This isn’t a new problem – how to measure lead generation from online activity is as old as the web itself. Not everyone had a shopping cart on their website year ago either, so ways of correlating offline business with online activity had to be devised.
Take for example a car company – if you were browsing a new car on their website and then walked into a dealer to check it out – there was no way that the brand manager could know that or even judge the effectiveness of their web presence.
What in turn happened was the dealer eventually looked to measure the leads generated by the website and posted a car configurator to the site where you could configure your own car and then send it to 3 dealers for a quote or print it out and take it to the dealer where they in turn would check off a box signaling the fact that this sale had come in with a print out from the configurator.
There are other examples of B2B tech companies that put a special 800 number in their white papers to signal the call is coming in from a download on the website. Still others have added click to chat or click to call type of functionality that when combined with a slightly re-engineered process means you can totally measure the leads.
A more recent example is Naked Pizza, a New Orleans healthful-pizza shop that has been marketing itself via Twitter. And recently it has started to track Twitter-spurred sales at the register. In a test run April 23, an exclusive-to-Twitter promotion brought in 15% of the day’s business.
Right now you have to think of ways to use social media as an “outpost” for your content and use that outpost to drive back to your website. I think in the next few years you will have ways of tagging pages with 1×1 pixels so you can effectively track the traffic to and from things like Facebook. Currently you can use tags in embed codes for video which is a step in the right direction for tracking. You can also track tiny urls used in Twitter feeds to see how many clicks you got to that url but its not integrated the way it is on your own website.
If we can get affiliate marketing right – paying people based on traffic flows. Then we certainly can get social media traffic flows right in the long term!