2015 / 19 October

Is Direct Attribution a Myth?

Customer Journeys Make Direct Attribution Difficult

When I start thinking about direct attribution when it comes to Digital Marketing, a song creeps into my brain …..

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

That of course is the classic hit “The Day The Music Died” by Don McLean, my apologies if I cause an “earworm” to now reside in your mind for the next few hours. ūüôā

Does First & Last Click Attribution Still Matter?

Click AttributionWith all the available touch points a customer has along their journey to purchase, direct attribution has become a very illusive end goal for marketers.In the past we could make the “C-Suite Dance” by tying back direct attribution to Pay Per Click¬†(PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing and banner campaigns. It was pretty simple, the visitor saw an add, searched or clicked a link, they came into your site and purchased.

Now, with the convergence of social media, mobile technologies and even the digitization of offline marketing, direct attribution has become a very murky task. ¬†Sure, there’s the ability of tracking “first touch” and “last touch” when it comes to a purchase on your site, but what about all those “touches” in between and those purchases not conducted on your own website.

Do we truly know if that first “touch” was from a PPC ad click and the last “touch” from a blog post link click before buying, were truly the first and last influence for the purchase? ¬†Measuring the “clicks” can be decieving, especially if you are engaging in many different channels.

Lots of Rest Stops in the Customer Journey

Pitstops in Customer JourneyStop and think about your daily interactions and distractions. ¬†Undoubtedly you have a few windows, tabs and apps open on your laptop, tablet and mobile phone. ¬†That’s just within your ‘work space’. ¬†Now think about going to the store to pick up those ingredients you forgot to grab for tonight’s dinner, on your way to the store and in the store you can pass many more ‘screens’ – digitized billboards, TV screens at the gas pump, buses with advertising that have a QR code for you to snap (while you’re behind them at a red light of course).

If you are now setting foot into the “wearable” technologies or even the Internet of Things (IoT) where connected devices such as your refrigerator can now have a screen too, soon enough those screens will have touch points any number of companies can use to engage you and will be another ‘pit stop’ in the customer journey to purchase.

Understanding how all of this affects the customer journey is important. Especially with so many touch points out there and no one customer reacts the same to all of your marketing and engagement efforts. As marketer you have to be able to convey, in some way, how these channels are contribution to the goals you are setting and trying to attain.

The Internet of Things’ (IoT) Effect

As a recent Cisco survey of retail trends discovered, e-commerce has added about 40 different routes¬†for a typical shopper to take before purchase. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) ‚ÄĒ the explosion in connected devices and networked connections of people process and data ‚ÄĒ¬†potential shopping journeys will expand well beyond the¬†800 that Cisco tracked in their survey.

Cisco's Survey of Customer Journeys

Cisco’s Survey of Customer Journeys

Even how shoppers pay at the register is a touch in the customer journey, as well as the very real possibility of how packages are going to be delivered in the future.  Just take a moment to consider those drone deliveries Amazon is testing out.  Video games are also no longer the only player in augmented reality either Рcompanies are starting to use these technologies to engage the customer along their purchase journey.

Go Beyond Web Analytics

Customer Journey to PurchaseMarketing teams need to not just put strategies in place for researching, implementing and measuring these channels, they need to account for the affect or “lift” these channels have on the customer journey where they cannot be directly measured or have direct attribution. ¬†That’s a tall task, especially if Cisco’s research proves true. ¬†No longer is web analytics going to be your be all end all in reporting ROI that makes the C-Suite dance.

If your team isn’t looking at cross platform data analysis to understand the customer journey, how can you get the full picture of the customer journey¬†when¬†not every touch comes to your website? ¬†It’s time to measure against the different aspects of the customer journey:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Purchase
  • Retention
  • Advocacy

How are you measuring your success along the customer’s journey to purchase…and beyond?

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