The importance of online driving offline

Online is obviously one of the most important channels of our lifetime and it is a channel in which I have worked for just about most of my career. Online is fab – it is completely transparent – you know who is doing what, when, and how much it costs. That’s why I love it – all of it! Every single online channel is just exiciting and interesting – if we do it this way, will our audience respond? Let’s change it and see if they respond more. How did we generate best response the last time? What did we learn? It’s a constant test and learn ethos that we apply to everything.

Recent stats from IAB tell us that just about every channel is on the decline, apart from online (and mobile):
* Online adspend in H1 2009 reached £1,752.1m
* Spending on internet advertising grew by 4.6% (on a like for like basis) when compared with H1 2008
* Online’s share has grown to 23.5% for H1 2009, 18.7% for H1 2007
This make online the UK’s single biggest advertising medium.

So, we know online is an ever expanding treasure trove of ways to interact and generate business, but what about offline?
For some of our clients, online also plays a big role in generating offline actions – such as brochure requests (though online download is preferred, some just like to flick through a brochure with a nice cuppa), call back requests etc.

We track all offline actions that are generated from online. How do we do this? Clients that have call centre teams also usually have access to many inbound telephone numbers to which campaign codes can be attributed. Now this has been the case for years and the first major client I implemented this additional tracking for was way back in 2003. Nowadays it’s just as important.

PPC, online ad placement, emails – can all have dynamic numbers associated. What that means is this – say you are in Google and you search for a specific product, you then are presented with a list of paid and natural results. If we are doing our job correctly, we should see some ‘double hitting’ – i.e. good PPC listing and a good SEO listing. So, you click on the paid listing (PPC), you click through to our client site and find out more about the product you were interested in.

It’s a bit of an investment for you so rather than sign up online at this point, you’d like to chat about the options available. You look around the site and see at the top of the page a local call or a freephone number. Great, I’ll give them a call you say. So when you make that call, the number is logged on the reporting system as being generated from Google. When the lead or hopefully sale is made, it is attributed to Google PPC spend and overall cost per sale from search spend. If you had clicked through from Bing, Yahoo, a site we were running content and ads on, an email, voucher code – wherever you happened to come to the site from – likelihood is, we’d have applied a dynamic number to it. So when you click, the number changes so we know where you came from online, even if the sale or action is completed offline. Easy to set up and the data we get from it is vital to the refinement of the ongoing activity.
We have also found that reducing PPC spend or other activity, can really impact on leads and sales being generated offline. So even if there is a seasonal trend expected where online sales dip, don’t just pull back on spend, as this can really effect offline activity too if you are clever enough to have it tied to your online activity in the first place that is!

If you are interested in any of what I’ve said, get in touch or indeed let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
vivienne@perfectstormdigital.co.uk

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