Omnichannel has become one of the hot buzzwords in the retail sector for 2017. Shopping is supposed to be one seamless, immersive, interactive experience. One where the lines between digital and physical are blurred.
It sounds great. A shopping Utopia. But what does it mean in real terms?
Last December, we laid out some best practices for setting up your Omnichannel strategy. And today, we’re going to show you how to track your marketing campaign success across all those different channels.
The attribution challenge
The challenge at the heart of Omnichannel tracking is attribution: how to accurately reward different channels along the multi-channel customer journey for their contribution to a sale. It’s an important problem to solve so you know which channels to invest more in, which to drop and which to rethink.
You would think that with all the tracking and charts, ecommerce would be the easiest to measure. But, at least ecommerce’s still rather common last-click-wins model is blind to upper funnel activities (e.g. display advertising) and thus cuts investment in important lead sources – ultimately curbing your tomorrow’s conversions.
Alternative attribution models of varying complexity have been proposed for years, but even if these cater well to the purpose of budget allocation between online channels, they are restricted to the digital world. Sadly there’s still no good way to measure how many people saw your Taxi ad.
Adding to that, the rise of mobile devices has exacerbated cross-channel attribution issues and heightened marketers’ awareness with the challenge. On the other side of the market, mobile publishers for years faced the uphill battle of selling ad space in a channel which recorded little of the conversions that marketers were after. Eventually, the whole advertising industry had to come to terms with new concepts as well as new metrics to adequately quantify the effect of mobile.
Today, solutions exist that shed a light on the true value of every channel in the cross-channel customer journey – and the space is evolving ever further.
Bridging the gap between online and offline media channels is no small feat! All the solutions below have their drawbacks whether that be complexity or coverage. There’s no perfect solution just yet. But, they will help you with some of your attribution issues while we wait for the technology to catch up.
Digital coupons are a low-tech, common sense approach to quantifying spill-over effects from mobile to the offline world. Coupons are sent to the customer’s handset via text message or in-app. Once customers redeem these on the web or even at the in-store cash register they have closed the loop, allowing the CRM analyst to link mobile touch points to conversions in other channels with relative ease.
Following the movements of handsets can go a long way to attributing mobile touch points to in-store visits. Combining location data with handset data can be handled in several ways.
- Your own app on a customer’s handset lets you follow their every move – as long as you ask for the appropriate permissions on install. But beside the possible backlash of privacy concerns, visits to your store locations will only be few of the hundreds and thousands of location identifiers you will receive – a significant challenge for any analysis algorithm.
- In-store beacons can register when someone with your app installed enters your store and also push messaging in the app channel.
- In-store Wi-Fi is a way to not only identify visitation but potentially also learn about additional customer preferences through their browsing history as well as collecting identifiers for retargeting beyond the people who already have your app.
No matter which method you choose, doing location analysis in-house requires significant analytical horsepower, as the data is less structured and comes in higher volumes than other types of data.
Leaving the proxies of location and visits aside, analysis on the more tangible level of sales is possible using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data and your web analytics software. This case study describes the approach of ring-fencing loyalty card members through website login as well as card swiping on in-store checkout. As one of the results, Petit Bateau saw 44% of their in-store buyers visit the website before making a purchase.
CRM analysis is a recommended approach for brands with high rates of logged in visits and identified offline purchases. Performed as a lightweight one-off, it can provide valuable base information about channel dependencies in your business.
Extending attribution beyond your customers or your CRM base requires looking at random internet users and following their lives around online as well as in real life. Collecting this data is usually done through either a survey provider or second party data that publishers hold on their audiences.
The business model of specialized panel providers like OnDevice is to build a panel of mobile users that can be sliced and diced to represent a sample of any population a marketer would be interested in, e.g. ‘female cereal consumers in urban areas, earning above the average incomes and using their mobile phone excessively’.
In a generalized way, members of the panel are incentivised to download an app to their mobile and/or their PC that the panel provider can use to a) communicate with panelists, b) dispense questionnaires, and c) monitor their internet usage as well as d) track their location.
The resulting comprehensive database of user behavior allows panel providers to link data on outcomes (how many indicated in the questionnaire they bought a certain product) to channel touch points (browsing history) as well as store visits (location data).
The significant effort of building and maintaining a representative panel means you’d have to hire a specialized panel provider and then analyze the data they provide you in-house.
Let’s be honest. Times are tough. Marketing budgets aren’t bottomless. And all the solutions we’ve outlined so far cost money or come at an opportunity cost.
If your budget is a bit tight, you can usually turn to the advertising publishers you work with: from the data they hold on their audiences, they can draw similar conclusions as panel providers. It won’t have the same scientific rigor in building the panel or the objectivity, but as long as you take it with a grain of salt it’ll probably get you where you need to go.
Google is a great example of one of these publishers. Due to their enormous reach and the high login-rate across devices, combined with access to location-aware products (think: Android, Google Maps) they are often able to match store locations against the movement profiles of users that have previously been exposed to specific Google advertising. Store Visits, Google’s out-of-the-box solution, then provides an additional column in AdWords reports which estimates the influence of online advertising on in-store footfall.
Usually provided free of charge, publisher intelligence on cross-device effects can complement every marketer’s knowledge about their Omnichannel efforts.
Vendors of attribution solutions are mostly rooted in bottom-up digital attribution. While some have evolved and incorporate non-digital channels by now, very few only even promise to account for influences beyond media channels – such as physical stores.
Google’s Attribution 360° seems well placed in this discipline, considering the repository of location data Google has accumulated. Other than that, only attribution providers with a partner network extending into identity graphs or a dedicated offline panel measure up – think MarketShare and its neustar parent or Marketing Evolution, respectively.
The road ahead
To get an accurate picture of your activity, try to express your marketing success metrics in an Omnichannel way – the sum of in-channel conversions and influenced conversions in other channels.
The numbers to fuel the future marketing-mix models will likely come from one of the aforementioned developing solutions. While custom surveys are a hard sell on their own, they will be an essential building block of a more standardized marketing measurement and optimization solution.
Since 2009, crealytics has guided leading retailers worldwide and accumulated a rich heritage of omnichannel management insight. The Business Intelligence team at crealytics have a diverse experience consulting clients on appropriate KPIs and the next step into an omnichannel world.