Connect the Dots: How to Track Online Ad Campaigns’ Impact at Retail

For many retailers, knowing how many customers visited their store (or even purchased) as a result of their digital marketing and advertising efforts , remains a bit of a mystery. While larger retailers have access to more sophisticated tools to capture and analyze this information, smaller retailers may be less unaware of affordable tools and methods that can help them also connect the dots and see how their online campaigns are impacting their in-store results .

Some agencies like Simply180 have been able to help retail clients connect the dots. But not all retail marketing and advertising agencies can do this.  There are several key reasons why some agencies can’t do this, including:

  • They are digital purists who find brick and mortar retail a thing of the past.
  •  They simply don’t have the expertise to translate and analyze online campaign performance to traditional retail metrics.
  • Or, they lack the actual tools to help their clients track the impact of online campaigns on offline customer visits.

Ask these agencies about impressions, clicks, click-through rates and cost per click, and they’re all gung ho. But inquire about the offline/online equation and you might get a vacant look that says, “Hmmm…. let me figure that out on your dime.”

Getting the Full Picture of the Advertising Spend

Unquestionably, one of the strongest selling points for digital advertising is the unprecedented targeting and measuring options available. At Simply 180, we believe it, and that’s why we promote it to our clients. But there’s more to measure and to understand. For many campaigns, we can also track conversions such as subscriptions, sign-ups, purchases and other valuable transactions. We track results from Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest campaigns (just to name a few), as well as total sales from e-commerce websites.

What we’re getting at here is the importance of measuring the total return on advertising spend (ROAS), which is the ultimate measure of effectively connecting the dots. Without it, everything from mom and pops to multi-location retailers are operating in the dark when it comes to allocating budgets and making decisions about where to invest their advertising dollars.

Retail e-commerce sales worldwide are forecast to nearly double between 2016 and 2020

We Don’t Sell Brick and Mortar Stores Short.

Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Simply 180 agrees that the death of traditional brick and mortar stores is premature. Sure, there are some big box retailers that have closed, filing for bankruptcy, merging or developing new retail models to compete with Amazon and other e-commerce sites. At the same time, however, we believe that as much as today’s buyers search and shop online, and enjoy the convenience of at-home delivery, they also want an experience. Retail is going through a major shakeup but let’s not lose sight of the fact that around 90% of transactions still take place at the brick and mortar location, according to a 2017 e-marketer study. Again, unless you’re tracking the impact of online marketing efforts on offline activities, your marketing ROAS calculations will fail to capture the full picture.

0% of all transactions are made at brick and mortar stores.

Our Online Strategy for Offline Data Tracking & Reporting

Setting up behavioral and conversion tracking for ad campaigns designed to drive e-commerce sales is what we do every day.  But when it comes to developing a strategy for tracking offline results, we have to caution, “Don’t try this at home.”  It’s complicated for those that have not done this before since it requires some know-how to properly setup, capture and measure results from online campaigns to foot traffic and in-store sales.

Typically, we meet with the client to identify the data points (or dots!) that have value and help the bottom line. Offline data points that have a positive impact on a client's brick and mortar business can be generated through some of the following ways:

Call Tracking

Call tracking as conversions has been available on Google Ads for several years now. There are two main categories of call tracking:

  • Clicks on the ad call extension from mobile phones
  • Calls from the website, either mobile or desktop.

We also use third-party call tracking software that helps us measure phone call conversion from search, digital, and offline marketing campaigns. We create and integrate unique phone numbers for each channel, Google Ads, Yelp, Facebook, email and direct mail campaigns. The unique phone number displayed in the ad is tracked when called and logged into a client's Google Analytics or other traffic and conversion reporting platforms.

Brick and Mortar Visits

While we use several strategies to track physical location visits, the focus of this article is Google Ads. We can apply this measurement tactic for advertisers (with sufficient store visit and click-throughs) data to meet the following criteria, as established Google:

  • Have multiple physical store locations in eligible countries.
  • Receive thousands of ad clicks and viewable impressions.
  • Have a Google My Business account linked to a Google Ads account.
  • Have each store locations in the Google My Business account.
  • Have at least 90% of linked locations verified in Google My Business.
  • Location extensions are active in the account.
  • Meet Google’s users privacy thresholds.

How in the World Does Google Know about an Individual’s Store Visits?

According to Google Ads, it's all based on the location history from a visitor's mobile phone (GPS tracking). They may not know who the person is, but they can track mobile IDs!

Let Us Help You Connect the Dots.

As a full-service marketing and advertising agency, Simply 180 can provide your company with an accurate assessment of how your online campaigns are impacting your offline results.

To learn more, contact us for a complimentary discovery session. With an understanding of your business goals, we can prescribe the best way to achieve your company’s ROAS.

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