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Cameron Prockiw is the Big Cheese at Vovia and has helped top companies around the world use the internet more effectively for over 20 years. Cam also enjoys traveling, experiencing different cultures, and unsurprisingly, cheese.

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Understanding Multi-Channel Attribution

Consider the following scenario…You’re considering purchasing a new car. You’ve seen a number of ads on television and in magazines with new models, some of which look like they suit your style.  What’s your next step?  Do you just run to the dealership and buy one? More and more so, the answer is no.

Instead, you’ll probably first research the models you’re interested in, finding reviews online (both by professional reviewers and everyday people who have bought the car). You may ask friends for their opinion, you’ll probably check out the price from a number of sources – and you may check out the safety ratings and resale values as well.  That’s a lot of research!  But knowledge is power, so increasingly more often people are doing this research so that they can feel more secure in their purchase decision.  In fact, Google has found that “the average shopper uses 10.4 sources before buying, twice as much as years past”.

What does this mean for marketers?

Unfortunately your job is getting even more difficult.  It’s not enough to just create awareness of your product anymore, now you also have to convince the customer that your product is the best option for them at each stage of their research.  If you fail at any one of these touch points, you’re likely to lose the sale to a competitor!  However, this has also created a great opportunity for brands who “get it”, and do it well.

What should you do?

Multi-Channel Attribution is the tracking of many of these touch points so that you can determine which ones are important in the buying decisions of your customers.  Many website analytics packages such as Google Analytics provide multi-channel attribution tracking.  A typical report looks something like this.

Multi-channel attribution tracking in Google Analytics

Multi-channel funnel report from Google Analytics

This shows the top purchase paths and the interaction of the various touch points. These reports confirm that the purchase process is a multi touch process and can discover important channels which are under appreciated. In addition, multi-channel attribution reports can also uncover important trends in purchase decision making such as the increasing importance of social networks or the key role that organic search rankings play.

So far this reporting can only capture interactions with your website, so it won’t capture every touch. The influence of offline campaigns, reviews on other websites, or interactions that happen over social media are unfortunately not trackable… yet.  But this is a very good start and will help you understand the importance of your key online channels (organic search, paid online ads, referral traffic, and social media referrals).

Are you currently using multi-attribution tracking?  What insights has it provided?  Let us know in the comments.

Further reading:  Google’s published an e-book called the Zero Moment of Truth which explorers the research component of the purchase funnel, it’s growing importance, and how it’s changing the purchasing process itself. This is a must read for marketers!