Why Interest in Offline Conversions is Growing

How do you measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign— especially when it comes to conversions? In the past, it was common to broadcast a message via TV or radio and then use precarious measurements to identify its effectiveness.  Now that consumers have fully embraced their use of digital channels, marketers need to get a better understanding how a reallocation from the traditional channels should be properly executed. In the digital world, we have seen this pressure on our clients to track offline purchases and to show the value of digital advertising.

Why the Interest?

Most advertisers only have a finite budget, which means that they’re always looking for the most effective campaigns to which to allocate budgets. If one’s action or conversion is taking place in the online world, this is fairly straightforward: You can track conversions, spend and CPA, and determine whether or not a particular campaign is performing well.

When your conversions occur offline, however, this isn’t so cut and dry. You can run your online campaigns, but not track whether these are resulting in offline conversions. There are, however, pushes from major organizations to better determine if online campaigns are resulting in offline conversions.

How Are Partners Reacting

Most consumers are willing to purchase smaller items online, i.e. clothing, accessories, electronics and the like. Yet, they are reluctant to purchase larger or higher-ticket items online. For example, few people would buy a car or furniture from the Internet, sight unseen. They’ll want to test drive the car, or they don’t want to pay for the shipping costs associated with furniture purchases. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Retail Ecommerce Sales report showed that over 90% of sales still happen offline.

Platforms like Snap, Facebook and even Google are working hard to be able to show their advertisers that online activity is leading to offline sales. In June 2017, Google announced that it would now be able to track about 70% of all credit and debit card transactions, and then connect them to online consumer behavior.

Ways to Track Offline Conversions

The easiest way to track offline conversions to online campaigns is with:

  • Coupon codes: While an older tactic, coupon codes are an effective way to track purchases to online activities. If you’re doing both an online and offline campaign, the online campaign coupon code should be distinctive from the offline code.
  • Call tracking: Like the coupon codes, you can create a unique phone number for your online advertising. This, however, can become overwhelming if you’re running many different types of campaigns. There are companies, however, like ClickPath and Mongoose Metrics that will do the call tracking for you.
  • Importing data into AdWords: When someone makes a purchase, you can capture information via your CRM about the person. This data is then uploaded to AdWords, which can trace the information back to a PPC ad. You can import offline sales or conversions from other systems like Salesforce or your point of sale system. Uploading this data into AdWords allows you to see which ads, keywords or queries are leading to sales.
  • Service providers: Service providers like Oracle Data Cloud and Octalytics can track customers online activities and then trace that back to offline sales.
  • Credit card data: When someone buys a product via a credit or debit card, certain organizations can match ad clicks to this data. Google is already using this via its partnerships with other companies to alert merchants when their digital ads are transformed into sales.
  • Local advertising: If you’re searching for a product, Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) will showcase the location of the nearest store that sells that product. Google Now even has in-store cards that alert consumers when they’re near the store that sold the product for which they searched.

What This Means for Advertisers

As more and more advertising partners strive for better offline ROI, marketers can put more faith in running online campaigns designed to drive offline purchases. This is important for retailers with slim margins who are always looking for ways to outpace their competition. Better understanding offline actions will create for better online campaigns.