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Booking that dream holiday or buying that new bedroom suite is rarely done in a single surfing session.

People will check out deals from rival suppliers, read reviews and generally mull over their options before they finally press that “Buy Now” button, sometimes days or weeks after their initial visit.

The most important thing for any company is clearly that the customer makes that final click – however they arrived there. But knowing a little bit about their journey and how they first heard about the firm can provide powerful information for marketers.

If you can determine whether it's search engine optimisation (SEO) or brand recognition that has directed people to your site, then you’ll be able to squeeze the most out of your marketing budget.

In the land of clicks, not every click is equal. Take that dream holiday example. A customer may first discover your site through natural search on Google. Keying in “holidays in the Seychelles”, will pull up your PPC ad at the top of their screen and direct them to your site.

The next time they want to find your site, they may not remember the URL, but will probably search for your company name rather than use a generic search term again.

Peter Hutchinson, operations director at direct marketing agency Netizen Digital recognises this pattern all too well:

“Our travel clients have visitors making an average of three to ten visits before making a booking. It is essential that we understand the true contribution of each visit. This allows us to attribute a booking’s revenue to the different marketing channels involved. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, the tools you use need to be flexible enough to accommodate and change with your true business requirements.”

Most businesses tend to use the “last click wins” to claim click conversion, so if that customer books that holiday, you’d think that it was brand awareness that was behind their visit.

But should you really attribute that sale to a brand term? Well, that depends, particularly if you have offline TV or radio brand awareness campaigns running concurrently.

If you apply the same business logic to all sources, then that’s naturally going to be weighted towards brand terms.

What you need is to build different business logic that doesn’t assume all traffic is equal and that can be changed quickly to reflect new campaigns.

You need something with the flexibility to analyse the same information based on first or last-click conversions to help you make better decisions about your traffic.

Not all clicks are equal. The important thing is that you have the power to look beyond the obvious and establish business rules that will truly provide you with the information you need to target campaigns more effectively.

Seth Richardson is the CEO of DC Storm .

Seth Richardson

Published 10 May, 2007 by Seth Richardson

Seth Richardson is CEO at DC Storm and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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