Monday, January 21, 2013

How to track Online Impact due to Offline Campaigns



Have you wondered how offline campaigns like TV, radio and newspaper ads impact the online traffic? Can this impact be measured? In Web Analytics 2.0 [1], Avinash discusses some options that can be used to capture the relevant metrics. Below are the few tips from his book.
Metrics such as number of visits/clicks or the conversion rate increase/decrease due to an offline ad campaign can measure the impact on the website. For example, what is likeliness of clicking your company banner on a website after the user saw the ad campaign on TV or in a newspaper and can this be measured.  

Useful web analytics data can be obtained only with customer’s primary key, which is not readily available and one might need to adopt few work around methods to obtain it. Refer to Occam Razor blog for better understanding of the primary key. Using vanity URLs (also known as redirects) is the oldest trick in the trade to obtain this data. Vanity URLs or the redirects are short and easy to remember web addresses when entered in the URL links to the original site’s address. For illustration purpose, the vanity URL for my blog (if I had one) will be www.websitedoesnotexist.com/~yellai instead of www.websitedoesnotexist.com/1256789/2013. When you run an ad in newspaper, you will print the vanity URL of the company instead of its actual address. When the user visits the company site using the vanity URL, web analytics tools can be used to track the customer information. Since, this vanity URL is printed is newspaper/TV ads, one can track what the conversion rate is for these channels.  To get better granularity, vanity URLs should have a tracking parameter. For example, an ad in Sunday Times can have parameter tracker called sundaytimes in its URL which make the URL to look something like this www.websitedoesnotexist.com/sundaytimes.

                                (image ref. http://www.datareign.com/category/social-media/google-plus)

The other trick to find out the impact will be to use unique redeemable coupons and offer codes. Avinash uses Dell and 1-800-Flowers to explain the effectiveness of unique codes. For example, you are going through a catalog and a product caught your eye and would want to buy it online.
One can go to the advertiser's site and locate the product on the website by simply entering the unique code which is again tied to catalog’s geographic location, edition of the catalog, etc. 
Based on the entered code, the company will be able collect the user information pertaining to location and other details. This will help the company to identify locations that are interested in buying the product and also the channel to market to potential customers.
In addition to the above two methods, surveys can be used to find the impact of channel to generate the website traffic. Basically, a survey is sent out with questions like where did they hear about the company or the special offer. This data can be used to generate the website traffic metrics. 

The last one is to correlate the website traffic patterns with time of the offline ad campaign. For example, one can correlate website traffic patters such as spikes, trends to a Super bowl ad campaign or a print ad in a famous news magazine.
As mentioned before, these simple tips can provide great insights into the impact an offline ad campaign is creating on your website, like the conversion ratio for radio vs. TV vs. newspaper ads. This information greatly helps marketing professionals to focus on the right channel to reach their target customers.

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