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How to connect online activity to off-line sales

February 5, 2014

We all like to think our websites and online marketing rock, but when a significant portion of your sales occur offline (especially if you sell big ticket items or services) how do you prove it?

This is a method I developed (years ago) that links offline sales back to online activity. I’ve been told it rocks, but you can be the judge.


Set a persistent cookie

  •  If you don’t already have a cookie that uniquely identifies users, create one.  NOTE: Your cookies and web analytics tools should never capture PII (personally identifiable information). For this process the point is mute, as you don’t have any PII anyway.

Get and email address at the point of sale

  • At the point of sale (close of deal) get the buyer’s email address and add it to your CRM system. If you sell big-ticket items or services, or have a rewards program you probably already do this.

Send purchasers an email with a link back to your site that includes a Campaign Tracking Code

  • Identify a compelling reason for them to click the link (special offer, warranty registration, loyalty program bonus, owner specific content, etc.)

Count repeat visitors coming in with the offline purchase Campaign Tracking Code

  • When a visitor comes to your site with the offline purchase Campaign Tracking Code in the URL, check their cookie. If it is not their first visit, they went to the site prior to purchase. Thus it’s reasonable to say the site influenced the sale.
  • Set an event variable (SiteCatalyst) or a custom variable (Google Analytics) to count “Offline Sales”.
  • Set and eVar (SiteCatalyst) or the second parameter of the custom variable (Google Analytics) passing in something like: “Influenced” or “Not-Influence”

Putting it all together

The final step involves a little math. You won’t get everyone to open the post-sale email or click on the link, but that’s OK. You just need a good sample and the percentage of “Influenced” sales

Once your sample is large enough, you will be able show the extent to which your online marketing is driving your offline sales and the ROCKS!

Rock on,

Matt Coen

You can check out my music here:


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