Using Retargeting Ads to Target Location Specific Shoppers
Carrie Hill

retargeting ads - location specific ppc

In my last article I pointed out some Hyper Local PPC targeting tactics that could bring more customers to very specific locations.  Today I want to dig a bit deeper into retargeting ads (or remarketing) as a way to target those customers who have already expressed an interest in specific locations for your multi-location business.

Great Opportunity for Local Businesses with Multiple Locations or Service Areas

I’m going to be honest – I’ve very rarely seen ads that target specific locations like this.  It’s a huge opportunity for businesses in competitive markets to jump on.  It should be happening much more often than it is.  This is a great tactic for storefronts, restaurants & bars, hotels, plumbers, electricians, car rental companies – basically any business that has multiple locations or serves multiple markets.

If you have 10 shops in a 3 state area, buying and managing PPC ads that target your specific product or service to potential customers in those locations can become a pricey task.  Territories overlap, who should foot the bill for what specific location, and knowing if you’re targeting the CORRECT type of customer can all drive up spend, and decrease PPC efficiency.

retargeting ad example eagles jimmy buffett

Retargeting is a way to tag visitors to specific page or pages on your website with a cookie that will allow you to show them a very specific ad as they move around the web.  We’ve all seen retargeting ads, you look at a product, or in my case – tickets to see the Eagles & Jimmy Buffett next summer, and an ad for that specific concert (or those shoes) follows you everywhere.  While some consumers and even marketers have called it creepy – it is a stellar way to keep your brand in front of visitors that have already expressed an interest by visiting your website.

How Multi-Location Businesses can Benefit

If you run a multi-location business – setting up an audience to target for each location is as easy as placing a Facebook Pixel or Google/Bing Audience Tag on specific location pages – then writing ads for those specific audiences.  You an use those ads for generic messages. You can also use those ads to target location-specific specials to a very precise audience – for a pretty reasonable amount of money.  Because the ads are only shown to people who have picked up the cookie by visiting the location page, you’re only spending money to get your ad in front of that limited but extremely relevant audience.

You can, of course, expand this concept to specific products, services or even product or service categories – but for this article – lets stick with specific locations.  I love the idea of being able to build a quick ad for a location-specific “Manager’s Special” that is served directly to those familiar with your brand an location.  We already know it’s easier to keep a customer than find a brand new one – and with retargeting, it’s easier, and less expensive, than it has been in the past.

I’m going to run through the basic steps to set up a retargeting ad in Google AdWords.  Bing is very similar, and Facebook is the same concept – but a tad different because they use the “Facebook Pixel” to gather information about your audience.

AdWords has 2 different types of retargeting – Standard and Dynamic.  Dynamic retargeting is what drives those shoe ads that follow me everywhere.  They use a product specific value – like an item number or deal ID – some specific value on the page.  You can also use custom variables like userloggedin=true, or frequentbuyer=false.  Then using a cookie specific products are marked when you visit those pages – thus allowing the ad to follow you around the web as you browse.  For our purposes, I’m going to advocate using standard retargeting – because it’s easier to set up, doesn’t require special coding skills, and will work just fine for our purposes.  If you have an enterprise-level business with locations over 15-20, you probably want to have your development team help out with the dynamic retargeting setup.

Steps to set up retargeting ads in Google AdWords:

  1. Go into Google Tag Manager and set up audience tags for each of your locations, then install the audience tags on the specific pages that cater to that location.  There might be more than one depending upon how your website is set up (but there should be at least 1 page for each location – that’s Local SEO 101!)
  2. I recommend setting up a campaign just for retargeting so it’s easier to manage your budget.  Choose display campaign so you can upload image ads.  If you want to set a specific budget for each location, you’ll have to set up a campaign for each location – but it IS possible to manage all locations on 1 campaign, if you choose to.
  3. Use your shared library to view your audience lists – here you can create a custom audience list by uploading email addresses you have from customers for each specific location.  This is reason 4 million why you need to be collecting location-specific email addresses and using them to market your products and services.  (Note: Using emails is generally referred to as remarketing instead of retargeting – but the terms are largely interchangeable with most of the industry.  Google exclusively uses the term “remarketing.”)creating audience with email addresses for retargeting ads
  4. Tie those audiences to location specific AdGroups.  You’ll be able to charge the spend back to each location based on the spend for that specific AdGroup, which helps with your marketing allocation paperwork..
  5. Keywords in retargeting campaigns work if you’re doing a bit more complex work, like Retargeting Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) which allows you to use bid modifiers based on audience parameters you can add on top of the retargeting cookie.  We’re not using them for this instance, but it is possible.  Keywords in your AdGroups for retargeting are optional.
  6. Write/Create location-specific ads for those respective AdGroups.  Along with your standard AdWords text ads, you should also build display/image ads and upload them, because some sites show text ads, some image ads.  Include calls to action, location-specific words that resonate with the audience, and mention specials and deals that those
    locations are featuring.upload display ads for retargeting ads in Google AdWords
  7. Test Test Test – see what bid levels, budget levels, ad copy and websites bring the best customers.  Watch your “Placements Report” to see where your ads are being shown.  It doesn’t hurt to cull out undesirable sites – these happen to crop up every once in awhile.

As I mentioned above – the process is fairly similar in Bing and Facebook.  Bing, at this time, doesn’t allow you to build a  custom audience with email addresses (that I can find anyway).  If you know this has changed, please share your knowledge!

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Carrie comes to Sterling Sky with SEO experience that dates back to 2005! She has a passion for figuring out what works for each and every client and picking apart the problems that arise in our “it depends” relationship with Google. She has also been organizing and nurturing the LocalU Conference Series since 2017 – through to today – across a hectic few years of pandemic and back into in-person conferences again.