Search, Social, Email: Attributing sales to several channels

The online customer journey is becoming more complex as consumers are given additional channels to discover, research and interact with brands. As marketers, we need to continuously adapt our attribution strategy to reflect these changes in prospect and customer behavior.

Consider the following customer journey, and think about how your marketing department would assign value to each channel:

  1. A prospect clicks on your display ad while browsing a relevant website.
  2. The prospect reviews your products, but wants to know how satisfied current customers are. He now goes to your Facebook page to review the most recent posts.
  3. He considers purchasing, but wants to wait for a sale. So he signs up for your email newsletter.
  4. Finally, he is confident he wants to purchase your product, so he types www.yoursite.com into a web browser and makes the purchase.

In total, four different channels were used to gather information, interact with the brand, and ultimately make a purchase.

As digital marketers we have the obligation to create flexible attribution strategies which will allow us to understand, measure, and optimize the interactions between channels to drive incremental revenue on ecommerce sites.

We can no longer rely on first interaction and last interaction attribution. Doing so undervalues upper funnel visits, while not fully illuminating the customer journey between channels.

To drive incremental ecommerce revenue through multi-channel logistics, marketers can take 2 initial steps:

  1. Understand what role each channel plays in the purchase process. Google has done a great job of displaying this very thing in a recent blog post:  Digital Channel AttributionSource: http://www.google.com/think/tools/customer-journey-to-online-purchase.htm

    This graphic shows the importance of all digital channels, even if they don’t directly drive revenue. For example, if display advertising doesn’t directly convert into purchases, you might  stop investing in it. However, what the model shows is that display advertising is an awareness tool –by reducing investment in awareness, there will ultimately be decay in revenue over time.

  2. Create 1:1 interactions within each channel. Most web analytics programs can give you the multichannel insights displayed above. But to gain a competitive advantage, you need to turn that data into actionable insights. One way to achieve this is by changing website displays through geolocation data append.

    Example: A prospect visits your website to review product X, and leaves without purchasing. The next time she returns to your site, you can dynamically display offers for product X. This strategy creates a personalized interaction while increasing conversion rates.

As consumers rely on more data sources to make decisions about their online purchases, marketers will need to rely on real-time data enhancement to communicate at the point of purchase.