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You are in the market for a new mobile phone. Friends and colleagues are happy to give their opinion on Android vs. iPhone but for a true comparison, you go online to do your research.

While you’re at it, you compare phone plans and decide on a provider. The next day, you drive to the store, purchase the device, and enter into an agreement with the vendor for a phone and data plan.

This is called the ROPO effect (research online, purchase offline) and it will account for $1.1 trillion of the $1.8 trillion total web-influenced retail sales that are predicted for 2017.* Most of these sales will be in grocery, apparel and accessories, home improvement and consumer electronics.

*Source: Forrester Research Inc. U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2012 To 2017.

Cardinal Path

To capitalize on this important customer path to purchase, retailers need insights into how customer behavior validates marketing activity. Can you show senior leaders how marketing generates revenue by driving people to purchase through online channels? Can you be certain that you are optimizing your media mix and accurately forecasting sales by channel?

Once you can quantify what touch points are having an impact during the customer’s buying journey – for instance, if you can discern from the data that during the decision-making process, customers had viewed a display ad even if they didn’t click on it – you are empowered to translate online engagement figures into budget allocations.

“The biggest benefit to this is being able to justify the ROI in digital spend,” says Dave Booth, Cardinal Path’s senior partner and co-founder. “When you’re able to quantify the number of sales that you have from each channel and which channels are valuable and not valuable at different points in the conversion funnel, all of a sudden you have the ammunition to go into annual budget planning and definitively say ‘I believe we should invest more here and here.”

U.S. Cellular is a Cardinal Path client that has reaped the benefits of tying transaction data to customer behavior data across all sales channels – an effort that resulted in the reclassification of offline sales that should have been attributed to online because of the influencers that led to the sale. “We’re now in the enviable position of having an accurate view at each stage of our customer journey,” said Katie Birmingham, U.S. Cellular’s Digital & E-commerce Analyst. And the advantages go beyond attribution. By deploying a custom analytics solution, U.S. Cellular also reaps the rewards of an enhanced customer experience, built on data insights. Online/offline attribution modeling shines a light on user behavior that influences and premeditates offline purchases.

Learn more about the ROPO effect and how to use analytics and advanced attribution modeling to demonstrate the ROI of digital spend in this interview with Dave Booth, the Digital Analytics Association’s 2014 Practitioner of the Year.