Like most great things, this post starts with pizza. In 1994, the first ever online purchase was made through PizzaNet, an online ordering interface developed for Pizza Hut. And the path to purchase hasn’t been the same since.
Flash forward to 2017 and there are over 100,000 ecommerce websites delivering their products without their customer walking out the front door. This transition has inspired a whole new breed of marketers: the data-driven strategist. Just ask one of these spreadsheet gurus about the performance their last digital campaign, and they’ll provide the number of impressions, cost per click, website visits, conversion rate, attributable online revenue, etc.
But that’s only half the story. Or, considering that the vast majority of purchases are still made in the real world, maybe 20% of the story.
So how are today’s digital marketers measuring success in the physical world?
1. Purchase Data
Starting with the obvious choice, digital marketers track POS figures in the context of online campaigns to answer a basic question: Do in-store sales correlate to my marketing efforts? To accomplish further granularity, many retailers offer an exchange of value, such as a loyalty program or personalized coupons, in order to determine whether customers actually engaged with a specific campaign prior to purchase. While this approach is closest to measuring offline ROI, what happens if my visitors don’t make a purchase?
2. Anonymous Traffic
Moving one step higher in the funnel, brick and mortar retailers have a variety of methods to track the masses within their locations. By using traffic cameras, WiFi-based analytics, or Bluetooth beacons, this raw count of foot traffic is analogous to measuring website traffic throughout a campaign. Again, marketers strive to prove a direct (and positive) correlation between their advertising or email campaigns and warm bodies coming through the door. By utilizing a known, or assumed, in-store conversion rate, many brands also back in to a revenue lift driven by digital efforts. The big ‘gotcha’ here is knowing whether this increase in traffic is due to a stellar ad campaign (and if so, which one of the many) – or is the weather to thank?
3. Identified Store Visitors
Flipping back to the digital world, marketers tend to have a keen sense of the dollar values attached to various ‘events’ or bits of information. For example, they know a website visit is roughly worth their online conversion rate multiplied by the average order value. But what about the dollar value of an in-store visit? Does that value differ depending on the type of shopper?
The benefits of identified store visitors include those outlined above, namely illuminating both the traffic and transactions driven by marketing efforts. Additionally, marketers can consider shoppers’ behavior within the context of their full marketing campaign history. For example, a recent coupon may have been used at purchase, but new product announcements in an email drove the initial visit.
Especially for big ticket items such as jewelry, or highly experiential purchases like furniture, multiple store visits often occur prior to purchase. Considering pre-purchase visits indicate intent to buy, store visits are a critical metric by which to judge campaign performance. Of course, we can’t stop simply at measuring the number of our high-intent potential customers. As said, not everyone who walks through the door will make a purchase, but we see that personalized reengagement based on in-store behavior gives that extra push to buy. Naturally, executing segmented marketing campaigns is only possible by tying back identify to behavior.
So whether you’re just kicking off a loyalty program or already efficiently target high-value shoppers with timely and personalized messaging, the importance of data collection cannot be overstated. Investing in well-performing campaigns or discovering weaknesses in others is the most critical step in optimizing every marketing dollar. And to truly measure performance across your entire business, you must connect the physical and digital worlds.