Guide to Google Analytics Store Visits Tracking

According to Google, more than 90% of retail sales still happen in physical stores and not online.

Many people use the internet to research a particular product but often visit a physical location to make a purchase.

As a result, businesses that advertise online but sell in physical stores have a hard time understanding how their online ads and websites are driving offline store visits.

In order to fix this online-offline attribution issue, Google introduced store (shop) visit conversion tracking in Google Ads which allows the advertisers to track the number of ‘store visits‘ generated by their Google Ads campaigns.

Google has now brought the store visit tracking capability to Google Analytics by introducing the store visit reports

What is a store in the context of Google?

Google defines a store as the physical location of the business as long as the location doesn’t fall in the sensitive location category and is in an eligible country.

Google defines sensitive location as the one related to healthcare, religion, adult content, and children. So you won’t be able to use store visit tracking if your business physical location is a doctor’s clinic, adult shop, hospital, church, school, etc. 

Google defines eligible countries as the one where the store visit tracking is available to advertisers.

Note: Google has not published any list which clearly mentions the countries that are eligible for store visit tracking and expect you to ask your account representative if store visit tracking is available in your location.

What is a store visit?

In the context of Google Ads, a store visit is the estimated number of people who visited your physical store or location (within 30 days) after clicking on one of your location-based Google ads. The store visits are reported as a conversion action in Google Ads:

In the context of Google Analytics, a store visit is the estimated number of people who visited your physical store or location (within 30 days) after visiting your website. The store visits are reported as a metric in various Store visit reports in Google Analytics:

What is a store visit rate?

Store visit rate is the percentage of Google Analytics sessions that resulted in store visits. It is calculated as:

Store visit rate = Number of store visits / Number of Google Analytics sessions

You can see the ‘store visit rate’ metrics in all the three store visits reports in Google Analytics:

Here, store visits rate is calculated as 6,293 store visits / 1,508,500 sessions = 0.42%

How store visits work

The store visits data in both Google Ads and Google Analytics is an estimate which is based on anonymous and aggregated statistics from users who have turned on location history

Google pulls store visits data from location extensions that are linked from your Google My Business account to your Google Ads account, and then from your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics property.

In order to maintain users’ privacy, Google does not tie store visits data to any individual ad click, viewable impression, or user.

As a result, you won’t be able to see store visits from a particular Google Analytics session, ad click, viewable impression, or user, both in your Google Analytics and Google ads reports.

Google recommends not to trust store visit data with less than 100 store visits. The higher the number of store visits the more accurate the store visit data becomes.

This could be one main reason why the store visit tracking is available only to big advertisers who generate large numbers of website visits and store visits.

Note(1): For any given day, Google Analytics may continue to update the store visits metric for the next 30 days, as more website visitors could end up visiting your store.

Note(2): The store visits reported by Google Analytics are not unique. If the same user visits your store multiple times in the next 30 days, then Google Analytics will count all the store visits and not just one.

 

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Difference between Google Ads and Google Analytics store visit tracking

Through Google Ads store visit tracking (also known as store visit conversion tracking’ or ‘shop visit conversion tracking’) you can determine the number of people who visited your physical store or location (within 30 days) after clicking on one of your location-based Google ads.

When you implement Google Ads store visit tracking you can track ‘store visits’ as conversion action in your Google Ads reports.

Note: The Google Ads store visit tracking will only tell you how many people interacted with your Google ads and then entered your physical store. It does not give you an insight into how many of these people actually ended up making a purchase in your physical store. 

Through Google Analytics store visit tracking you can determine the number of people who visited your physical store or location (within 30 days) after visiting your website. 

When you implement Google Analytics store visit tracking, the three store visits reports become available to you in your reporting view and you can correlate your store visit data with your website usage data. 

Note: The Google Analytics store visit tracking will only tell you how many people visited your website and then entered your physical store. It does not give you any insight on how many of these people actually ended up making a purchase in your physical store. 

The Store Visits reports in Google Analytics

Google introduced the store visit tracking capability to Google Analytics by introducing the following three store visit reports

These reports are:

  1. Overview
  2. Channels
  3. Location

The store visits reports (still in beta) appear under ‘Conversions’ in your Google Analytics reporting view, once your Google Analytics property has become eligible for store visit tracking. 

Note: You currently can not apply custom segments to any store visit report.

Store Visits Overview report 

Through this report you can quickly determine the overall store visits and store visit rate in a particular time period as well as quickly scan the store visits and store visit rate for each default channel grouping and/or source/medium:

Store Visits Channels report

Through this report, you can measure the performance of various marketing channels (organic search, paid search, display, email, direct, etc) in terms of driving store visits. 

Note: Google Analytics attribute store visits to a GA session or marketing channel by using the last non-direct click attribution model.

Store Visit Locations report

Through the locations report, you can determine the geo-locations which are driving store visits. 

Note: The store visits locations report shows the locations of the Google Analytics sessions or user and not the actual location of the store visit. So you could store visits reported in locations where you don’t really have any physical stores. 

Eligibility for store visit reporting in Google Analytics

To be eligible for store visits tracking in Google Analytics, you need to meet and maintain the following requirements:

General Requirements

  1. You need to have an active Google Analytics account, Google Ads account, and Google My Business account.
  2. You need to have multiple physical store locations in eligible countries.
  3. Your website gets at least 100,000 sessions each month.
  4. You get a high volume of store visits data that can be attributed to your website traffic.

Google Analytics requirements

  1. You have activated Google Signals.
  2. Your Google Analytics property is linked to at least one Google Ads account that contains location extensions from your Google My Business account.

Note: All of your Google Ads accounts linked to your Google Analytics property must have the same location extensions. If your Google Analytics property is linked to a Google Ads Manager account, then all Google Ads accounts linked to that manager account must have the same location extensions.

Google Ads requirements

  1. Your Google Ads account needs to have active location extensions.
  2. Your Google Ads account must be linked to your Google My Business account.
  3. At least 90% of your linked locations must be verified in your Google My Business account. 

If you are eligible or already using the shop visit conversion tracking in google ads then you are also eligible for Store Visit tracking in Google Analytics.

If you stop seeing data in your store visits reports at some point then it means: 

#1 You accidentally made some changes to your Google Analytics or Google Ads account settings which removed your eligibility for store visits tracking or 

#2 You have stopped getting enough store visits. 

How to implement store visit tracking in Google Analytics

Once you meet the General requirements, Google Analytics requirements, and Google Ads requirements for store visits tracking, the three store visits reports should automatically appear (under ‘Conversions’) in your Google Analytics reporting view within three business days.

You will see the following notification in your GA reporting view once store visits reporting is enabled:

Note: Just because the store visits reporting is enabled for your GA property does not mean that you will also be able to see the actual data in your store visits reports. You may need to wait for up to 60 days to start seeing the actual store visits data after you activated Google Signals.

Other articles on specialized tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  2. Event Tracking via Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  3. Event Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  4. Guide to Google Analytics Store Visits Tracking
  5. Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  6. Implementing E-Commerce Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  7. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  8. YouTube Video tracking via Google Tag Manager
  9. How to Use Keyword Hero to Reveal Not Provided Keywords in Google Analytics
  10. Virtual pageviews in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  11. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Tutorial
  12. Google Analytics for Facebook Tutorial
  13. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking Explained Like Never Before
  14. Using multiple Google Analytics tracking codes on web pages
  15. The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list
  16. Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  17. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  18. Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager
  19. Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways
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  23. Google Analytics Recurring Revenue and Subscriptions Tracking Tutorial
  24. How to track the impact of cookie consent on website traffic in Google Analytics
  25. Tracking Offline Conversions in Google Ads
  26. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
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  28. Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics Without Query Parameters
  29. Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger In Google Tag Manager
  30. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  31. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  32. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking (ga.js)
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  34. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  35. Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics with Query Parameters
  36. Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics
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  38. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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