Online Meets Offline
That's the experience of Rob Carter, vice president of marketing at Soundview Executive Book Summaries, which publishes business book summaries in a variety of media—print, audiocassette, CD and online. He finds that people are getting more sophisticated in their understanding of direct marketing, and realize that they can visit a marketer's home page to get more of a broad overview of the products and services offered. By asking the question "Where did you hear of us?" on its online order form, Soundview Executive Book Summaries sometimes learns that a direct mail effort drove the prospect online.
A good solution to this testing conundrum remains elusive to marketers and consultants alike. The best you can probably do, Hennerberg advises, is to spell out in your e-mail and direct mail campaigns that the offer can be accepted only via the response channels noted in the direct marketing effort—and then let the chips fall where they may.
Track as Much as You Can
As you might have guessed, online response to offline efforts can pose some serious tracking challenges for marketers. If campaign recipients cannot be counted on to consistently use targeted URLs or enter promotion source codes on Web order forms, then calculating the impact of offline efforts on online orders can be mightily skewed.
Durow concurs with this assessment, noting that it's easy for PVC Inc. to track phone response to offline campaigns via unique toll-free phone numbers, and online response to e-mail efforts via targeted URLs (people tend to click through on these links because they're so accessible). But the offline-to-online response pattern remains more of a mystery.
Since you have to allocate your "mystery sales" to some kind of promotional activity, Hennerberg advises marketers to take a weighted average of their unallocated business and apply it across the board to all of their promotional efforts. For example, if 90 percent of your trackable orders for the year came from customers, be sure to allocate 90 percent of the unassigned orders to your customer promotion efforts; the remaining 10 percent can be assigned to your prospecting activities.