Offline Maneuvers: Improving ROI by Tracking Offline Conversions

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Many online marketing professionals spend tens of thousands of dollars on paid search campaigns every month. A company wants to know it is investing its money, not throwing it away. Marketers want to track every aspect of campaign performance to understand how dollars spent translate into new business. The solution? Online campaign analytics tools.

Online campaign analytics have come a long way since the days of simple click-through tracking, with a variety of sophisticated technologies currently available to help marketers calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) on search marketing investments. These tools can provide a business with a good idea on how many impressions, click-throughs, sign-ups and shopping cart purchases an online ad campaign generates. These tools work well for companies that market and sell simple, moderately priced products over the Internet.

However, what if the main sales channel is not online? What if the company sells complex, premium-priced products, such as luxury vacation packages, financial investment products, or medical services? Customers and clients of these types of goods and services tend to be comparison shoppers, have several questions they want answered, and are not looking for a “one size fits all” product. They want products and services that accommodate their individual needs and lifestyle.

For many purchasing decisions consumers actually want input from a member of the company. Many prospects of businesses selling high-consideration consumer products and services prefer to call or visit the sales office rather than make an online purchase. In business-to-consumer scenarios such as these, the web is supplemental research. Prospects make a decision on where to vacation or what stocks to invest in after consulting with a sales representative.

Aside from wanting more information, prospects may also want to negotiate price or they may have special needs. To these customers, the value put on a product or service listed on the website is a “ball park” figure, with the final cost to be agreed upon during a phone call or visit to the store or office. While the final deal is being made in person, the transaction began online.

In many business-to-business situations, prospects are still not comfortable completing complex business transactions solely online. People want to at least have one “human” conversation with a company representative before closing a deal. When complex business decisions and large financial transactions are involved, human nature demands a level of trust that online services simply cannot provide.

When a company completes a sale offline, the capability to monitor and measure customer activity as it moves from online to offline becomes very important. An organization selling high-consideration products and services across multiple channels needs to utilize cross-channel conversion tracking instead of focusing exclusively on online metrics.

Offline conversion tracking provides a company with comprehensive information about the search marketing campaign performance and its direct impact on offline revenues.

Here are a few tactics an organization can implement to capture and measure offline conversions and improve the performance of its search marketing campaigns.

1. Display the address and phone number for the sales department prominently

According to a recent comScore study, 63 percent of online searchers complete their purchases offline. The Internet is a great tool for pre-purchase research, but many people still call a sales office or visit a local store to make the actual purchase. Cover all the bases and have a sales office phone number and store/office address clearly visible on web pages. If the customer has to go through page after page to get a point of contact, they might try another service.

A prospect motivated enough to contact a company by phone is demonstrating a high level of interest in the product or service. Be sure the phone number puts them in contact with an individual who can answer their questions and, if possible, complete the sale on the spot. For stores or offices, consider posting a map or local directions to encourage offline transactions.

2. Track phone call conversions generated by your search marketing campaigns

Businesses can track phone call conversions by assigning a specific toll-free or local phone number to each paid search campaign to get a high-level idea of how each campaign is performing. Track resulting phone call conversions and identify which paid search campaigns drive phone calls into the company’s sales office.

The implementation of basic phone call conversion tracking can help companies compare the success rate of different campaigns and search marketing programs, so they can adjust their online media mix towards more effective advertising efforts.

3. Make more complex call tracking a science for the marketing department

Conducting basic phone call conversion tracking may increase or justify online advertising, but businesses can go well beyond this. Call tracking technologies can monitor, measure, and provide reporting on various aspects of activity as customers migrate from the Internet to offline channels. These sophisticated technologies capture detailed call data and link it with an online session, ad source, and keyword. Businesses that utilize multiple channels in the sales process can use these technologies to effectively measure campaign ROI on a granular level.

Any information is useless unless applied. Evaluate offline conversion data on a regular basis to validate online campaign strategy and tactics, such as the choice of search engines, keywords, and ad copy.

Measure the campaign’s impact on offline revenues. Running offline conversion reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis takes the guesswork out of determining which campaigns are effective and which need to be eliminated.

There are many strategies and tactics marketers can utilize while striving for high conversion rates and strong ROI from search marketing campaigns. However, companies selling high-consideration items and those closing sales over the phone must use different strategies than companies selling products exclusively online.

Tracking and measuring offline conversions and their impact on the ROI of online ad spending is a winning strategy for these businesses. High-consideration businesses implementing this technology can create a considerable advantage for themselves over competitors who may not yet understand the value of tracking offline conversions.

About the Author

Natalia Vinokhodova is Senior Marketing Manager with ClickPath, a Kirkland, Washington - based technology company developing innovative ad tracking solutions that enable online -to- offline conversion tracking.

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