The Lost Cross-Channel Affiliate Tracking Notes
For affiliates concerned that their hard work will be wasted by ‘leaky tracking’ of offline conversions, Jonathan Treiber’s offline tracking panel at Affiliate Summit East provided hope for a more accountable tomorrow. (I know, we’re already at Affiliate Summit West – the technology is still new and the tips Jon shared still valuable, so bite me :P.)
Treiber is the CEO of RevTrax, which has a point-of-sale technology that enables retailers and other businesses with brick-and-mortar technology to identify sales that came through online marketing.
In plain English, they use bar-code technology and gift card technology that tie back into affiliate tracking systems. And while he was trying to interest affiliates and merchants in his platform, Jon wasn’t pushy, and made clear the appeal of such a system in general.
While Treiber’s presentation was fluid and eloquent, what really impressed me was how deftly he handled the Q&A afterwards.
Is this a call-tracking system?
Treiber told the audience that while he had the ability to do phone-tracking, that wasn’t really what his platform focused on, and referred people interested in phone tracking to Ring Revenue, an affiliate platform servicing networks, so affiliates can get paid for calls generated. (They currently work with Shareasale, CJ and LinkTrust, for those of you interested.)
Is it possible to do without coupons?
You need a digital ID, an offline ID, and something to tie them together. Jon’s presentation featured coupons, but he made the point here that it’s not strictly necessary to have a coupon from a technology perspective. (The question is how would you get a customer to bother bringing in any tracking device that helps you out, if there’s no incentive [eg coupon] for them to do so.)
Another possibility is to have products/sales/prices that are only available online, so that you know if that’s what people ask for offline, that you had an online touchpoint.
Do you need new hardware or software?
No, RevTrax’s system piggybacks on existing systems. You can think of it as a plugin.
Is it possible to use RevTrax for local internet marketing?
No, it isn’t, because the budget involved is significant. Also, the problem for local retail, restaurant and other service providers is that there are bigger risks of mistracked redemptions. The reason being that you might have a short-term orientation to boost your own profit by shaving commissions, which is less likely when the cashier isn’t the owner or a family member of the owner.
Can you extend the system with print media buys?
Yes, but it’s less exciting because there are less analytics. (I’m not sure why that would be. Perhaps something to do with the ability to micro-target tracking to a particular person as opposed to just a general tracking code for newspaper X?)
How can affiliates promote this kind of campaign?
Ranking for local store names and places in the longtail, or for product and location combinations (eg product, Miami, FL) is a possibility. Jon referenced CompUSA’s campaign around this point, I think because someone did this kind of local marketing for the big computer retailer.
How does this compare to other forms of direct marketing?
Treiber shared a case study with us about S&K men’s suits. 46% of clients RevTrax drove to their stores were new vs 26% seen from other forms of direct marketing. In other words, there was less cannibalization.
Also, there was $12/click in incremental revenue, according to their tracking.
With regards to commissions, they’ve found that 20% of coupons printed get redeemed, so you can go from a cost/sale model to a cost/print model for tracking purposes. (Eg changing the action in the definition of the program’s “CPA.”) In this respect, RevTrax competes indirectly with Coupons.com, since Coupons.com uses a pay-per-print model, though they work mostly with grocery brands in the consumer-packaged goods area.
How long do coupons last?
It’s a 30 day minimum. The latency is often just a few days to conversion or even immediate conversion for restaurants. For S&K suits it was 1-2 weeks.
There were a few things I missed or didn’t explain well initially, so I’m copying Jonathan’s explanations (which he just got to me by email) here:
Q: What about leaks with your system (eg human error, tech failures with the barcodes etc.)?
There will always be leaks at the register with human errors the same way there are errors with landing pages and ecommerce sites “going down” for some reason. Both hurt conversion rates. We can track conversion rates across impressions, clicks, prints and redemptions. If we see the numbers dip from print to redemption, we can set flags and institute an investigation with the merchant to understand why.
Q: What do you mean by incremental revenue (the S&K case study listed above)?
The incremental sales are incremental to online sales. The retailer measures what each click delivers in online sales. We show an average of $12 additional dollars of in-store sales to what they are making online.