How Retailers Can Optimize Offline Sales With Smarter Digital Ad Practices
May 17 2023
Retail businesses face a complex challenge in the age of ecommerce. Accurately tying the extensive reach of online marketing activity to real-world outcomes requires a thorough understanding of your customer’s journey, from initial product discovery to in-person purchase.
With data privacy restrictions tightening and major changes already impacting some of digital marketing’s most foundational platforms, there’s never been a more crucial time to identify when and where customers are “opting in” to your brand’s messaging. Through these offline tracking best practices, retailers can refine their online marketing strategies to drive business outcomes.
Tracking Offline Marketing Campaigns for Retailers
Measuring the true impact of your latest marketing campaign means drawing a strong connection between online engagements and real, in-person activity on the part of your customers. Common tools marketers use to establish this connection between online ads and offline impact include the Google AdWords and Facebook platforms, built with specific tools to help brands track store visits and offline purchases.
Offline tracking is essential for brick-and-mortar retailers seeking an optimal ROI from their digital efforts, but there are some added steps needed to ensure this tracking remains accurate. Through a unique ID (called Google Click ID or GCLID) assigned to every click on your branded website thanks to an ad, Google Ads makes it possible to track offline conversions from clicks and record them alongside your other conversion tracking data — though it may take a few extra steps.
Facebook offers a similar methodology for tracking offline activity. By matching user data gathered at conversion (names, emails, addresses, or payment information) with data of identical users who previously engaged with an ad, the platform can intuitively determine which online interactions (either directly or indirectly) led to offline conversions.
Optimizing Retail Marketing Strategy Through Tracking
Among the key variables advertisers can play around with as they seek to optimize offline sales is the balance between wide and narrow conversion windows. Retail businesses enjoying high volumes of foot traffic will likely require shorter conversion windows — experimenting with different windows (while resisting the urge to tinker with any other variables) is crucial to getting accurate insights into your online marketing efforts’ effect on customers.
Of course, whenever you’re messing with conversion windows, you must also consider the attribution model at work determining where those valuable online engagements are originating. Accurately tracking offline conversions means looking into the very beginning of a customer’s journey, identifying what sparked initial interest in your products, and tracing their path from discovery to in-person action.
As always, the goals directing your marketing activities should align with specific offline actions. From the outset of a campaign, retail advertisers both online and in-store should always consider what they want potential customers to do following any interaction with their ads, and assign KPIs accordingly. These frequently include metrics like average cost per lead, cost per sale, and/or lead-to-sale conversion rate.
Why Advertisers Need to Track Offline Activity
Advertisers spend countless hours deducing where budgets, messaging, and creativity are most effective. While tracking offline actions might add another layer of complexity, the payoff is more than worth the trouble. Ad platforms are constantly experimenting with newer, more user-friendly ways to prove digital ads are getting the job done, with more visibility into the inner workings and data from ad campaigns available to both ecommerce and offline brands than ever before.
By focusing on attribution, practical conversion windows, and the application of the above-mentioned industry tools and platforms, offline conversion tracking can drive significant ROI for retail brands. Digital marketers using online methods to determine what resonates best with their target audience will naturally expand their ability to gauge whether or not more in-person customers are walking through the front door thanks to digital efforts.
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