Retailers missing value of customer journey with last-click focus, new research reveals

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The majority of online retailers attribute sales solely on a last-click basis, despite data indicating marketing budgets could yield better results if spent across the customer journey, according to new research.

57% of those surveyed said they only record sales on the final click, for example when people arrive at their website via a voucher code hub, while 43% of respondents take other channels into account when allocating purchases.

The study, carried out by digital marketing agency R.O.EYE, covered prominent retailers across the fashion, travel, entertainment, finance and automotive sectors.

Of the 43% who monitor multiple channels contributing to a sale, only a fifth attribute sales to the correct source every time. A further fifth identify them ‘frequently’, with most – 60% – doing so ‘occasionally’.

Better technology and more time and resource to analyse data were key requirements to consistently attribute sales to the originating channel; cited by 50% and 37% of retailers respectively.

“Shoppers usually interact with between one and eight channels prior to making a purchase, so recognising the value each one provides will improve sales,” said Mark Kuhillow, founder of R.O.EYE. “Almost all retailers surveyed felt it was very important or important to understand where sales originate from, yet our research shows that few are properly tracking the wider journey and using the data.”

Overall, when retailers were asked whether they could confidently assign each sale to the originating channel if they wanted to, the vote was equally split.

Over half – 57% – of the retailers able to confidently allocate sales said they measure the value of the entire customer journey. However, just 14% act on the data, and findings show that four fifths of these redirect marketing budgets to best performing channels.

Roughly a fifth (21%) have directed between 30% and 40% of their marketing budget away from last-click sales to other channels in the purchase consideration cycle. A further 21% of retailers have redirected up to 10%. 7% reported moving more than half of their budget following analysis of data.

Meanwhile, two thirds of retailers who can’t currently attribute sales to originating channels said being able to measure the value each one provides would definitely affect their marketing plans. The study found that 91% are intending to implement a measurement system to understand the customer journey, with just over a third planning to in the next 12 months.

R.O.EYE also surveyed retailers about key areas of performance marketing they will be investing in next year.

Paid social media came top (76%), followed by organic social media, affiliates and organic search, each with 72%. 64% will invest in paid search.