We recently conducted a study that found that, while three-fourths of local businesses invest in local search marketing (local SEO) and more than one-third spend more than $500 a month on digital advertising, only 44 percent actually track the success of their digital efforts.
So, most local businesses are spending time and money on digital marketing and advertising, but more than half of those businesses have no idea if it’s working. If you’re investing your business’s money on digital marketing, but you don’t know which channels are driving the most sales and leads, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
How to Track Offline Conversions
The problem with tracking the success of online marketing for a brick-and-mortar business, though, is that there’s a missing link between your online efforts and when a consumer actually steps inside your store to buy a product.
While technological advances may make offline conversion tracking easier in the future, for now, manually tracking offline conversions is the best place to start.
Here are the steps to tracking offline conversions:
1. Ask your customers how they found you.
Don’t settle for a simple “online,” because that isn’t specific enough.
Find out if they found you through a search engine (and if so, which one) through social media (find out which platform) Yelp, a local directory, billboard, phone book ad, etc. If they found you online, ask for the exact website or app they used and how they got to that website.
Is that website their go-to platform for finding local businesses or did they use a search engine to find it?
Keep track of how customers are finding you so you can calculate the ROI of your marketing efforts. You could keep a spreadsheet with the following information in order to track how much of your profit has come from your digital marketing efforts and how much has come from traditional marketing:
- How they found you
- If they researched your business after finding you, and if so, where (Did they read reviews or check out social media pages?)
- How much they spent
- How much you have spent on marketing or advertising for that platform
Make sure to collect as much information as possible. For instance, if they found you in a search, ask them what search engine they used and what their search term was.
Don't forget to make your employees aware of your tracking methods.
Ask them to ask your customers where they found your business. Print out worksheets for them to fill out so they know exactly what information you’ll need to enter into your spreadsheet.
2. Figure out what isn't working.
After you’ve been tracking for a few months, add up the amount of profit you’ve made from each channel.
If you’ve been paying for billboard or phone book advertising, but not a single customer found you that way, it's time to reevaluate your advertising spend.
However, if half of your customers found you through social media or a Google search, maybe you should start spending more of your marketing and advertising dollars on those channels.
3. Find your most profitable marketing source.
Once you’ve cut out what isn’t working, it’s time to figure out what is your most profitable marketing source.
What’s the most common way customers are finding you? Calculate based on your spreadsheet:
- The top three channels customers are using to find you
- How much profit each channel is bringing
Chances are, much of your target audience is using the same channels to find you. Once you know where your customers are finding you, optimize those channels.
If customers find you on Yelp, make sure your Yelp page is completely up-to-date with correct NAP, business hours, new photos, menus, etc. If they find you in Google searches, figure out what your local search ranking is. If you’re not first, work to improve that. If you are first, see what you can do better, so that you stay ahead of the competition.
If you find that certain digital platforms aren't profitable but you want your business to be found there, use paid advertising to supplement your marketing efforts.
For example, if you want to be found on Facebook but no one is finding you organically, use Facebook ads to drive brand awareness and traffic to your website or landing pages.
The Future of Tracking Offline Conversions
With new services, such as Uber and Yext collaborating to drive foot traffic to stores and beacon technology, tracking offline conversions will be easier in the future.
For now, though, start tracking offline conversions manually. The information you collect will allow you to optimize your digital strategy and build a better online presence so your business is found by more local consumers.