Ringing that other cash register can be trickier to measure than ringing the digital cash register. You might be trying to get people to come into your store or buy over the phone. Perhaps you sell direct on the Web, too, but you find that people often ask questions before buying. Or maybe you have no e-Commerce capability at all. You might be a forklift manufacturer, a car dealer, or you might sell many other big-ticket items. Your site encourages research and comparison because most of your sales close through more traditional channels. Your company might be a product manufacturer or a manufacturer's representative. If this sounds like your business, your primary goal is offline sales. As discussed before, however, your goals might not be so black and white. You might have a mix of products, some of which are conducive to online sales and some that are better served with an offline approach.
For products where you do emphasize offline sales, you need to work hard at your call to action, which is sales-speak for the thing you are trying to get someone to do. Where the call to action for Web sales might be as simple as a shopping cart icon next to a sales pitch, your offline sales site must move the customer to the sales channel where you will eventually close the deal. Depending on your business, that channel can take different forms, as depicted in Figure 5-2:
Figure 5-2. Calls to action for offline sales. Your offline sales site must move the customer to the channel that will eventually close the deal.
Some companies have even more elaborate ways of shifting people to the channel to close the sale. Some auto manufacturer Web sites let customers fill out forms to request price quotes from local dealers. IBM offers a button on selected Web pages called Call Me Now; visitors can enter their phone number and have an IBM product expert call them back in a couple of minutes to answer questions (and maybe close the sale).
Studies confirm that customers frequently have questions they want answered before buying. After a study on customer behavior, Laura Evans of the consulting firm Ten/Resource (as quoted in Internet Retailer) noted, "I was surprised that, when armed with information from the Web that they took into the store, they still wanted to talk to a salesperson to confirm what they learned."
Regardless of the methods your company uses to move people from the Web site to the offline sales channel, the search strategy for offline sales is similar to that for Web sales, optimizing your site for a mix of informational and transactional queries. Likewise, companies with well-known names also need to focus on their ranking for navigational queries.
Web sales sites and offline sales sites differ most sharply in how they measure success. For Web sales, measurement is simple: Your Web traffic measurement system tells you how many people came, and your e-Commerce system tells you how many people bought. But offline sales are much tougher to measure. In Chapter 6, we help you close the loop on your offline sales measurements.