A recent study covering 36 brands in 15 categories compares online
metrics with attitude survey metrics in their ability to explain sales. While online metrics (e.g., # of website visits, # of clicks on paid ads) are better suited to explain weekly changes in sales, survey metrics measure slower changing consumer attitudes (e.g., awareness and loyalty) and are more reliable in predicting sales.
Both types of information combined decrease the percentage of sales variation not explained by marketing actions from 47% to 30%. Different online metrics vary in their ability to explain sales (see figure). Two other noteworthy findings: 1) Brands not “considered” or “preferred” in attitude surveys may still be chosen through online exposure – a route for less preferred brands to develop? 2) Offline media (e.g. TV advertising) often trigger online behavior better than online media – more so if they communicate a means to access the brand’s online presence.
Source: Koen Pauwels and Bernadette van Ewijk, Do Online Behavior Tracking or Attitude Survey Metrics Drive Brand Sales? An Integrative Model of Attitudes and Actions on the Consumer Boulevard (MSI Report No. 13-118)