Local Marketing for Small Businesses – Online to Offline

Online to offline (O2O) marketing is becoming hotter and hotter topic in the world of online marketing. Research shows that 90% of people who were looking for a local business on Google Maps visited the location within 48 hours. This is a powerful stat for the meaning of online presence for offline actions. Physical stores are as dependent on mobile as pure e-commerce shops. So here is my list of online channels to promote offline actions.

Google My Business

The first step to getting local awareness for your store is Google My Business profile. Creating an account is easy, the only thing which can take some time is the verification. Some web builders and domain providers like GoDaddy can help you get an immediate verification, so check whether you don’t have this available already. Once your business is verified, you can post pictures, add business information and contact details, so that customers can get in touch with you immediately. Via the Google My Business App you can receive direct messages and get reservations for your service.

Google Local Campaigns

Once you have a Google my business account, you can also create a Local campaign with Google Ads to drive actions valuable for your business: calls and direction requests on Google Maps. The campaign uses machine-learning technology to target, bid and deliver ad. This is based on the location and the business vertical detected from the website of the advertiser. This is a powerful and user-friendly way to get started with Google ads and use it only for local promotions.

Location Extensions

If you are not new to Google Ads location extensions can help your ads become even more prominent and visible on Google. Location extension is your business location showing under your text ad. Location extensions can now appear not only on Search, but also on Display and YouTube driving local awareness and surfacing the closest physical store location to the user who sees the ad.

Local Inventory Ads

To make things even better, you can also include your e-commerce information and show whether an item the user is looking for is in stock at the location close to him. Imagine looking for something specific while you are at a new city shopping high street. How convenient it could be to see an ad showing this product is available in a nearby store and how far you are from it. By clicking on the ad you see Google Maps and the location of the store. Isn’t this a perfect shopping trip? It is possible with Local Inventory Ads. To use this ad format you need to have a Google My Business Account, linked to your Google Ads as well as a shopping feed and updated inventory. This is easy if you are already using Google Shopping and you want to drive offline actions.

Local Catalogue Ads

I know, there are many new ad types, but these are all designed to help businesses with different problems related to local awareness. Local Catalogue Ads are great for businesses which have several locations and want to make users see what items are available in each stores to avoid disappointment. It can help you highlight shop specific products and promotions and also show your ads across Google Display. The information from Local Inventory Ads is used to surface ads on Display – across websites and mobile applications.

Store Visits

Tracking Store visits is one of the most important steps to driving offline conversions with online resources. Google developed a technology which is able to give a statistical model of how many of the people who click on your ads visit your physical location. This happens with the help of several factors.

First, there are over a million users who have voluntarily shared their location with Google when using their Android-powered device. Second, Google went on and measured the floors and borders of millions of stores across the word in an astonishing project. Then algorithms were trained to detect whether any of the devices which had the location sharing setting entered the mapped territories. Eventually a test was sent to two million users to confirm whether they have been in a store or not. 99% of the answers were accurate. This gives certainty that Google can detect store visits using statistical models with a great accuracy, without jeopardising the user’s privacy.

The result is store visits tracking which is highly accurate and still completely anonymous. Advertisers see based on statistics the number of store visits clicks on their ads generated, but there is no way to track the individual user.

Facebook Business Page

A facebook business page is the equivalent of Google My business. They will not place you on Google Maps, but on another map Here WeGo. Reviews which you receive on Facebook will likely be linked to your Google My Business account as legitimate star ratings. The more reviews your business receives, the better for your SEO and credibility. Well rated business are likely to be more often featured in organic results and attract more local actions.

Facebook Local Awareness Ads

Local Awareness campaigns are the tool businesses can use to drive local actions via Facebook and Instagram. This is a campaign setting you can make on your Facebook campaign. It will automatically optimise for actions like requesting directions, calling and of course traditional lead generation. The Local Awareness campaigns are very similar to the Local Campaigns on Google. They will surface on Instagram and Facebook simultaneously as feed or stories.

Working with digital means to gain local awareness and drive offline conversions is one of the key matters for marketers. The O2O, online to offline dynamics will prevail in upcoming solutions from some of the biggest online marketing providers.

All the views in this article are exclusively mine and I am not an official spokesman of Google.

About me: I am an experienced digital marketing professional and a Googler. I have taught over 3000 people in online marketing, sales and PPC. Get my new book. I blog weekly and teach on Udemy with more than 2,700 students enrolled in my online course. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @odolena