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In the B2B market, an efficient PPC campaign needs to capture and motivate prospects throughout the decision-making and sales cycles; while always understanding that intent and CTR are not always uniquely matched with either the research or buying phase.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Impact of Search on Offline Purchases

Having recovered from the Thanksgiving weekend, I am throwing myself back into work... slowly at first, but I should pick up steam in time for my Christmas vacation - winter efficiency is what management calls it (it is its own line item on the year-end financials).

However, as I read throw the litany of emails in my inbox, I noticed a press release for ROI Research's latest study: Quantifying the Offline Impact of Search.

Too often we lament the difficulty in being able to actually draw a correlative link between offline purchases and online search. Instinctively, we know that there exists a connection between Brand and search, and that that relationship must carry over into the offline environment. As well, we know there must be activity that carries forward in those long consideration phases, where repeat searches are a flurry and prospects double up on both online and offline activity. However, there really hasn't been much conclusive evidence to reinforce what we know must be true - why? Honestly, because the Internet allows for a certain threshold of anonymity, one that no good marketer willingly wants to cross, but that makes causal relationships difficult to prove. This is why any research that somehow gets us a little closer to confirming our instincts is very exciting - at least to me (and hopefully to you as well, otherwise, why are you still reading?)

Even though the data is based on the results of a web survey, which at the best of times is a flawed process due to sample bias - you only get responses from those with a vested interest in the results or from either end of the sample spectrum... so angry or so happy that they have to fill out the survey. You never get a real or completely accurate representation of a population when you "ask" people their opinions or actions. Still, this is an inherent flaw in all survey testing, and should in no way undervalue ROI Research's findings as unique and leading edge - why? Because at least they had the foresight to have "historical purchase data appended from the client's customer transactions database."

The Findings

1. In this category, for every $1 dollar spent online, the average search-user spends $2.56 offline. This shows that Search has the ability to influence an incremental 3 times the dollar value of e-commerce transactions by reaching consumers who shop in traditional channels. Interestingly, the factor was even higher for existing client customers with a ratio of 3.37x spent offline vs. online.

2. Frequent searching correlates with higher spending. Those who search up to 10 times annually spend an average of $1,789 online while those who searched 31+ times spent an average of $2,943 online. Similarly in off-line transactions, those who search 10 or fewer times spend an average of $2,219 through retail locations, while those who search 31+ times spend an average of $3,839.

3. Search influences 20-30% of purchases made at retail locations.

4. By indexing the influence on purchase of Search we are able to quantify the amount of money spent as a result of Search. For the client's Online Purchasers, 48% of money spent online and 34% of money spent at retail locations can be attributed to Search. Among general consumers, Search accounts for 49% of online purchases and 42% of retail purchases.


According to Brand Marketers, paid search is the most effective marketing tactic, and ROI Research's findings show that there is a definite lift in offline purchase behavior from search. But it is important that search resonate and be driven by your target market. Later today (maybe tomorrow), I want to write on the effect of environmental shifts on purchase behavior as it pertains to paid search - there are some interesting new findings here as well. But in the meantime, know that there is a positive correlation between paid search and offline purchasing.

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