Proving Facebook ROI is no easy task. While measurement tools have proliferated in recent years to help marketers tie clicks, likes, fans, comments, and shares to online sales, tracking offline sales lift from Facebook ads has remained stubbornly reliant on educated guesses.

Until now. Last month, Facebook announced on its blog that it was expanding Custom Audiences to enable offline conversion measurement. This means that anyone who uses Custom Audiences to run Facebook advertising campaigns can measure the corresponding offline sales lift and optimize their ads accordingly.

The process is surprisingly simple, too. It works like this:

1. Marketers upload hashed data, including emails, phone numbers, and addresses, as well as encrypted transaction information.
2. Facebook matches the retailer’s hashed data to hashed data from Facebook’s own databases.
3. Facebook then provides a report that compares, on an aggregate basis, the purchase behavior of customers who saw an ad on Facebook with customers who did not.

Offline

Translation: advertisers can measure offline sales driven by their Facebook ads even if those customers never clicked on the ads. With marketers under increasing pressure to deliver results, this is an incredibly powerful new tool.

It also means that if you aren’t already collecting data about your customers, you should be. But don’t sweat it if your database isn’t as robust as you’d like it to be. Here are a few easy ideas to help you capture that precious contact data without making customers feel like they’re signing away their souls:

1. Encourage customers to register online before completing a purchase. Offer incentives, such as a one-time discount or an exclusive newsletter, to make registration seem attractive, not invasive.
2. Create a members-only online experience. Whether it’s a loyalty program or an invitation-only buying club, a little exclusivity is a great way to drive online sign-ups.
3. Reward registered customers for bringing in new users. Offer registered users a compelling incentive, such as a coupon or free shipping, to invite their friends to register for your site and make a purchase. Make sure you reward the friends, too.
4. Gate premium content. Proceed carefully with this option, as it can result in user abandonment. However, if you have some truly exceptional content to share on your website, requiring registration can be a great way to add some high-quality contacts to your database.
5. Create a newsletter. This one’s a no-brainer. Whether it’s once a day or once a month, curate your top content and offers in an email newsletter. Place the sign-up form in a prominent location on your site.
6. Offer tailored recommendations. If you have a number of different products and potential buyers, develop a short online quiz to help buyers find what they need. To cut down on junk email addresses, email the quiz results rather than displaying them in the web browser.
7. Give something away. Contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes are extremely effective ways to gather new contact information. Offer a tantalizing prize and make it easy for users to enter.

When it comes to gathering data, the trick is to keep the end customers in mind. If a tactic feels invasive and annoying to you, it will probably feel even more invasive to your audience. Always think value exchange, not merely data exchange, and you’ll do just fine.

Facebook advertisers – have you used Custom Audiences to measure Facebook ROI? What are some of your creative ideas for capturing customer contact data?

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Robin Cangie
Robin Cangie is a Senior Marketing Manager at Brand Networks, the leading provider of data-driven social solutions.