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Using Attribution to Connect Online Marketing with Offline Purchases

Volume 3, Issue 6 - June, 2013

Ajomy Jacob, Sr. Business Analyst, Visual IQ

Studies show that the vast majority of consumers go online to research products before buying offline. Yet many marketers still struggle to evaluate how offline sales are impacted by their digital marketing efforts. Let’s take a look at some of those measurement challenges and how marketing attribution can help marketers maximize the effectiveness of their online advertising to drive offline sales.

Inability to Track and Report Sales

Correlating marketing tactics with sales performance can be particularly challenging in industries where the final sale typically occurs offline. In the auto industry, for example, most sales occur in the dealer showroom, even if an online ad or visit to the dealer’s website pushed a prospective customer to the bottom of the sales funnel.

Marketing attribution can help bridge this gap by correlating digital marketing spend directly with consumers who purchase offline. For example, data provider R.L. Polk collects and analyzes motor vehicle registration data, as well as new vehicle transactions from all the major auto manufacturers. By working with companies like Korrelate and Datalogix, conversion actions (i.e., paid and organic searches, email opens, visits to vehicle configurators, etc.) can be associated with actual purchase data, providing a new lens into each sale and the funnel event(s) that triggered it. By applying attribution to this information, marketers can optimize their spend on those tactics that have the greatest impact on purchases of vehicles.

A similar process can be applied to any number of industries where the majority of final sales occur in-store or over the phone, as long as marketing performance data and offline purchasing data are available to be married together.

Overlap, Duplication and Waste

For many businesses, marketing budgets are not only allocated across online and offline channels, but also across a mix of campaigns that run at the global, national and local level. Without insight into how each channel, campaign and tactic influences each other, there will undoubtedly be some overlap where the same product or offer is promoted, leading to duplicated efforts and wasted marketing spend.

Attribution collects and integrates all of the touchpoints experienced by each prospect across the entire marketing ecosystem, enabling marketers to see the complete impact of their marketing activities. Marketers can not only identify overlap, duplication, amount spent and the conversions generated among global, national and local campaigns, but also evaluate the effects of any digital marketing tactics on offline purchases. With this insight, marketers can make more informed decisions about where to allocate their marketing spend, including those online marketing efforts that have the greatest success in contributing to offline purchases.

The Silo Effect

Today, many marketing departments operate in teams or silos, which are no longer just split across products or brands, but also by channels. These teams often work independent of each other, typically with their own set of strategies, plans, goals and data. This lack of integration often leads to inefficiency, including: poor budget allocation, overlapping marketing spend, and unnecessary duplication, as separate teams perform the same tasks and reinvent the same wheels.

Attribution management helps break down these silos, integrating all online and offline efforts to provide a holistic picture of performance and enabling marketers to clearly and accurately identify which channels actually led to or influenced a conversion. By understanding the interaction and synergy between online and offline channels and how they work together to drive sales, marketers can reallocate their spend accordingly to maximize efficiency.

The evidence is clear. Even when consumers research products online and the purchases take place offline, marketing attribution helps marketers bridge the knowledge gap, providing them with cause-and-effect links that can help drive their overall marketing strategy.

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