While there is not a panacea for tracking offline sales impact, there are some methodologies that can help:
1) Coupons. online coupons provide a simple method of tracking online activity to offline sales, and there are services that allow for point-of-sale integration with analytics.
2) Loyalty programs. Even though this strategy is most utilized by large retailers and financial institutions, loyalty programs provide a means to connect (and track) your customer’s activities both offline and online.
3) Call tracking. if phone sales represent a significant percent of your sales or lead generation strategy, you should consider call tracking. this service provides special phone numbers for marketing use and also provides metrics regarding the source of your incoming calls.
4) Geographic targeting and sales lift. the strategy and mathematical functions behind measuring sales lift can be a bit daunting because it requires analysts to account for any other variable that might impact sales numbers. luckily, combining geographic targeting for select locations and comparing the sales lifts at those locations to the sales lifts at other locations provides a fallback option for determining offline impact.
5) Customer polling. While not accurate enough for statistical significance, simply asking your customers what brought them to your store can provide some insights into the motives behind their purchase decisions.
6) Panel-based solutions. currently only feasible for enterprise-level businesses, new solutions (e.g., Nielson NetEffect, comscore adEffx) are offering methods of linking online ads and offline spend directly.
Companies are becoming far more sophisticated at tracking online activities in an integrated manner, and the ones that realize the importance of this data are taking full advantage of these capabilities.