Attributing conversions, whether they’re sales, leads or otherwise, is vital to understanding where your customers are coming from and what channels they engaged with along the way.
A lot of businesses focus on last click conversions, i.e. the last channel the customer engaged with before converting. This is a risky practise as it does not paint the full picture and can accredit conversions to sources that didn’t do the work alone. You don’t skip to the end of a movie and find out what the twist was and then make up your mind as to whether or not you enjoyed the film, do you? You take in the whole story leading up to the conclusion.
So why don’t we always approach media and marketing campaigns this way?
Let’s look at a typical cross channel conversion path that can be found in Google Analytics:
Display > Paid Search > Organic > Direct = Conversion
Now what this means is, that the customer interacted with a Display ad, a Paid Search ad and an Organic ad before converting via a Direct visit. Does that mean that no credit should be given to any other channel and therefore the conversion should be solely attributed back to the final direct visit? The only honest answer is a categorical no.
Looking at this particular conversion path, it tells us that before seeing the Display advert the customer had perhaps never even heard of or considered the business in question. They then searched for a term, brand or otherwise, related to the business, and were served a paid search result. Having recognised the brand from the display ads or having a genuine interest in the offer, they clicked through to the site.
Once on the site the customer had a look around at what was on offer and then exited to research the brand. Once the customer was satisfied that the business was reputable and price competitive, they then searched for the company organically and came back to the site. The final step may have been a last attempt to see if there was any discount codes or offers available before simply typing the URL into their browser and converting directly.
Give credit where it’s due; the display ad exposed your brand to the customer, then paid search initiated an interaction before organic and direct closed the deal. This goes to show that just because a channel isn’t driving direct conversions it doesn’t mean it’s not working, so be sure to look at all the data before deciding to push or pull investment.
Understanding the entire journey behind every conversion ensures performance is recognised and effective channels aren’t switched off. Quality attribution modelling allows businesses to maximise their media spend and consistently get excellent results.