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Research by 360i and SearchIgnite will make interesting reading for search marketers who want to build their understanding of how consumers are interacting with organic and paid search listings before converting.
The study found that 37% of conversions come from those clicking more than one of a marketer's natural or sponsored listings.
As the report points out, "it is in these multiple-click scenarios where the clicks’ credit can often be misapplied".
To use a football analogy, it is the equivalent of heaping too much glory on the goalscorer without due recognition going to those players who are providing "the assists".
David Berkowitz, director of strategic planning at 360i, said that search marketers need to refine their approach to search so that they are apportioning the credit correctly.
"Normally companies are just looking at the last click that was responsible for the transaction. That tells you most of the story but it won't necessary give you the whole picture."
He added: "As budgets get bigger, and more keywords are bought, a greater understanding about [conversion paths] is going to become more important."
The research, also reported by Clickz, found that 66% of clicks are from consumers clicking a marketer’s listing multiple times.
Also, 12.6% of conversions credited to natural search results were preceded by clicks on a marketer’s paid listings - "more than twice as many as occur in the converse scenario".
Whilst enlightening for marketers, all this information must be daunting for companies trying to build an integrated picture of what is happening when consumers are online.
Not only do businesses have to consider the interaction between display advertising and search advertising (see previous blog post), they also have to get to grips with the complex inter-relationship between paid search and organic search.
It takes time to build this knowledge about multi-click scenarios and the best chemistry between different channels but those companies who explore this will ultimately be rewarded by much better return on investment.
Mr Berkowitz added: "What we have set down is a roadmap about how to measure some of these things but it's up to marketers at individual companies to review their campaigns internally and with their agencies."
Here is the link for access to the 360i White Paper in full (registration required).