Can retailers link a single purchase to the local search that it came from? The short answer is, “Not yet, but we’re working on it.”
The local search industry is working to tie searches to sales, so it won’t be long before you’ll be able to connect a consumer to a specific purchase, originating from a specific channel. By using the online-to-offline (O2O) funnel, it's possible to better understand the drivers behind in-store sales.
Until that level of attribution is a reality, there are a few tactics you can still implement today to understand what’s driving in-store sales. It starts with creating the O2O funnel, which measures conversions from local search impressions to in-store sales. By measuring the number of online actions customers made (e.g., clicks to your site, clicks to call, clicks for store directions), you can determine the number of in-store visits and sales generated by local search.
I referenced Google+ for this article, but you can use the same models anywhere your customers are converting, including Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp.
How Are Consumers Searching?
Are consumers finding you when they search for the products or services you’re selling in their area? Consumers put themselves at the center of every search, asking Google (or any other search engine) to find them what they want near where they are. Consumers only search for brands about 25 percent of the time, so you have to optimize your local search for what your brand is. Google calls these searches “micro moments,” and they're a potential gold mine of new customers.
Standard searches look something like this:
- “Bars in New York City”
- “Cheap eats around me”
- “Apple Store in my area”
These search queries generate billions of impressions every month, and 18 percent of them will lead to a purchase within 24 hours. That’s a lot of potential dollars that could be spent at your store.
Now, we’ll explore how it’s done.
Step 1: Measure the online performance of your brick-and-mortar locations. First things first: you need to set your benchmarks. If you measure performance, you have to know where you’re starting from. Some of the KPIs include:
- listings coverage and accuracy;
- keyword ranking for local search terms; and
- amount of impressions generated on local search channels.
Step 2: Track online actions. Your online listings come pre-loaded with thousands of monthly impressions waiting for you to activate. Every time someone interacts and clicks on your online listing, you get the opportunity to track the action. Here are examples of trackable clicks on your listings:
- clicks to your website or online store;
- clicks to your store’s phone number; and
- clicks to driving directions to your store.
Step 3: Track offline in-store conversions. Measuring in-store conversion rates can be done in two ways:
- Store visits: Deploy an in-store analytics platform that measures things like store visitors and point-of-sale transaction counts, and use the benchmarked data as a basis of capturing the lift you'll get through your local search marketing strategies.
- Proxy measure visitors: Tally up the number of in-store conversions you’re getting from reviews, coupons and in-store visitors, and make certain assumptions around the number of in-store visitors who originated from a phone call or driving direction request.
Step 4: Track your campaign performance. Tie a dollar amount to visitors by connecting your average transaction value to your in-store conversion rate (i.e., the percentage of in-store visitors who will actually make a purchase).
With an O2O funnel, you’ll gain more clarity on the performance of your local marketing and, more importantly, you’ll be ready to further integrate online-to-offline tracking technologies such as beacons into your omnichannel strategies.
Mohannad El-Barachi is the co-founder and CEO of SweetIQ Analytics Corp.