Since the rise in digital and attribution modelling, marketers have become increasingly pre-occupied with a phenomenon known as ‘last click’ attribution. This compels them to attribute conversions to the channel through which a final purchase was made, rather than considering the customer journey as a whole and the full range of factors that influence their decisions.
Not only is this logic flawed, but last click attribution is also increasingly moribund in an age of integrated marketing and saturated digital channels. This means that it is essential for marketers to understand how assisted conversions work, as they look to manage their spend effectively and optimise the ROI of each campaign.
We have seen offline advertising channels become key contributors of assisted conversions in recent times, usually as part of integrated marketing campaigns that target specific customer segments.
One of the most impactful offline channels is out-of-the-home (OOH) advertising, which includes particularly cost-effective materials such as billboards. OOH advertising has become incrementally popular during the last few years, having grown by 4.5% year-on-year back in 2016 and emerged as one of the most trusted marketing platforms. While this can be largely attributed to the natural advantages offered by OOH (more on these later), the platform has also benefited from growing resistance to online ads.
More specifically, customers have become increasingly likely to block online and mobile ads as the digital space becomes saturated with promotional content. A recent report from PageFair suggested that ad-blocker usage surged by 30% in 2016, while a total of 615 million devices were leveraging software to achieve this objective across the globe. 62% of these devices were smartphones, which will come as a concern to brands as they continue to increase their mobile spend.
In contrast with online ads, OOH materials and billboards offer a far less intrusive and engaging proposition. Strategically-placed billboards tend to blend seamlessly into their surrounding environment, enabling them to promote brands in a far more organic manner. They are also passive in their nature and compel customers to interact with them as they go about their daily basis.
This is integral to building trust and laying the foundations for customer loyalty and a long-term relationship, but OOH advertising and billboards are also capable of driving large-scale brand awareness in the first instance. To begin with, billboards (particularly 48 and 96-sheet adverts) have the scope to combine eye-catching imagery and branding with primary messaging, capturing the attention of customers and specific audiences with a truly memorable visual campaign.
This is borne out by the fact that an estimated 71% of customers absorb the messaging on billboards in the modern age, while numerous OOH campaigns have been able to use a combination of colour, striking imagery and a concise proposition to reach in excess of 75% of a chosen target market (including this disruptive example by Ghostbusters Waterloo).
— MollyWhitehall (@MollyWhitehall) July 11, 2016
At this stage, it is easy to see the benefits of OOH and the unique appeal of channels such as billboards in an age where our senses are overwhelmed with digital media and adverts.
When you combine the natural advantages of traditional media and their ability to build awareness, successfully targeting specific segments and creating trust, you also have a medium that is ideal for creating assisted conversions and impacting heavily on the organic traffic that brands receive online.
Offline adverts that are striking and memorable enough to engage more than 70% of potential customers are clearly capable of driving further interaction online, with studies suggesting that billboards actively compel customers to click on a brand’s organic results. This not only relates to branded searches, either, as customers will also select branded results in instances where they are looking for related products or services.
In fact, research by Outsmart revealed that consumers are 17% more likely to engage with a brand through their smartphone after being successfully targeted by a billboard or OOH campaign, often in real-time and in direct response to the advert. This statistic clearly highlights the impact of these channels when it comes to engaging an audience, while reinforcing their potential to drive assisted conversions through digital and mobile websites.
In general terms, the fruitful combination of traditional and mobile channels also highlights how an integrated marketing campaign can yield genuine rewards for brands. Not only does it seek to optimise assisted conversions and create a streamlined customer journey, but it also combines passive and active marketing techniques that strike the ideal balance between exposure, engagement and successful targeting.
While understanding the importance of assisted conversions and the potential of OOH and billboard advertising to deliver these is one thing, it is quite another to leverage this to your advantage. You therefore need to develop structured and well-managed campaigns that are relevant to your brand and target audience.
This process starts with the creation of your offline advert or billboard, which must initially succeed in targeting your chosen market and building awareness. Regardless of the size of your billboards (these will be dictated largely by the strategic locations in which you intend to advertise and your budget), you must look to optimise the available space with the ideal combination of imagery, branding and relevant messaging.
Not only must your branding and use of imagery be consistent with your online identity, but you should also make the most of the platform’s scope for creativity and the use of colour. A creative graphic or visual narrative is key to capturing the attention of customers, and initially engaging them as they pass your billboard.
In terms of brand awareness, you must retain the customer’s attention with concise messaging and (most importantly) a relevant call-to-action (CTA). With space at a premium, it is best to focus on the use of punchy, primary messaging that relate directly to the adverts imagery, while CTAs should be used help customers complete the next stage of their journey online.
Driving consumers to your brand’s website, blog and social media channels can be particularly effective when facilitating assisted conversions, while businesses such as Coca Cola also have also used hashtags to drive online interactions and increase conversions.
Given the statistics we have already discussed, encouraging customers to engage with your brand through their mobile could also optimise conversions over time.
When it comes to measuring assisted conversions online, Google Search Console and Google Analytics platforms provide valuable data that enables you to calculate the impact of individual channels. When successfully launching local or national OOH campaigns, you can attribute an increase specifically in direct and organic traffic to those specific campaigns, whilst also social media can plan an additional assisted role in this conversion process when building initial awareness from OOH advertising.