Christine Churchill writes a good piece about offline conversion tracking today on Search Engine Land. This is the key in opening many people’s eyes to the power of local. Local is really about where the money changes hands. It doesn’t happen online.
The Internet is a marketing platform that influences purchase decisions that happen — not online — but in the physical world (read: local). Yet offline conversion tracking is an immature business with calls, coupons and surveys being among the only mechanisms available.
Only coupons truly reflect offline conversions; other methodologies are about self reporting or proxy behavior (clicking on maps, send to phone, calls). Some folks (i.e., AOL and Caliber data) are working on loyalty card POS tie ins that will enable tracking down to the register.
But mobile also represents an interesting bridge between the online and offline worlds that will create more visibility over time on the Internet’s impact on offline purchase behavior.