Ignoring assisted conversions – Are you missing something?
Updated: Aug 3
Akhil is a digital marketing manager in a mid-scale e-Commerce store based out of Bangalore. Two questions that always occupy a substantial space in his mind are:
Which channel should I invest money into?
How much money should I invest?
This is a very common scenario in e-Commerce companies across the world. Pushed down by the load of sales, a modern marketer always look out to increase the revenue. An easier way to achieve the same is increase the traffic.
However, increased traffic comes at an ROI and modern day marketers look out to e-Commerce conversion rate as the metric to define good or bad traffic.
Indian e-Commerce industry mostly follows last paid channel attribution model. This essentially means that anyone who places the last cookie wins the battle of claiming the order. However, in reality this is not as simple as it looks. With the advent of hundreds of coupon sites peeping in and loads of browser plugins that claim to give best discounts on the cart, it is highly likely that the user gets tempted to go to a coupon site to hunt for a coupon, comes back to apply the same and places an order. Does that mean that coupon site is an effective channel for conversion (conversion rates much above 10%)? Most of us will answer a big no.
This is where assisted conversions come into picture.
A standard model told in all MBA courses around the world is AIDA model. This model talks about various stages through which a customer goes through before making a purchase. If we represent this model in the form of a funnel, it looks something like:
This is true in case of an e-Commerce store as well. When customers see the advertisement for a store for the first time they may follow the following sequence:
Based on last click attribution model, this sale gets attributed to email campaign that pulled this visitor to the website. Marketers calculate the ROI to find out that the ROI for Email is much higher than the ROI for Facebook. So the logical step to follow is decrease the spend on Facebook and push more mails.
But will that work? For how long?
On the face it looks like as if email is getting most of the orders but in reality, emails contribute to the action part in the funnel. Action could never have happened without awareness and interest which is solely contributed by Facebook. So reducing the spend on Facebook might not be a good idea. But how do marketers evaluate assisted conversions and the role of each channel?
Most of the modern day Web Analytics tools like Omniture, Google Analytics, Coremetrics have this feature to track assisted conversion. We take the case with Google Analytics:
In Google Analytics, multi-channel attribution report can be found under Conversions > Multi Channel Funnels. If we look at a basic report it looks like:
The primary metric to look out for in this report is “Assisted / Last Click or Direct Conversion”. This ratio can be a good measure in deciding what should be the role of each channel in digital marketing campaigns.
Ratio much smaller than 1: This channel contributed primarily towards conversion. So do not use this channel for general remarketing or awareness. A good example of such channels can be Push Notifications. Use such channels on properly segmented users who have a high propensity to buy.
Ratio ~1: These channels are the ones which should have the constant flow of money. These are the channels that contribute equally towards assisted as well as direct conversion. A good example of such channel is Google SEM. PLAs on Google search engine contributes to both awareness as well as action.
Ratio much larger than 1: These channels mostly contribute to the awareness of the brand and may not be the topmost converting channels. However these channels cannot be ignored as they make the customer aware about the offerings on the store and take the user to the brink when one small push through the previously mentioned channels convert the user. Some good examples of such channels can be Facebook & Google display ad campaigns. Affiliates also fall under this category only if they do not play the cookie dropping game through coupon websites.
To summarize the post, investment channels should not be reduced or increased based on just one metric i.e. e-Commerce Conversion Rate.
The impact of channel should be evaluated and the stage to which it contributes. ROI should be calculated based on sum of total + assisted conversions, the weightage assigned to assisted conversion may be played around with though.