As online retail continues to grow, small brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly developing attractive e-commerce websites and investing in digital advertising. However, for the majority of these businesses, their lion’s share of revenue stream is still offline, in-store sales.
In a former life, I owned a physical retail store. My business partner and I would debate on a weekly basis about how much our social ad spend was actually leading to in-store sales! We’d dream about tracking our online ad spend to in-store revenue.
Well, it’s finally arrived. Facebook now allows us to upload sales data files. Facebook, in turn, matches that data to users who were shown your ad. Presto—we can associate offline conversions to social spend!
First, from your page, navigate to the Facebook Business Manager and go to Offline Events.
Next, create an offline event set.
- In the upper left of the page, click Create Offline Event Set.
- Enter a Name and Description.
- Accept the Terms & Conditions.
- Click Create.
Now, choose which ad accounts should be assigned to this particular offline event set.
Note: Be sure to keep auto-tracking On to automatically track offline conversions for all campaigns in your ad account.
Uploading Offline Events
Now that we’ve created our event set, we need to upload our data so that Facebook can try and match it with a user.
Building Your Data File
The data file upload is quite similar to a Dynamic Product Feed. However, in this case, it’s a record of all offline transactions. Here’s a data file template to make your life easier.
Every entry must have an Event Time that’s either a date or a Unix timestamp.
Tip: If you don't have an exact timestamp, use the next day's date so that you don't miss conversion attributions.
Every entry must also include an Event Name from one of the following case-sensitive strings:
You’ll also need to enter the purchase value and currency. While you can choose to set Value to zero, this turns off the ability to measure cost performance metrics and cost-based optimization features.
Once you’ve organized your data file, you can upload it as CSV or TXT.
Tip: Offline tracking only works if you gather information from your offline sales—name, phone number, email, date of birth, etc. The most unobtrusive way to gather consumer data is by offering to email them their receipt. Even better, offer a loyalty program that can collect more data. However, this data must match their Facebook account in order to be matched to a user.
Mapping Data to Users
Similar to uploading a product feed for Dynamic Ads, Facebook cross-checks the data file and shows us any errors we should address.
Once uploaded, Facebook gives us the glorious green indicator telling us everything’s been successfully uploaded. You’ll now see your offline event set in your list.
Tracking and Reporting Offline Events
Now that we’ve uploaded our offline event data and ensured that auto-tracking’s on, we can analyze our campaign’s offline performance.
Tip: If you navigate to the ad Level, click Edit, and find the tracking section of the workflow, you’ll be able to ensure your event set is tracking your ad.
To see offline events in reporting, navigate to the Ads Manager campaign dashboard and customize the columns.
In the Conversions section, note the addition of the Offline tab.
Select the offline events that are relevant to your business and data file. Your dashboard will show the selected offline events, indicating how many conversions occurred, just like an online conversion with the Facebook Pixel!
A Few Best Practices
As with any new feature, it takes some time to truly use it to its fullest potential. Here are some of our recommendations to help you get started with offline events.
- It’s important to keep your sales caps on at all times, so that you can try and make use of the data for further opportunities. We recommend segmenting your offline events, for example, by product type or price range. Segmenting data in this way allows for future cross-sell and upsell campaigns.
- To increase the match rate of your offline event set, try to include as much information as possible, i.e., email, first name, last name, telephone number, etc. The more data, the higher the match rate!
- Facebook recommends uploading transactions within 62 days of the conversion. You can uploaded transactions up to 90 days after the attribution event.
- Organize your data gathering. Try to glean as much information as possible, and use the required naming conventions to save you time when uploading.
Advanced Best Practices for Offline Conversions
Through mapping offline events, Facebook allow us to use this data to create custom audiences. In other words, just like online retargeting, now you can retarget people based on what they do offline. You can create retargeting segments and up-sell/cross-sell people based on their offline purchase behavior. Invite those recent purchases back and cross-sell a complimentary product, or retarget loyal customers with a discount offer to keep them happy!
As with any custom audience, you can also develop lookalike audiences from them. This offers a wonderful opportunity to create high-intent lookalike audiences to target those similar to your purchasing audience. Since advertisers constantly need to recruit new customers, high-intent source audiences provide great lookalike options.
Excluding converters is just as helpful as targeting them. Remember to exclude those who’ve converted offline if you’re running campaigns that have little or no correlation to these people.
Mapping offline events provides real insight into your customers. Try to create multiple offline events based on revenue amount or, for example, product category purchased. Speak to your customers with all the information you have—personalize your advertising to the price-conscious consumer, and be product-specific to others.
Offline Conversions isn’t limited to retail. If you’re a B2B company and want to track performance metrics like opportunities and revenue generated from your campaigns, then Offline Conversions is for you.
Do you often wonder how many of your inbound leads that came from Facebook advertising converted to opportunities and revenue? With Offline Conversions, B2B marketers can close the marketing and sales loop with performance data such as phone calls, MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, and revenue from leads that resulted from people seeing or clicking your ads.
So, that’s it. You can now track your offline sales to your social ad spend. However, although this is an exciting move toward bridging the gap between offline and online reporting, we’re restricted in our ability to match users. What retailers should do now—start finding unobtrusive ways to glean Facebook-matching information from consumers during the purchase, in a way that doesn’t negatively affect the customer experience.
Where to Find More Info: Facebook Documentation
Track Conversions for Offline Events | Facebook Help Center
Offline Conversions API | Facebook for Developers
In-Store, Meet Mobile: New Ways to Increase and Measure Store Visits and Sales
Retailers Using Custom Audiences Can Now Measure Offline Sales | Facebook Business