Do you know which of your online channels has the biggest influence on your sales? You might be thinking, “Of course I know that.”
Well, I have to tell you an inconvenient truth: You are most likely not measuring correctly which channels contribute the most to your conversions. That’s why we have to talk about attribution.
Okay, let’s make this simple.
Imagine you own a brand that sells shoes online. You advertise to your selected audience through Instagram Story Ads. Some people swipe up and look at the website; many of those just scroll a little bit and only a tiny minority actually buys shoes right away. Now, those that only looked are definitely interested. But they somehow didn’t see or hear the right thing that would make them buy. Maybe they haven’t fully thought through buying new shoes. So, they save your website in their browser or make a screenshot of the ad and think to themselves that they will look at it again soon to browse for the right footwear.
Retargeting is where the magic starts.
And because your online marketing team consists of people who know what they are doing, they retarget intelligently, for example, with Facebook feed ads. There may be people who put a pair of shoes into their shopping basket but were pressed for time and forgot to proceed to checkout. And others might not have gotten their monthly wage yet. So, your retargeting is really only a little reminder that they still have that pair of shoes waiting for them. As a result of that, some people are buying, but there is still a large percentage left that hasn’t bought. And it is only after around one or two weeks that the sales come rolling in. You take a look at your analytics to see where all those people came from, and it shows that they came via Google search or “direct,” having entered your exact brand and shoe name as a search query.
What is happening here?
The easy, convenient assumption would be that your most powerful leverage is Google and, therefore, SEO (search engine optimization) and SEA (search engine advertising) are where your ad budget should go. But is that really the case? Well, turns out that people have been exposed to your brand and offer in a multitude of ways. Which of those touchpoints was the most effective at converting the prospect to a customer? Was it only one point that made the difference? Surely not. You have to analyze carefully which channel contributed how much to the conversion. This way, you can build, optimize and scale your sales more effectively without squandering your ad budget.
But what should I do instead?
First of all, realize that marrying just one channel as your only or best lead source is a dangerous path. The models to analyze advertising data used by Facebook or Google analytics are different. They put more emphasis (some would say a lot more emphasis) on the points of the conversion journey where they are strong. For example, Facebook is often the first contact point where people see an offer for the first time but don’t buy right away. Google is where people search for certain offers they have seen before as an ad on Facebook, then head straight over to the website to buy without hesitation. And this is only one option of possible customer journeys for your offer.
After gaining that fundamental understanding of the analytics situation, your best bet is to start using and comparing different analytics tools. The prerequisite for that is, of course, good tracking and professional use of web analytics, which will show you how your prospects’ customer journey goes. If you advertise on Facebook, Facebook Attribution is an excellent way to gather your data from various channels (Google Ads, Facebook, etc.), then use different attribution models to determine where your marketing funnel is strong and where it might need a little tune-up. Sometimes you’ll find you are wasting money, and in other cases, you are not spending enough.