ROI of your Google Ads campaigns.