Blog Post

The Value of Offline Conversion Tracking

Here we discuss offline conversion tracking, it's value to digital marketing and the best methods for implementation.

Rob Simpkins

Rob Simpkins

Head of Service, Founder

What is offline conversion tracking?


Let’s start with the basics. Offline conversion tracking is the process of connecting advertising traffic to actions that a user completes in an offline environment or process. 

The most common examples are typically the connection of user records in a CRM back to their interactions with online advertising campaigns, for example someone booking an appointment online but converting in store. By importing the offline conversion, we can attribute the revenue from the in-store conversion back to the online traffic that led to the appointment and provide an accurate view on that campaign’s direct contribution to revenue.


Why does offline conversion tracking matter?


The key feature of offline conversion tracking is that it allows us to close the loop on reporting and more accurately credit campaigns for their contributions to a business’s bottom line. 

A huge benefit is in helping users to understand the discrepancies that campaigns may have between metrics such as lead value versus volume. What we often see for advertisers importing offline conversions for the first time, is that campaigns that they have previously been viewed as highly effective due to the low cost of leads can have massive issues in terms of lead quality.

Advertisers also have the benefit of being able to downweight, upweight or edit the value of a given conversion based on modifiers that they can only see ‘offline’. For example ecommerce retailers might want to only upload the profit generated from sales rather than the total revenue, or they might want to adjust sales to factor in for estimated returns. For B2B businesses, they may solely want to import leads that have been qualified by the sales team (SQLs) or with estimations of the lifetime value that they think a contract might generate. Depending on the scale of these changes, these can obviously have a significant impact on the value assigned to a given campaign.

In a privacy centric industry, offline conversion tracking also has the big benefit of minimal reliance on third party cookies. Cookie based tracking is reliant on users opting in to a company’s privacy policy which can drastically reduce the accuracy of conversion data in the platforms and can provide a misleading view on performance. If your tracking solution is fully reliant on a cookie-based solution, you are also at the mercy of the advertising platforms data modelling, which distributes credit to campaigns based on estimations when cookie attributed data has been blocked.

How does offline conversion tracking work?


Offline conversion tracking works by obtaining a unique identifier for every click and associating it back to a user record obtained via the website or app.

For example, Google and Meta both have a unique identifier that is appended to the users URL as a parameter, called the Google Click ID (GCLID) and the Facebook Click ID (FBCLID). The method in which the data is collected then follows this process:

  1. The user interacts with a Google or Facebook ad and is assigned a unique identifier using a first-party cookie that is stored on their browser.
  2. When the user submits information that can tie them to a customer record e.g an email via a lead form, the unique identifier is collected alongside this user information which is then stored in the CRM.
  3. When the user carries out a significant action i.e an offline purchase or signs a contract, that action can be assigned to the customer’s record in the CRM which can be connected back to the interaction in the ad platform via that unique identifier that was captured previously.
  4. The offline conversion data is then passed back to the ad platform using the timestamp of the conversion, the unique ID, conversion name and conversion value. In manner instances this can be automated via native API integrations between the advertising platforms and the CRM.

What should offline conversion data be used for?


In this blog, we’ve mostly discussed the benefits of offline conversion data. It is a great tool for attributing a more accurate view on campaign contributions across your activity and is very effective for reporting on overall campaign ROI and steering general budget discussions.

There are however a number of limitations that can impact offline conversions that are important to understand and have a tangible impact on how they should be used.

One of the biggest limitations of offline conversion tracking is data latency. The offline conversions that you are trying to track may take place days or even weeks after the users initial interaction with your advertising campaign, and this is only exacerbated if you’re manually importing your offline conversion data rather than automating it to be uploaded as first as possible. It is a general rule of thumb that algorithms work most effectively with conversion data that has been generated as close to the time of the click as possible, when the information is at its most relevant. Understanding your sales cycle and the technical limitations in importing offline data, is crucial in informing your use of it in day to day management.

If you are a business with a lengthy offline sales process that could benefit from support around offline conversion tracking, please reach out to our solutions team for support.

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