How Offline Became The Next Big Digital Thing (Hint: It Involves Your Smartphone)
Columnist Bill Dinan offers insights into how mobile is helping to drive offline conversions, and how you can harness it to best effect.
Mobile is a powerful channel that yields significant offline activity.
Consumers are using their mobile devices to make decisions offline, such as what to buy and where to buy it. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of mobile-driven purchases happen offline. That’s a big number. Who would have thought that the rise of mobile would breathe new life into offline conversations?
As more and more of consumers’ search time has shifted on-device, marketers are now hyper-focused on the offline impact of ad programs. This includes how to measure offline activity and accurately link it back to online and mobile sources.
Making That Missing Link
For a lot of marketers, “offline metrics” refers to in-store visits. The rise of location-enabled technologies, including the latest beacon technology, has helped make it easier for marketers to connect with shoppers in-store as well as measure those valuable touchpoints.
Calls are another powerful offline metric. While mobile devices are used to search and find products to buy, destinations to visit and places to eat, they are also used to call these same establishments and service providers to get more information and make transactions directly.
In fact, it is often overlooked among the many uses of mobile devices today that one of the primary purposes for smartphones is to make calls. From plumbers and pest control to pizza and hair salons, a call is one of the most common secondary actions after a search query or ad click.
Don’t Forget The Telephone App
While in-store metrics are getting a lot of the offline attention, calls should not be overlooked. They can reveal a lot about the consumer and his or her unique path to purchase. For example, mobile shoppers that place a call to a business are more likely to make a purchase.
Mobile shoppers want to convert quickly and look for businesses nearby to do so. In fact, according to our 2014 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study with xAd, 61 percent of shoppers that click on mobile ads prefer those which include a phone number for the business. Overall, half of shoppers that take post-click secondary actions want to purchase within the hour, and 70 percent go on to make a purchase.
For marketers, offline call analytics reveal valuable advertising, engagement and purchase insights. Call elements such as volume of calls, call durations and calls that went unanswered can help track the impact of an ad and also capture what happens between the ad impact and the purchase point.
Caller demographics such as male or female and geographic location help marketers refine their target audiences and to whom to tailor ad campaigns. In addition, linking call tracking numbers to specific campaigns can highlight which ads, distribution partners or creative helped drive quality calls. Marketers can use these offline insights to refine and optimize their existing campaigns for increased lead generation.
But just as offline interest has spiked, so, too, has the role of attribution and determining which media and which campaigns generated a specific lead. Calls are an essential piece of the offline attribution puzzle as rich call analytics can help marketers not only accurately identify the source of the lead but also reveal purchase indicators and conversions.
Keep An Eye On The Big Picture
As offline becomes a focal point among marketers, it is more important than ever to keep the big picture in mind and understand the various ways that mobile drives consumers’ path to purchase. Applying trusted attribution metrics — including both in-store visits and calls — is a key piece of this strategy as they effectively bridge the gap between mobile ad strategies and offline transactions.