Online-to-Offline (O2O) Attribution: A Complete Guide for Your Business

How Retailers Can Master the Online-Offline Connection

As a retailer, the one question you keep asking yourself is how ads drive offline sales?

Many consumers are starting their journey online and ending it in an offline shop. Consumers go back and forth between digital and physical stores in search of the products they need.

Two women comparing goods and services online

Mastering the O2O (online-to-offline) connection is especially important for firms dealing with clothes, groceries, housewares, car appliances, and any other form of tangible goods.

Consumers interact with companies through social media, Google My Business (GMB), emails, and digital channels. As they move from their phones to their laptops and lastly your store; they expect the same integrated communication.

This is why connecting online and offline through multi-touch attribution is very critical.

Every marketer knows their online presence has an impact on their offline sales. The challenge is to determine how much credit to give an online touchpoint for an offline sale. The main goal is to tie online marketing to offline purchases and in-store visits.

Marketers are navigating tough paths when it comes to the online-offline gap. Here are the updated statistics to know where you stand.

Digital marketing is steadily growing;

80% of Americans are now online shoppers compared to 2000 when there were only 22%, online shoppers

65% of Baby Boomers and 82% of Millennials prefer searching online for deals

93% of website visits are referrals from a search engines. (See the SEO case studies)

4 out of 5 internet users use digital methods to compare prices of a product before a purchase

However, in-store marketing is still strong and has a bright future;

Only 9% of purchases are made online. According to e-marketers even in five years, 85% of the retail sales will still be in-store.

43% of Millennials research online and buy offline.

85% of Boomers research online but 74% buy offline

Prominent and Wise Brands are merging online and offline options for their clients

73% of purchases use multiple channels during their purchase journey

Forrester showed that the web influences more than 50% of US Retail sales

Brands that sell through social media, onsite, marketplaces, and a physical location earn 190% more revenue than merchants who rely on one channel.

How Can You Bridge the O2O Attribution Gap?

Advertisers spent $270 Billion on digital marketing in 2018. If you are among these marketers, it is critical you understand the return on these investments.

Many business owners are seeking multi-touch attribution solutions to know what a consumer does in the physical world after seeing an ad online.

Multi-touch attributions help retailers understand the impact of each online marketing channel (paid search, social display, video) on their online, and offline sales. This is information is vital as it helps in the calculation of return on investment (ROI) and future budget.

Many retailers rely on the last-touch approach for attribution, yet only a holistic view of shoppers activities across online and offline channels allows you to see what is happening across online and offline channels as a result of your marketing efforts.

Measuring Multi-Channel Marketing Impact

Fortunately, technology has made it possible to leverage data to make accurate decisions.

Offline marketing touchpoints and conversion events can now be integrated through advanced attribution solutions.

This integration will show you the customers’ journey as well as give you insights on which tactics and marketing channels contribute to digital and offline sales. With this information, you can optimize the omnichannel shopper experience.

By syncing purchaser IDs with offline conversion data, you can see the consumer’s journey bridging the digital and offline experiences. This way you get to see which online ads increase offline sales as you learn the path of your customer to purchase.

New Measurement for a New Era

Many marketers struggle to comprehend how advertising and marketing affect consumer’s behavior. This is even more complex when results are in an offline environment.

Luckily, through multi-touch attribution, consumers can follow through the journey of customers from online to offline channels; attribute the value of each interaction and make more informed decisions.

Facilitate offline pickup with online ordering

This is one of the best ways to match the two worlds and increase your sales. Localize and monetize your shop’s landing page “smart-bars” that show products consumers can reserve online and pick up in-store (ROPIS).

Localized data can help the marketer gather vital data on different channels such as store-level inventory, POS transactions, eCommerce browsing behavior, and weather just to mention a few.

This is among the easiest online-to-offline transactions that retailers can track. Its value is, however, essential and can be used to predict the behavior of a different group of locations and larger audiences. Targeted online-to-offline coupons

Invite your local landing page visitors to a fun virtual event or offer them a serialized geo-targeted coupons. Coupons have become a significant part of retail businesses. Acceptance and redemptions of coupons can be used to attribute an online to offline attribution.

What is a coupon anyway? It is a promotional tool that comes in the form of an electronic graphic or document that clients can redeem for discounts when buying goods and services.

Image Credit

Coupons can be distributed using all means including social media, apps or direct mails. If you decide to use a coupon here are some pointers to guide you;

Ensure you have an expiration date. This gives clients a sense of urgency and protects the firm from exposure. You cannot afford to have a coupon from two years ago showing up.

Clearly, state the limitations. Everyone hates fine prints so don’t hide it. Additionally, see that you use the term “cannot be combined with any offer.” Forgetting this limitation is the most common coupon mistake among retailers.

The number has to be the biggest. Like any other marketing, coupons are all about grabbing the consumers’ attention. The offer and/or number must be the biggest part of any coupon. This is what your clients want to know.

Make it easy. Many coupons require customers to jump through hoops. A customer’s experience is sacrificed if they have to do so much to redeem a coupon. (In this case, you do more bad than good).

Educate your employees on coupons. See that all your employees are well-trained. Make sure they don’t see a coupon the first time a customer shows one to them.

Location-Based Optimization (LBO)

If you are only focused on tracking online behavior, you might be discrediting campaigns that are actually working.

Clicks do not always equate shop visits. In some cases, campaigns with the lowest CTR (click-through rate), attract the highest number of in-store visit.

Location is very much ignored. Investors will only direct less than 10% of mobile optimization towards the location optimization.

Eventually, Location-based optimization (LBO) match online marketing in terms of optimization investment.

Measuring lifts from online ads is more important than the conversation of total in-store-visits. What is the difference between the conversion rate between those who saw the ad and those who never saw the digital ad?

However, not all location data is equal. Keep in mind that distance is more than proximity which could lead to false positives. Did the individual really visit your store, or were they just passing/wandering by? You have to consider where the data is coming from.

The other factor you need to consider is the conversion time window. The first visit after an ad may take quite some time; the length of the time depends on the vertical. For instance, hotels conversion time window is shorter than that of auto dealerships.

For accuracy with location-based digital ads, limit the perimeter from your store to a few miles by geofencing. The closer to the shop, the higher the rate of conversion, and the lower the cost per view.

Optimize for features such as states, ethnicity, and time of the day, week and carrier. Besides the location of the store, target other places you think your clients may be.

For example, JC Penney in New York realized that individuals who resided near certain subway stops on lines that stopped near their shops were potential clients, so they geofenced them too.

After analyzing their hourly data, Target decided to target ads earlier the following year. Their customers were out earlier, and they were busy searching for a place to go later that day.

Ask Your Clients How They Learned About You

If all this fails, ask your customers how they heard about you. This may be helpful even though they may not offer a detailed answer. This method is easier for certain products where there is increased customer interaction.

Building Your Perfect Local Attribution Stack

Your sole purpose as a business person is to ensure that everything in your business is on track.

However, even if you decided to go ahead and implement all the above methods; you would still have some gaps and mysteries.

The truth is no single method covers the entire online-to-offline consumer journey

So how do you know what is the best online-to-offline attribution for the success of your local success?

The first thing you have to do is analyze and come up with the metrics that gives your firm the information it needs.  By so doing, you know where you need to focus your tracking efforts.

Do you want to know if a visitor went to your shop? Whether they bought any product? Or will it only be helpful if you know both? What do you need to know about your buyers to make informed marketing strategies moving forward?

With the answers to all these questions, you can easily get the most suitable measure for your business. Be sure to confirm that the mechanism you choose is in line with the legal regulations of your region.


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