Garbage in, garbage out -? online campaign interaction
Knowing how well an online marketing campaign is working, is critical in working out how much to spend on each of the various campaigns in a mix. As professional marketers, we need to track the campaigns and report the value of the outcomes. You would expect this to be pretty straight forward – you run a banner ad campaign and measure the number of click throughs it gets, and it either works or it doesn’t. Or you do an email campaign and measure the response rate – it either meets your business goal or not. And this would be a terrific approach if it weren’t for one thing: customer behaviour.
The thing about customers on the internet is that they do not just look at a single instance of a marketing campaign and make a decision. It is a lot harder than that – creating and building a relationship between your organisation and a customer is a long and complex process. It takes many interactions and various marketing campaigns over time to engage with a prospect and have them commit to whatever it is you want them to do. For example, a prospect may see your banner ad, may download a whitepaper, may register for a seminar and then click on a response to an email campaign and then search for your company using, say, Google all before they finally convert to becoming a customer.
In a recent study a leading online retailer found that less than half of buyers (48%) had responded to only one campaign and that all buyers had interacted with 3.9 campaigns on average. More importantly, the number of touches went up to 7.4 for high-value customers.
Attributing the value of the customer conversion to the right campaign is critical. The results from each campaign determine the ongoing marketing tactics for the company – and form a key input for future marketing budget decisions. If you are counting the results from the campaigns incorrectly, then the decisions you make coming out of it will also be wrong… (GIGO: Garbage In = Garbage Out).
Most companies use (whether they know it or not) a last touch attribution model. That is, the marketing event immediately preceding the conversion gets counted with the full value of the new customer. In my example above, where the customer had been initially attracted by a banner campaign, influenced by an email campaign and a seminar, the last thing they did before converting happened to be to search online using Google, so it is the Google keyword search campaign that is given the full credit for the outcome. So, the Google campaign is overly valued (leading to incorrect business decisions) and the impact of the other campaigns are totally undervalued.
What to do? The first thing is to have a quick look at your measuring tools – can your marketing tracking machine measure anything more than last touch? Find out what you can change/tweak to improve the visibility across the various campaigns and start attributing value more appropriately. It may not be easy… but it is absolutely essential to count the campaign results properly if you rely on the results to make smart business decisions.