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How to Boost In-Store Holiday Purchases With Paid Search New research shows the importance of paid search for brick-and-mortar businesses.

By Christi Olson Edited by Dan Bova

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If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you may be convinced that running paid search on Bing Ads or Google Adwords might not be right for you, that it only works for an ecommerce website or online retailer. But, I'd encourage you to think again -- especially as the holidays approach. New Bing Ads research shows that paid search advertising can make a big impact when it comes to in-store holiday purchases.

Related: How to Prepare to Dazzle and Delight Your Customers This Upcoming Holiday Season

That's because search is a key influencer in every step of the buyer's journey -- whether customers shop online or in-store. And being there with the right message at the right time for shoppers searching for the right gift can be key to boosting your in-store sales this holiday season.

To help you attract gift shoppers, I've compiled some tips for you to help you this holiday season:

Invest for the long term.

Unlike the immediacy of click-and-buy actions enjoyed by online stores, brick-and-mortar businesses must embrace delayed gratification, since it could be days or even weeks before shoppers visit your location.

While shoppers are searching early, many spend late -- even at the last minute. Before shoppers set foot in your store, many have already been online researching and comparing products. In fact, according to TrendSource, a good 40 percent of shopping happens after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, although research may have started well before Thanksgiving.

Key takeaway: Commit to the long haul. The research from Microsoft indicates that large ad-spending increases may have a delayed impact of about 30 days. Avoid making early campaign optimizations based on online ROAS (return on ad spend) alone.

Related: A 6-Step Checklist to Get Your Online Business Ready for the Holiday Season

Plan to start your advertising campaigns early.

Make plans to attract the notice of early bird shoppers, since early exposure to your ads can lead to purchases throughout the holidays. The National Retail Federation estimates that around 40 percent of holiday shoppers begin searching and even purchasing before November. So, if you want to engage customers in search and comparison mode, you need to have a campaign plan in place to capture their interest.

During your planning phase, make sure you allocate plenty of budget and are able to accommodate spikes in traffic on days like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Be sure your campaigns incorporate rich formats to engage shoppers. For example, if you have coupons to offer, use a flyer extension.

Key takeaway: Early exposure to paid search ads is key. Plan your campaigns to engage early searchers. Use planning checklists like this Holiday Planning Guide to get started.

Related: To Maximize Holiday Sales Start Planning Your Marketing Early

Include category and shopping campaigns.

Be sure to include a mix of different types of ad campaigns including branded, non-branded and shopping product ads. According to Bing Ads data, offline revenue resulting from category and shopping campaigns increased by 53 percent during the 2016 holiday season.

Branded campaigns (which tend to drive the most revenue) are campaigns that focus on specific brands such as "Android Phone." In contrast, category (or non-brand) campaigns, are more generic and focus on non-brand terms such as "best smartphone." Shopping campaigns display product images, pricing, description and your company name on the search results page and stand apart from the text ads.

Key takeaway: Invest in all three campaign types to yield the best results during the holidays.

Measure offline ROAS.

To see how paid search is impacting revenue over the holidays, you need to ensure you can measure your results. Take a big-picture approach by examining historical data to establish benchmarks around what you might expect for your business based on seasonality. Understanding what to expect is crucial to informing your budget decisions and helping you understand your ROAS.

Related: 6 Tactics to Generate More Revenue From Increased Holiday Website Traffic

Bing Ads studied how paid search contributed to one retailer's online and offline revenue and found that during the holidays, offline ROAS improved by 2 percent for branded campaigns, 38 percent for category campaigns and 34 percent for shopping campaigns compared to pre-holiday levels.

Key takeaway: Set benchmarks and measure. You'll likely find a distinct, albeit delayed, correlation between the number of searches and the increase in revenue.

Help shoppers find you.

Last but not least, make sure that shoppers can find your business! Don't forget to claim your business listing in online directories so that your business information is correctly cited across the web and on maps.

Key takeaway: Claim your business listing on Bing Places and Google My Business and keep your store data including holiday hours up to date.

Paid search is a great way to get holiday shoppers through your doors. The key is getting started early. Use these PPC tips and start early to have shoppers emptying your shelves, right up until the big day.

Related Video: 4 Easy Steps to Marketing Your Local Business Online

Christi Olson

Head of Evangelism for Bing

Christi Olson leads digital marketing teams at Microsoft, Expedia, Harry & David, Decide.com and Point It. Passionate about search marketing, she has spent her career helping businesses solve their marketing challenges and goals through studying and analyzing data to develop actionable insights and strategies.

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