Offline attribution is the process of connecting digital activity with sales that happen in the “real world”. For this article, we discuss the challenges related to offline attribution and share tips on how to track your customers across the entire sales cycle, both online and offline.
Visibility over the performance of your online and offline channels is paramount when it comes to making budgetary decisions that can make—or break—your business.
Thanks to the growing need of marketing attribution, there’s been an explosion of tools and technology designed to help marketers track customers along the path-to-sale across multiple channels.
But marketing attribution is anything but easy.
With long sales cycles and multiple touchpoints from single customers, both online and offline, attribution is an area which has left marketers struggling to connect their online touchpoints with offline activity.
For this article, we’ll discuss:
- How offline attribution works
- The challenges of offline attribution
- Tips on how to calculate the ROI of your offline marketing
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What is Offline Attribution?
For the sake of clarity, let’s explain the process of offline attribution in a little more detail.
Typically, an offline sale will begin online.
The purpose of offline attribution is to help measure the ROI of the marketing channels that drive actions away from the web, such as a telephone call or in-store purchase, and lead to a sale offline.
For example, let’s say a visitor finds your services using an organic search term. They navigate around your website, leave and then two days later use a call extension on your Google Ad to contact your business and convert into a sale.
In short, implementing offline attribution allows you to connect revenue back to leads and prove which digital activities drove offline sales.
Other benefits include:
- Align sales and marketing activity
- Measure true marketing ROI
- Optimise marketing for high-quality leads and revenue.
We won’t go into too much detail here, as you’ll likely want to move on and learn how to connect your online and offline touchpoints. Although, if you do want more information, then you can go head and download our eBook on offline attribution.
Challenges to online and offline attribution
Coordinating online to offline touchpoints can be challenging for many reasons. As a result, the importance of offline attribution often gets overshadowed—or worse—ignored.
For this next section, we’re going to break it down and explore the most common challenges related to offline attribution:
Longer customer journeys
Understanding the customer journey end-to-end can help you optimise your campaigns to convert more leads into sales.
That said, the customer journey has grown more complex in the past ten years, compared to any other decade.
In this survey by Marketing Charts, 900 respondents were asked to share the average length of their typical sales cycle for new and existing customers.
76.6% of respondents revealed that it takes at least four months to close a new customer into revenue, with 46.6% taking seven months or more.
Thanks to digital advances, consumers have more channels to engage with before enquiring.
Not all that, but there are now more decision-makers involved in the buying process to ensure that services and products are the right fit for their business.
As a result, the sales cycle is no longer a linear path from discovery to purchase.
Consumers will weave throughout online and offline channels and last, in many cases, weeks, months and sometimes even years.
But why exactly is this an issue?
Long sales cycles make it problematic for marketers who want to measure and calculate the exact ROI of their online and offline marketing activities.
And, if you don’t know which marketing channels are closing in revenue, how can you optimise for better results.
Online and offline data siloed
As the B2B sales cycle gets longer, marketing teams must find a way to track and analyse more steps in the buyer’s journey to calculate their ROI and scale the performance of their campaigns.
Many businesses are measuring the success of their offline and online activity in separate platforms.
Digital marketers, for example, are partial to using tools such as Google Analytics to measure online metrics such as conversions and clicks.
Whereas, sales teams, who typically engage with leads via offline channels, are more interested in close rates and revenue focused KPIs throughout their CRM.
Although, when this data is isolated, businesses can’t create cohesive online and offline campaigns to drive more awareness and sales.
Lack of measurability
One of the core benefits of digital marketing is that it’s highly measurable.
Tools like Google Analytics do a great job of tracking online transactions and form completions but fall short when it comes to tracking offline conversions.
Offline conversions are leads that start their journey online but are converted offline – either by a phone call or store visit.
Measuring marketing’s impact on offline conversions is hard work because you can’t often directly measure the process along the path-to-sale.
Marketing teams that solely rely on tools like Google Analytics to measure offline interactions know that their data is incomplete.
Although, because they can’t see past goal completions, it is much easier to measure the performance of their activities by just counting the numbers of conversions they see in the acquisition report.
How to join online and offline channels
So, how do you go about measuring your offline marketing ROI if all your leads are generated online?
Using the following methods you can connect the dots between your online and offline campaigns, and accurately measure the ROI of your overall marketing activity.
Let’s take a look at some of the best methods:
Call tracking to measure your phone sales
Using call tracking software, you can gain insight into which digital marketing channels are driving phone sales.
Call tracking software works by overriding the phone number on your website and replacing it with a unique phone number for each visitor.
When the number is dialed the call is forwarded to your original number.
There are multiple benefits to call tracking, which include:
- Increased ROI: Call Tracking allows you to target your marketing activity more effectively, increasing the ROI of your campaigns and allowing you to allocate your budgets to your best advantage.
- Record and playback: Recording and listening back to calls allows you to build up demographic pictures of your target audience and their preferences, so you can focus your business on those most likely to use it.
- Ability to uncover your most valuable keywords: If a visitor found your website through Google Paid, then Call Tracking enables you to determine which keywords they used throughout their search.
Editor’s Note: We have lots more information on call tracking, and how it can work for your business, which you can explore in your own time:
Closed-loop marketing attribution
Sure, knowing which channels, campaigns and keywords are driving the most calls is important, but it’s always important to remember that these calls aren’t actual sales – at least not yet.
The downfall with most call tracking providers is that they focus on the quantity over quality, mainly because they haven’t got the technology in place to merge data from your CRM and analytics tools.
Although to get the most out of your call tracking, you need to go beyond tracking the number of calls and focus on what matters most to your business: revenue.
Thankfully, the closed-loop marketing framework can help.
Ruler Analytics is a closed-marketing attribution solution which aligns offline revenue from your CRM with marketing data in Google Analytics so that you can track your customers’ touchpoints–online and offline– to measure and attribute value across the entire sales cycle.
1. Track anonymous visitors over multiple sessions and sources
Typically, users engage with your marketing campaigns over multiple sessions. Ruler Analytics tracks each anonymous visitor individually, and records how that user found your site and tracks any subsequent visits or interactions with other marketing channels and campaigns.
2. Send marketing and conversion data to the CRM
When a visitor calls your business, Ruler Analytics will update the data on that user to create a journey map for what is now known as a lead. Next, Ruler will pass all the marketing and conversion data to your CRM, allowing sales to see what specific campaigns and keywords they engaged with leading up to their call enquiry.
3. Match revenue data with marketing activity
Whenever your lead converts into a sale – whether that be tomorrow or next year – Ruler Analytics will utilise a pre-built integration to pass real conversion and revenue data back to your reporting tools i.e Google Analytics, Google Ads. Allowing your marketing teams to see revenue and conversion data alongside all of their traditional metrics.
We have a handbook that explains this process in more detail. So, if you want to maximise the ROI from your offline marketing activities then we recommend you give it a read.
Use dedicated landing pages
If you’re not ready to jump into closed-loop marketing attribution, then there are a few other methods you can use to help connect the missing link between your online and offline campaigns.
Custom landing pages are a popular choice to help track offline marketing online.
The idea is to create and promote a custom landing page to attract visitors engaging with your offline campaigns, which then allows you to keep track of any conversions that take place on that page.
Before you go about this, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to get the most out of your measurement.
- The longer the URL, the harder it is to remember. Ideally, try and keep the URL of your custom landing page short as possible as it could discourage people from using it.
- If you decide to use multiple custom landing pages, then make sure to keep a log of your URLs. For example, when they were created and why you created them.
- Make sure that you add a NoIndex meta tag to prevent other forms of traffic coming to your landing pages.
Use Vanity URLS
A vanity URL is a custom URL used for marketing purposes. While most of your users will visit your website by clicking, or at the very least copy and paste a link, some won’t.
Vanity URLs are perfect for businesses that run offline campaigns such as, TV, print and billboards and want to bridge the gap between their offline and online touchpoints.
Let’s take a look at how to set up a vanity URL.
Before we jump into it, we do have a guide on how to track offline conversions, which goes into this explains this process in more detail which you can find here.
Step 1: Purchase a unique domain which you would want to feature throughout your print ads. Piece of advice would be to keep it as relevant to your brand as possible.
Step 2: Create a trackable URL. You can achieve this by heading over to Google’s URL builder. Add in the destination page where you want your readers to land when they type in your Vanity URL. Then, add in any relevant information in the remaining campaign fields.
Step 3: Go to the provider where you purchased the vanity URL and log in to your account. In the account setting for that URL, select the “redirect” or “forward” option. Copy and paste the campaign tracking URL you generated in Google’s URL builder.
Step 4: Before you launch your campaign, make sure to test your vanity URL, and check your Google Analytics report to ensure everything is displayed correctly.
Use promo codes
Promo codes are another solution to help track your offline marketing campaigns and is commonly used to connect print advertising with online traffic.
You’ve most likely seen these Promo codes in magazines and newspapers for example, “use promo code RULER20 for 20% off your first month”.
You can use custom variables in Google Analytics to track your offline promo codes.
Offline attribution is key as it shows how effective your online digital activities are at driving conversions and sales offline.
Using tools like Ruler Analytics, marketers can begin to identify consumers online and track their journey to offline purchases.
Ready to take your offline attribution to the next level?
Get in touch with us today and to learn more about how we can help you assign revenue to your online—and—offline initiatives.