Multi-channel retail is now the norm, and most retailers use a mix of channels, for advertising at least if not for purchases. However, all multi-channel retailers currently face the same problem – tracking offline conversions and purchases and connecting them back to specific online searches and customers.
A wholesale solution to this problem does not (and can’t) currently exist due to data collection and privacy concerns. With around 9 out of 10 customers looking up information online before arriving in-store, this would be the holy grail of online to offline marketing, as it would allow businesses to micro-optimize their digital campaigns.
So, is there anything retailers can do to get a better idea of which online channels and campaigns are driving the most in-store footfall and sales? We take a look at four steps your business can take to get a better understanding of your online to offline conversion funnel, and how to focus on your best-performing channels and campaigns.
Step 1: Build In Trackable Elements
The first mistake retailers often make is not having sufficient tracking on their existing online conversion points. This data is essential for bridging the gap between PPC ad traffic and offline visits, and without it, your insights into the end-to-end customer journey may be very limited.
The first step is to ensure you are using highly trackable, user-friendly elements. If driving in-store visits is a key objective of your online marketing strategy, it pays to invest in functionality such as appointment booking forms, click-to-call modules, store locators with dynamic directions/maps and, if you can build the infrastructure, e-reservations. These elements will serve the double purpose of providing useful functionality to the user and providing you and your organization with a trackable lead-conversion stage.
Step 2: Track Everything You Can
Check that you have the following online pages/modules fully tracked (exactly how will be discussed in the next step):
- Contact, quote request and appointment booking forms
- Click-to-call and click-to-chat modules
- Contact Us pages
- E-reservation widgets
- Store locators and maps/directions pages
- Local Pages (individual website pages dedicated to each store front)
- Voucher downloads (preferably unique)
You should also make full use of Google and Bing. Google offers a suite of integrating services to help you promote your bricks-and-mortar stores online. At a minimum, make sure your Google My Business (and Bing Places for Business) listings are accurate and up-to-date. Also consider using location (and other) extensions on your Google Ads to make micro conversions easier for your customers.
And then try to track these offline metrics:
- Phone calls (call tracking to monitor the number of calls made and/or record conversation outcomes in a database)
- Appointments filled
- Quote requests followed up in-stores
- In-store visits
- Collected purchases and additional in-store purchases (for Click and Collect)
- Redeemed online vouchers
Surprisingly, recent research suggests that only 18% of businesses use call tracking for lead management.
Step 3: Connect The Dots
Now, the trick is tying the data together. There are some strategies you can employ, and this will be easier if you have a CRM in place, or have analytics experts on hand, although you can tackle it without either.
Firstly, we discussed tracking the on-page elements. To do this effectively and tie this in with Google Analytics/Campaign Manager – and therefore your PPC ad campaigns - use the Google Click ID (Gclid), a unique tracking identifier. Google provide instructions for how to do this, and essentially it’s a two-step process:
- Set up the tracking
- Import the conversion data into AdWords.
You can also do this with phone call conversions, as long as you operate in an eligible country, are using Google forwarding numbers and have call extensions or call-only ads.
If you don’t use Google forwarding numbers, you can still implement unique phone numbers for each of your key conversion-driving landing pages from paid campaigns by using call tracking tools. These tools automatically create unique contact numbers, and will normally also provide reporting on metrics such as number, location and duration of calls by source and/or campaign.
It is possible to import other offline conversion data into AdWords as well, if you connect the unique Gclid to customer details captured online (via an online enquiry form, for example). Then, connect this with customer details recorded in a CRM or database via offline conversion or purchase data (from in-store forms, for example).
Last but certainly not least, you can connect together your Google My Business listings (your store information) with your AdWords accounts (and thus your ad extensions, including location extension) and your Merchant Center (and thus your Local Inventory Ads and Shopping). This will enable you to monitor the performance of your digital ads on footfall and in-store purchases.
Step 4: Go Back To Basics
Annoyingly, the use of the Gclid stops here – unless you have a clever customer lead management system which can tie, for example, clubcard data from online visits to club cards used in store, or you offer e-reservations – the ultimate data link between online and offline.
There are other avenues to pursue. For example, you can use Google’s “store visits” metric in your AdWords account; Google will use anonymized, aggregate data on user location – i.e. proximity to store – to estimate how many people have visited your store within 30 days of having clicked on one of your PPC ads. It is only an estimate, but it can form a useful part of your online to offline analytics mix, and is useful for pinpointing high-converting ads.
You could also try more back-to-basics approaches, such as vouchers or coupons downloaded from your website (with unique identifiers which will be captured in store), or online exit surveys to gauge your visitors’ intentions to visit in-store. Alternatively, you could adopt a test-and-learn approach, testing the effectiveness of a particular online channel such as email or paid social media by putting out a single-channel offer or discount, limited to one store or area to ensure you can benchmark results, and see what the response is in the store.
How BRIDGE Could Help Your Organization
BRIDGE is a specialist SaaS provider, offering O2O solutions ranging from Online Listings and Store Locator products to a full end-to-end, online-to-offline marketing platform.
Read more about our secure online to offline platform to see how we could help your business.