What Is Offline Attribution?
July 2, 2020 •Cameron McAllister
Offline attribution is a marketing term that refers to the act of connecting digital and traditional marketing efforts to “real-life”, offline outcomes. In practice, it allows marketers to quantify an ROI for their marketing campaigns that extend beyond the highly-trackable online world.
So, what does that mean exactly?
Many marketers - especially digital marketers - are accustomed to tracking online conversions. Online conversions can include any number of online actions that a marketer wants a consumer to take after seeing or engaging with an advertisement. For instance, if the marketer is advertising an e-commerce business, then they probably want their target audience to buy something on their website.
Or, if they’re advertising a local service, the marketer might want their audience to click on their phone number or fill out a form on their website to receive a free quote. In the B2B world, most marketers care about capturing leads. They simply want their audience to give them their contact information so that they can begin a dialogue with this potential customer in hopes of eventually selling them their product or service.
Each of those initial desired outcomes - e-commerce transactions, phone calls, and lead form submissions - are common examples of online conversions. In the e-commerce example, there is even an immediately confirmed value associated with the conversion. That value is measured by the amount of the sale. Because each of the e-commerce shopper’s interactions with the brand takes place online, this entire process can be tracked using online attribution, which in itself, can be tricky.
If the e-commerce customer visited the web store multiple times, from multiple sources (Google, Facebook, email, etc.) before converting, how does the marketer know which of their efforts really convinced the customer to buy? Should they give credit to the first source, or maybe the last? Or maybe a combination of all of the different sources and ads that influenced that customer? There are various methodologies to support each of these approaches, and multiple attribution models to help report on them.
Which Source Should Get Credit?
Let's dive deeper into how this becomes even more challenging when faced with tracking what consumers do after they “convert” online, to determine whether or not their online conversion amounted to any real-world value.
Not only do marketers with offline business activity need to juggle multiple online attribution models for their digital campaigns, they also need to figure out which of their online conversions eventually led to revenue for their business. In the B2B example mentioned earlier, how does the marketer know if the person that filled out the online lead form eventually bought anything from their business? Was their “online conversion” really worth anything? After all, what if the potential lead gave a fake email address?
Unlike e-commerce, true value for that conversion is not immediate; instead, it is realized if and when the lead decides to purchase. Keep in mind that not all leads will eventually purchase, and even for those that do, there might be many months between the time the lead is captured and when they actually decide to buy.
So, now the marketer responsible for driving this lead must remember which of their online efforts impacted this lead, across multiple touch points, to be able to know whether or not their marketing campaigns “worked”, many months later!
Online to Offline Attribution Example
For this example, let’s follow a B2B SaaS company in the financial services space. The marketing team for this company manages the blog for their website and also runs paid digital marketing campaigns on LinkedIn to generate leads for their sales team. One day, a potential prospect is doing some online research for their own company, and stumbles across a blog post from our aforementioned B2B SaaS business. They read the article, which piques their interest in the SaaS solution, but they do not fill out a lead form to learn more about the product. A few days later, the prospect logs on to LinkedIn and sees a retargeting ad from the very same B2B SaaS brand, inviting them to come back to the website and request a free demo. This time, the prospect agrees; they click on the ad and fill out a form with their email address in order to request their demo.
At this point, online attribution would count the demo request as an online conversion, giving first-click credit to the blog and last-click credit LinkedIn. But, what happens after the prospect completes a demo? Let’s say the prospect remains interested, and proceeds to have 3 more phone calls with a sales rep before eventually signing an official order form to buy, 6 weeks later. Now, while online attribution would have stopped at the demo request, offline attribution has just begun.
Offline attribution would continue to track that prospect, beyond their demo request, logging their multiple phone calls as additional touch points, eventually connecting the actual sale, along with the revenue it brought for the business, back to the initial online marketing efforts that helped land the prospect in the first place.
Get the Whole Story
With offline attribution modeling, both marketing and sales teams have access to the same, complete picture of the customer journey, from anonymous website visitors to known prospects to paying customers. Your teams are able to make sense of not only which marketing tactics are helping acquire new leads, but which tactics are acquiring leads that actually convert into paying customers. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine trying to track that activity across hundreds of leads, all with unique browsing patterns and marketing sources influencing their decision. Offline attribution modeling requires the ability to compile and connect massive amounts of data - this can be a roadblock for a lot of marketers, but there are solutions out there.
Offline Attribution Solution
To make life easier, marketers might look for an offline attribution platform to tie complex online attribution models with long-term, offline purchase events. These platforms, such as DemandJump, are able to achieve this level of visibility by integrating with offline data sets - like CRMs or other systems of record - to apply the same identifiers used to track online conversions to the eventual offline purchases that take place.
When a lead converts to a customer, you no longer need to remember which marketing campaigns were running at the time of capturing that lead. Instead, you can see exactly which campaigns influenced the customer, from the time they first visited your website to the moment they decided to buy, whether online or offline. Ready to simplify your marketing efforts? Try DemandJump free for 7 days and see just how easy this all could be.
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