By Paul Morris
I always recommend to brands whom I consult/ work with that they should move from a last click tracking mentality to one that ascertains value across the sales funnel.
The first question that should be asked by brands (but is rarely asked strangely enough) is why bother? Most ‘experts’ give clients very broad reasoning hence I thought it pertinent to give you some exact reasons why you should evolve from a last click wins tracking methodology to a multi click attribution model.
Ethos: Finding out the true path to conversion helps you attribute cost against value thus ascertaining ROAS (Return On Ad Spend). This will then in turn help you set out the correct marketing mix that will in turn improve your digital marketing ROI.
Consumers research, compare and make purchase decisions via multiple touch points across multiple channels. If you are solely measuring return based on a last click methodology you are by definition not measuring all the customer touch points and thus have an incomplete picture of your targeting opportunities.
Essentially multi click attribution often results in redistributing ‘credit’ from the end of the sales funnel and giving some back to the start of the customer journey. E.g. more generic keywords (PPC & SEO), review sites and blogs (affiliate), Social Media in general, etc.
Post impression display data (not available in Google multi channel funnels but available in most other sophisticated products) helps you understand people who have seen your banners but not clicked on them. Research from companies such as Artemis proves that exposure to display advertising does increase the likelihood of converting. Therefore without the view through data available in multi click analytics packages you would only be getting half the banner story (although often the research on view through conversion effectiveness is by companies with a vested interest so treat it with a pinch of salt!)
Top converting paths and assisted conversions do help you understand, at a top level, what you main assists and paths are. This can lead you down many testing scenarios. For example; Do we focus more on those channels that are delivering healthy returns and ‘forget’ the rest? Do we have an unhealthy over reliance on the interplay between PPC and SEO and if we do should something be done about it? Do we focus on other unutilised media such as more social media engagement? Etc.
Let’s now take a specific acquisition channel and look at the challenges within it. If we take Affiliate marketing, often voucher code and cash back sites ‘steal’ the sale at the end and add relatively little value to KPI’s such as awareness. If you looked in your affiliate reports then you would see, in my opinion, an often unfair weighting to these channels. Multi Click Attribution modelling helps you realise this and ensures you do not forget about sub channels such as review, blog and comparison sites that actually convinced the person to purchase in the first place. I sat through a presentation from EBay a couple of years ago and they had seen real value by advancing their affiliate tracking technology system by utilising multi click attribution and sale windows to justify commissions for certain affiliates/ types.
From a PPC perspective multi click attribution is often most important for justifying more generic terms further up the sales funnel rather than just bidding on the obvious low hanging fruit such as brand. Multi click attribution is also useful for unearthing new keyword variations to bid on and then split out in to separate campaigns so Quality Score/ CTR rate and conversion rate are maximised. It also gives you competitive advantage as your competition might be focusing far too much on last click keywords whilst you invest in a wider sales funnel.
Multi click attribution can also be something that you utilise to take A/B channel testing to the next level. As an example banner retargeting can often be tarnished with the ‘stealing sales you would have got anyway’ brush, thus why not employ tests by turning on and off your retargeting activity and see what happens to your sales funnels as a result?
Finally phone tracking understanding is something that can benefit from the multi click attribution treatment. For phone tracking (dynamically serving a different phone number on landing pages or every keyword that received a click) you would then receive a richer picture of how phone enquiries and direct sales affect the marketing mix and you might also discover that certain keywords that did not convert amazingly well online convert much better over the phone. These could include detailed question search strings, heavy items whose delivery terms are not straight forward and might require a phone call for clarification, etc.
Multi Click Model Examples
Whilst the below multi click examples do not give you every possible modle available (e.g. longer than a 30 days cookie, view through conversions included, different weighting to the media sources, etc) they do at least highlight some possible ways of managing your sales funnel more intelligently.
Just remember there is no one size fits all model.
Even weighting across all visits
Even weighting across all visits excluding brand/direct
Even weighting across all visits within 30 days excluding Brand/Direct
First contributor higher weighted excluding Brand/Direct
Late contributor higher weighted excluding Brand/Direct
First & last contributors higher weighted excluding Brand/Direct