A Starter Guide to Online to Offline Attribution

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Online to offline attribution gives your business insights into how successfully your online ads are resulting in offline conversions. Tracking how specific views correlate with sales gives you data about how well each ad converted ad spend into sales. 

Here is an overview of what online to offline attribution is and how it can benefit your business.

What is Online to Offline Attribution? 

Knowing how well your business’s marketing campaigns are performing requires a reliable means of attribution. Attribution means determining approximately at what touchpoint users took specific actions like conversions and purchases. How many customers made a purchase or took steps toward doing so as a direct result of a particular ad? Online to offline attribution uses device metrics and location data to form connections between specific marketing campaigns and their results.

Although forming direct attributions is easier when purchases are made online. The process can be a bit more complicated if they ultimately made a purchase in a physical store. 

It is also important to consider both single-touch and multi-touch attribution models. You can use them to get an estimate of how one specific ad or more influenced a particular buyer.

Single-touch attribution

Single-touch attribution models attribute conversions to one particular touchpoint. It could be a Google ad, Instagram ad, or something else. Instead of viewing the entire buyer’s journey from brand awareness to making a purchase, it focuses on first-touch or last-touch. 

If you use first-touch, all the conversion credit goes to the first ad or platform the user interacts with. For last-touch attribution, all the credit goes to the last place that a user interacted with before the purchase. 

Single-touch is relatively easy to implement, but it doesn’t give the full picture of your marketing funnel. 

Multi-touch attribution

Multi-touch attribution is much more complex but tends to be more accurate. It better represents how your customers actually move through the funnel to make a purchase. 

Instead of giving all the conversion credit to one source, multi-touch assigns a certain amount of credit to each touchpoint. There are numerous multi-touch models but a common one is a U-shaped model. 

U-shaped model

The U-shaped model combines the first-touch and last-touch attributions. Instead of assigning 100% of the credit to one, it divides a percent to each. For example, first-touch accounts for 40% and last-touch also gets 40%. That still leaves 20%, so where does that go? The rest of the attribution is spread out across other touchpoints. These happen after the first time a customer interacts with your business and before they make a purchase.

For businesses that sell online and offline, a multi-touch attribution model makes more sense. This is because customers come in from many different touchpoints.  

Online to Offline Attribution Terms to Know

Understanding key terms is essential to understanding how to form accurate attributions between online ads and offline activity. Here are the most important terms to know to help you understand the details of online to offline attribution.


Knowing where your customers are from can give your business a wealth of information that can be used to form certain attributions. If customers opt-in, you can use a radio transmitter, called a beacon, to track their location using Bluetooth. 


Even if customers give you access to certain data, they probably do not want you to know everything about them. Hashing makes the data you collect anonymous before your business gains access to it. With hashing, you cannot connect the location or other data you receive back to a specific customer. 

Lift measurement

Lift analysis or lift measurement is a way to measure how a marketing campaign impacts conversions, sales, leads, or other business metrics. 

To measure lift, you must have a control group that has not seen your ad campaign. You’ll also need another group that has interacted with your ads. Then, you are able to compare the performance or “lift” between the two groups. 

Lift analysis is useful for looking at the full funnel and identifying what campaigns are working and which are not. For example, let’s say a customer has the mobile app for your store downloaded on their mobile phone. You send a push notification to a customer with the promotion: get a free coffee mug with purchases over $150. That customer visits your store and makes a purchase over the required limit. 

A control group includes customers that visited during the same period of time but didn’t receive the push notification with the same promotion. You can A/B test different messages and channels like email, social media ads, and more. Then, use lift analysis to see how ad campaigns translated to in-store sales. 

You might also test a campaign for one store location. Then, compare its performance to other locations that did not run the campaign. This is good if you’re testing out an ad to determine whether or not to expand it to other locations. 

Types of Online to Offline Attribution 

Your sales team has several online to offline attribution models at their disposal. When it comes to determining what source or sources influenced each customer’s purchase decision, it depends. Certain attribution types may fit some situations better than others. Here are a few examples: 

Foot Traffic 

Foot traffic gives you an idea of how many customers went into a physical store shortly after viewing an ad. This type of attribution lets your sales team know which specific ads resulted in more real-world conversions than others. 

Assume your customers viewed an online ad on their smartphone. If they had the same device when they went to your store, you can use a beacon to attribute that shopper’s views. You will not receive customers’ names or other highly specific identifying information. Instead, this process anonymously links data based on each device ID. 

Point-of-Sale Data 

Point-of-sale (POS) data directly connects credit card purchases to the location where they were made. You still will not receive specific identifying information, but most credit card companies will provide the location of their purchases. 

Location Opt-In 

If customers are willing to give you their specific location, they can opt in to provide this information. You can then use the data to form connections between specific customers and each of your marketing campaigns. 

Approximately 23 percent of smartphone users have opted to give at least one retail app access to their location data. Although this is far from the majority and will not give you precise information. A smaller sample can provide you with data that can be used to estimate what actual numbers might be. 

Varied Data Source Matching

Varied data source matching makes sure that data is matched to its actual point or points of attribution. It is important to take into consideration how data might be skewed. For example, if one customer viewed the same ad multiple times, it could skew your attribution.

Combining Online Metrics With Offline Attribution 

Having the ability to form offline attributions is great, but it does not mean you should abandon your online metrics. Although these categories provide slightly different information, you’ll get a sense of how your ads are performing online and offline. With it, tweak your strategy to create the most all-around success. 

These categories give you information about different sales. Online attribution can also help you determine whether your marketing materials are reaching your target audience at all. This can be especially helpful if you notice that a particular ad results in far fewer sales than you expected. You can then dig deeper into what might have gone wrong. 

Combine Your Data

Utilizing online analytics and offline CRM data, you can form a complete picture of how your marketing department is doing. Knowing where offline sales are coming from is important, but you do not want to forget online sales. They are significant and should also be studied in depth. By combining data, you can compare both groups of shoppers. Plus, it helps you identify more complete buyer personas.

Connect Online and Offline Attribution

Your online and offline ads should work together. When they do, you have a better picture of the full buyer journey. Plus, you can amplify your marketing messages online and offline.

For example, you can create social media advertisements for in-store events or hang posters in your store to promote your brand’s app. Combining these resources gives your business the overall highest level of exposure and data to help plan future marketing campaigns. 

Ensure Brand Consistency

You want to make sure your customers receive a consistent impression of your brand regardless of where and how they interact with it. This requires keeping track of all impressions of your marketing materials, not just those that bring shoppers offline. 

Your customers should receive a similar experience no matter whether they make a purchase in a store or online.

With online to offline attribution, you can determine which marketing campaigns were successful and which missed the mark. 

You can then use this data to reframe your overall marketing strategy. Focus more on methods that have resulted in the most sales in the future. Contact Goodway Group today to learn how we can help your business adopt a marketing strategy that fits your needs.