The ongoing evolution of digital marketing channels, strategies, and technologies has yielded the deepest, most advanced metrics in marketing and sales history. With just a few little clicks from a prospect, you learn so much — from where the lead found you to what you should do to nurture the relationship.
This ease of data and lead intelligence gives marketers so much at their fingertips that it can feel like an embarrassment of riches. So when the modern marketer considers offline leads and how to track and measure them, some understandable apprehension may set in. After all, how do you measure the ROI of offline campaigns without the digital “breadcrumbs” that online channels produce — and that are the norm? As a result, some agencies may avoid offline campaigns simply because of the inherent unknowns.
Call tracking (and even form tracking if you are directing offline campaigns to your website) provides an answer to the offline lead generation conundrum. With this approach, you can measure the effectiveness of other campaigns while bringing the analytics of your marketing activities — all your marketing activities, online and offline — under one powerful umbrella.
In the three decades or so of the modern internet, how organizations market themselves has radically transformed. Just about every business has established a website, and over the years, companies have expanded their connections with consumers through emails, text messaging, social media, paid search, and other online methods and campaigns to reach people in the constantly growing digital space.
However, offline conversions — via any “traditional” channel not directly tied to the internet — haven’t actually gone away.
What are offline call conversions?
Offline call conversions are phone leads originating from any campaign that is not displayed online. These offline conversions are part of traditional marketing channels which include:
- Outdoor advertising (e.g., billboards, bus ads)
- Print ads
- Radio and TV ads
- Direct mail
- Conferences and trade shows
- Business cards
- Printed phone directories (e.g., Yellow Pages)
Directory listings and review sites also fall into the offline conversion bucket — although they are technically online channels, they are difficult to track and analyze because they aren’t hosted on your domain.
Benefits of offline marketing
Even in the hyper-digital world of 2020, consumers still become leads and customers via offline channels. Although newspaper readership is down, per Pew Research Center, a portion of a client’s potential customer base still may respond to print ads. Direct mail surprisingly is as effective as ever (and, increasingly, can be personalized); people still like brochures; and electronic billboards open up the medium to more businesses wishing to advertise to commuters.
What all the offline channels have in common is that, short of visiting the business’s physical location — if it even has one — the consumer will call, email, or type in a website address to make the connection and become a lead. Someone who takes a business card at a trade show will use the info on it to make contact. A driver may try to remember the phone number or website from a billboard or a radio ad. A brochure may include an email address to use for more information.
These connections may feel antiquated, but they still resonate with consumers and can’t be ignored because they are a source of leads that may convert into sales. In years past, when offline channels were the only marketing truly available, the measure of the effectiveness of a campaign was bottom-line sales. In 2020, that narrow analysis just doesn’t work.
The offline challenge
Marketing analytics, attribution reporting, and ROI are essential elements of any campaign and any overall retainer. Online channels make a wide array of metrics easy to track — clicks, conversions, organic traffic, and paid search provide detailed data from which effectiveness can be determined and strategy mapped. With so much advanced intelligence available, the agency and the client can efficiently chart a marketing path that will more likely yield success.
Seemingly, that path hits a dead end with offline channels. Many marketers dismiss such campaigns as being too expensive, too old-fashioned, or too unwieldy. Moreover, accurately reporting offline sources is thought to be difficult, if not impossible. After all, if someone calls a number they saw in a brochure, on a billboard, or on a business card, how do you accurately know which medium was the impetus for the conversion?
The perceived difficulty of lead reporting with offline campaigns shouldn’t be a deterrent to using them. Ignoring traditional channels potentially shuts out leads who might not otherwise find your client online. Plus, strong analytics and reporting are possible, thanks to call tracking.
The phone calls new leads make to a business yield as much marketing intelligence as digital channels, given the proper platform to capture that data. Call tracking software helps you fully understand the effects of your offline strategy — on its own and in tandem with online campaigns — which, in turn, leads to increased traffic, revenue, and ROI.
Tips to track offline call conversions and leads
Call tracking software gives you the means to apply advanced analytics to offline leads. By setting up unique toll-free numbers for each advertising source a marketing campaign uses, you get instant data every time someone calls in.
Call tracking can be used for online channels as well — just be sure each source, offline or digital, includes its own distinct phone number. All these numbers will still be forwarded to your main business number, but the data will appear on your call tracking software’s dashboard for review and analysis.
On its own, call tracking delivers significant benefits, but with these best practices, you can take your offline reporting to the next level:
Invest in training
Measuring data from offline marketing sources is valuable — but only if your team knows what it means and how to analyze it. To get the most from call tracking, truly train your team on the data you need, the tactics to nurture offline leads, and incorporating these campaigns into your attribution reporting. Besides achieving consistent processes among all your marketing and sales team members, everyone understands the numbers and can better work together to devise and amend strategy.
Embrace multi-channel campaigns
Offline campaigns might provide the first touchpoint — and tracking the leads generated from them is important — but don’t need to exist in a vacuum, separate from your online marketing activities. Multi-channel campaigns provide excellent opportunities to attract prospects, strengthen their interest, and eventually turn them into customers. The journeys people take to become customers can be measured with attribution reporting, thus identifying which offline lead generation efforts are best meshing with which online channels.
Ditch the spreadsheet
Measuring offline leads, even with call tracking software, can become lonely if you can’t incorporate the data into your other metrics and solutions. Trying to manually chart all the numbers in, say, a spreadsheet adds too much time, is prone to errors, and may make you wonder if offline campaigns are worth the effort. Agencies need a central hub to store and monitor all leads — regardless of the source — to measure effectiveness and generate attribution reports.
That last tip is especially important, because call tracking won’t realize its full potential unless the software it interacts with is up to the task. Therefore, your marketing and sales tech stack must be optimized to take advantage of offline lead generation, multi-channel attribution reporting, and lead nurturing activities. Our guide, “A matrix: Building out your tech stack to track offline lead sources,” takes a look at assembling the solutions that will maximize call tracking — and maximize offline marketing success.