The following is a Q&A between Kelly Wrather, Senior Manager of Content Marketing for Skai, and Paul Wicker, Director of Product for Skai Local, on the topic of O2O integration and how Skai is activating these connections.
KW: O2O is nothing new. Why does it seem like there’s so much buzz about it recently?
PW: The concept isn’t new but for the first time large firms are actually connecting the data and making use of it. Many folks are still getting the systems in place to track offline events like phone calls and in-store visits, but the early adopters have that figured out and moved on to using that data for things like optimization and budgeting. The results are starting to come in and that’s why we’re hearing the buzz again.
Who are these early adopters?
First, let me say that when it comes to agencies managing small/medium sized businesses (SMBs), this concept is far from new. Agencies helping SMBs with their marketing have been tracking phone calls and attributing them back to marketing activities, like search, for years. In fact, Skai has been offering Call Conversion Optimization since 2009, and until recently, the SMB community was the main one focused on it. Last year, we started to see a transition in the call tracking space; suddenly, the Fortune 500 types started asking what they could do with their inbound call data.
Can you provide some examples?
I don’t want to name names, but it’s safe to say at least 75% of our Skai Local clients are using call tracking, and we have at least a dozen agencies and large retailers using the call tracking integrations. Large retailers and the agencies that serve them are especially interested given the evolution of the role of the storefront in the buying cycle. We’ve integrated with eight or nine call tracking providers, and as we expand globally, we’re increasing our international coverage. [Note: Skai recently issued a press release on expanded global call tracking coverage, which includes details on the various call tracking providers supported through the platform.]
What other types of offline data are playing a role in the “evolution” of O2O?
Call tracking has been around awhile, but more recently, we’ve seen organizations with physical locations wanting to bring their offline purchase data into the equation. They have all this data — point of sale (POS), loyalty cards, coupon redemption, etc. — and they are finally connecting this back to their marketing efforts. I think it’s a critical part of the retail evolution because the attribution game that’s being played is only meaningful if you consider all the touchpoints between a consumer and the brand. For companies with an in-store experience, the most vital touchpoints are happening in the store.
Seems like a lot of data to ingest. How can marketers ensure they are tracking and connecting all this data?
Simply put, the industry is changing so fast, no one company can successfully keep up with the innovation happening in tracking, attribution, point-of-sale systems, call center technology, algorithmic and optimization. Add in the nuance of the different channels like Search, Display, Social, Video, Email, etc. and it’s easy to understand why it’s crucial for brands to integrate with best-in-class solutions that can help solve for these challenges
How does Skai help marketers track and measure all this offline data?
I’ve talked a bit about call tracking so on some other fronts, we’ve done some interesting things with folks in the dynamic couponing space like RevTrax and have just wrapped up a integration with LiveRamp and a large retailer. Specifically with the LiveRamp integration, we worked with the retailer’s agency to get conversion data from the retailer’s CRM and then mapped it back to users that had been on the retailers website via a search campaign. Once we connected the offline data to the online users, we had a brand new view on the profitability of some keywords. After slicing the offline data by different variables, we were able to identify who was buying offline after visiting the retailer’s website. As you can imagine, this is the golden egg: using offline data to take action online. Now the retailer’s agency is able to make better strategic decisions, and our automated bidding is able to modify keyword bids to get more high-margin customers in the store.
What’s next for Skai on the O2O front?
In terms of LiveRamp, the next step is to take our integration and use it in social so we can automatically buy attractive segments on Facebook. By attractive, I mean those users who are likely to visit a store and convert at a high rate. We’re also knee deep in mobile measurement, helping our retailers set up large call tracking projects and working with loyalty platforms and CRM companies to get better lifetime value data into their search and broader digital marketing efforts.