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Measuring offline sales from your website

Despite the hype of e-commerce and lure of making money whilst you sleep, the majority of Australian businesses and consumers prefer to transact via traditional sales channels such as retail, telephone or face to face. This means that tracking off-line sales from your website is very important and that it’s no longer good enough to have your customers mark the “lead source” as the Internet. You need to drill deeper and ask your customers more specific questions about how they originally found your business.

Online-Offline Marketing Challenges

Every business wants more returns from every marketing dollar spent. The challenge which businesses face is to build in measures that drive better accountability of all online-offline advertising dollars deployed. The struggle online marketers face is to find effective ways to measure the real impact of online advertising, especially offline conversions. Offline or cross channel conversions are sales that start online but are completed offline; either on phone or by an actual visit to the nearby store.

How to advertise on Google the ROI way

The marketing challenge is to effectively track customer behavior after they logout from their computers and head for offline purchases. While online analytics programmes do a good job of collecting relevant online conversion data, measuring offline conversion rate is difficult.

This is because marketers cannot often directly measure the entire sales process from start to conversion. Recently Neilsen/NetRatings published a study that showed 68% of purchases by customers who conducted online searches were done offline (especially local searches). The study also found some very high offline conversions in areas like video games and consoles with a whopping 93% offline conversion rate! This study is a compelling reality of online marketing driving offline sales.

For many B2B marketing companies, offline conversion is the preferred mode as they often have high involvement sales processes where they prefer to interact directly with prospects to provide needed clarifications and higher persuasion environments. These B2B lead-generation strategies often direct online prospects to preferred offline conversion channels such as events and office visits. 

Tracking your offline sales conversion rate

It pays to consistently track the offline conversion rates driven by savvy online promotion initiatives. Here are simple and proven methods to help you achieve this goal:

  1. Simple Assumptions based on sales volumes: this is achieved by tracking the changes in sales volume after specific online advertising campaigns. Another way is using anecdotal data to gather relevant information i.e. using sales people / call centre or ‘in-store-surveys’ to enquire from customers how they learned about the products. Even though these are simple techniques to implement, in practice they can prove to be bogged down with inaccurate assumptions.
  2. Targeted online campaign for Offline conversion Tracking – many small businesses that do not have the resources to spend on higher-end tracking methods use proven intermediate methods. These include running a trial program and then using the gathered data to support future sales efforts. For example, a trial paid search campaign for a retail store with in many locations offers the tried-and-true coupon code and special offer codes which need to be redeemed off-line.

    This method relies on the prospect entering a special identifier that earns him or her a special discount while allowing marketers to track where customers came from.

  3. Customer Tagging Techniques: this method is used especially by businesses that run customer loyalty or frequent buyer programs. To implement customer tagging, the customer needs to be allocated a unique ID on the website, usually through a log in, a user ID or an order ID. The customer can use this ID for preferential rates or incentivised purchasing in offline stores. The same ID can then be used to track the offline sales linked to this online behavior.
  4. 1300 & 18000 phone numbers – Today it is quick and easy to set up 1300 and 1800 numbers to enable your business to track phone calls generated from individual paid search marketing campaigns.  This solution will enable your business to calculate cost per phone call enquiry and benchmark conversions against conventional advertising methods such as the Yellow Pages.

If you want to reduce your cost of off-line sales leads, roi.com.au has vast experience I testing a variety of different cross channel methodologies which have proven to be successful across a wide variety of industries.