Increasingly, companies are keen to understand the effect and impact of their promotional spend and par-ticulary how different marketing communication tools perform. As with broadcast media advertising, it can be difficult to assess the impact of Internet marketing initiatives on offline sales. Traditionally, in the retail sector, it is not common practice to track the reasons why consumers arrive in a particular store to make their purchase. However according to Hewitt (2004) the Internet is 'not just a great promotion vehicle, it's also the tracking source that enables us to close the loop and see what happened after the visitor left the Web site and went shopping'. He suggests several ways in which retailers might use the Internet to follow their customers' offline purchasing behaviour. Tactics to gather information include the following.
Certain products and services are ideal for selling online; books, travel and entertainment tickets, and financial services whereas other products such as cars, consumer electronics and clothing are researched but not often purchased online. AOL conducted a series of surveys of 1,004 people who had purchased TVs within the last six months and 521 people who intended to buy a TV within the next six months to find the differing types of media such consumers employed to find information to inform their purchasing decision (see Figure 10.5). The surveys revealed that in-store displays (58%) and past experience/previous ownership (48%) are the most important sources of TV purchase decision making, while retailer flyers (13%) and online (12%) are ranked by TV purchasers as the most important media sources for new TV information.
This kind of survey is useful as it provides an indication of the effectiveness of online promotion. It also suggests that it is necessary to link online promotion with in-store promotion, especially if retailers are solely using the Internet as a marketing communication channel
In-store display Past experience/previous ownership Store/salesperson Friends/Family/Word of mouth Retailer flyer Online info. (Internet) Product brochure Newspapers Magazines TV commercial Radio Other
None of the above
I I Media sources I I Non-media sources
Figure 10.5 Sources of information for new TV purchases
Source: Hewitt, D. (2004) 'You CAN Tell How You're Selling Offline' from http://www.imediaconnection.com/ content/2892.asp, March 01, 2004
This technique is often used in the early adoption stages of the Internet as a marketing communication. The online advertiser incorporates/promotes a discount coupon via e-mail (or web site) and requests the customer print out a voucher and then take it to a participating store in order to redeem the discount (e.g. see Figure 10.6 concerning McArthur Glen Designer Outlets). On redemption of the printed voucher the retailer is able to analyse the impact of the online promotion on the offline purchasing behaviour and in doing so develops an understanding of their return on investment in online advertising.
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