Commentary

Primary Offline Advertising Drives Secondary Online Leads

Why would anyone cancel a TV effort or a magazine campaign that was driving an acceptable cost per lead? Simple: it appears as if the campaign is failing because they are not counting all the leads driven by the advertising expenditure.

Over the past few years we've seen a paradigm shift in the way consumers are reacting to advertising presented through traditional offline media. Today, consumers' behavior is being driven by their ability to choose from multiple response options.

Back in "the day" (and I'm talking about the '70s, not Internet 1.0), the primary response channels to offline advertising were postal mail and telephone, and it was relatively easy to track those actions with coded mail and unique phone numbers.

Fast forward to now. The three major online bridges -- Web URL, organic search and paid search -- have taken hold. Advertisers rushed to put their home page URL in ads in an attempt to capture the new consumer. But of course, the activity that the offline stimulus is possibly driving online is being lost in the overall traffic to the advertiser's home page. Leads and actions are not being counted.

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In analyzing our clients' data throughout this period, we began to see up to 90% of responses showing up online, making us acutely aware of the effect of this big shift in consumer behavior. It was clear that offline lead generation efforts were driving incremental activity online! And, more importantly, we assessed that accurately looking at this activity during the performance analysis absolutely changed campaigns that appeared to be losers into BIG winners.

Some advertisers attempted to manage this situation by using a suffix on their home page URL, like www.clientsite.com/TV. This is a futile effort, as less than 25% of people seeing a suffix actually type it into a browser. What's worse, if responders type in the wrong suffix, they get a "404" message -- "Web site cannot be found" -- and end up nowhere.

So what's the answer? TRACKING IS EVERYTHING! You need to have tracking in place that enables you to "see" all of the activity across the multiple response channels now available and used by consumers.

It starts with unique URLs driving traffic to a unique landing page (not the home page) that are supported by your skill in benchmarking and tracking all other online activity, as well as measuring the delta when the offline advertising is running.

We see the phenomenon of offline advertising driving online activity from literally every client we work with. And not just to the identified landing page. Let me give you one example. After running DRTV for a few weeks, a company in the online space was not only able to measure an increase in the direct activity to its unique landing page, but was also able to identify the secondary lead activity online generated from searches on its branded terms (increased 45%) and searches on non-branded terms (increased 18%). It also saw unique visitors to the home page increase a whopping 62%! We were able to show the ROI by cable network, by day part and creative execution.

Here's another example: a test of DRTV for a brick and mortar company to drive leads for a follow-up marketing effort. The cost per lead goal was $15. The metrics that were driven by the primary measurement of phone and unique landing page response came in at $41. The adjusted cost per lead that reflected secondary activity from online channels was $8.33; a 200% increase in overall efficiency while beating the target metric by 55%! Without the secondary measurement, this campaign would have been declared DOA.

One last thought: recognizing secondary activity and putting the tracking into place will not automatically provide the winning formula. The entire organization on both sides of the table must act in a multichannel manner. Silos and walls must be broken down in order to maximize the ROI for each and every program you deploy.

Understanding and capitalizing on the convergence of offline and online marketing provides an advantage in the marketplace, versus those competitors that are still looking at only primary results.

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