5 Tips on Maximizing Paid Search Spend for Local Businesses

I had the chance to interview a good friend of mine, Jim Armstrong, from the good ol’ days when I used to write for the Get Busy Media blog. He now resides in Chicago with his wife and works for Google (I hope he doesn’t cheer for the Bears 😉

I know you’ll find some valuable nuggets from this post – Jim is a smart guy! And please make sure to leave a comment below about your thoughts and experiences with local advertising and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Without further ado..here are the questions I asked him and his answers!

  • What are some of the common ways to use paid advertising to drive in-store traffic?

When I think about local strategies for small businesses and driving store visits and purchases in-store, I think of mobile first. Mobile is the starting point and is the foundation of success for local businesses looking to drive online to in-store behavior. Being present on mobile devices in-point-of-need moments for consumers who are in-market for your services is critical to success.

To start, all local businesses should set-up their business on Google My Business (GMB), particularly for those businesses that have multiple locations. GMB provides you with the tools to display the desired information for your business when people are searching for you…all for free. GMB helps businesses stand out, by allowing them to share pictures of their store, contact information and more for users searching on both Google.com and Google Maps.

Once your have your GMB profile set-up, you’re able to leverage these locations in paid media strategies. To start, if you’re doing local paid search, you can link your GMB profile to your AdWords account and serve links underneath your paid ads (called Location Extensions) that provide your business address along with your business’ phone number.

You may have even noticed recently that there are now paid ads within the Maps section of Google.com and on Google Maps when users are performing searches related to physical locations. Advertisers are able to connect with these consumers and direct that user to the business’ physical location on Google Maps. See screenshot below.

Paid Ads in Google Maps

  • In your experience, what strategy, or strategies, have you found that are most successful in regards to question #1 above?

If you’re a local business or a business that operates several locations, you need to be dialed into consumers who are on their phones and searching for your products or services. This means that you should have localized paid search campaigns targeting your business’s service area or area of operations.

You should be bidding higher for users on mobile devices and serving users on mobile devices tailored ads that include your business’s phone number (Call Extension), your unique value proposition (Sitelink Extensions & Callout Extensions) and a link to your business’ address (GMB). In order to understand the full value of your paid search campaigns, be sure to measure all relevant interactions (call leads, web leads, phone calls & store visits).

Finally, you should have a remarketing pixel on your site (can be an AdWords or Google Analytics pixel) to build user lists and then remarket to these groups of users based on their interactions with your business. Google’s machine learning technology will also build lists of users that are similar to the lists you have set-up in AdWords, called Similar Audiences. You are then able to apply these Similar Audience lists to your search campaigns and target these users that are similar to users who have already been to your site.

  • How can paid search/social supplement SEO or other types of marketing to drive in-store traffic?

Paid search and organic have always had a 1+1=3 relationship. If you were to pull all paid search in your market, and just rely on organic to drive traffic to your business, you rarely see businesses recoup all of the paid traffic that they are foregoing through organic.

The Paid and Organic report in AdWords helps you understand how paid text ads and organic search results work together to help you reach people searching online, and more importantly, gain a more holistic view into how many clicks you are generating across both channels.

  • If you had a marketing budget below $1,000/month and had 1-3 locations, what do you think would give you the most “bang for your buck?”

Focus on reaching potential customers through paid search on mobile. Your users are searching for your business on mobile devices. Tailor your ads for those users with very specific, compelling creative and be sure you are only targeting the areas for potential customers that are of the highest value to your business.

  • For those companies that are already running some paid ads or other marketing programs, what are some things they can do or tools they can use to see if their marketing is being spent wisely or getting them the ROI they’re looking for?

Leverage the AdWords Conversion Pixel and Remarketing Pixel to understand when users convert on your site (whether that be a purchase, submitting a lead form or making a phone call).

At the moment, only larger advertisers have access to store visits data in AdWords, but keep an eye on this feature and if you meet the requirements needed to be eligible to get this data, then prioritize this feature to get insight into how your ads are driving physical store visits.

Between measuring for web and call conversions, remarketing to those users who haven’t converted and potentially layering in store visits data, you will be well on your way to measuring all valuable events that your potential prospect is taking when interacting with your business online and in-store.


Jim Armstrong is the Co-Founder of Get Busy Media and a digital marketing expert. Since 2009, Jim has built his knowledge around emerging media and leveraged several experiences to develop a keen understanding of internet marketing. His core competencies include digital performance marketing, online measurement and attribution, data analytics and content marketing.Jim currently works for Google, as a senior account manager and is based in Chicago, IL. When not diving headfirst into his next project, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, DIY projects, fishing and writing.