In the UK, it has always been notoriously difficult to get accurate location data about your searchers and visitors. For the most part, this is because Google determines locations from an IP address. It’s not uncommon for internet connections to route web requests via IP addresses in completely different physical locations to where you actually are. For example, do the people of Halifax <em>really</em> make up the majority of ‘home insurance’ searches in the UK? Probably not.
In the UK, it has always been notoriously difficult to get accurate location data about your searchers and visitors. For the most part, this is because Google determines locations from an IP address. It’s not uncommon for internet connections to route web requests via IP addresses in completely different physical locations to where you actually are. For example, do the people of Halifax really make up the majority of ‘home insurance’ searches in the UK? Probably not.
While the impact on the searcher is negligible, it can cause issues with localised PPC campaigns – creating and optimising regional PPC campaigns based on incorrect geographical data can result in a lot of wasted time, effort and budget. Until Google improves its location detection there’s little more that can be done to improve geo-targeting of PPC campaigns, but there is (more) accurate location data available that can inform other marketing activity. Enter the Google Places dashboard. If you’re a big brand, with physical locations listed and verified in Google Places, there is a whole new level of data for you to consider. The dashboard typically looks like this: Remember – the quality of this data is likely to be more accurate than any location specific data analytics or Adwords can tell you, because people are only likely to click on listings relevant to their actual area. Now, knowing that your Stoke store listing received 5648 impressions and 2278 clicks in the last 30 days, and that your Sunderland store listing received 3777 impressions and 1102 clicks for example, can have some interesting offline implications:
- Does the visibility of each store’s places listing correlate to offline marketing tactics in that area (mail-drops, local press advertising etc)?
- Understand the size of your (potential) customer base in each area and use for planning offline advertising – If a Places listing is getting significantly more clicks than you expected, maybe there are a whole host of untapped potential customers begging to be turned into actual customers.
- If a places listing is getting fewer clicks than you’d expected (based on physical catchment area, visibility of places listing etc) Is there a competitor presence in the area that you weren’t aware of, or that is stronger than you initially thought?
- Are you running offline promotions that aim to drive people online? Is it translating into searches & clicks in the target areas? Is there a better return to be had from other areas of the country?
- Offer store-specific promos (coupons, discount codes etc) via your site based on the Places listing that has been clicked on. This works very well if you’re actively trying to drive people in-store, for products / services that cannot be purchased online.
- If you’re considering using group buying services such as Groupon, get a feel for the quantity of products / services you will need to commit to. You may want to target areas that receive relatively few clicks through Google Places (to try and build your presence), or those that get a lot of traffic already if you have specific products to shift quickly in those areas.
We work with high street brands who receive hundreds of thousands of clicks to their Places pages every month, so there is a lot of very insightful data to be had. Google Places is still in its relative infancy and I imagine as it evolves, so too will its reporting Dashboard and the data that’s available from it. Comparisons over time, aggregated keyword level data, and more exporting options are just a few things that will help take Places to the next level of a genuine market research tool.