Are you measuring online traffic, with the final purchase being done offline?
As internet marketing consultants, we rarely see businesses that are measuring the entire sales process from the research stage to final conversion or purchase. It’s amazing to us that in the “Age of Web Metrics”, most companies aren’t doing this. If you were a business owner or marketing manager, wouldn’t you want to be able to identify which marketing channels were producing the most sales or conversions?
There’s more to measure than just an online OR offline conversion
When we start discussing internet marketing strategies with clients, early on in the process we will ask the question “Are you measuring your online marketing efforts?” 99% of the time, the client will have some sort of web metrics tool in place, and is measuring online activity and sales. When we then ask if they are measuring online to offline conversions, we find that very few businesses have anything in place that is capable of doing this. The reality is that most business are measuring online activity AND offline activity separately. Very few are measuring cross-channel (online to offline) activity.
Why is this important?
The majority of behavioral studies done over the past few years show that most consumers are conduct online research before they make their final purchase decision. In fact, an ATG study from 2010 found that the majority (78%) are using two or more channels before they make a final purchase. Only 22% of all consumers use one marketing channel (online OR in-store OR ???) to browse, research, and make a purchase.
This is where the disconnect is… most companies have no system in place capable of measuring across channels, and through the entire sales process. In essence, they don’t have data in hand showing what percentage of offline sales were generated from online research efforts. You might be spending money on a web site that isn’t catering to the needs of your online visitors, OR generating enough revenue to maintain it, but you won’t know this unless you are able to track consumers through the buying process.
The Typical Buying Process
We’ve talked about this before (see our article Online Consumer Behavior), but the buying process is comprised of the following stages:
- Customer becomes aware of a need/issue
- They explore options to resolve the need/issue
- Refines the criteria for making a decision (price, color, etc.)
- Narrows the list of choices (based on research)
- Makes the final purchase
Based on the above, you can see that most of the activity associated with consumer purchases is based on doing research. The question begs to be asked… “Do you know if your online marketing efforts is generating traffic to your store and resulting in a sale?” Are you providing the appropriate amount for information on your web site that will produce a sale or conversion online, or within your store?
Identify Your Online to Offline Traffic
The best to find out if your web site is generating enough interest and sales offline is to have a consumer tracking solution in place.
Each business is different, and a one shoe solution won’t fit all, but to get started you need to identify those areas on your web site that are taking customers offline. For example, consumers that call your customer service line via a phone number they found on your web site would be one way they would go online-to-offline. This would create a “dead-end” in terms of tracking your online consumers to an offline purchase.
Additional ways that people would be able to go online-to-offline to make a purchase include:
- Online sign-up for email newsletters that drive consumers into a store or business.
- Social Network channels that drive consumers to your store or business.
The list is likely longer for your business, based on your marketing efforts. Are you tracking this type of cross-channel traffic? Probably not. Should you be? Yes, if you want to determine a ROAS (Return on Advertising Spent) or a return on your investment in your online marketing channels.
How do you Measure Online to Offline Traffic?
There are a number of ways that this can be done. Obviously we can’t provide all of the options here, but probably one of the best ways to track an online to an offline sale is through the use of coupons.
Online coupons with unique tracking codes can be printed and then brought into the store for redemption. This is one effective way to determine how many of your online visitors are making in-store purchases. Another great way to build your email list is to require online visitors to submit their email information, to which you can then send the coupon to.
There are many, many other ways to track online-to-offline conversions and sales. For an assessment of what this would require for your business, please Contact Us.