In his ClickZ article, Nonconverting Keywords and the Search Continuum, Fredrick Marckini is stunned that some comScore and Overture research about conversions released at the end of last year hasn't been more widely discussed. It should have been, because it revealed how important tracking offline conversions is to search marketers.
The research was initially released during the holiday shopping season and just as many were taking time off from work, which is why it got lost in the shuffle for many (we did blog it). But the good news is that plenty of people heard about it again during the recent SES show, where it was constantly coming up on various panels.
As Fredrick recaps, 92 percent of all conversions were found to take place OFFLINE. That means anyone who is not measuring offline conversions may be missing out on a big chunk of how successful a search campaign is.
Knowing this is critical, as prices rise. If you fully understand how things convert, then you better understand how much you can afford to pay -- which can make the difference in letting you bid more when your competitor, with poor conversion tracking, may decide to opt-out.
Fredrick's article runs through some tips and observations from analysts on how to ensure the offline conversion happens. Those are useful, but I think the bigger point is that they already happen but people aren't attributing them to their search campaigns.
The first part of his article, blogged briefly already, covers some issues to consider in terms of understand that many searches may happen before a purchase occurs, so you need to consider a wide range of terms to target.
Another thing to consider came up when comScore discussed the research on our The Search Landscape panel. Of the remaining 8 percent of conversions that happen online, the vast majority of those DO NOT happen within the same search.
In other words, I think it was like 1 percent of people sit down, do a search, visit a site and then purchase in the same surfing session. Most do a search, then do other things, then eventually return to do other searches and finally do a purchase over a period of time that can take months. So that means measuring your online conversions over a long period of time is also crucial.
I moderated that Search Landscape panel and ended up summarizing things for someone who asked a question about how conversions with search marketing differ from other types of marketing in this way:
- Not all conversions happen at once online, so you've got to measure over a long period of time, or you'll miss some.
- Not all conversions happen online, so if you don't measure offline in some way, you'll miss more.
- If you feel some branding happens with search, you want to measure that as well in some way. Doing so may help you understand that you can afford to pay even more to gain an initial visitor.
Some other reading along these lines to consider from past blog posts: