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Digital Marketing & Web Analytics: Understanding Conversions and Attribution Modeling

In the age of digital marketing, everything is measurable.  Therefore, the best marketers have an understanding of both the creative side as well as the analytics of marketing.  The influx of savvy marketers utilizing web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Omniture and Core Metrics, creates a more transparent landscape for advertising decisions.  This increased level of transparency allows marketers to better determine the return on investment of digital campaigns.  Digital marketing provides the ability for marketers to directly attribute conversions, or actions, back to advertising or marketing efforts.

Conversions comprise different actions such as a form submission, video view, blog comment, enewsletter signup, white paper download, ecommerce transaction and many more.  Well-trained marketers utilizing digital channels will identify the top conversion points on the website and include calls-to-action within ads and organic campaigns, thus driving users toward the preferred conversion points.  Properly enabled web analytics allow marketers to associat conversions directly back to a marketing source like search or social media as well as a medium like PPC which allows for drilling down to the keyword level.  With this increased level of measurement, marketers are able to remove the guesswork associated with marketing and can optimize the strategy around the most profitable channels.

view-through conversion tracking

Conversion Attribution

Although conversion tracking is an essential component of measurement, conversion attribution is equally important.  Measuring conversion attribution allows us to quantify the influence each impression or channel had on the overall purchase intent or conversion point.  This valuable data completes the picture of conversion tracking by offering visibility into the entire path a customer takes before making a decision.  If we are tracking only conversions, we eliminate important intelligence about reach and frequency and how people react to different types of marketing.  Marketers can track and understand how different digital channels work together to deliver the most valuable customer interactions.

Conversion paths

Conversion path reports deliver a visual representation of the customer journey to conversion.  Traditional marketing wisdom tells us that most consumers need exposure to an ad or a message several times before they will take action.  Digital marketing channels include the following techniques:

–        Organic Search (SEO)

–        Paid Search (PPC)

–        Social Media Marketing

–        Social Media Advertising

–        Email Marketing

–        Display Advertising

–        Affiliate Marketing

–        Remarketing

–        Referral

–        Direct

By grouping together these channels in order of a user’s interaction, we can identify trends in user behavior.  We can also identify which conversion paths deliver the highest Return on Investment by tracking total number of conversions as well as the dollar value of those conversions.

channel grouping path

Getting Started: Tracking Goals and Conversions

In Google Analytics, a conversion is defined as the completion of an activity that is important to the success of the business.  This can be set up within the Goals report of Google Analytics and different conversions can be assigned unique values.  For example, a transaction is worth more than an enewsletter sign-up.  Goals can include a dollar value and can be based on conversion points such as Reservations, Payment, Appointment, Contact Us, Get Estimate and many more.

tracking goals and conversions

Multi-Channel Funnels

Once conversions are being tracked, view the Multi-Channel Funnel Overview report to get the percentage of conversion paths that included combinations of channels.  Comparing the Assisted Conversion sources to each other and visualizing the goal path fosters a deeper understanding of how users get to the final conversion point.

multi-channel conversion visualizer

Assisted Conversions

The Assisted Conversions report summarizes the roles and contributions of each channel.  There are three different roles in a conversion path:

  • Last interaction: the interaction that immediately precedes the conversion.
  • Assist Interaction: an interaction within the conversion path but not the last interaction.
  • First Interaction: the first interaction within the conversion path, this is a type of assist.

Assisted and last click conversion value are reported in the following ways:

  • Assisted conversions and value: the number of assists and the monetary value of those conversions.  The higher these numbers, the more important the assist role of the channel.
  • Last click or direct conversions and value: the number and monetary value of conversions from the last click in the conversion path.  The higher these numbers, the more important the last interaction role of the channel.

The final column in this report is a value which is assigned to the channel and essentially serves as a conversion rating.  The Assisted/last click or direct conversions are reported as follows:

  • If the value is close to 0, the channel has a higher likelihood of driving last click conversions.
  • If the value is greater than 1, the impact of that channel is to be present earlier in the conversion cycle.
  • If the value is very close to 1, the channel equally assists and drives last click interactions.

assisted conversions

In Summary

Additional reports such as Time Lag and Path Length offer further insights into the effectiveness of each channel.  These reports offer details about the amount of time between user interactions and number of interactions, respectively.  Measuring goals and conversions with web analytics puts marketers in the driving seat.  With reports like the ones described above, marketers become more strategic about digital marketing.  Being more strategic promotes increased efficiency and decreased monetary waste on non-performing ad campaigns.  In the digital era, every marketer should be aware of the tools available for tracking and measurement.  As we become more comfortable with these metrics, we develop more effective campaigns that deliver higher conversions.   Happy Measuring!

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