Local businesses with physical locations face challenges when trying to convert online engagement into in-store purchases. Companies have to make a strong impression with consumers to help them remember the business when they're out shopping. Everyone has experience with getting back home from running errands to realize they forgot to visit that new place they learned about online. Sales and in-store promotions are an excellent way to keep a business in the minds of a target audience. Last week, Google announced new tools to help advertisers promote in-store deals and promotions.

Discount offers have been a staple of retail for generations -- people like hunting for the best deal and getting a great price. JC Penny once removed all coupons and discounts in an attempt to make pricing fair and transparent, and the experiment backfired horribly. Data from Google also shows that bargain hunting is alive and well. According to the search giant, searches for "on sale near me" have grown by 250 percent since 2017.

Google has Local campaign ads that boost foot traffic to stores by highlighting promotions. There's evidence to suggest these tools are useful at motivating a target audience. Google notes a recent global study they conducted that found "Local campaigns helped brands drive a median five times greater incremental return-on-ad-spend from their business locations."

Google is adding new features to Local campaigns that will make it easier for businesses and advertisers to use. These add-ons include tools to create targeted location subgroups, new ad budget options, and improvements to local inventory ads. 

"We have new features coming for Local campaigns to make it available to more advertisers and improve how you manage your locations and creatives. In the next few weeks, you'll be able to set up your Local campaigns to drive calls to your business locations--even if you don't have store visits measurement. By expanding Local campaigns to optimize for calls, more advertisers will now be able to access it and highlight what makes their stores unique across Google Search, Maps, YouTube and more," wrote Kishore Kanakamedala, a Director of Project Management at Google.

Businesses can use location groups to create bundles and packages that are perfect for target audiences in a specific area. For example, a bookstore could create location groups based on the reading list at a nearby school. This new feature will make it easier for advertisers to create relevant ad experiences that drive engagement.

Local inventory ads, which show people the prices for items that can be purchased at a store, are getting a significant improvement in the recent update. Now, retailers can add a promotion to local inventory ads. If you have a popular item on sale, consumers in the area will see the discounted price at a local retailer, which will undoubtedly boost sales during the promotion.

Choosing the right budget for an ad campaign is a significant factor in how effective a promotion will be. It's vital for business owners to adjust their budgets to account for seasonal increases and other events that will affect the company. Google is making that process easier through automation that will detect seasonal changes and adjust the budget accordingly.

Google described this budget adjustment feature by saying, "Let's say you're running a promotion for grills as people get ready for their summer cookouts. Based on past promotions, you predict seeing a 50 percent increase in conversion rates during your sale. Use seasonality adjustments to let Smart Bidding know to expect and prepare for this conversion rate increase, and help our systems ramp up performance more quickly."

With back-to-school season approaching, local businesses should consider using these new features to attract consumers and boost sales. For more news about changes and updates to Google, read this article on new options for Google My Business profiles.