Tracking Conversions: Digital Should be Simpler

Being able to track Digital Marketing activity using tools such as Google Analytics is one of the major benefits of using Digital Media over Traditional Media. However it is not as easy as it seems as most web analytics platforms only attribute conversions on a last click basis, including Google Analytics (by default).

Google Analytics is used by 83% (*w3techs.com) of all websites, therefore it is by far the most popular Web Analytics platform. It has several reports that show the value of any given channel.

One of the main reasons it is not simple, is the fact we are dealing with human behavior and there is not one single influence on a purchase decision. Having worked previously on Dyson and Unilever, the value of Branding is very apparent. Within Search you can see this simply be looking at search volumes, as a company with a great brand presence will have a strong search volume. For example if you want to buy a Dyson you would search “Dyson”, not “vacuum”. Dyson has a particularly strong brand, however we have seen very similar clients, one with a higher search volumes and conversion rates, all due to brand awareness.

Brand Awareness is extremely difficult to track in Digital Media and almost impossible for Traditional Media. Tradition Media is tricky, mainly due to the fact we can’t assign a cookie to the user to follow their actions. Whilst there is emerging technology that can and will make this easier, tracking a user’s engagement with an OOH ad and following that to an in store purchase is almost impossible at scale. For Digital Media it is easier, however getting this information in one place normally requires an advances Web Analytics platform such as Rakuten Marketing’s platform.

Direct Response is also not that simple to track. The image below shows a few examples of a typical user journey before a purchase. The first one shows a single touch point of Paid Search before a purchase, which is simple, as that will always be directly attributed to Paid Search.

The second journey shows Paid Search followed by an Organic Search touch point. In Google Analytics by default this purchase would be attributed to Organic Search as it’s the last touch point. However without Paid Search would the user have discovered the website in the first instance and searched for a second time and clicked on the Organic listing.

The third journey has three touch points, which then becomes even more complicated as if you were to assign the value to each touch point, how do you assign the right value to each. Google Analytics has several standard attribution models, however these are very basic and a data driven attribution model is needed.

Finally the forth journey ends with a direct visit, which is a user typing in the URL or using a bookmark. Therefore this touch point shouldn’t be assigned any value as the user is simply re-visiting the website.

user journey

Within Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels and Attribution can help fill in the picture of the true value of each Channel and Advertising spend, however it’s not a simple job to undertake. As Digital Marketers we need more sophisticated tools that give a clear and simplistic view of what input give the greatest return in order to know how to assign resource.

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