The success or otherwise of a marketing campaign is traditionally measured by looking at the return on investment achieved. The method of calculating this is however inconsistent meaning that it is all but impossible to accurately compare one vendor’s numbers with another. At a time when marketing expenditure is being scrutinised like never before this has become a big concern.
Most ad vendors provide some form of analytics which enables them to provide ROI statistics. Typical of these is Google who provide a conversion tracking facility with their Adwords solution. By default, any conversion that occurs within 30 days of a click-though from an Adwords keyword is attributed by Google to that keyword. What is not widely understood is that if the same person interacts with a number of different keywords, adverts or campaigns then each of these may claim the same conversion. Double counting is inevitable.
In contrast to this click oriented approach, web analytics vendors have traditionally offered an approach which associates a conversion with a particular visit made by a visitor. In-visit conversion analysis allows marketing teams to determine exactly which campaign yields direct results without the chance of double counting. It however ignores the fact that some campaigns may be very good at introducing a visitor to the site but poor at achieving in-visit conversions. The “ROI” of these campaigns will appear to be very poor even if they are critical to the overall marketing activity.
In order to be able to determine the real value of a campaign, marketing managers need to start thinking about more than just the conversion. They need to consider the “Marketing Assist” and the “Marketing Journey”. An “Assist” takes its name from football where a player is credited with an assist if he or she participates in the build-up that results in the ball being passed to the person that scores the goal. The real value of a campaign, advert or keyword is determined by how many direct conversions it achieves and how many assists it provides. In situations where a financial value can be attributed to a conversion it should be possible to apply this value to the assists either equally or according to a defined rule.
A “Marketing Journey” is the route taken by a particular visitor through the various marketing activities with which they interact. They may first visit the site through Yahoo PPC, then a natural listing in Google, then an email and finally convert after typing the URL into their browser. This is a “Marketing Journey”. A thorough understanding of these journeys enables a marketing manager to determine the way in which marketing campaigns interact. There may be a group of keywords that never drive direct conversions but are always present in the early stages of the most successful journeys. This sort of information is crucial when making investment decisions.