When e-commerce first came about in the 1990s, it was seen as a replacement to offline sales. In the real world, you went to a store, bought something and brought it home. In the new world of e-commerce, you went to a website, bought something and it came to you. It was transformative and seen as a replacement for unwanted shopping trips. It also drove much of the dot-com boom, as futurists envisioned a world in which we never went shopping and had everything brought to us.
Those futurists are still around, but the reality of e-commerce has changed. Now online shopping is a companion to retail shopping. Amazon may be king of e-commerce, but Walmart is growing aggressively, and their focus on e-commerce is serious. We’re also seeing Target, Best Buy and other big-box retailers look at how they can integrate e-commerce with their physical presence, and even Amazon has experimented with real-world stores. And those who give us the tools to buy stuff online, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, have already expanded their retail store presence, building new stores every year.
Now with mobile, a new intersection between the real world and virtual commerce has emerged. Showcasing is a well-recognized concern for big-box retailers while optimizing sites for the mobile experience is a concern for traditional e-commerce sites. But an additional intersection is becoming apparent and is quickly driving growth for retailers who embrace the data-driven approach.
I’m referring to offline data. There is a growing number of data points that are developed from offline behavior, ranging from loyalty club data to location data from mobile devices. A lot of this data is digital as well as real-world, as the boundary between the two disappears. As valuable as much of this data is, a lot of it remains uncollected, unprocessed and underappreciated by traditional and digital marketers alike.
This is a problem Dave Smith of Incremental Media hopes to highlight at this year’s LeadsCon. In a session titled “How to Utilize Offline Channels to Cost-Effectively Generate Quality Leads," Smith will lead a discussion about how offline data, even from “dinosaur” sources such as print media, can be harnessed by creative tactics to generate strong performance at low costs for marketers. Smith dismisses the gospel about a shift to digital, believing that offline data works for many verticals and can provide substantial benefits to marketers if used correctly.
Join us at this year’s LeadsCon as we explore the benefits of the real world in a digital-obsessed era.
Click here to register for LeadsCon New York 2015.