Cross-channel, multi-channel, omni-channel marketing – whatever you call it, it’s pretty obvious it’s the future. Whether your goal is customer acquisition or customer loyalty, your strategy and analytics have got to span channels, because, well, your customers do.
Earlier this week, eMarketer reported ecommerce sales account for only 6.4% of the $4.73 trillion in total US retail sales expected this year. But the real story is that that number is inaccurate, and doesn’t account for the role that digital channels play in offline purchases.
Webrooming Means Digital Channels Aren’t Getting Credit
We’ve all heard of showrooming, where consumers go to a store to check out an item in person, then go online to purchase. But it works the other way too, and more often. In fact, in a survey conducted by consulting firm, Accenture, 78% of respondents said they participate in webrooming: researching online and buying offline. This is a common path to purchase, but are your online efforts getting credit?
The rise of mobile has thrust the general population into an omni-channel world. Sure, desktop made it easy to research online and purchase offline a few days later. But mobile has taken multichannel behavior to the next level, empowering customers to hop between channels within seconds, even engage in multiple channels at once.
According to Google, 8 in 10 smartphone shoppers are using mobile in-store to research products from multiple stores to help with the purchase decision. Mobile is bridging the gap between online research and in-store purchases.
But for all our complex marketing strategies and sophisticated tools, complete attribution methods and omni-channel analytics remain elusive – though mobile advertising platforms are making strides forward.
Google and Facebook Use Their Data to Accomplish Omni-Channel Analytics
Google AdWords upgraded their single-view attribution model when they launched Estimated Total Conversions, an attempt to account for consumers that hop between smartphone, tablets, and desktop devices for a single purchase. The AdWords blog explains, “Cross-device and cross-browser conversions are estimated using aggregate data from people who have signed into Google. Based on this aggregated data, we create an anonymous, aggregate estimate of the number of cross-device conversions attributed to AdWords.” The next step is bringing in-store and phone conversions into account.
Not letting Google outshine them, Facebook has also embarked into the territory of real-word analytics. Display ads have gotten somewhat of a bad rap over the years, but much of the problem lies in the nature of display advertising and a flawed attribution system, which only gives credit to click-through rates and last-click conversions – not display’s strongest suit.
Facebook’s ad revenue depends on showing advertisers the direct value their ad platform offers, so late last year they introduced Custom Audiences. This feature attributes in-store sales to ads, finally giving credit to display’s part in facilitating awareness and influencing behavior. How do they do it?
Advertisers upload “hashed” data, which includes customer emails and contact information as well as encrypted transaction information into Facebook’s platform. Facebook then matches the advertiser’s hashed data to its own hashed data, creating an extremely detailed view of the customer. Facebook provides the report “that compares, on an aggregate basis, the purchase behavior of customers who saw an ad on Facebook, with customers who did not.”
True Omni-Channel Analytics Have Yet to be Realized
It looks like both Google and Facebook are using their stores of big data to make what I assume are pretty accurate guesses about consumer behavior. Marketing Land reports that Twitter is up to the same tricks.
But real attribution is still a ways off. Even for all their Googley innovation, AdWords Estimated Total Conversions is still a last click attribution model that discounts any previous points of engagement. And you may have noticed, Facebook and Google still can’t account for all the conversions that happen over the phone.
If you want to learn more about how Invoca helps close the loop between online and inbound call conversions, request a demo.