Website Conversion Attribution – Part 1


When it comes to measuring success, one way of segmenting your visitors is by looking at the how a visitor arrived at your site. This might be by clicking through a search result or following a link from some other location. Typically, most people correlate the source of a visitor’s session to a conversion. However, do people convert one of your website goals simply on one visit? Possibly. But far too often, someone visits multiple times, converting after multiple visits. Each of those visits may be from different sources. For example:

I could search for a product and find numerous vendors. I may look at each in turn to try to determine similarities and differences. Days later, I may see a friend sharing something on social media about one of the brands I discovered in my search. As such, I would click-through and visit a second time. If that brand is employing remarketing tactics, I may start seeing display (banner) ads on other sites I visit, enticing me back to their site. After numerous visits, I may decide to buy. When that time comes, I might ultimately visit their website by directly entering the URL into my browser. After all, having been there so many times, I likely know it by now.

Using most web analytics packages, it’s very easy to suggest that a “direct visitor” converted a goal. After all, the source of the actual visit with the conversion was a direct entry. But is that truly the case? Social media, banner ads and search also played a role. Last-touch attribution, as it is called, would suggest the conversion was caused by a direct visit. But shouldn’t your social media or paid strategies get credit, too? In the example I’ve just described, paid search had an effect on my decision to buy. the cost of acquisition should include those paid display ads.

How Do You Determine Multi-Attribution?

There are many methods to understanding channel effectiveness online. Each method – or attribution model – is useful in its own respective way. However, depending on your campaign goals and business objectives, one model may be more useful than another.

Last-Touch Attribution
This model states that 100% of the conversion value goes to the last-touch channel. It is the most-often used model and certainly is good for providing benchmarks for online sales. It certainly works for short sales cycles.

First-Touch Attribution
First-touch gives all the credit to the first channel source. This might be useful if you are trying to build brand awareness or giving credit to affiliate program partners.

Splitting the Difference
One form of linear attribution model suggests each channel’s interaction receives equal credit toward converting the visitor. Other models work similarly, but may heavily weight the first touch, last touch or even both touches. Some position-based models assign 40% of the credit to the first touch, 40% to the last touch and then splits the remaining 20% credit to the channels in the middle.

Multi-Channel Reports In Google Analytics

Multi-channel Funnels sub-menu in Google AnalyticsDetermining all the touch points used to involve a fair bit of coding and set up. Now, Google Analytics makes it fairly straight-forward. There’s a few reports to look at to help determine the real story behind how a visitor to your site became a customer.

Under the Conversions reports is a section labelled Multi-Channel Funnels. The Assisted Conversions Report shows you which online channels helped contribute to your conversions.

Assisted Conversions Report

As you can see, the report shows the channel source, how many times it was part of a visitors’ conversion, the goal value from the conversion source, how many times it was the last touch point before conversion and other associated values.

You can also view the actual paths visitors took to converting. These show how many visitors followed a specific pattern of behavior to converting. This report shows the actual source of visitors in order, including any sources that may have been repeated.

Top Conversion Paths

By default, Google Analytics looks back 30 days from a conversion visit to determine these paths. If you know your average sales cycle is longer, you can change that time. At the top of each report are options to change the number of days in the “lookback window.”

This is just the start of attributing various channels to conversions. Online conversions are inherently easier to track. What about off-line conversions? Next week, I’ll dive into tactics to track attribution of offline campaigns.

Your Products Don’t Matter – Part 2


On Monday, I discussed the problems with relying too heavily on a great product in today’s marketplace, and I outlined a couple reasons why your products don’t matter – namely competition and commoditization. If you haven’t read the first part of this post and you’d like to, check out Your Products Don’t Matter Part 1.

To pick up from where I left off: the sad truth is that the products you’ve spent years developing really don’t matter that much. Buyers have changed and so have their preferences. Having the best product on the shelves won’t make you the king of an entire category anymore. So what will? Here are some solutions that can turn a simple product into something everyone has to have.

1. Change buyers’ perceptions. Now more than ever, sales are made by the way you market your product or service, not by the product or service itself. The factor that is more important than your product is the perception of your brand by your customers. Obviously the product counts, and it needs to be good, but the actual product itself only serves to fulfill a promise made to consumers when they form certain perceptions about it.

If you build a brand personality that makes your customers think your products are extremely durable, your products don’t need to be the most durable products available, they just need to fulfill the promise of extreme durability. If you can do that, you’ll make your customers happy, which is really the key to sales and success. Happiness leads to word-of-mouth referrals, social sharing and good old fashioned bragging about how great your product is.

2. Make a unique promise. The promise made is the reason consumers buy what they do. It comprises the very essence of a brand, and it tells a consumer what to expect from the product. When a potential buyer is standing in the aisle of a department store choosing between two commodities, the thing that will make him choose one over the other is the promise. He’ll choose the one that makes him happy or the one that he identifies with. He’ll choose the one that changes the way he feels. So offer a promise to your customers about your products. Promise that they are cool, or smart or helpful – and deliver these things to your customers through your marketing.

3. Provide excellent service. Build a persona for your company that identifies with your consumers. In a world where computers are handling customer service claims, put a real person on the other end of the phone. When competitors are trying to squeeze every penny from their customers, provide something of value to them for free. Keeping a human face on your brand and your products can go a long way in determining brand loyalties. And providing top notch service can win you customers for life. Never underestimate the value of going out of the way to help someone.

If you can deliver on these things to your customer base, everything else, including sales, will take care of itself. Provide your customers more than just a product. Provide them with an image or a culture. Provide them something cool or helpful. Build a personality for your brand, and find a way to differentiate yourself, because when everyone’s products are the same, the one that stands out will be the one worth buying.

To join the conversation, let me know what you think in the comments, or follow me on Twitter @ccross2181.

Your Products Don’t Matter – Part 1


Ok, so that might be overstated a bit. Of course your products matter, but not as much as you might think. Remember the four Ps of marketing? That’s product, price, place and promotion in case you aren’t familiar. The first P listed there, product, used to rule the marketplace. The product was king. Successful companies had some secret recipe or confidential knowledge of their craft that allowed them to create their own unique and powerful products. But those days are coming to an end.

In 2013 (and for the last couple years now), the internet, along with the vast amount of free information available there, has changed the way people think about your products. The internet has essentially ruined the first P of marketing. Here are two big reasons why:

1. Competition.

It’s almost impossible to create a supremely unique and superior product anymore. When people actually do create something new and different, word gets out so fast that the competition is on their backs faster than they can report first quarter sales. And in this kind of market, the competition is hungry. Sooner than you think, they’ll catch on to your product development strategy and hit the streets with something that either rivals or trumps your previously untouchable quality.

Take the Apple v. Samsung lawsuit as a prime example. The smart phone and tablet products produced by the two mega-brands were so similar in some ways that Apple decided to pursue litigation against its competitor. Copying the success of competitors has become commonplace, and even patented products have become susceptible to imitation.

2. Commoditization.

As a result of intense competition and copy-culture, most products today are commodities. Selling products like smartphones and laptops is becoming kin to selling dirt. How do you measure the quality of one kind of dirt versus another? What makes my dirt different from your dirt? The sad reality is that all of the products you’ve worked hard to build are rapidly becoming commodities.

Don’t believe me? Take cars for example. Check out any dealership around and you’ll find some kind of 4-door sedan complete with a V6 engine, Bluetooth tech package, touchscreen entertainment system, chrome highlights and excellent fuel efficiency.  Aside from the logo on the grill, all those cars are pretty much the same – and every car company makes one.

That’s in the car industry, where people pay tens of thousands of dollars for their products. Every year, new improvements are rolled out at auto shows around the world to show off the innovation and individuality of each company, and while top car execs are looking around at their competitors during the show, they all notice that they’re selling the same thing with a different name. Soon enough, as the onward march of technology and information continues, all products will move closer and closer to commoditization.

So, if no product can rationally be king of an entire category, how can you sell a product that falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum? How can you overcome the commodity nature of most products and build a brand that is unique and powerful? I’ll present these ideas and some solutions to this problem in part two of this post – coming on Friday of this week. Be sure to come back and check it out. Until then, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments or argue with me on Twitter: @ccross2181.