A study carried out by comScore over the Christmas buying period in November and December 2005 found that online searches are a very strong influencing factor in offline buying decisions.
The study found that 25% of searchers buy products directly related to their search. Of these buyers, only 37% completed their purchase online, whereas a staggering 63% completed a purchase offline as a result of their online search.
Conversion Breakdown by Sector
|% of Buyers
|% of Buyers
|Apparel & accessories||43%||65%||35%|
|Toys & hobbies||42%||88%||12%|
|Video games & consoles||17%||93%||7%|
|Jewelry & watches||15%||75%||25%|
Tracking Total Conversion Rates
This study highlights what has been known by search engine marketing experts for a long time: online searches have far more influence on buying behaviour than just on online purchases.Conversion rates observed on ecommerce shops are therefore very often misguiding, and if used to make strategic business decisions, could produce poor results.
Offline conversions can be in the form of telephone bookings as well as in-store purchases. Whilst the former are relatively easier to track – by providing a unique telephone number to online visitors – the latter can be challenging to track accurately.
In-store conversions can be tracked quite easily with a little bit of ingenuity. Providing special “discount” codes, which buyers can redeem online or in person, usually helps ensure that shoppers inform site owners that they had visited their site and then decided to buy the product in person.
Adjusting Campaigns to Account for Offline Conversions
Armed with this new information, most online advertisers should now be able to gauge their campaign performance even better. If your online conversion rate displayed on Google AdWords is 10% and your offline conversion rate is found to be the same, then your actual conversion rate for Google AdWords advertising is 20%. This means that you could be bidding twice as much without adversely affecting profitability. Even more importantly, for many advertisers, this could mean that your Google AdWords campaign is not unprofitable, and that you should be investing more heavily to reap profits online and offline.