When it comes to online marketing, retailers often have significant opportunity to expand their presence. However, limited budgets and/or ROI goals restrict them from reaching many customers seeking the types of products and services they sell. Geo-targeting allows retailers to accomplish their goals without an overwhelming incremental investment. Here are four strategies:

1. Increase sales while maintaining ROI goals.  
Identify campaigns with low impression share. Then pull an geo report (under the "Dimensions" tab in AdWords) for those campaigns to find local markets with high conversion rates. Develop separate campaigns targeting these markets and increase your CPC bids to ensure your ad is showing up in a top position.

2. Earn market share. 
Identify local markets where competitors are attracting more customers, either in-store or online. Beyond your internal competitive intelligence here are other ways to identify these markets:
  • Use syndicated data like Hitwise or Compete to pull a report that compares each DMA's percent traffic contribution to your site and your competitor's site. Set up campaigns targeting those DMAs that contribute a larger percentage of total traffic to your competitor's site.
  • Use the "Regional Interest" map on Insights for Search to see which states or metros index high against search volume on your competitor's brand terms, yet index on search volume for your brand term. See the charts below as an example. You can see on the heat map that search volume for "Staples" is higher in New England and the Mid Atlantic while search volume for "Office Depot" is higher in the south and west coast. Office Depot could implement geo-targeted campaigns to a few New England markets while Staples might want to consider geo-targeting markets like Miami, Dallas, Austin, New Orleans and Las Vegas.
Regional Interest in the term "Staples" for the last 30 days (report pulled on 1/3/11)

Regional Interest in the term "Office Depot" for the last 30 days (report pulled on 1/3/11)
Once you have identified your markets, develop separate campaigns geo-targeting these markets and increase bids to push your ad into a top position. Ensure your ad is showing up against relevant non-brand terms and implement geo-targeted display campaigns to heighten awareness of your brand among local consumers. Success metrics for this strategy should be a change in share of sales or new customers, click & impression share and an increase in local searches on brand terms.

3. Increase in-store traffic. 
Identify markets where you have a large store footprint and put a higher value on online influenced in-store conversions in those markets. For example, let's say a retailer has 2 stores in Nashville and 10 stores in Boston. When calculating ROI, on your online campaigns your Boston in-store multiplier should be higher than your Nashville multiplier. This should allow you to implement heavy-up campaigns targeted to Boston while maintaining ROI goals.

4. Promote new stores. 
If you are expanding your store footprint into new markets, heavy up on geo-targeted search & display campaigns to promote your store opening. Remember to include all promotions, events and offers associated with the store opening in your copy.

Posted by Eva Barbier, The Google Retail Team