What are offline events?
We all know and love Facebook’s array of conversion tracking options for online purchases. Just put the pixel on your confirmation page and you’re good to go.
But what if your business makes both online and offline sales? What if someone sees your Facebook ad and then visits your store to make a purchase? Or what if you specifically want to drive people to your store? Or maybe you sell something on Amazon and can’t track conversions you send there.
Until now there hasn’t been a good solution to these problems. But Facebook has solved the problem (at least partially) with offline events. Now you can upload customer data from offline purchases and Facebook can match that to people who saw your ad.
In this postyou’ll learn how to setup offline events, and then we’ll explore some of the ways you can take advantage of this (even if you don’t have a bricks and mortar store).
How to setup offline event tracking
Step 1: Create an offline event set
The first step to setting up offline event tracking is to create an offline event set. To do this, enter this URL: https://business.facebook.com/offline_events/?business_id=[YOUR BUSINESS ID]
Click Create Offline Event Set.
Accept the terms when prompted, and then enter a name and description for your event set and click Create.
Select the ad account you want to associate with the event set and turn on auto tracking. This ensures that all campaigns in that ad account will have offline event tracking available (note that it’s not on by default, you need to turn it on at the ad level).
Step 2: Upload offline events
Now we need to upload data to our event set. This will allow Facebook to match offline purchasing data to their data about who has viewed your ads, and attribute (as much as possible) your offline conversions to your campaigns.
To do this, click Upload Offline Events and accept the terms.
Now you’ll need to upload either a CSV or TXT file with the data from your offline events. This includes 4 event variables (name, time, value, currency) as well as 17 identifiers.
The identifiers are what allow Facebook to accurately match your offline events back to your campaigns, so the more of these identifiers you can complete the more accurate your tracking will be. Facebook provides a sample template to show exactly what they expect to see for each identifier.
When you are ready, upload your CSV or TXT data and click Next.
Now Facebook will ask you to map your data to the available identifiers. It will do most of these automatically but you may need to enter some information if the data isn’t in the format it expects (or you may have to reformat your data a bit). When you get green checkmarks across the board, click Upload.
If your upload is successful, you’ll get a notification. If there are errors, Facebook will ask you to download an error report so you can fix the issues.
Step 3: Assign events to an ad
Now we need to associate our offline event set with an ad. The ad you select should be one that you reasonably expect would have caused people to take the offline action you’re tracking.
In Power Editor, select the ad you want to associate with the offline event set.
Then under Tracking, make sure Offline Event Set is select and pick the set you want to associate with the ad.
That’s it — now when you upload data to this event set, Facebook will check your data against who saw your ad and attribute conversions to your ads.
Step 4: View reporting for offline events
Finally, you’ll want to be able to actually view the conversion data from your offline events.
To do that, click Create Report in Power Editor to bring up the reports panel. Then under columns, click Customize Columns.
On the left hand side of the window, you’ll see Offline as an option.
This will give you all the usual options for performance metrics, but many of them won’t apply to offline events. According to the API docs, there are only 3 events you can attribute to offline conversions: purchases, leads, and other.
Once you have selected the metrics you want, click Apply and they’ll be added to your report.
You’re done! You are now tracking offline events. Next we’ll look at some possible use cases for offline events.
3 use cases for offline event tracking
Tracking top of funnel ads
Lots of businesses have a customer funnel that looks like this:
- Customer sees ad
- Customer registers for some offline, in-person event/consultation
- Customer attends event/consultation
- Customer makes purchase
With normal Facebook tracking, you could easily track #1 and #2 in this funnel, but 3 and 4 were much more difficult or impossible to measure. This lead to a disconnect where you’d have to make rough estimates of how much revenue your ads were actually generating.
With offline event tracking, you can now add steps #3 and #4 to your conversion tracking. This allows you to attribute purchases down to the dollar to your ad campaigns.
An example of this in practice might be a business that does kitchen renovations. Their funnel may look like this:
- Customer sees ad for kitchen reno.
- Customer registers for a free estimate.
- Company rep goes to house and provides estimate.
- Customer signs contract for kitchen reno.
With offline events, this company could now track #3 as leads and #4 as purchases. This would provide not just information about how much revenue their ads generate, but also how effective different ads are at generating leads vs. actual revenue. You could imagine a campaign generating lots of cheap leads that don’t ultimately convert vs. a campaign generating expensive leads that convert at a much higher rate — offline event tracking lets us make that distinctions and get a more accurate picture of where our spend is actually driving revenue.
Upselling leads and customers
It’s always cheaper to increase the value of an existing customer than acquire a new one. With offline event tracking, a business could upload its customer data from low value in-store purchases and serve those people highly targeted ads for higher-value products that they may want based on their purchasing history.
For example, if I run a clothing boutique and I have a list of customers who purchased a sweater, I could upload that data to Facebook as an offline event and serve them an ad for a more expensive jacket. Based on what I know about the customer and their buying history, a business like that should be able to run very effective and well-targeted upsell campaigns to drive repeat purchases.
You could apply this thinking to a wide variety of businesses. Maybe you have hosted an event or meetup, for example, and want to show ads to attendees for a pricey conference. Offline event tracking would let you do that easily.
Tracking e-commerce sales on third-party platforms
A big pain point for people selling on third-party e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Etsy is tracking their ads through to the point of purchase. Sure, you can make guesses based on clicks and the purchase data provided by the third-party, but it’s hard to do accurate split testing of ads or any other sort of granular measurement. And we need to be doing these things to run profitable campaigns at scale.
Offline events solves this problem to a certain extent by letting you upload your customer data from the third-party platform to Facebook and match it back to your ad campaign.
It’s a pain to do this manually of course, but it’s only a matter of time before automated solutions are built that should make this sort of tracking relatively painless and accurate.
Have any questions or comments? Let us know and we’ll be happy to help make your campaigns as successful as possible!