Google – Digital delivers local intent

In this article, Jeff Harte and Prerna Gupta cover ‘I-want-to-go’ moments – those moments when people are looking for a local business or are considering buying a product at a local store.

Depending on where your customers are in their purchase cycle, they exhibit different behaviours. Google calls these micro-moments. They’re the moments when you turn to a device, often your smartphone, to take action on whatever you need or want right now. They’re the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-do moments that are loaded with intent, context and immediacy. Let’s look at the I-want-to-go moments.

You should care about these I-want-to-go moments because ‘near me’ search interest in Ireland has doubled in the last year, indicating growing interest in local businesses. Being present when such local intent-driven searches are made can not only influence consideration, but also close the purchase cycle swiftly. To bring this insight to practice, there are three main things to remember.

1. Be found locally

Globally, 90% of retail sales still take place in store. According to a Deloitte study in 2015, within the home furniture and improvement industry, 44% of retail sales are influenced by digital, making the role of digital marketing crucial in influencing overall sales for retailers. Google My Business (GMB) is a good starting point. It’s a free tool that lets you manage how your local business appears across Google products, like Maps and Search.

Sign up, claim and verify your business on GMB as verified businesses on Google are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users. It also helps customers discover the products and services you provide, allows them to easily contact you, while also being able to find your location or store opening times. With growing changes in customer behaviour, and an increasing number of touchpoints available to a customer, Click and Collect is gaining popularity too and bridges the gap between a customer’s online search and your physical location.

You can use paid ads to target users with such local intent and drive them to your nearest store through Location Extensions. Showing how far your store is and the availability of the product searched-for is now possible through Local Inventory Ads on Google Shopping. This information can help a potential customer make a more informed decision with ease and speed.

2. Provide the most useful information relevant to that user

In all, 61% of smartphone users say they’re more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps customise information to their location. Proximity matters to these consumers, and winning the I-want-to-go moments drives real results for your bottom line and brand. In total, 71% of smartphone users say they’ve used a store locator to find a shop location near them. Be aware of your customer’s location and take advantage of the built-in GPS capabilities of smartphones by providing driving directions and showing customers stores near them where a product is in stock. Providing the most relevant information to that user can increase the probability of a sale; one in three smartphone users has purchased from a brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided in the moment they needed it.

3. Connect the dots

While digital drives local store visits, many retailers still measure the performance of their online visibility only through online sales and revenue. Understanding all the touchpoints that a customer used before walking into your store and making that purchase should form the foundation of your growth strategy. You don’t have mobile customers and desktop customers. You don’t have digital customers and store customers. You just have customers, across screens and channels.

Micro-moments have fragmented the consumer journey more than ever before. Digital consumers are now exposed to customised information, and they react favourably when they’re provided with all the relevant information they need to make the purchase decision. With this change, businesses with an offline presence should look at digital as a core channel for driving store footfall and converting local intent into store revenue.

Jeff Harte and Prerna Gupta work at Google as Sales Account Managers for Home & Garden advertisers. For any members that have questions or comments for Google, they have kindly set up a dedicated email address for Hardware Association Ireland: