Does digital marketing matter if you cant measure offline sales?

full moon denali 14232964385 522f89cc67 z resized 600“The moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it” – Albert Einstein

The quote above is attributed to Albert Einstein from a debate with Neils Bohr on whether something can exist without being perceived. This is more than just a philosophical exploration for people with large foreheads. For digital marketers the wrong conclusion means they lose their budget and even their jobs.

The Question

Consider the following scenarios:

  • Mattress company provides detailed product information online, including therapeutic benefits of different mattresses, consumer ratings and convenient “find retailer near you” link;
  • Multinational floor care equipment (vacuum cleaners etc) manufacturer creates awareness of its products through different digital channels and directs consumers to the retail sales outlets in the respective regions;
  • Department store buys ads for home furnishings on Google, knowing that consumers research online but complete the sale in-store.
  • Paint company offers a micro-site for consumers to design their dream indoor space by mixing and matching colors in a virtual home. The final color selection is then downloaded or forwarded to the nearest big box supplies store for pick up.
  • Soup manufacturer promotes brand related content through social media through recipes and meal ideas.

In each of the above the digital marketing managers responsible for building consumer engagement do not have line of sight to the resulting sales. They monitor clicks, views, shares and such but these measures represent costs, not revenues. That’s the nub of the problem.

Thus the vexing existentialist question:  Does digital marketing matter if the resulting sales are offline and not measurable?

It was a Trick Question

The answer is straightforward. Actually, that was a trick question. The attributable offline sales from digital marketing are very much measurable.

The answer is an emphatic yes. Digital marketing matters! Just because you cannot draw a line between the marketing and the point of sale it does not mean the sales are not measurable. This was the context to the case study linked below. The brand manager needed to understand the incremental units sold via her Facebook engagement.

The takeaway for digital marketers is to look beyond last click attribution as a measure of their value to the business. Hitherto some companies have relied on expensive one-off market research to quantify revenue impact of digital marketing. They should look to ongoing real-time revenue attribution for digital marketing as part of their tool suite.

What's social engagement worth? A Case Study in Revenue Attribution

 Full moon image by Denali National Park used  with permission under creative commons public license.

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