As we all know, the buying process is often more complicated than simply visiting a store, picking something out and skipping over to the register. Take shoes for example. Websites make it possible to virtually “wear” the shoes. Customers can see shoes in various sizes, colors and materials. They can read reviews, compare prices …just about anything but smell the leather (certainly, Google is working on this.) Shoes can and are bought online but some customers need to see shoes on their feet, feel their toes wiggle around and smell that brand spanking new leather. Too bad you can’t track a customer’s behavior once they leave the comfort of their screen and visit the store. Right?

Wrong! With Google Adwords, in addition to tracking all of website metrics that you should be tracking such as time on site, pages viewed, leads generated and sales conversions made, you can now track customer in-store visits. Yes, you heard that right, we’re talking visits to the ol’ bricks n’ morter.

Can you venture a guess as to how the world Google is doing this? Here’s where the geeks at AdEdge jump in and we’ll give you a hint. Smart Phones. Google knows exactly where your customers are. And we’re no longer just talking about a city, a street or even an address. Since Google has been mapping out the size and structure of many stores in Google Maps, they can now tell when a paid search customer visits your store, how long they are there and even in some cases, what parts of the store they visit. Google uses GPS location and WIFI signals overlayed on top of Google Maps to figure all of this out.

They can even tell if your customers are window shopping. A quick glance in the store or window shopping outside the store is not considered an in-store visit in Google’s metrics. Google AdWords takes into consideration the length of the visit. Employees who spend long hours in the store are not considered visitors in Google’s metrics.

The in-store conversion meter is just one more way to track the relative success of campaigns, groups, ads and keywords within a paid search campaign. If you’re going to track in-store visits, don’t forget to generate in-store visits by using two powerful AdWords targeting features: Location Extensions and Location Targeting. A geographically relevant paid search effort is more relevant, more memorable to your customer, more cost-effective and will always improve in-store visits. The Internet may be “the next best thing to being there” but nothing beats a customer visiting your store.