Beyond Store Visits: Better Objectives for Current Times

When the world is not under stay-at-home orders, it’s easy to gravitate toward Facebook’s Store Visits Objective as the best marketing option to drive foot traffic into brick-and-mortar locations, but it’s far from the only option. Facebook offers a whole suite of different marketing objectives. Now’s a better time than ever to consider how multi-location businesses can leverage other objectives locally, especially considering how the consumer journey evolves in the time of Covid-19.

It also doesn’t hurt that Facebook’s overall cost of advertising is down between 20 and 40% (dependent on placement) across its family of apps since Covid-19 started, and previously passive users are becoming more active and engaged. This is the perfect recipe for businesses that want to re-engage their communities with social, gaining brand impressions while usage is at its peak and competition is at its lowest. So don’t fret, even though the Store Visits tactic is seemingly off the table at a time when most businesses are closed or partially open. 

Local, by its very nature, is the bedrock of the Store Visits objective, but it is also a chief concern during the Covid-19 crisis. As different states and countries implement different responses to the pandemic, marketing campaigns must be flexible enough to adapt to the vicissitudes of a highly volatile landscape. For large, multi-location brands, this might mean some of their stores are open, some are closed, some do delivery, and some don’t. Therefore, preserving your execution flexibility is paramount. You don’t want to be caught with a single national campaign that doesn’t make sense in certain regions. Nor do you want to be caught focusing on footfall when consumers are adapting to new ways of contactless buying. 

A more adaptive framework that allows campaigns to still operate with the hyper-locality of an SVO campaign, but without the specific objective requirements, is timely and ideal for maintaining strategic flexibility. This framework can actually be replicated with other objectives, such as Conversions, Lead Generation, Video Views, or even Website Traffic, especially with specialized tools. Developing campaigns across other objectives that utilize local pages and localized copy still provides the same local performance benefits as an SVO campaign, as well as the attribution models to ensure you can still prove ROAS. 

For service-based businesses, Conversion or Traffic campaigns that utilize offline event sets to attribute footfall engagement are other means to achieve the same end, especially when the buying decision is complex. Take, for example, car shopping, where there is value in driving users to view content and engage in top-of-funnel sales activity, while still preserving the ability to know whether or not these campaigns resulted in a consumer coming onsite. 

A responsive local strategy that allows for different tactics ensures that you can more easily account for different scenarios. Consider the following strategies:

  1. A local Conversion Objective campaign that facilitates online ordering for in-store pickup might also need to be a Conversions campaign, driving people to convert online purchases for home delivery for the state next door. 
  2. Many businesses explicitly address Covid-19 concerns publicly, supporting donations and community efforts. Ads can cover content-based and awareness-driven needs, even in cases where stores are shut down, providing credibility. Also, continued presence in the local community allows you to identify early-stage micro-conversion events that can shift to full-scale attribution as situations begin to normalize.

As the world adapts to Covid-19, marketers must also move with their consumers. Tactics need to be more locally aware and flexible. Especially if we cannot count on driving foot traffic en masse into our client’s locations, opting instead to promote curbside pickup, or home delivery, through conversion campaigns still provides the same attribution tracking as store visits. Driving awareness on how your clients are responding to COVID-19 also helps keep consumers engaged and provides ample remarketing opportunities. 

The challenge is making your conversion campaigns operate like hyperlocal Store Visit campaigns, because even if they aren’t walking in-store as freely, consumers still have products to buy locally. Optimizing directly for foot traffic may prove to be a thing of the past until Covid-19 passes, but the idea of hyper-local marketing need not die with it. The best defense is a quick reaction that re-prioritizes your social marketing’s focus to this new world.

It’s now more important than ever to get creative with our tactics, embracing more flexibility to utilize other objectives such as conversion or lead generation. 

Chris Mayer is a solutions engineer at Tiger Pistol.

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