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Marketing Attribution: Look Under the Hood With Top Conversion Paths

Posted by Phillip Scott on Sep 3, 2014 12:56:21 PM

When a car is running smoothly, all of its parts are working together. You don’t think about the camshaft, the intake valve, the engine block, or the piston; you take the parts for granted while the whole is getting you from point A to point B.

The same is true of a successful marketing campaign. Ideally, everything you’re doing online and off should be working together to (excuse the pun) drive potential customers to your website and ultimately into your showroom. More importantly, your customers should see a seamless marketing message and be able to easily find you online, regardless of what ultimately drives them there.

This is all good, but it can create one major problem: attribution. Google Analytics and other website analytics tools attribute a conversion to the last interaction. An easy example: someone does a search online, clicks on an ad, lands on a page on your website and submits a form. That conversion is attributed to Paid Search.

But we know that the buying cycle for a new automobile can last a few months. So a person will do many searches, visit many websites, and visit your (or a competitor’s) site multiple times before ultimately making a decision and calling or submitting a lead form online. It’s easy to attribute that last action – by this time it could be knowing your website and typing it directly into the browser – with the conversion. But that’s a very simple explanation for what drove (sorry again) that customer to convert on your website.

Luckily, Google Analytics can help show a more complete picture of the road a customer takes to conversion. With its Top Conversion Paths, Google actually tracks every time users visit your site before converting and can show you how they got there each time. Here is one example from an auto dealer:
You can see that for the six unique visitors represented in the red box, the first interaction – the first source that brought customers to the website – was a paid search ad. However, the customer had to return to the website multiple times, through different means, before ultimately converting. And in 4 of the 6 cases, something other than Paid Search was the Last Interaction officially credited with the conversion.

Here’s another example:
Here again you can see that visitors who may have first come to the website through paid search ultimately converted after visiting the site again later. These people may not have been familiar with this particular dealer initially but found them through an ad on a search results page, left and came back later to convert.

And look at the 15th conversion path. We don’t know for what this person searched before finding the site either through multiple organic or paid search results, but we can see he or she visited the site 30 times before converting. Thirty times! This illustrates just how important it is to make sure everything you’re doing online – SEM, SEO, display, retargeting, autotrader.com, whatever – is working together so that no matter where someone is in the buying cycle, they’re seeing you when they’re online.

In a perfect world, we’d be able to attribute every website conversion to one marketing campaign or source. But like the parts of your car, your marketing efforts work together to get customers where you want them to go. An effective digital strategy will put you and your customers on the road to success.

Topics: Corporate, Automotive

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