In the old days, when you read an ad in a magazine that asked you to call this number and “Ask for Alice,” do you really think there was an Alice? No, “Alice” was just the code name that told the marketer which ad prompted the call, so that credit could be allocated and the best-performing ad venues could be repeated.
Likewise, digital marketing gives you similar opportunities. Auto manufacturers let you build your own car, choosing the exterior color, the leather interior, the GPS system, whatever you want right up to the point where you blow your budget. Then, you can print it out and bring it to your local dealer and say, “How much for one of these?” The car dealer marks down that you brought in the printout so that if you end up buying a car, the web channel gets credit.
Why do customers willingly configure their cars online and bring printouts to the dealer? Because most people will do almost anything to spend less time interacting with a car salesman. If your customers actually like your sales people, you might have to offer them a discount coupon they can print from the website or some other enticement.
Obviously, if your customers are willing to fill out contact forms with a phone number or an e-mail address, you can tie them to the website. But many companies struggle when the customer simply decides to pick up the phone to call. They needn’t—an easy way to tie offline sales back to the digital channel is to display a phone number on your website that appears nowhere else. That way, anyone who calls that number can be safely assumed to have come from your website.
If you put your mind to it, you’ll probably find that you can engineer your customer’s buying experience to yield the data you need, too.
NEXT, we’ll take a look at the waiting game.