Worlds Collide! Bringing Offline Data To An Online World

One of the most complex challenges facing marketers is trying to measure and understand the impact offline or online marketing has on purchases, regardless of where they take place.

A classic example of this challenge is the difficulty in understanding the value of direct mail: Does it influence a customer to go online and make a purchase there, or ultimately in a store? How can one track it accurately? To truly understand the impact of the entire marketing mix, businesses need to understand what advertisements those buyers were exposed to before making a purchase.

So how can marketers tap into that information?

For starters, data onlining vendors can help marketers make their offline customer data actionable online. A quality online/offline data matching solution will combine offline data – such as purchase history, direct mail, email campaigns, loyalty, and CRM – with online data to create a complete picture of customer behavior. This holistic representation helps marketers get the right message to the right audience, right when it counts.

How does it work?

To begin, the data onlining vendor anonymously pairs household data with online personas. Offline and online data containing media exposure and purchase data is assembled and linked via match tables in a secure, nameless way. Through this process, marketers get an integrated view of in-store purchases and inquiries, loyalty programs, direct mail, CRM data and more.

When evaluating offline data partners, marketers should take the time to identify vendors that take privacy issues seriously. Bringing together the online-offline world should be used to optimize ad spend and ensure consumers are exposed to relevant content, not to invade individuals’ privacy or increase risk.

How does attribution fit in?

Integrating valuable offline data into advertisers’ technology suites will help them merge data across silos that were previously uncross-able. Layering advanced attribution on top of this data lets marketers see the full impact of their cross-channel advertising efforts on all purchases, not just those occurring online. This consolidation of data significantly improves the efficacy of optimization recommendations.

Let’s take two specific examples: First, online marketing influencing brick and mortar store purchases; and second, offline marketing influencing online purchases.

Consider a retailer implementing a new multichannel marketing campaign to increase its foot traffic. Using attribution, the business has likely already determined which digital touch points are leading to its online conversions. However, without identifying which online impressions led a customer to visit the physical store and make a purchase, the retailer has an incomplete picture of its campaign effectiveness. You wouldn’t choose to ignore purchases being made through a Web browser on a tablet versus a desktop, so why ignore those being made at the register in the store? Remember, if your attribution data is lacking, your optimization efforts will be, too. If you choose to measure incomplete metrics, then you are forced to optimize for them.

Second, advertisers with direct-mail campaigns have always struggled to accurately measure their impact. Although the use of direct response tactics – such as 800 numbers for call centers and personalized URLs – help, they often yield results that are skewed. The responses are often too low or there’s a response bias as not all target customers engage with these tracking mechanisms. But, when you map and tie your direct mail data with online data without requiring user action, it becomes possible to improve the data accuracy and correctly measure its impact on sales.

Bringing offline data to the online world allows businesses in any industry with large customer databases to benefit greatly from understanding the complete spectrum of customer behavior. In particular, data-intensive verticals such as retail, travel, financial services and automotive will experience greater prediction, precision and performance in multi-channel marketing campaigns and should strongly consider working with partners that can help tie together all of their marketing efforts, both online and offline.

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