The Value beyond clicks & The rise of the ROPOs

Should you always believe everything you report on? Is there more value beyond clicks and data that we don’t always see? Just what is a ROPO? Our Head of Biddable Media, Ben Lipscombe has got the info you need and he’s got evidence (plus a table of stats) to prove it!


Not everything that has value is trackable

You can’t improve what you can’t measure, right? I’m generally in agreement with the old adage, and whilst Attribution – that is an understanding of the value of all customer interactions across a journey with our brands – is incredibly important for us as digital marketers, I’m also of the opinion that we do need to appreciate that not everything that has value for us is trackable.

“How can that be?” I hear you howl from behind your CRM systems and Google analytics account.

Well let’s talk about a trend in customer behaviour we’re seeing more and more of with our clients who have both an online presence and physical stores. It’s customers who Research Online, Buy Offline – the ROPOs.

Have a think about the following ROPO scenario, which we’ve probably all been in ourselves.

You’re in a shop looking at “something” but you’re not quite sure it’s the “something” for you, so you whip out your phone and have a quick check of said “something” online, making sure it’s got decent reviews, or the spec is as you want it. Having done that you’re happy so you pop your phone back in your pocket and pay for your “something” in store.

All seems straight forward and normal, but you’ve given some other digital marketer somewhere a head ache. They’ve spent time and budget building landing pages, crafting content and standing up campaigns which you’ve just used specifically NOT to make an online purchase. No conversion, no revenue, no good for digital marketing efforts.

But you still made the purchase with the help of the digital marketing activity, right?  It was just in a way that can’t be quantified as it would have been digitally. So what’s the issue?


Thinking BEYOND digital marketing

When we’re thinking about digital marketing and the value it adds we also need to think BEYOND digital marketing. Customers exist in a world that isn’t just made of clicks and metrics so whilst these are important things there’s also a need for us to take a step back and “read between the lines” of data to look at digital marketing in a more holistic way.

As an example, working with one of our clients Crabtree & Evelyn we’ve been able to look at search activity in the geographic areas around their high street store locations. The closer to a shop someone was, the lower the online conversion rate. This is no coincidence, as we can see a clear pattern when looking at the gradually increasing distances from a store. Like this…

Research Online Purchase Offline - The value in looking beyond data


Look how perfectly this increases the further you go. That’s because the further out the radius, the fewer people with offline intentions make up the total. This also shows how much it changes with distance too, from 2.76% within a mile up to 4.75% when a user is miles away. This just shows that a big proportion of people will ROPO when they have the opportunity to do so.

So, there is a need for us to appreciate the offline value of what we’re doing as well as the online. If we were to just look at online revenue data in the scenario above we’d only attribute part of the total value. But by using things like Clickthrough Rates by location we can pick up on trends that may not be obvious at first and use them to estimate the additional value that exists beyond our online attributed sales.


Spoiled by data?

What doesn’t help with this shift in mindset is the amount of data we have available to us. In some ways we’re spoiled by data – we can often feel like if it can’t be proved with numbers on a screen then it doesn’t have value. But that’s not the case and it’s perhaps an unrealistic expectation that we’re able to prove EVERYTHING.

Although you can prove a lot with data and metrics you can’t prove or show the thinking behind a search, a click or a conversion.

With digital channels we’re always trying to get the most detailed and high definition picture of what’s happening, but it can often be that what we actually end up with is just an 8-bit version or a vastly simplified version of reality. One that doesn’t necessarily cater for all the other things that aren’t trackable. Like those ROPOers.

We obviously still have to (and absolutely should) use the data available to prove what we can, but we do also need to step back from data sometimes and appreciate the value digital campaigns and digital spend can add elsewhere – that online spend has offline value too.


Ben Lipscombe

Head of Biddable Media

To dive deeper into the role ROPO could be playing for you or to discuss why Tesco shouldn’t have changed the recipe of their Madeira chicken, just drop Ben an email.

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