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By Rob Beirne on 25 Jan 2018

research online purchase offline

Most of us have experienced someone else claiming credit for our work. If you’re a digital marketer in a multichannel business you’re probably seeing this happen on a daily basis. Too many of us have accepted that this is just part of the job. Your AdWords campaigns locate high-quality customers which convert in store. This happens and you’re not getting the credit for it.

Of course that’s been happening because there’s been no accurate way for us to take a stand and make a credible claim that we generated business in store. Thankfully, that’s changing and now we can start measuring how many in-store sales are being influenced by online activity.

Offline Conversions: The Massive Digital Blind Spot

As digital marketers, we’ve been beating the same drum for many years to steal ad spend from ‘traditional’ advertising channels like TV. That drum sounds something like ‘digital is measurable’ and ‘digital is transparent’. We were picking at the weaknesses of ‘traditional advertising’ which syphoned huge amounts of budget without offering KPIs to backup performance. 

It worked a charm, but even while beating that drum we were selling ourselves short. 

Digital advertising does drive direct response for online-only businesses, but if your brand is multichannel, your paid advertising is driving awareness and delivering results in your bricks and mortar stores too. The problem is that for many online businesses, this has been a notorious data blind spot, making it almost impossible for digital marketers to measure the impact of their work online, offline.

Fortunately, through some innovations from Google and Facebook, along with some thinking outside of the box between ourselves and DID Electrical, we’re finally able to shine a light over the online influence in offline conversions.

Tracking Offline Conversions from Online Ads

We’ve already shown you how to track in-store sales which had been ‘touched’ by Facebook ads. Google is currently working on a similar feature in AdWords which will hopefully make tracking the influence of online campaigns on offline sales much easier. That feature isn’t available to most advertisers yet, but we’ve hacked a way to track in-store conversions from AdWords activity. We needed to get creative to get the data we wanted.

Thankfully DID Electrical are extremely innovative themselves and have started offering e-receipts to customers who purchase items worth over €100. Within the e-receipt, DID are also running a unique competition with it’s own dedicated landing page. This page can only be visited by customers who’ve made a purchase in store with DID. We added this landing page’s URL as a goal and from there we could reverse engineer that customer’s journey to see how many researched online prior to purchase.

This method, while extremely helpful, isn't perfect in that we can't see data for every single offline purchase. We're only able to see data on customers who received an e-receipt and then clicked on the competition link to the landing page. However, it gives us a good representative view and some great insights into the impact our online efforts are having on offline sales.

The Results

We found that of the users who clicked the URL in that e-receipt, 40% had previously visited the website prior to visiting a store and making a purchase. This was some incredible visibility to get into DID’s customer behaviour. Because we could now trace the purchase journey all the way back to its origins, we could now see how many offline purchases began paid search click. 1 in 8 measurable offline sales were influenced by an AdWords ad click.

These results are impressive on their own, even before considering the fact they are quite conservative given the challenges in measuring all offline sales from online activity.

Remember, this is a stop gap. Google is working on a much more straightforward method of uploading your email receipt lists to AdWords. This will make it much easier to match offline sales against online activity. Digital marketers will finally be able to attribute more success to their AdWords spend.

The Wolfgang Essential Takeaway

The days of online activity generating unrecognised in-store sales will soon be a thing of the past. If you are a multichannel business, can you offer e-receipts? This could unlock a wealth of data to better distribute your brand’s overall ad spend.

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