Website Conversion Attribution – Part 2

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Offline Conversion Attribution

You work hard to promote your brand through your online marketing strategies. Rightfully so, you expect your visitors to find your website, come to it, stay a while and convert a goal. If you’re a retail business with a storefront, how do you determine conversions? More importantly, how can you attribute online marketing efforts to in-store purchases? After all, not everyone who wants to buy will necessarily do so on-line.

Define the Problem, Then Solve It

Why is it so hard to track offline conversions and attribute it to online marketing initiatives? Essentially, you have two different sets of sales data and no real way to connect them. For example, you know about an online visitor by means of a tracking cookie. How do you associate those cookies to in-store shoppers or conversions that happen on the phone?

Offline and Online Data Sets

The above data represents some sample data about 3 online visitors and 2 in-store purchasers. So what can we reasonably interpret from the data?

  • You know two of your three online visitors viewed (and likely printed) a coupon during their visit to your site.
  • You know that one of those who printed the coupon was logged into their online account. You have a name and an online customer ID.
  • For those that completed the goal – in this case the coupon – you can also determine the number of visits and all the touch points leading up to the final visit that registered the goal conversion.
  • You know that both in-store purchasers swiped their loyalty card.
  • You know one of the two in-store purchasers used a coupon.
  • You know which products were purchased and at which store location.

The only problem we have is that the two sets of data are discretely separate from each other. So how do we join these data sets together? If the logged in visitor’s name matches the name associated with the loyalty card that was swiped, you win. If not, you have to find common data points.

3 Tactics to Attribute Offline Sales to Online Initiatives

Loyalty Programs / Cards

First and foremost, it truly is imperative to have the same unique identifier for both data sets. If your unique identifier in your online database is not the same as the loyalty card number or if it doesn’t include the loyalty card as a field, you need to do so. You’ve gone through the trouble of setting up a loyalty program, use it to the fullest. Find some way to tie it in – or print it out – online.

Unique Phone Numbers

Similarly, if you have conversions that occur via telephone, you need to somehow tie that conversation to an online ID. This becomes trickier because you can’t exactly have your phone rep play a technical game of 20 questions about what they did online before calling.

Luckily, there are many phone tracking services that tie into Google Analytics and other popular Web analytics packages. These services provide a code snippet for your site that generates a unique phone number for each visitor. That phone number forwards to your regular business line, but is tracked and able to be tied back into your online analytics.

Unique Coupons

Everyone loves to save. Coupons are not only able to be tracked, they also make great calls to action if you purchase display or other paid ads.  Have your development team generate a unique ID for each coupon generated. That ID can be printed on the coupon to be entered into your point of sales data and also entered as a custom variable in your Web analytics. The event of printing a coupon can be tied in as a goal, using the custom variable data. When you merge your point of sales data, the unique coupon ID can be the unique identifier that ties the two sets of data together.

Putting It All Together

Unique coupons and phone numbers are both able to be measured as goals. As I discussed last week, you may still have multiple touch points from various online channels. Even though you have offline conversions, they may still have been affected by search, social media or any of your paid campaigns. Merging offline data with analytics data is simply your first step. Applying your multi-channel attribution model is the next step. But once you’ve done the legwork, the collection of visitor behavior data will be invaluable.

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