Is it time to say farewell to the old model of assigning all the value to the last click? Many marketers want the ability to measure customers’ paths to purchase and understand the influences of each channel on a sale.

It would be a dream to accurately measure the impact of your TV ad on generating uplift in an outdoor campaign, driving interest in your press ad, which subsequently delivers a sale.

But can this now be achieved online?

I promised in my previous article, It’s not all about the last click in search marketing, that I would share some insight into how I integrated my paid search, display, affiliate and email marketing channels to give clear visibility of customer journeys.

I have developed such an approach for a number of companies, including Warner Breaks.

I was fed up with treating each channel in isolation, measuring its individual impressions versus clicks, new versus repeat, spend versus return.

I knew that channels were positively impacting each other. I knew that my display banner advertising was delivering uplift on my paid search results. I knew my paid search was having a positive result on my affiliate networks. I knew my email marketing was driving visitors to brand keyword searches.

But I had no way of accurately measuring this effect.

I spoke to numerous companies to find a solution. Analytics companies can track the clicks, identify where users have come from (the referrer), but I wanted to also track customers off the site, including impressions (those who don’t even click). So I turned to an ad-serving company for the solution I needed.

The first step was to track all channels (impressions and clicks) through a single universal tracking tag. This meant regardless of the marketing channel, all user interactions were tracked to a single cookie.

By tracking the date and time of each impression or click, a report was produced to map out first interaction through to the final conversion on the website.

In its simplest form, a single customer path may look like this:

A customer journey

In addition to recording the date and time, it also captured the campaign name, the creative name, creative format, the website placement and even the keyword (for search marketing).

So what was the benefit of this report?

  • Measure channel cross-over and collaboration
  • Understand the online marketing mix
  • Measure the impact of online branding
  • Allocate budget more appropriately
  • Reduce media wastage
  • Improve online conversion.

I began by understanding the impact of the marketing mix. Was there evidence of display delivering uplift to search marketing?

I devised a simple pivot to look at how display banner advertising impacted the other channels. Top line results showed that of all customers that first interacted via a display banner, 25% ended up booking via paid search marketing and 12% via an affiliate network.

Display's impact on sales

I also found that of all customers that first interacted with an affiliate network, 23% ended booking via paid search marketing – proving affiliates had value in raising awareness.

I also looked at the creative impact. Did display banners advertising the Spa drive customers to search on Google for Spa Breaks or Spa Hotels? Did our Rich Media creative deliver a stronger uplift than standard banners?

Next I tried to understand how to impact future customers. We looked for opportunities to replicate successful journeys, strengthen messaging or even adding special offers to improve conversion.

It also allowed us to optimise media plans, by identifying which website placements were delivering positive uplift versus those not delivering any influence.

The final setup was to calculate our attribution modelling, sharing the CPA (cost-per-acquisition) back with all the channels that influenced the sale – a far more intelligent model than last click.

I have spoken to numerous companies over the past few months who are now taking this approach to their online marketing. Be warned, the volume of data maybe a bit overwhelming at first, but crack it and you have an incredibly powerful report that will change your whole outlook on your online marketing.

So is it RIP for last click? Personally, I think the time has come to be a bit more realistic when measuring online marketing, and this report could be key to that change.

 Matthew Finchview blog