When your online marketing strategy involves multiple channels, it can be difficult to determine how each channel contributes to a visitor converting on your site. Visitors to your site often don't convert on their first visit and don't always return via the same channel. For the past two years, Google Analytics has included a report that allows you to see the combination of channels that drove a visitor toward conversion.
The problem has always been figuring out the actual effect a particular channel's message contributed toward a visitor's conversion. Attribution models come in several flavors. Many site owners simply give all the credit for a conversion to the last channel that drove a visitor to your site. This last-touch attribution model, while convenient, doesn't account for the full path toward visitor conversion. Other analysts give equal credit using a linear attribution model. The idea is to optimize spend across the channels that drive the best ROI. A new feature in Google Analytics Premium makes the attribution process easy and understandable.
HomeAway is an online vacation rental website that connects homeowners with property managers for renting their homes to travelers. With channels that reach out to users in over 171 countries, HomeAway needed better understanding of the impact paid ads were having on converting visitors. Its ad spends included both display ads and paid search ads. Its goal was to drive more visits that generated inquiries to the homes listed on its site.
The new data-driven attribution model for assigning credit to conversion visits helped better understand which channels and which keywords drove the most traffic. It uses data from the previous 90 days of site visits to determine which channels and keywords within a channel have the best probability of creating a conversion visit. This data-driven model automatically adjusts itself weekly, re-analyzing visit data from a rolling 90-day history.
"The HomeAway business model requires a sophisticated, well integrated solution to assign evidence-based credit to our marketing efforts," said HomeAway Senior VP, Global Marketing Mike Osborn. "Data-driven attribution gives us the ability to make confident decisions that deliver positive business results."
Using the data-driven attribution model in Google Analytics Premium, HomeAway was able to properly credit campaigns and reattribute cost-per-acquisition into its budgeting and bidding decisions. Using the reporting in Google Analytics, HomeAway was able to optimize its ROI by optimizing its ad spends. With a test budget of $6,000, HomeAway was able to granularly dive into the data and fine-tune 20 keyword campaigns, and saw a 23 percent increase in conversions attributed to those keywords compared to a similar period before using the new model.
With so many channels and so many granularities to measure, attribution modeling has never been an easy task. Google Analytics Premium has released a new tool that makes that process easier and maintains transparency in where the data comes from. Armed with the right data, how far can you grow your ROI?
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Thom Craver has been coding HTML since 1993 and has been involved in search marketing since 1999. He led one of the first web marketing firms in Rochester, NY for eight years until successfully merging with an interactive agency in 2004.
His employment experience also includes a senior search position at nationally renown TopRank Online Marketing and US News Top-Ranked Rochester Institute of Technology. Thom led all Web and social presences for the Saunders College of Business and led analytics strategy efforts for RIT's mobile initiative. He still serves as an adjunct professor for Saunders College and tutor for National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Part of the ClickZ Academy faculty, Thom is a regular contributor to Search Engine Watch and has authored training manuals published by SVI Training Products and Technical Learning Resources. His book on web analytics drops in 2013.
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