In an industry founded on the ability to deliver marketing that is highly targeted, controllable and measurable, why are we still grappling with issues of sales duplication?
Speaking with one site owner, he estimates duplication of sales is over 30%. Isn't it time we put this issue to bed?
Speaking with industry peers, both on the client and agency side of the fence, many e-commerce sites still cannot determine which channels were responsible for delivering a sale, let alone where to correctly assign a CPA.
Increasingly complex and intuitive tracking systems all have the ability to track the user from initial interaction through to final sale.
However, the issue arises when we come to compare results of our online channels, finding that search, display and affiliates all taking credit for the sale.
Increased use of performance based / cost-per-response marketing has only fuelled the issue further.
In many ways I see this as a positive; multiple channels contributing to driving sales, demonstrating that your media strategy is effective and messaging is consistent. However, without the ability to clearly measure, this benefit is lost.
There has long been talk of The Long Tail, and many people are passionate that online can deliver brand awareness.
The inability to track this effectively will result in the industry coming under increased scrutiny to clarify results.
There are numerous technical solutions available to de-duplicate results, simply assigning the sale to the last click.
However, the more powerful systems can also map out customer path to purchase across multiple channels, tracking all interactions (impressions and clicks) before the sale was made.
Example of path to purchase;
- Interaction 1- Display impression
- Interaction 2 - Affiliate click
- Interaction 3 - Display click
- Interaction 4 - Paid search click
- Interaction 5 - Paid search click
- Final interaction - Convert to Sale
The power of this information is immense, but is only being utilised by a handful of agencies and clients.
Firstly the ability to measure the impact of display impressions and generic paid search terms in creating brand awareness gives clients the confidence to invest in these channels.
For the strategists, this is powerful data to supports the argument to increase investment in online.
In addition, understanding the role a channel in the customer path to purchase allows us to target messaging more appropriately.
If we can see that certain display placements feature regularly as the first interaction, creative agencies can optimise to improve CTR and interaction rates.
Finally for the usability experts, this provides a clear picture on the customer journey before they hit the website.
Understanding their brand exposure or purchase intent will aid in the optimisation of landing pages and customer journeys.
Resolving this issue opens up lots of exciting opportunities for behavioural targeting and segmentation across multiple channels (which I will write about soon), but lets get the basics right first.
Isn't now the time to put this issue to bed and move the industry forward?