Many of us who are into online marketing industry often deal with clients who have both online and offline presence and while we can easily measure the online impact of our marketing activities through any web analytics package and some bit of data crunching, we tend to neglect the importance of measuring the impact our online activities cause to the offline conversions of our clients. However, we do agree that it is important and it would be just so much more impressive to tell our clients that you got 100 sales through the website and another additional 30 sales on your store for the money you invested in online marketing rather than just the sales on your website.
Not just conversions, visitors to a website also adds other value than just conversions. If your online marketing gets 10 visitors to an website 2 of them might buy the product, 4 of them would probably bounce back – what happens to the remaining 4 ? In most cases this 4 visistors also derive some value from the website ( getting product info, getting the tech support phone number, having a better brand perception etc ) which might reflect in their offline activities ( buying the product from a store, calling the call center for support, investing in the company etc). Now are we measuring this ?
While most clients and marketers do understand that the online marketing activities actually impact offline presence it is also true that its a big challenge to map the online marketing activities to offline impact. To map the online activities to the offline conversions we will basically need to have a common factor ( technically referred to as the Primary Key) that helps us to identify a part of the offline conversions to have been generated through online channels. To elucidate the fact, let’s look at the following tables…
Typically, this is the data that we see from online and offline sources. Now from the data above there is no way to identify if any of the guys who inquired online actually bought the products offline because there is no common factor through which we can identify the users.
Now let’s think, when your visitors go to your website you give an unique ID to each of them and the users are nice enough to come to your store and declare their id when they make a purchase. Then the above data would look like..
Based on the unique ID that was assigned on the website now we are able to integrate both the online and offline data and get a much broader picture. However, in real life this unique id is missing. Any unique id that is assigned to online users is applicable only for online and the consumers don’t care to know or share those when they shop offline. The websites also cannot collect any other Personally identifiable information that can be used to map the online and offline activities together.
So how can we integrate the online and offline data ?
It is difficult to quantify and integrate online and offline data however it is not completely impossible and to some extent offline impact of online marketing activities can definitely be measured.
a) Unique Toll Free Number on the Website
Provide a unique toll free number on your website and let your customers call on that. Every time you receive a call on that number you know its a lead sent through the website. This is extremely effective for various websites, may it be e-commerce, tech support of lead generation.
For an advanced level of tracking for your PPC campaigns, you can easily use separate phone numbers for separate landing pages. Now if you set up your PPC campaign in a bit systematic way its very easy to track your offline conversions and map them to your adroups / keyword level data. If you are a big spender on Adwords or Adcenter, this is a very small cost that is well worth the valuable information that you would get out of it.
The latest thing in this context is the service offered by Mongoose Metrics. They can integrate your phone systems in a way that every time someone calls the number it would ping your website and the phone call data shows up on your analytics tool. With this you can have all the data ( web analytics and offline leads generated through online marketing) directly in your WebTrends, Core Metrics or Google Analytics.
b)Use Unique Coupons, Promotions Online
Now here you are motivating your offline store visitors to declare if they have visited your website. Put up a unique coupon or a special promotional offer online and tracking the redemptions of these coupons or promotional offers in your offline store gives you a good indication of the sales / lead driven by your online marketing efforts.
This same technique when used with Email marketing ( sending the promotional offer or discount coupon through emails) can give you some more insights . In most cases for email lists you already have some infomation in terms of geographic location and other demographic information about the customers. Providing them with single use coupons and then tracking there redemption patterns can actually provide a good understanding of your consumer behaviour and preferences.
c) Track Your Online Store Locators
A visitor viewing the online store locator page shows a clear intent of knowing your offline presence. A little effort to integrate your online store locator to configure the store locator search parameter in your internal site search give you far more information – visitors from which geographic regions are more inclined to visit the stores.
Using Maps and Directions are very common today and it is indeed a fantastic feature to have along with your store addresses in the store locators. Now a person visiting the Maps and Directions page clearly has a much stronger intent of visiting the store. Also if you have more than one store in particular region and by tracking the maps and directions page you will have an idea on which stores are more likely to be visited by the website viewers. This helps you understand the amount of contribution your online marketing has in the sales generated in the stores in various locations.
d) Ask Them!
Trust me this works ! the simplest way to do it is to ask your visitors how likely they are to visit the stores. A small unobtrusive exit survey with few basic questions and asking them if they are likely to visit a store and the likeliness of making an offline purchase would probably give you some good data to show your client.