When you think of the journey your customers take, what do you actually know?
Can you name the most frequently taken paths? How about which channels are driving new customer acquisition or repeat sales? Better still, do you know which of those channels is performing best at a visit level, or where principle buying decisions are being made?
Defining and delivering some of the metrics associated with helping you understand the customer journey may seem, at times, somewhat overwhelming. But this insight is vital if we want to truly understand which are the most valuable touchpoints in the journey for driving conversions, and where marketing spend is proving most effective for your brand.
The value of a customer journey
Naturally, the decision-making process for customers is somewhat complex, with a potential customer likely visiting your site several times before actually converting, doing so over days, weeks or even months. But at which touchpoint the value lies — in terms of attributing sales to marketing spend/activity — is often a matter of contention.
Should it go to the first touchpoint, where the customer has potentially learned about your brand, following, for instance, a PPC ad? Or is the value really at the last touchpoint, maybe SEO, which has pulled the customer back to your site to finally purchase?
Perhaps we should share the value of the sale across all touchpoint’s equally, as they all played a part in the sale to some degree?
The issue with each of these approaches is that, as we’ve mentioned, the customer journey is often a complex process with no “one-size-fits-all” way of attributing sales to marketing.
If that was the case, we’d effectively be saying that every customer would behave in the same way every time. We know this is not true.
Understanding customer behaviours
What we do know, is that with enough data on the customer behaviours that were demonstrated on the way to conversion, we can begin to identify patterns and associate value with the positive behaviours helping to drive the purchasing decision.
This leads us to the world of Full Model Multi-Touch Attribution, whereby using large volumes of data with bespoke machine learning, we’re able to attribute value to customer touchpoints, based on the behaviours that the customer demonstrates at any given point of the journey.
So, for instance, if a given customer has displayed, on their third visit, behaviours which we would consider correlated with a customer who has a high propensity to purchase/convert – then we would attribute a high portion of value to that visit. The reason for this is because we know in the real-world, the position of the visit in the journey only matters to a certain degree; it is what happens during the visit that we need to better understand and evaluate.
Full model multi-touch attribution also allows us to better understand and re-define key marketing metrics, normally delivered based on a Last Click attribution model, with new fully attributed values for CPA’s, ROAS, AOV etc. From this data, we may find something such as a particular PPC campaign playing a vital role in driving conversion during the awareness stage of a customer journey, or the SEO channel performing well in bringing existing customer back to a site prior to conversion.
Attributing true value
The method we take here is to track and attribute the incremental value at the visit level. For instance, if a customer has already reached a 70% propensity to convert by the end of their second visit from interacting with brand content and viewing certain products, if then on their third visit, because they have displayed some new behaviour (e.g. adding item to a basket) they reached an 80% propensity to convert, that third visit would only be credited the incremental 10% lift that it has actually contributed towards the conversion.
The prior 70% would be credited to channels that acquired the customer and drove them towards conversion. These are usually top of funnel channels which historically get unfairly penalised with models such as last-click. It is this approach of measuring and attributing the incremental value that occurs during a visit, which gives us the most accurate measure of visit performance across each individual customer journey.
What we can extract from these findings, is a clearer picture on which of your marketing activities are adding true value towards conversions, and therefore the ability to optimise your activity and spending, from a channel level, right down to a keyword level.
Additional full model attribution reporting around elements such as the most frequently taken paths to conversion, and the most valuable campaigns towards conversion, quickly become fundamental in both marketing planning and reporting as you take your own journey.
This allows you to move from somewhat flawed attribution models, towards full model multi-touch attribution that provides a much clearer understanding of how customers actually use your site.