How Retailers Can Master the Online-Offline Connection

July 24, 2018 Ginna Hall

This question has puzzled marketers since the advent of digital marketing. More consumers than ever are starting their journey online and ending up in a store. Some go back and forth between digital and physical, even using their phones to research while they’re shopping.

For companies that sell appliances, cars, housewares, clothing, groceries and any number of other tangible goods, mastering the O2O (online-to-offline) connection is more important than ever.

“Consumers engage with brands via digital channels, social media, and email. They expect an integrated experience as they move from their smartphone to their laptop to your store,” said Wayne St. Amand, CMO, Nielsen Marketing Effectiveness. “The challenge for marketers in this multi-channel world is knowing which engagement tipped them toward purchase. That’s why connecting online and offline via multi-touch attribution is so critical.”



Consumers Travel From Online to Offline and Back Again

Marketers’ ability to capitalize on O2O matters as consumers travel an increasingly tangled path that goes from digital to physical and back again. Consumers expect to engage with your brand across multiple channels and welcome relevant, personalized offers on each platform they visit—your brand site, social media, email, and across publishers.

You know your online promotions contribute to offline conversions. But you may not know how much credit to give to each online touchpoint for an offline sale. The ultimate goal is to be able to directly tie online marketing to offline actions such as in-store visits and sales.

When it comes to the online-offline gap, marketers are navigating an increasingly complex world. Consider these stats:

Digital is increasingly important:

  • 80 percent of Americans are now online shoppers, compared to 22 percent in 2000.
  • 82 percent of Millennials and 65 percent of Baby Boomers search online for deals.
  • Four out of five internet users use digital channels to compare prices when shopping online before purchasing.

Yet, in-store is not going away anytime soon:

  • Only 9 percent of purchases are made online and this will be true for some time. eMarketer forecasts that in five years, 85 percent of retail purchases will still be made in-store.
  • 43 percent of Millennials prefer to research online and then buy in-store.
  • 85 percent of Boomers research products online but 74 percent prefer to shop in-store.

Smart brands are meeting consumers where they shop—online and brick-and-mortar:

  • 73 percent of shoppers use multiple channels during their path to purchase.
  • Forrester predicted that more than half of all U.S. retail sales would be influenced by the web in some way by 2017.
  • Companies who sell via onsite, marketplaces, mobile, social, and/or a physical location generate 190% more revenue than merchants who only sell through a single channel.

How You Can Bridge the O2O Attribution Gap

Advertisers will spend over $270 billion on digital media this year. Understanding the impact and return of these investments is critical. Many marketers are turning to multi-touch attribution solutions to help them understand what consumers do in the physical world after seeing an online ad.

Multi-touch attribution helps marketers understand the impact that each online marketing channel (social, display, paid search, video) has on online AND offline sales. It also reveals how effective each campaign is, down to the dimension level (publisher, creative, offer, etc), and how channels interact with each other.

This allows marketers to optimize advertising in flight. It also allows them to attribute revenue to each channel and calculate return on investment (ROI) so that they can allocate future budgets properly.

While many marketers rely on a last-touch approach for attribution, only a holistic view of customer activity across online and offline channels lets you see what’s really happening as a result of your marketing activities.


Measuring Multi-Channel Marketing Impact

Technology has created a huge opportunity to leverage data to make smarter decisions. Advanced attribution solutions can now integrate offline marketing touchpoints and conversion events at the user-level.

Not only does this integration provide a more complete view of the consumer journey, but it also provides insights into which combination of marketing channels and tactics drive different digital and offline success criteria so you can better optimize the omni-channel consumer experience.

For example, impression-to-store visit data and POS data can be matched with individual user data to calculate the lift resulting from ad exposure.

By syncing customer IDs with offline conversion data, marketers can see a holistic view of the consumer journey that bridges digital and physical experiences. For the first time, you can see not only which online ads drive offline sales, but also learn much more about your customers’ path to purchase.

New Measurement for a New Era

Many marketers struggle to gain a holistic understanding of how their marketing and advertising influence consumer behavior and drive business outcomes. This is particularly challenging when the desired outcome occurs in an offline environment such as an in-store purchase or call center transaction.

With multi-touch attribution, you can follow an individual’s journey across online and offline channels, attribute the right value to each interaction for each consumer, and make smarter marketing decisions.

Get More Information

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn five critical steps for executing a successful attribution strategy: Learn the Top 5 Factors for Multi-Touch Attribution Success Webinar.

Request a Demo

Learn how Nielsen can help you measure and optimize your marketing and advertising: Request a demo today.

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