An eConsultancy article about the rise of ‘showrooming’ got the consulting team at 4Ps talking about the implications of this behaviour when it comes to analytics. How can you properly attribute conversions to the correct channel when customers can jump straight into the online purchase funnel via visiting a store?

Matt Stannard, our Head of Technology and Analytics, would like to see brands thinking less in terms of “online” and “offline” and more in terms of the user’s complete journey. This is where measurement planning is so important before diving into universal analytics implementation and technological logistics. It can even be done in stages to help with investment level management – but the bare minimum that any business suspecting “showrooming” behaviour should be looking at is how to marry up their offline dimensions like footfall to their online dimensions like traffic.

Next question then – assuming dimensions and segments and all the other components of a sound measurement plan can be determined from the business objectives level downward (a tip and a wink from Emma Haslam, our Insights Consultant; don’t try to organise your analytics planning the other way round), how could one go about actually capturing the offline data?

Matt brushes that consideration away as a relatively minor one. There are plenty of ways to measure showrooming behaviour using technology, a lot of it quite mature – from iBeacons to IR “viewpoint detectors” to just offering visitors benefits in exchange for them “booking in” as they tour a store, and then being able to help the conversion process with incentives such as free delivery etc. A critical thing to note, however, is that while this sort of process can involve allocating a “unique ID” to a user, it only identifies that user as user [whatever the ID is] not as Bob Smith or Sarah Jane or whomever.

The aim, as we have to frequently remind people who wave their arms about and scream about privacy legislation, is not to identify the habits of individuals by name (“Oh look, Frank decided to buy a sofa after we sent him a coupon for a free cookie, wonder what he’ll buy if we offer him a slice of cake too?”) but to identify trends based on volume – what businesses are interested in, and the nature of the data they record, leads to larger trending that can inform marketing decisions (“55% of those sent a coupon for a free cookie ended up converting, would more convert if we offered them cake instead?”) to help drive the bottom line. So it is about you – but only in the sense that you are a single data element of a wider set.

The bigger problem, Matt explains, is not how to measure but how to integrate. Far too many brands end up going very wrong because they grab hold of new technology and end up deploying it in isolation for its own sake rather than taking a step back to work out how it will integrate into the user journey in its entirety. The need here is generally not technological but psychological – businesses need to enter their analytics planning with a different mindset that starts from their core objectives, expands to comprehensive measurement planning and builds up to implementation from there. Don’t ask “how do we measure” – ask “why do we measure?”

Digital isn’t a webpage or even a website – it is augmenting everything we do. Stop thinking of offline and online in separate boxes – one of my most hated phrases is the idea of “taking the brand experience online.” It just doesn’t work like that anymore, at least not if you’re doing it properly. Your brand is one thing, and customers should experience it as one thing. So don’t “take the brand online.” Look at it instead as enhancing the brand experience from end to end using digital, and you’re much more likely to end up with something that wows your customers.

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