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Tracking offline conversions

In my books and my appearances, I emphasize how important it is to identify your Web conversions—just what are you trying to persuade your customers to do? You also need to measure them. It sounds easy to measure when it’s a shopping cart on an e-Commerce site, but when you sell offline its not so easy.

Different companies take different approaches. Auto manufacturers use elaborate mechanisms that allow you to “build your own car,” selecting the colors, options, and equipment and seeing the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. The consumer prints out the result and brings it to the dealer and asks, “How much for one of these?” The dealer notes that this customer came from the Web and the car company can attribute the sale to the Web if one results.
This technique works because people will do almost anything to spend less time with a car salesman. If your customers actually like your salespeople, then you might need to offer a discount for anyone who prints a coupon and redeems it at your store. Or you might provide a special phone number shown only on your Web site—you know anyone calling that number came from your Web site.
I’ve just finished reading Outside-in Software Development, and that book offered a great suggestion for measuring a different kind of offline conversion: how a software manufacturer knows their product was successfully installed. If you set up a message board for customer support, you can monitor which questions are about installation (didn’t install yet) and which are about usage (successfully installed). It’s admittedly a gross measure, but it is far better than nothing.
So how are you measuring your offline conversions? If you’re not tracking them at all, then you have no basis for identifying which marketing expenditures are working and which ones aren’t. Without that kind of feedback, you can’t continuously improve your marketing because you don’t know how to keep score of the winners and losers.


Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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