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Shoes of Prey: Valuing marketing channels with Assisted Conversions

Friday, January 13, 2012 | 9:09 AM

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Multi-Channel Funnels are a new set of reports that show which channels your customers interacted with during the 30 days prior to a conversion or purchase. In this series of three posts, Michael Fox, co-Founder and Director of Operations of Shoes of Prey, shares how he uses these new reports to improve sales for the business. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up on the series. - Ed.

In our first post, I discussed why we like Google Analytics’ new Multi-Channel Funnels reports and how we improved our site experience based on insights gained from the Top Conversion Paths report. Today I want to focus on another report: the Assisted Conversions report.

Assisted Conversions report
The Assisted Conversions report summarises the roles and contributions of channels that brought traffic to our website. Prior to Multi-Channel Funnels we used to attribute sales to the last channel (e.g. organic search, paid display, etc.) that the customer interacted with--in other words, the last channel to send us the customer’s click.

What does this mean? Let’s take, for example, a visitor who first came to our site via a link they saw on Twitter, then a few days later clicked on one of our ads running on the Google Display Network, then came through an organic search result on Yahoo, and finally visited our site by clicking on a text ad on Google Search and made a purchase.

We traditionally attributed the sale to the Google Search text ad as that was the source of the last interaction. It also meant that we completely discounted the contribution made by the preceding channels that brought visitors to our site. This method of attribution just doesn’t reflect reality.

The Assisted Conversions report helped us change our view, because for every channel that brings traffic to our website, the report can now tell us how many:
  • Last Interaction Conversions a given channel contributed towards (i.e. that was the last channel used before a purchase was made)
  • Assisted Interaction Conversions a given channel contributed towards (i.e. it contributed towards a purchase, but was not the last channel used)

Insights: Social media influences sales down the line
When evaluating the Assisted Conversions report, we tend to focus on the “Assisted / Last Interaction Conversions” metric, which is displayed as a ratio between the number of Assisted and Last Intereaction conversions. This metric is able to tell us which channels are best for direct response (lower ratio) and which channels are best for influencing sales further down the line (higher ratio).

What we were able to see is that social media channels, such as our Shoes of Prey blog, Twitter, and Facebook, have a high combined Assisted / Last Interaction Conversions ratio of 8.67. What this means is that these channels contribute significantly to conversions early in the funnel and this may not have been picked up if performance was measured on last interaction conversions only.

Actions: Re-evaluating how we value our social media efforts
The Assisted Conversions report helps us evaluate our social media channels. In the past we weren’t sure how effective our social media campaigns were towards driving sales. Today it’s clear that they play an influential role in making sales happen further down the line. We’ve now ensured that our marketing budgets are apportioned appropriately based on these insights.

We’ve started taking action on social media sites to help our potential customers purchase their shoes sooner. For example, we’ve updated our social content to ensure it includes educational material on shoe design, and experiment with our calls to action to encourage visitors to design their own shoes.

Because social media plays an important role in driving sales further down the funnel, we are taking steps to acquire a larger social audience. We now run online campaigns to capture more fan page likes, Twitter followers, Google+ followers, and blog subscribers. We also started promoting our social media channels more prominently on our website and newsletters.

I strongly recommend that you take a close look at your Assisted Conversions report if you aren’t doing so already. By comparing assisted conversions against last interaction conversions, we revised our outlook on certain certain channels (e.g. social media) that we assumed weren’t performing well.