Ollie Bath is head of Client solutions at IgnitionOne UK. Here he discusses the importance of understanding the user journey and properly measuring engagement in the path to conversion.
Let’s be honest, measuring online media remains a tricky subject. But it’s so important to understand.
Here’s why; money talks. Nearly £5 billion was spent on online media in 2011 – accounting for more than a quarter of all UK advertising. However, marketers must collate data from across all digital outlets to get the best return on their online spend. The resulting insight can then be applied to each channel, increasing accuracy across the online customer journey.
Last click metrics do not mirror the full conversion journey story accurately. Online purchase decisions are based on numerous actions, rather than a single one. Having visibility into user paths to conversion and distributing credit to contributing exposures is relatively straightforward, with the right tools in place. But understanding what drives online engagement is the final frontier for many marketers. So, as marketers, we need to equip ourselves with the right tools.
And the market is already swamped with a seemingly endless deluge of these tools – from sentiment analysis to algorithmic powered demand-side platforms. To truly understand the overall impact of online marketing, marketers should look to tie the full user journey together by integrating platforms, not only individual point solutions.
It’s now possible to take online data, interpret it in real-time, and alter the way ads and content are presented to create a better, more personalised user experience, ultimately increasing the likelihood of a conversion. Custom attribution models enable marketers to distribute fractions of action credit to exposures in a user path. To date however, this approach has only assessed latency, exposure sequence and associated revenue. This completely disregards the value of the amount of engagement that the website visit created, leading to the conversion.
What’s needed is an additional layer of information that collates data across all channels – SEO, paid search, display, email, affiliates and social media – to understand how users engage as a result of seeing media relative to their stage in the conversion funnel.
Touchpoints that are indirectly related to the end conversion also have an impact. This is precisely why it’s important to assign a value to each media exposure, in order to determine which ones had the most positive effect.
Understanding that if users are highly engaged but not yet converted, helps marketers interpret the true value of the purchase funnel and the media these users have been exposed to, rather than the value of the media relative to the end conversion.
Numerous brands are already realising the benefits of measuring engagement. At IgnitionOne, we’ve been working with the printing and personal publishing business, PhotoBox, for several months, measuring Facebook’s impact on the brand’s marketing performance. This involves monitoring three sources of traffic:
- Fan Pages (people coming directly from the Fan Page to the website)
- Paid Clicks (people coming directly from paid ads on Facebook to the website)
- Viral Clicks (people coming directly from any other Facebook page other than the Fan Page or a paid advertisement to the website)
Through analysis, it’s evident that Facebook paid ads deliver more new visitors than viral or Fan Pages. However, viral visitors stay on the site longer and are almost twice as engaged on the site. The key finding was, taking into account the cost, conversion rate and engagement scoring, Facebook and paid search ads offered comparable value to aiding conversion.
Research by Microsoft and comScore further proves that campaigns with high engagement boost advertisers’ site traffic by 69% and improve brand engagement – increasing page views and time spent on the brand’s site.
Overall, engagement insight gives a clear indication of where to direct online marketing spend, with a greater degree of clarity and accuracy.