How Online Search Drives Brick and Mortar Sales: RevTrax on New Study

Written on
Dec 14, 2011 
Brian LaRue  |

ADOTAS – Last week, RevTrax released the results of a study, conducted in conjunction with Yahoo, that analyzed the influence of online paid search on not just online sales, but also (and in particular) in-store sales. ”For a long time, [studies] have been measuring online-to-online,” RevTrax COO Seth Sarelson pointed out in a recent phone conversation, but “the value of ROI is ecommerce plus offline.” RevTrax was interested in figuring out how paid search affected “multi-channel merchants who do 80, 90 percent of their business in-store,” he explained.

The results were striking. When it came to revenue generated by paid search, say the study’s results, for each dollar generated in online sales, $6 were generated in offline sales. The average click on a paid search ad brought in around $15 in in-store revenue — some retailers saw as much as $28. Around nine percent of clicks on a paid search ad led to an in-store sale, but for some retailers, that figure went up to 26 percent. Some retailers noted between 40 and 50 percent of the customers pulled in by paid search were new customers for them.

The study took coupons redeemed in brick-and-mortar stores that customers had downloaded from the web (printed coupons as well as mobile landing pages), and traced each coupon backwards, using its unique bar code, to the search the customer had conducted that led him or her to that coupon. By tracing the sale back to the key words a customer entered into a search engine, Sarelson explained, “it adds a degree of transparency, or perhaps that transparency hasn’t been there before.” The study included associated data “back to the beginning of the impression — average order size, the time from when the coupon was printed to redemption, the number of clicks, total spend.” And from there, he said, “clients can start to optimize campaigns.”

RevTrax took two years to research this study (August 2009 through August 2011), but Sarelson said his company’s efforts are “not static. Phase two is an offline data feed, if you will, that’ll go into these data pools and optimize on the fly.”

For now, Sarelson acknowledged retailers should take a look at how online search affects not just their online sales, but their in-store sales, so they can give credit where credit’s due. “Our clients are making sure [of] internal attribution for people responsible” for bringing in their revenue, he said. “All media drives everywhere.”

Adotas Senior Editor Brian LaRue has been working in journalism in some form or another for slightly longer than his entire adult life, having won his first SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) Award while he was still in high school. Prior to joining Adotas, he served as a reporter, editor, columnist, critic and blogger, mostly for a number of daily and weekly newspapers scattered around his native Connecticut. In his off hours, Brian maintains an active parallel life as a musician and music blogger.

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