Activating an Offline Conversion Tracking (OCT) System

We are all too familiar with the importance of tracking conversions, i.e. monitoring newsletter subscriptions, video views, website purchases and other customer actions that can be analysed to fine-tune the conversion funnel, i.e. all those activities that impact your bottom line, even if they do not immediately lead to a sale.

However, there is a major problem with conversion tracking if it is only considered as an online phenomenon that does not take into account offline conversions.

A large part of consumer activity takes place outside the digital world. Users continue to shop in physical shops and call companies directly to contract or resolve our doubts.

In many cases, they end up calling or visiting these places because of an attractive online advertisement or because of a search that started online. However, because these sales are completed offline, they are typically not counted in conversion data or applied to attribution statistics. This leaves marketers with an incomplete picture of the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns in the online world.

The solution to this information gap is to harness the potential of offline conversion tracking (OCT). If implemented correctly, OCT can exponentially increase the effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy.

A very common conversion scenario

Let's say Ramon P. is online when he sees a clickable ad promoting a new product for sale at a local retail shop. The product is exactly the kind of accessory he needs. Within seconds, he commits to buying it and there are several ways in which this transaction can occur:

1. You can click on the advert, which will send you to the retailer's online shop, where you can buy the item and have it delivered to your home for a small delivery charge.
2. You can call the retailer's phone number to ask a few questions about the product. If you get the answers you are looking for, you will go ahead and place an order over the phone.
3. You can drive to the retailer's physical shop (it's right next to the post office, where you have to go anyway) and buy the product in person.

Option #1 is the classic online conversion. The retailer will be able to detect that Ramon came to the online shop after clicking on the advertisement and then bought the product during the same virtual visit.

But what about options #2 and #3? Any of those conversions could be directly attributed to the ad Ramon saw online, but there is no way to link the ad view to the subsequent sale. That means we may be missing a key piece of information related to the reach and effectiveness of the ad.

However, there are options to avoid this obstacle.

How to detect offline conversions through social networks

You must collect certain information from the customer at the point of sale: name, phone number and email address, the last element being the most critical for our purpose. This is a practice you should follow anyway outside of offline conversion tracking, but it is vital if you want to track through social media.

After collecting this data, simply upload it to networks. From there, the social network will try to determine three key pieces of information:

- If the customer has an account on that social network.
- If the customer ever saw your ad on the platform.
- Whether the customer saw the ad within a specific time period.

If all three conditions are met, you can count the sale as an offline conversion. This offline data must be sent continuously for optimal benefits.

How to detect offline conversions through Google's platform

Through Google's advertising platform we can track several offline conversion actions that will allow us to identify which users have performed a relevant offline conversion action after clicking on the ad. Through this platform we can identify the following actions:

- Users who clicked on the phone number in the advert.
- Users who have clicked on the phone ad and stayed up to X seconds on the call.
- Users who have clicked on the "phone" on the Google My Business page of the ad.
- Users who clicked on "how to get there" on the Google My Business page of the ad.
- Users who have clicked on "how to get there" on the Google My Business page of the ad and then "been to" that business address

In addition, this traceability allows us to identify the action after the click on the ad within a period of time that we can set at 30, 60 or 90 days after the first click.

Calls from the Google ad will even trace the phone numbers that have made those actions and can be cross-referenced with customer data collected in-store.

Importing data from a CRM
The clicks generated by Google Ads assign an ID that the CRM system can track and store by assigning it to the generated contact. This information can be imported into Google Ads with the offline conversions made and therefore link clicks and conversions.

How to detect offline conversions via the web

In addition to having a tracking system for the advertising campaigns of the different platforms, we recommend generating a series of events/conversions on the website that identify a possible offline conversion and that this can be attributed to the source/media that generated it.

On the web, apart from having the classic online conversions (form, purchase, subscription...) we can create another series of offline conversions by measuring clicks on the company's telephone numbers and addresses. These actions are relevant clicks that could be considered as part of that conversion funnel in pre-read or pre-purchase mode. If we can trace those clicks within the website we can know in detail more characteristics of that lead thanks to the measurement generated in the analytics platform: source, age, gender, page ...

Therefore, before activating a campaign or digital strategy, we must take into account what online and offline conversions we can track in order to have real information on results and be able to make the right decisions.

You can download our PDF on OCT at this link.

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