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Small local companies and big brands are swamped with data. Today, consumers keep engaging with more digital content, and these sessions equally impact online and offline conversions. Therefore, marketers often need help to connect inbound leads and offline sales through online to offline attribution.
While every marketer is familiar with online conversions, multi-touch attribution, and various online attribution models, most modern companies use offline and online marketing channels to capture essential data and drive growth.
But the lack of data that often stems from the inability of marketers to connect online to offline customer experiences can create blind spots that prevent brands from understanding how their client’s path ended offline.
Online-offline attribution allows businesses to combine their online and offline marketing data and utilize it as a single source of customer information and campaign insights, enabling them to personalize and optimize the customer journey.
In this guide, you will learn the importance of online-to-offline advertising attribution and its ability to measure digital impact offline and vice versa.
What Is Offline Attribution?
It’s no secret that customer journeys are increasingly complex and becoming more and more difficult to navigate. Most companies traditionally leverage their digital efforts and ignore offline marketing altogether, while others invest in developing an offline strategy to entice consumers and drive more traffic online.
However, not every generated lead makes a purchase, and the ones that do might decide to buy months later. For that reason, utilizing offline attribution models can come in handy for marketing and sales teams, helping them assess the buyer experience and view the customer journey at every step.
But how can brands ensure that they successfully guide prospective clients through their journeys regarding offline attribution? Let’s start with the definition of offline attribution.
Offline attribution is a marketing model and metric that connects digital and offline marketing efforts and evaluates their impact on sales. It helps marketers take a more data-driven approach and assess point-of-sale (POS) data and the performance of marketing campaigns across offline and online channels that generate foot and digital traffic.
Of course, offline sales still matter, and brands must be able to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns — both online and offline. Businesses equipped with digital and offline data can capitalize on online-offline marketing and leadgen tactics and determine which online conversions led to business growth and revenue.
Why Offline Channels and Digital Experiences Matter
Unbranded search queries and word-of-mouth remain the top two channels consumers use to discover products, services, and brands. Offline channels like TV ads, in-store displays, billboards, and magazine-printed ads traditionally follow them.
One of the reasons these offline channels still work is that they allow consumers to discover products and explore them in greater depth. A specific set of channels can be either the best or worst combination, and that’s what marketers need to consider when mapping out customer journeys.
Here are the key channels that businesses should consider and leverage when developing or integrating online-offline marketing strategies.
There’s no denying that tracking offline conversions bridges the information gap many marketers encounter. It helps to increase the efficacy of the overall strategy, which no business can afford to ignore.
But how do you do that?
At POS, brands can collect personal information from customers, like names, email addresses, and phone numbers. For instance, if you’re looking to track offline conversions with Facebook (yes, it is possible!), you can upload all the collected data to your company’s Facebook account and record the following information:
- Whether your customers have Facebook accounts
- Whether your customers saw your ads on this social media platform and within what time frame
That’s one example of how businesses can employ offline conversion tracking and add critical offline data to optimize and improve campaign performance.
The process of tracking offline and online attribution is familiar to most marketers. Let’s look at an example of a campaign that entails a combination of online and offline channels.
While the desired outcomes may vary — a transaction, a phone call, an online form submission, etc. — marketers must attribute and confirm the value associated with every step and, finally, with the desired action.
Since most customer interactions with brands occur online, businesses focus more on using online attribution and tracking online conversions. The problem here is the imaginary “online-only phenomenon” that prevents brands from accounting for offline conversions that still take place.
Despite the rapidly growing digital marketplace, a large portion of customer activities still takes place outside of consumers’ laptops or smartphones. Therefore, understanding what sources and touchpoints deserve the most credit and how digital ads impact offline conversions is essential to overall business health and success.
Why Track Digital Advertising Impact on Offline Conversions
In 2019, 31% of consumers preferred visiting a physical store over online purchases, and 57% chose to shop online. Only 12% didn’t mind using both methods to obtain the desired product.
Customers who opt for an offline buying experience typically credit their decision to the opportunity to try or test a product, the overall physical shopping experience, and the unwillingness to wait for delivery.
These and many other factors make offline attribution a complex issue for several reasons:
- In-store visits are harder to track and register than visits to the website or landing page.
- Combining, measuring, and analyzing online and offline data can be challenging.
- Offline customer behavior is harder to track, which compounds the issue of customers who prefer visiting a physical store.
So how do businesses measure the impact of digital ads on offline sales? Collecting offline data after the digital campaign ends helps brands ensure that the statistics are complete and the ad campaign results are accurate.
Let’s explore how and where brands can capture data offline in more detail.
Where Does the Data Come From?
Geo-targeting and location data enable businesses to measure and analyze offline customer behavior like in-store visits, frequency, loyalty level, and more. Geo-targeting, in particular, offers numerous opportunities for marketing attribution.
If you’re looking to leverage online to offline attribution, there are several ways to see what customers visited a store. Here are the two most popular ways to achieve this goal:
- Marketers often use geofencing to choose the locations where specific ads appear and to leverage the information captured through targeting, like zip codes, GPS coordinates, etc.
- It’s not uncommon for brands to adopt beacon technology that allows interaction and engagement with consumers at specific locations. The technology enables businesses to transmit proximity-triggered notifications.
Here’s how beacon marketing works in a nutshell:
What does it mean for businesses to measure an in-store visit accurately? It means understanding the source (a digital campaign, an offline ad, a notification, a referral, etc.) and adequately determining location data.
Since almost any digital advertisement can start customers on a journey that can result in an offline conversion, marketers need to ensure they have all the essential tools to tackle the issue of offline attribution.
Let’s say that an offline conversion your business is interested in is a phone call or a face-to-face conversation with a client. In this case, utilizing Google Ads is one of the ways to track offline conversions.
Here is how Google can help you manage offline conversion tracking.
How Do I Measure the Impact of an Offline Marketing Campaign Based on Online Activity?
Here are several ways and martech tools that can help brands drive business goals and ensure accurate online to offline attribution.
Implement Call Tracking & Distribution
Suppose you generate leads over the phone or view an inbound call as a conversion. In that case, call attribution can help you evaluate your phone sales and measure the impact your offline ads had on the online activity of your clients.
Find out more about call tracking here and learn how to capture customer data and assess the value of inbound calls.
Call Logic — Phonexa’s call tracking and distribution software — empowers businesses to capture critical information, deliver an enhanced customer experience, and go beyond just call conversions by identifying the marketing channels and sources that drive long-term value and revenue.
Naturally, call attribution requires a lot of actionable data. Call Logic enables brands to utilize call tracking phone numbers that capture and leverage various data types, including call time, keywords and conversation patterns, purchase history, customer quotes, appointments, and more.
Leverage CRM Data
Measuring online ads in offline stores is a challenging task. Since the marketing attribution window of offline sales opens as soon as the ad campaign ends, it’s crucial to find out which customers interacted with an ad and made a targeted action.
Automatically capturing or manually entering customer emails and phone numbers into your CRM can help you leverage data, further analyze the performance, and establish the connection between your online and offline efforts.
For instance, launching post-purchase email surveys is one way to ask customers how they found out about your store or website and learn more about non-marketing sources like referrals.
Use Vanity URLs
Vanity URLs, otherwise known as unique domain names, redirect visitors to the specific destination pages and add UTM tags to ensure successful traffic attribution. In other words, it is a URL that does not exist and forwards users to another website page.
Such URLs typically redirect visitors to custom landing pages that can be personalized to appeal to a specific audience segment and reflect the marketing message of your offline campaign.
Other Tips on How To Combine Offline and Online Data
Here are some additional tips that will help you leverage online to offline advertising attribution:
- Using coupons for offline ads can help you track offline marketing campaigns and connect all the print advertising with the influx of online traffic.
- Launching time-specific ad campaigns on radio or TV can help you see the difference in conversions during, after, and before the airing time.
- Implement an all-in-one marketing automation solution to connect the online to offline buying experiences, collect and store crucial data, and keep tabs on the overall performance of your marketing efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is online-to-offline attribution?
Online to offline attribution is a practice or tactic that provides insights into how successful online and offline ads are, whether they result in conversions, and how online and offline efforts impact one another.
How does attribution for online sources compare to attribution for offline sources?
Businesses use detailed analytics, offline CRM, and marketing automation solutions like call tracking software to comprehensively view how their marketing efforts perform, create a complete buyer persona, and see the entire buyer journey.
Since online and offline ads typically work together, businesses make sure they have the appropriate martech stack to optimize, analyze, and amplify their messages and plan future marketing campaigns.
How do I drive offline sales with online marketing efforts?
There are several ways brands can drive offline sales with online initiatives, like launching search and PPC ads, building and improving online presence, and leveraging social media marketing.
How do I attribute an online campaign to an offline (POS) transaction?
Brands must collect data regarding in-store visits and purchases. Using CRM and marketing automation solutions to capture, store, and analyze this data and integrating all of the tools and solutions they use — like Wi-Fi analytics or beacon marketing — will ensure accurate online to offline attribution.
How can I transform my marketing approach from offline to online?
Businesses looking to transform their ad approaches and steer offline customers towards online stores should consider using personalized communication and incentives, implementing omnichannel marketing, improving local SEO, and connecting to existing and prospective clients on social media.
Schedule a consultation with one of Phonexa’s experts to learn how our marketing automation solutions, including Call Logic, can help you drive more conversions and ensure accurate online to offline attribution.