Bernard May is the CEO of National Positions, a 5-time Inc. 500 company, award-winning marketing agency and Google Premier Partner.
Every department (or agency) that specializes in a particular marketing channel understandably wants to claim success no matter the brand, audience or industry. Social media managers, Google Ads experts, SEO savants and others all have a stake in their particular strategy being labeled the silver bullet that is driving profitability for the organization or client.
The good part? Every department cares, has drive and wants to be the best. The bad part? From what I’ve seen, this ambition is often misdirected as individuals seek success for their own department rather than the overall success of a multichannel campaign.
Now, this is rarely the fault of individual marketing departments; rather, it’s due to the ways in which we have trained our teams to measure success as individuals rather than as a unit.
It’s time we all understand how to attribute marketing success as a collective, strategic front rather than assuming that the last touch solely defines the success of a campaign.
The Data Points To Omnichannel
Data shows that consumers visit more than two websites (on average) before settling on a purchase decision, and at the same time, nearly 90% of e-commerce shopping carts were left abandoned in March 2020.
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This indicates that when it comes to e-commerce shopping, consumers are certainly doing their research and are willing to walk away from a purchase should they find a better option. It’s crucial for businesses, brands and marketers alike to see that consumer behavior does not exist in a vacuum and that omnichannel strategies are a very real remedy.
Common Attribution Mistakes
Let’s take a look at some very common situations in which the reality of multiple touchpoints (along the customer journey) can lead to attributing success to the wrong places.
Situation 1: A customer sees your product in their social media feed and clicks on your ad but then decides to leave the platform and visit your site directly. After seeing your “On-Site Only” monthly promotion, the customer purchases a couple of products. You deserve a high-five. Attributed success: Organic SEO team. Actual success: Social media, SEO and web development teams.
Situation 2: A customer finds your business with a Google search, visits your site, looks at your latest products and leaves without a purchase. Later that day, a Facebook ad featuring these latest products from your site graces their news feed. The customer is intrigued by the 15% off social commerce offer and makes a purchase. Congratulations. You are a rock star. Attributed success: Social media team. Actual success: SEO, social media, social ads and graphics teams.
Situation 3: The customer sees an Instagram ad, visits your website, adds products to their cart, gets distracted and abandons their order. One week and three “You have items in your shopping cart!” emails later, the customer returns and completes their purchase. Whew — you had to work for that one. Attributed success: The marketing automation team. Actual success: SEO, social media, social ads, graphics and marketing automation teams.
In each of these common examples, there is an unconscious omnichannel mindset that customers have adopted and take part in regularly. Therefore, it should be a priority for your business to not only recognize but also leverage this to the customers’ (and your) advantage.
Leaving A Trail Of Bread Crumbs
Expanding your marketing (and attribution) strategy from single channels to omnichannel is akin to leaving a trail of “branded bread crumbs” to attract, nurture and ultimately convert customers. Here are just a few ways you can connect the dots and get your omnichannel machine moving:
• Facebook and Instagram: If you don’t have the Facebook pixel installed on your site (and you are running social media ads), you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. The pixel gives you the ammunition to retarget those non-converting website visitors with more personalized campaigns so you can bring them back. As these remarketing campaigns are only triggered by (shown to) those who have already been to your website, you not only know the multiple points of attribution, but you can also see what group of customers (and ad groups) is converting at a higher level.
• Google Ads: The remarketing/retargeting trend certainly did not originate with Facebook. As with Facebook, though, you can use this strategy to target your customers “beyond the click,” for example, via their Google news feed (Discovery ads), YouTube, display, dynamic remarketing ads or even just your website. Again, these segmented, remarketing-specific ad sets will be triggered by the placement of your Google Ads pixel — so you know where they found you first and what brought them back.
• Marketing automation and email marketing: This is an oldie but a goodie. Using supplemental nurturing emails as part of your various ad campaigns can bring that warmer traffic back — to either fuel their interest or even close the sale altogether — via automation. Seeing as you can provide specific messaging, templates and calls to action across your different campaigns, your marketing automation platform will show you which audiences, campaign types and emails are driving the highest returns.
Tracking And Attributing Success
The single biggest hurdle when it comes to applying (and benefiting from) omnichannel strategies is tracking success and attribution. This means that you need to track every campaign, ad variation, website, landing page and clickable link.
Set up goals in Google Analytics; create custom tracking links for emails; and ensure that primary, retargeting and nurturing campaigns (of all types) are separated and easily searchable should you need to dig up granular results.
If you can’t track it, you cannot accurately attribute success to it.
When channels start to multiply, make sure that your cross-channel marketing teams increase communication to keep everyone on the same page. SEO teams need to meet with Google Ads teams, who need to talk to the email marketing team, etc. Effective omnichannel strategies cannot function without communicating the big picture.
Going omnichannel won’t happen overnight and can include far more than the tactics I provided above, but the sooner you begin, the faster your business can reap the benefits.
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Author: Bernard May, Forbes Councils Member