When I see the same issue coming up for so many clients, it makes me think that something more is at work. My latest issue that seems to crop up with nearly every client is tracking offline sales back to Web activity. I mean, I know it isn't easy, but it's amazing how rarely I run into a client who feels able to take on the task, much less has a system in place already.

It's not that they've lost interest in ringing the cash register. No, if anything, they are under more pressure than ever in that regard. I think somehow that tracking customer activity is so alien to them that they don't feel up to it.

Cash register in Museum - Cameron Highland

Image by liewcf via Flickr

Not all companies are like this. If they already have a direct marketing department, and have been tracking catalog sales for years, they know exactly what I am talking about. But most companies don't have such a background. They know how to count the money in the register, but they don't know how to attribute the marketing credit for what put it there.

They are willing to track things, yes, but only Web things. They'll happily report the number of search referrals, popular keywords, page views, sure, but they can't make the leap from what happens online to what happens offline.

In Las Vegas, they say "what happens here, stays here," but Las Vegas ain't got nothin' on the Web. For most companies, what happens on the Web stays there. Then, a miracle occurs and someone buys something offline.

Now, it depends on your business what you need to do about this. Consumer product companies might need to use coupons for retails stores. Other companies might need to use a phone number they publish only on their Web site. Still another company might want a request for quote button that enters the lead into their Customer Relationship Management System.

I don't know what you should do, but do something. Until you do, no one will know what the Web is worth and that means you are under-investing.

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February 2, 2010

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.

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