The other day, I got a follow up question about my column, "Assessing the Offline Impact of Online Research," which examined understanding the offline impact your site may provide as it's used for research. While the column focused on manufacturing sites, the concept is relevant for businesses in many other sectors.
Tony, a reader from Buenos Aires, Argentina, asked, "How do companies associate an offline sale (in store sale) with a previous online information search about the product the bought?"
This question gets asked a lot. Even on a hardcore e-commerce site, we all know that not every visit is by someone who's looking to buy right then. In many cases, the person won't even buy online, but is interested in finding out information about something. Think back to the basic marketing funnel: awareness, interest, intent, and purchase -- and then, of course, repurchase.
To answer Tony's question, there are a few ways to determine this. Most often, it's based on educated assumptions, but there are a few cases where you can track it through. For example:
But again, many cases are based on studies and educated estimates. One effective way is to survey visitors on your site and ask them about their likelihood to buy offline. Have them choose along a range from "not likely" to "extremely likely."
Once you have this information from a sampling of your audience, you can use it to make broader assumptions. You will find that depending on the type of content they view, how they interact, and what segment of your audience they're in (however you define it), they will behave and convert differently offline. This is a great way to understand what content or experiences on your site get people to convert above or below the average conversion.
By asking about the likelihood to buy, you're able make a much more accurate guess into what percentage of your visitors are going to convert offline. You will want to be conservative on making that estimate, but now you have data to make that estimate from.
Another approach: conduct post-purchase surveys. Again, if you register a product after the purchase, I can survey you and ask if you visited the corporate or manufacturing Web site before your offline purchase. You can ask what role the Web site played in the decision-making process: what they got out of the Web site, what was easy, what was hard, and what convinced them to go forward with the buying decision?
The key is doing a number of these things. Then, as a team, determine what assumption you're comfortable with and then revisit them over time.
The impact of off-site behaviors based on on-site visits and experience is grossly underestimated today by most companies. Too many people try to look at these behaviors and experiences as well defined silos. That just isn't the case!
Take the time. Understand the value the Web channel really provides to your site visitors and the impact it has offline. More than likely, you'll be very surprised at how much you've underestimated the offline impact your corporate Web site has.
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As the Chief Performance Marketing Officer for POSSIBLE, Jason supports the agency's global Marketing Sciences and Media Services programs.
His primary role is to help POSSIBLE teams and clients use data to craft digital strategies that attract, convert, and retain customers - maximizing ongoing ROI across paid, earned, and owned channels. He believes that brands can better serve their customers by understanding audience behavior, and that messaging should be targeted to individual customers through the use of testing, behavioral targeting, and CRM initiatives.
Jason has written extensively about digital analytics, optimization and digital strategy, including an ongoing column at ClickZ.com. He is the co-author of "Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions," which is one of the leading texts in the field of digital analytics. His client roster includes Microsoft, Nike, Nokia, Dell, Ford, Sony, PayPal/eBay, P&G, Alcoa, Expedia, Mazda, Intel, and Motorola, and more. Jason is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars around the world ranging from the Cannes Lions, Adobe Omniture Summits, eMetrics, SES, ad:tech, BazaarVoice, and many other WPP events.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
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